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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Suit for declaration and possession - Plaintiff traced his traces from the date of Gift Deed - Election Tribunal also held the Plaintiff is the real congress - Properties developed by the funds of plaintiff party - Janatal dala which came in to possession after division from congress , can not hold the title and right and can not lease the same to third party and as such they are liable to be evicted - Apex court granted time to vacate on undertaking = Janatha Dal Party … Petitioner Versus The Indian National Congress & Others … Respondents = 2014 ( January - Vol - 1)judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41169

  Suit for declaration and possession - Plaintiff traced his traces from the date of Gift Deed - Election Tribunal also held the Plaintiff is the real congress - Properties developed by the funds of plaintiff party - Janatal dala which came in to possession after division from congress , can not hold the title and right and can not lease the same to third party and as such they are liable to be evicted - Apex court granted time to vacate on undertaking =

7.    We have indicated that the  plaintiffs  instituted  the  present  suit
seeking a declaration  of  their  title  and  for  possession  of  the  suit
property and also sought to recover Rs.36,000/- towards past mesne  profits.=

 We have  noticed  that  the  property  in  question  was  gifted  vide
registered gift deed dated 22.4.1949 by Rangaswamy in  favour  of  Bangalore
City Congress Committee.   Plaintiffs could successfully trace  their  title
and interest over the suit property towards that gift deed executed  in  the
year 1949, coupled with the various declarations by the ECI recognizing  the
petitioner as the real Congress and the Judgment  of  this  Court  affirming
the same.

12.   We are also not impressed by  the  arguments  raised  by  the  learned
senior counsel on the plea of  limitation.    So  far  as  Janata  Party  is
concerned, it came into picture only in the year  1977.   On  facts,  it  is
clearly found that Congress (O) had no right in the suit property.   In  the
instant case, Janata Dal  (Secular)  was  impleaded  as  defendant  only  on
14.10.2003 and the disputed property was known as the Congress  Bhavan  till
the formation of Janta Dal in the year 1977.   It is relevant to  note  that
the defendants had never accepted plaintiffs as the owner of  the  property.
On the contrary, their specific case was that  the  1st  defendant  was  the
owner of the property.   On facts, it was found that the 1st  defendant  had
no title over the property in  question.   Further,  the  entire  burden  of
proving that the possession is adverse to that of the plaintiffs, is on  the
defendant.  On the other hand, the  possession  of  the  suit  property  was
throughout of Congress (O) and its successor parties and  not  that  of  the
petitioner  herein.   It  was  after  the  split  in   Janata   Party   and,
subsequently before the filing of the suit, Janata Dal continued  to  be  in
possession of the suit  property.    The  plea  of  limitation  and  adverse
possession was elaborately considered by the Courts below  and  we  find  no
error in the findings recorded by the Courts below on that ground  as  well.
 Further, no substantive question  of  law  arises  for  our  consideration.
The SLP, therefore, lacks  merits and is dismissed.

13.   Considering the facts that the petitioner  is  in  possession  of  the
property for a considerable long period, we are inclined to  grant  time  up
to 31.12.2014 to vacate the  premises,  for  which  the  petitioner  has  to
prefer an  undertaking  before  this  Court  within  one  month  from  today
stating that the petitioner would vacate the premises within the  stipulated
time and that the petitioner would pay the entire arrears of rent  within  a
period of three months and  will  continue  to  pay  the  rent  without  any
default.  If the petitioner commits two consecutive defaults in  payment  of
monthly rent or fails to file the undertaking,  the  time  granted  by  this
Court would not be available and it will be open to the respondents  to  get
the judgment/decree executed.  
2014 ( January - Vol - 1)judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41169

                                                            REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
              SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 38991 OF 2013
Janatha Dal Party                            … Petitioner
                                   Versus
The Indian National Congress & Others   … Respondents

                               J U D G M E N T

K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.

1.    We are, in this case, concerned with the ownership and  possession  of
Premises No.  3,  Race  Course  Road,  Bangalore,  ‘A’  scheduled  property,
wherein, at present, the political party Office of Janata Dal  (Secular)  is
situated.   The suit property originally belonged to one Sri C.  Rangaswamy,
who was the resident of Property No. 54, Hospital Road,  Baleput,  Bangalore
City,  executed  a  registered  Gift  Deed  dated  22.4.1949  in  favour  of
Bangalore City Congress Committee which was having its office  at  No.  142,
Cottonpet, Bangalore City, which measured 5330 sq. yards.     The  land  was
donated by the donor for the purpose  of  construction  of  Congress  House,
wherein the All India  Congress  Party  constructed  a  building,  by  name,
‘Congress Bhavan’, in a portion of the suit property.   In  the  year  1969,
there was split within the Indian  National  Congress  giving  rise  to  two
groups, one led by late Smt. Indira Gandhi, under the Presidentship of  late
Sri Jagajivan Ram and the other group led by late Sri S. Nijalingappa.   The
group led by Jagajivan Ram was then called  the  ‘Indian  National  Congress
(J)’, whereas the other group led by  Nijalingappa  was  called  as  ‘Indian
National Congress (O)’.  The split in the party at the centre  had  its  own
effect in the  State  of  Karnataka  as  well.    The  then  Mysore  Pradesh
Congress Party broke up into Congress (J) and Congress (O) corresponding  to
those groups in the All Indian  Congress  Committee  at  the  Centre.   Each
group claimed itself to be the real Indian National Congress.  That  dispute
came up before the Election Commission of India (ECI).

2.    The ECI, applying the test of majority  at  the  organizational  level
and the legislative wings, by its order 11.1.1971  held  that  the  Congress
(J) was the Indian National Congress.        The decision  of  the  ECI  was
upheld by this  Court  in  Shri  Sadiq  Ali  and  another  v.  The  Election
Commission of India, New Delhi and others (1972) 4 SCC  664.   Consequently,
Congress (J) group, formed as the  Indian  National  Congress,  came  to  be
recognized as the Indian National Congress for all purposes.

3.    The General Elections to the Lok Sabha were held  in  the  year  1977.
The  opposition  parties  consisting  of  Congress  (O)  Group  -   led   by
Nijalingappa, Lok Dal headed by late Sri Charan Singh, Jana Sangha – led  by
Sri A.B. Vajapayee and Congress for Democracy - led  by  Sri  Jagjivan  Ram,
fought elections together as one front  under  the  name  of  Janata  Party.
Congress was defeated in that election.  Janata Party formed the  Government
at the Centre, but did not last  long.   In  the  year  1978,  there  was  a
further split within the Congress. National Convention of the  Congress  was
held at New Delhi on 1.1.1978 and 2.1.1978, in  which  members  of  the  All
India Congress Committee,  Members  of  Parliament,  members  of  the  State
Legislatures and  Congress  candidates  participated  and  they  unanimously
elected Smt. Indira Gandhi as  the  President,  though  Sri  K.  Brahmananda
Reddy was also in the fray.  ECI was called upon to examine that dispute  as
well.  Later, Sri D. Devaraj Urs succeeded  Sri  Brahmananda  Reddy  as  the
President  of  that  group,  which  came  to  be  known  as  Congress   (U).
However, Indira Gandhi continued to be the leader of  the  main  body  which
was identified as  the  Congress  (I).   The  Election  Commission  allotted
separate symbols to the Congress (U) and (I) groups.   The election  to  the
Lok Sabha took place in December 1979 and Congress (I)  was  voted  back  to
the Lok Sabha.

4.    The  Election  Commission,  in  the  meantime,  resolved  the  dispute
pending before it and recognized Indira  Gandhi  as  the  President  of  the
Party, known by the name of Congress (I). It was also held  that  the  group
led by D. Devaraj Urs, known by the  name  of  Congress  (U),  was  not  the
Congress, leaving liberty to that group to approach the Commission  for  its
recognition as a party, taking a different name for itself. D. Devaraj  Urs,
purporting to be the  President  of  Congress  (U),  filed  a  petition  for
special leave to appeal to this Court against the order  of  the  ECI  dated
23.7.1981.  This Court,  after  issuing  notices  to  all  the  parties  and
hearing counsel on either side, dismissed  the  Special  Leave  Petition  on
14.8.1981.

5.    We have narrated the above facts to indicate that the  suit  property,
all other properties and funds belonging to or referred to as  belonging  to
the Congress are thus the properties and funds of the 1st Plaintiff  herein.
  Similarly, all properties  and  funds  belonging  to  or  referred  to  as
belonging to the erstwhile Mysore Pradesh Congress  Committee  or  the  KPCC
thus belong to the 2nd Plaintiff  herein.   The  ‘A’  Schedule  property  is
owned by 2nd and 1st plaintiffs herein.   The  land  comprised  therein  was
acquired by the erstwhile Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee, as it was  then
called, and it constructed the buildings  standing  in  the  suit  property,
which was earlier known as Congress Bhavan.

6.    We have already indicated that Janata Party came  into  possession  of
the schedule property in question in the year 1977.  During the period,  the
above mentioned property was under the control of Congress (O)  group.   Two
lease deeds were executed in respect of two portions  of  the  vacant  land,
vide  lease  deeds  dated  22.1.1971  and  10.4.1971,  in  favour   of   3rd
respondent.  After the Janata Party came in possession  in  the  year  1977,
the previous Janata Party, a unit of  1st  defendant,  granted  lease  of  a
portion of the plaint ‘A’, schedule property in favour of 4th  defendant  on
04.08.1981,  of which defendants 5 to 8 are partners, the portion leased  is
described in the plaint ‘C’ schedule.   The Janata  Party  or  the  previous
Janata Party had no right, title or  interest  for  granting  lease  of  the
plaint ‘C’.   Defendants 9-12 are stated to be the tenants  in  portions  of
the building constructed in ‘A’ schedule property, having taken the same  on
lease from the 1st defendant.

7.    We have indicated that the  plaintiffs  instituted  the  present  suit
seeking a declaration  of  their  title  and  for  possession  of  the  suit
property and also sought to recover Rs.36,000/- towards past mesne  profits.
      Defendant 1  and  2  filed  their  written  statements  on  10.11.1983
contesting the suit, but the factual details  were  not  disputed  as  such.
But, it was pleaded that the decision taken by the ECI or  the  judgment  of
this Court in Sadiq Ali (supra) would not confer  any  title,  ownership  or
possession of the  suit  property  on  the  plaintiffs.   According  to  the
defendants, throughout, the above mentioned property was in  the  possession
of Congress (O), and after its merger, it was in the  possession  of  Janata
Party and,  at  no  point  of  time,  the  plaintiffs  were  in  possession.
Further, it was also pleaded that the suit itself was barred by the  law  of
limitation.  Defendants 4 to  6  filed  a  written  statement  on  31.7.1984
disputing the plaintiffs’ right to  bring  the  suit  on  behalf  of  Indian
National Congress.    They pleaded that the Congress (O) continued to be  in
possession as the absolute owner of the suit property.  Further, it is  also
stated that Congress (O) and some other political  parties  joined  together
and constituted Janata Party and Congress (O) was one  of  the  constituents
of Janata Party, and the property in question became the property of  Janata
Party and, since 1977, Janata Party has been enjoying the suit property  and
they were having their rights to lease out the property to other  contesting
defendants.

8.    On the basis of the pleadings of the parties, the trial  Court  framed
24 issues.  On behalf of the plaintiffs, 5 witnesses were  examined  and  17
documents were exhibited.    On  behalf  of  defendants,  2  witnesses  were
examined and 18 documents were exhibited.  The trial Court, after  examining
the rival contentions, and, on facts, came to the conclusion  that  Congress
(O), which was led by Nijalingappa, lost its  identity  as  Indian  National
Congress by virtue of  the  decision  of  the  Election  Commission  and  as
pointed out by this Court in Sadiq Ali case.    The trial  Court  also  held
that this Court recognized the group led by Jagjivan Ram and  Indira  Gandhi
as the Indian National Congress.  Consequently, the properties and funds  of
Indian National Congress, before its split in 1969,  would  be  of  Congress
(J) lead by Jagjivan Ram and Indira Gandhi and it would not be the  property
of the dissident group which was identified as Congress (O).   On facts,  it
was noticed that Congress (O) was  subsequently  merged  with  Janata  Party
and, on account of said merger, Janata Party would not acquire ownership  of
the suit schedule property.  It was held that since  Janata  Party  was  not
the owner of the suit property, it had no right to grant lease in favour  of
4th defendant and grant of such lease by Janata Party  would  not  bind  the
plaintiffs.  Similarly, it was also held that the  grant  of  lease  in  ‘C’
schedule property in favour of 3rd defendant  by  the  President  of  Mysore
Pradesh Congress Committee, a unit of Congress (O) party,  was  illegal  and
was not preceded by approval or  permission  of  Indian  National  Congress.
The trial Court also rejected the plea of adverse possession and  limitation
and held that the plaintiffs have  succeeded  in  establishing  their  title
over the properties in question and, consequently, held that  the  plaintiff
is entitled to recovery of possession and also mesne profits.  Aggrieved  by
the same, Janata Party filed RFA No. 2011 of  2005  which  was  heard  by  a
Division Bench of the  High  Court.   The  High  Court  concurred  with  the
findings recorded by the  trial  Court  and  dismissed  the  appeal  by  its
judgment dated 11.10.2013, against which this SLP has been preferred.

9.    Shri Gopal Subramanium,  learned  senior  counsel  appearing  for  the
petitioner, reiterated all the factual contentions raised before  the  trial
Court as well  as  the  High  Court  based  on  the  basis  of  the  written
statements filed by the contesting respondents and  submitted  that  neither
the decision of the ECI  nor  the  judgment  of  this  Court  in  Sadiq  Ali
(supra), would confer any title or possession on  the  plaintiffs  over  the
suit property.  Learned senior counsel submitted that  the  plaintiff  could
succeed in establishing their title and possession  only  on  the  basis  of
independent documents and not on the basis of the decision  of  the  ECI  or
the judgment of this Court in  Sadiq  Ali.    Learned  senior  counsel  also
submitted that the High Court has erred in noticing that Article 65  of  the
Limitation Act, 1963,  specifies  that  the  limitation  for  possession  of
immovable property or any interest therein based on title is  12  years  and
the time from which the period begins to run is when the possession  of  the
defendant became adverse to the plaintiff.  Learned senior  counsel  pointed
out that, in the  instant  case,  possession  of  the  defendant  and  their
predecessor in title became adverse to that of the plaintiff  more  than  12
years prior to the filing of the suit and, therefore, the  suit  was  liable
to be dismissed solely on the ground of limitation.

10.   We have heard the arguments at length and have also gone  through  the
pleadings of the parties as well as the judgments of the Courts  below.   We
find it difficult to accept the contention  raised  by  the  learned  senior
counsel that the decision of the ECI dated  11.1.1971  or  the  judgment  of
this  Court in Sadiq Ali (supra) would have no bearing, so far as the  facts
of this case are concerned.    The question as to which of the  two  groups,
Congress (J) or Congress (O) (the then Congress Party) should be  recognized
as the Congress, as already indicated, came  before  the  ECI.   ECI,  after
applying  the  test  of  majority  at  the  organizational  level  and   the
legislative wings, took the view that Congress (J) group  of  Congress  came
to be recognized as the Congress for all purposes.  The  order  of  ECI  and
this Court clearly indicate   that the Congress then led  by  Indira  Gandhi
had established rights on the properties  in  question.   The  Courts  below
have narrated in detail how the suit property came into  the  hands  of  the
plaintiffs and how the Congress (O) followed by Janata Party ceased to  have
any right over the suit property in question.    Since,  on  facts,  it  was
found that the defendants have no right over the property in  question,  the
various lease deeds executed by them also cannot stand in the eye of law.

11.   We have  noticed  that  the  property  in  question  was  gifted  vide
registered gift deed dated 22.4.1949 by Rangaswamy in  favour  of  Bangalore
City Congress Committee.   Plaintiffs could successfully trace  their  title
and interest over the suit property towards that gift deed executed  in  the
year 1949, coupled with the various declarations by the ECI recognizing  the
petitioner as the real Congress and the Judgment  of  this  Court  affirming
the same.

12.   We are also not impressed by  the  arguments  raised  by  the  learned
senior counsel on the plea of  limitation.    So  far  as  Janata  Party  is
concerned, it came into picture only in the year  1977.   On  facts,  it  is
clearly found that Congress (O) had no right in the suit property.   In  the
instant case, Janata Dal  (Secular)  was  impleaded  as  defendant  only  on
14.10.2003 and the disputed property was known as the Congress  Bhavan  till
the formation of Janta Dal in the year 1977.   It is relevant to  note  that
the defendants had never accepted plaintiffs as the owner of  the  property.
On the contrary, their specific case was that  the  1st  defendant  was  the
owner of the property.   On facts, it was found that the 1st  defendant  had
no title over the property in  question.   Further,  the  entire  burden  of
proving that the possession is adverse to that of the plaintiffs, is on  the
defendant.  On the other hand, the  possession  of  the  suit  property  was
throughout of Congress (O) and its successor parties and  not  that  of  the
petitioner  herein.   It  was  after  the  split  in   Janata   Party   and,
subsequently before the filing of the suit, Janata Dal continued  to  be  in
possession of the suit  property.    The  plea  of  limitation  and  adverse
possession was elaborately considered by the Courts below  and  we  find  no
error in the findings recorded by the Courts below on that ground  as  well.
 Further, no substantive question  of  law  arises  for  our  consideration.
The SLP, therefore, lacks  merits and is dismissed.

13.   Considering the facts that the petitioner  is  in  possession  of  the
property for a considerable long period, we are inclined to  grant  time  up
to 31.12.2014 to vacate the  premises,  for  which  the  petitioner  has  to
prefer an  undertaking  before  this  Court  within  one  month  from  today
stating that the petitioner would vacate the premises within the  stipulated
time and that the petitioner would pay the entire arrears of rent  within  a
period of three months and  will  continue  to  pay  the  rent  without  any
default.  If the petitioner commits two consecutive defaults in  payment  of
monthly rent or fails to file the undertaking,  the  time  granted  by  this
Court would not be available and it will be open to the respondents  to  get
the judgment/decree executed.


                                        ………………………….J.
                                        (K. S. Radhakrishnan)






                                        ………………………….J.
                                        (Vikramajit Sen)
New Delhi,
January 21, 2014.

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