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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Or.7, Rule 11 C.P.C not maintainable in Partition suit - SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO.11136 OF 2013 John Kennedy & Another ... Petitioners Versus Ranjana & Others ... Respondents


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

               SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO.11136 OF 2013

John Kennedy & Another                       ...   Petitioners


Ranjana & Others                             ...   Respondents


Chelameswar, J.

1.    The instant special  leave  petition  is  filed  by  two  unsuccessful
petitioners before the High Court of Madras in  CRP  (PD)  No.3342  of  2012
aggrieved by a final order dated 15.11.2012 passed therein.

2.    The petitioners herein are  defendant  nos.2  and  3  respectively  in
Original Suit No.300 of 2011 on the file of the  Court  of  District  Judge,
Coimbatore.  The said suit was filed by the first respondent  herein.    She
is the daughter of 2nd respondent herein.   The  suit  was  filed  with  the
prayer as follows:

"a)   for partitioning  of  the  properties  more  fully  described  in  the
schedule hereunder and allot  share to the plaintiff.

b)    directing the defendants to pay plaintiff the cost;

c)    granting to the plaintiff such  other  and  further  reliefs  as  this
Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the circumstances of the  case  and
render justice."

Such a prayer is based upon the pleading that the  suit  scheduled  property
originally belonged to one  Shri  S.  Somanathan,  the  grandfather  of  the
plaintiff who according to the plaint died  intestate  on  16.08.1981.   The
relevant portion of the plaint reads as follows:

"The suit properties more fully described hereunder in the schedule  belongs
to Late Somanathan vide document  bearing  Registration  No.1072/1972  dated
20.03.1972.  He died intestate on 16.08.1981.  On his death, the  properties
devolve upon his legal heirs including  the  1st  defendant.   Subsequently,
the properties were partitioned to metes and bounds between the legal  heirs
vide Partition Deed bearing Registration No.2435/1982, dated  05.06.1982  in
the Office of the District Registrar, Coimbatore.  The 1st  defendant  being
one of the son of Late Somanathan the Schedule hereunder."

3.     According  to  the  plaintiff,  the  1st  petitioner  herein  is  the
"erstwhile power of attorney" of the father of  the  plaintiff.   The  other
defendants no.3 to 8 are the "alleged purchasers  of  a  part  of  the  suit
property from the 1st defendant through the 2nd defendant".  It  is  alleged
in the plaint  that  the  plaintiff  and  her  father  constituted  a  Hindu
Undivided Family and the suit property is ancestral property  in  the  hands
of the 1st defendant.  The relevant portion of the plaint reads as follows:

"The suit property is  an  ancestral  property  in  the  hands  of  the  1st
defendant. The 1st defendant being the Kartha of the Hindu Undivided  Family
was looking after the same.  He is having  only  the  right  to  manage  the
properties.  The properties mentioned in the schedule were  enjoyed  by  the
plaintiff and  the  1st  defendant  jointly.   The  plaintiff  and  the  1st
defendant are the co-owners in the suit property.   There  is  no  partition
between the plaintiff and is not having  any  right  to  alienate  the  same
without the consent and concurrence of the  plaintiff.   The  1st  defendant
and the plaintiff are having  undivided share each in  the  suit  property,
being the coparceners of the Hindu Undivided Family."

4.    In the background of the abovementioned pleading, the  plaintiff  made
a further allegation that -

"Upon enquiry, the plaintiff came to know that the sale of  a  part  of  the
suit property to the defendants 3 to 8 are  collusive  transactions  without
any consideration.  The price quoted in the sale  deeds  are  imaginary  and
very low.  The market value of the  property  is  much  more  than  what  is
mentioned as price in the sale deeds.  The 3rd to  8th  defendants  are  not
bonafide purchasers for good consideration.  The alleged  sale  transactions
are fraudulent and designed to defeat  the  right  of  the  plaintiff.   The
alleged  transactions  were  neither  in  good  faith   nor   for   valuable
consideration.  All the above said sale deeds will not  bind  the  plaintiff
in any manner.  Hence the plaintiff is ignoring the same."

5.     Having  made  such  an  allegation,  the  plaintiff  never  gave  any
description or any details of the sale transaction/s  entered  into  between
the 1st petitioner and the other alleged purchasers of the part of the  suit
scheduled property through the 2nd petitioner  herein.   More  interestingly
no relief is sought in the suit either against the 1st petitioner herein  or
the other defendants who are allegedly the vendees of some part of the  suit
scheduled property.

6.    In the background of such a plaint, the petitioners herein filed  I.A.
No.1097 of 2011 praying that the plaint be rejected on the ground  that  the
suit is a vexatious suit.  By an order dated  19.06.2002,  the  trial  court
dismissed the said application.

7.    Aggrieved by the same, the petitioners herein carried  the  matter  by
way of a revision to the High Court unsuccessfully.  Hence, this SLP.

8.    It appears from the impugned judgment that the debate before the  High
Court was - whether  the  suit  scheduled  property  is  the  self  acquired
property of the father of the plaintiff  or  the  property  'belong  to  the
coparcenery' between the plaintiff and her father.

9.    The High Court on the basis of such a vague pleading  in  the  plaint,
even without a written statement chose to declare as follows:

"Therefore, the property in the hands of 1st defendant takes  the  character
of ancestral property and after the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act,  1989  to  the
Hindu Succession Act, 1956, unmarried daughter also became  coparceners  and
they are entitled to claim a share in  the  ancestral  property  along  with

10.   Even before this Court, it was argued  by  the  petitioners  that  the
suit scheduled property is to be treated as self acquired  property  of  the
father of the plaintiff and  not  ancestral  property  and,  therefore,  the
plaint is required to be rejected.

11.   We refrain from making any further comment  as  any  comment  at  this
stage by this Court will have some impact on the rights and  obligations  of
some parties to the suit or the other.

12.   We are  of  the  opinion  that  the  IA  No.1097  of  2011  is  wholly
misconceived.   Whether the suit scheduled property  is  ancestral  property
of the plaintiff's father or self acquired  property  depends  upon  various
factors.  The law in this regard is well settled.  Whether the plaintiff  is
entitled for a right of partition in the suit scheduled property  by  virtue
of the amendment carried to the Hindu Succession Act by the State  of  Tamil
Nadu in 1989, or subsequently by the Parliament, are matters to  be  decided
after  the  pleadings  are  completed  and   evidence   adduced.    In   the
circumstances, though we are of the opinion that I.A.  No.1097  of  2011  is
required to be dismissed, the finding recorded by the High  Court  that  the
suit  scheduled  property  is  ancestral  property  of  the  father  of  the
plaintiff and, therefore, the plaintiff is entitled for a share is  uncalled
for at this stage and we set aside the same leaving it open  for  the  trial
court to examine these questions during the course of trial uninfluenced  by
any observation made by the High Court in the impugned order.   The  Special
Leave Petition is disposed of accordingly.  No order as to costs.


      (J. Chelameswar)

Chandra Ghose)
New Delhi.
November 12, 2014


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