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Saturday, April 29, 2017

whether the copy of the case diary or a portion thereof can be provided to the accused under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, we are not deciding the said question in the matter on hand. In the case of Sidharth etc. etc. vs. State of Bihar[3], the entire case diary maintained by the police was made available to the accused by the trial Court. In that context certain observations were made by this Court which read thus:- “….But if the entire case diary is made available to the accused, it may cause serious prejudice to others and even affect the safety and security of those who may have given statements to the police. The confidentiality is always kept in the matter of criminal investigation and it is not desirable to make available the entire case diary to the accused. In the instant case, we have noticed that the entire case diary was given to the accused and the investigating officer was extensively cross-examined on many facts which were not very much relevant for the purpose of the case. The learned Sessions Judge should have been careful in seeing that the trial of the case was conducted in accordance with the provisions of CrPC.”- neither the police officer has refreshed his memory with reference to entries in the police diary nor has the trial court used the entries in the diary for the purposes of contradicting the police officer (PW-15), it is not open for the accused to produce certain pages of police diary obtained by him under the provisions of Right to Information Act for the purpose of contradicting the police officer. In view of the above, the High Court is not justified in permitting the accused to produce certain pages of police diary at the time of cross examination of PW-15/Investigating Officer. Accordingly, the impugned Order is liable to be set aside and the same stands set aside. The appeal is allowed.

                                                                  Reportable



                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO 694 OF 2017
                (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 9314 of 2016)


Balakram                                    ….Appellant

                                   Versus


State of Uttarakhand & Ors.             …Respondents


                               J U D G M E N T


MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR, J.


      Leave granted.

2.    The judgment in Miscellaneous application No. 1123 of 2016, passed  by
the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital  setting  aside  the  order  dated
31.8.2016 in I.A. No. 174 Kha in S.T. No. 1 of 2015 is  called  on  question
in this appeal.
3.    Respondent No.3 herein, along with another accused,  is  facing  trial
in ST No. 01 of 2015 before the Sessions Court, Champawat for  the  offences
punishable under Section 302 and 201  of  IPC.  During  the  course  of  the
trial,  after  the  completion  of  examination  in  chief  of   PW-15,   an
application was filed by the respondent No.3 herein (one  of  the  accused),
the contents of which read thus:-
“In the above  mentioned  case  applicant  wants  to  submit  some  key  and
relevant documents which are necessary  for  the  fair  and  just  trial  of
instant case.
It is therefore, humbly prayed that your Honour may kindly grant  permission
for the same in the interest of justice.”

4.    Along with the application, list of documents to be produced was  also
filed.  The documents are stated to be copies of  certain  pages  of  Police
diary maintained under Section 172 of the Code of Criminal  Procedure,  1973
(for brevity, Cr.P.C.), by the Investigation  Officer  (PW-15),  which  were
obtained by respondent No.3 by making an application  under  the  provisions
of Right to Information  Act,  2005.   The  respondent  No.  3  proposes  to
confront PW 15 with those documents.
5.    Such application was opposed by the  appellant  herein/complainant  on
the ground that the fresh documents cannot be allowed to be produced by  the
accused at the premature stage of trial  and  it  is  always  open  for  the
accused  to  produce  such  documents  during  the  stage  of  recording  of
statements of the  accused  under  Section  313,  Cr.P.C.   It  was  further
contended by the appellant that it is open for the accused to lead  evidence
on their behalf after recording of  the  statements  of  the  accused  under
Section 313, Cr.P.C.
6.    The  application  came  to  be  rejected  by  the  Sessions  Court  on
31.8.2016. Being aggrieved by the same, respondent No.3 herein  filed  Misc.
Application No. 1123 of  2016  before  the  High  Court  of  Uttarakhand  at
Nainital under Section 482 Cr.P.C.  By the impugned  order  the  High  Court
allowed the said miscellaneous application.
7.    Learned counsel for the appellant taking us through the order  of  the
Courts below, argued that entries made in the police diary  referred  to  in
Section 172 of the Cr.P.C. cannot be used for the purpose of Section 145  of
the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 unless the conditions laid down under  Section
172(2) and (3)  of  Cr.P.C  are  satisfied;  that  the  High  Court  is  not
justified in allowing  the  accused/respondent  herein  to  produce  certain
pages of police diary obtained by the respondent  under  the  provisions  of
Right to Information Act. He argued in support of the  order  of  the  Trial
Court.
8.    Per contra, advocate for the  respondent  argued  in  support  of  the
order of the High Court contending that the documents sought to be  produced
were for confronting PW 15-Investigation Officer who is the author of  those
documents;  the  defence  will  lose  an   opportunity   to   confront   the
investigation officer, in case the respondent is not allowed to produce  the
documents in question. According to him, it is always open  to  the  accused
to produce the documents to be relied upon by him at the time  of  recording
his statement under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. but  the  accused  would  not
get chance to confront the Investigation Officer with such documents.
9.    Before proceeding further it would be relevant to note the  provisions
of Section 172 Cr.P.C. and Section  145  of  the  Indian  Evidence  Act  for
deciding  the issue involved:-
“Section 172 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

172. Diary of proceedings in investigation.
(1) Every police officer making an investigation under  this  Chapter  shall
day by day enter his proceedings in the investigation in  a  diary,  setting
forth the time at which the information reached him, the time  at  which  he
began and closed his investigation, the place or places visited by him,  and
a statement of the circumstances ascertained through his investigation.

(2) Any Criminal Court may send for the  police  diaries  of  a  case  under
inquiry or trial in such Court, and may use such diaries,  not  as  evidence
in the case, but to aid it in such inquiry or trial.

(3) Neither the accused nor his agents shall be entitled to  call  for  such
diaries, nor shall he or they be entitled to see them  merely  because  they
are referred to by the Court; but, if they are used by  the  police  officer
who made them to refresh his memory, or if  the  Court  uses  them  for  the
purpose of contradicting such police officer, the provisions of section  161
or section 145, as the case may be, of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872  (1  of
1872 ), shall apply,

Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
145. Cross-examination as to previous statements in writing.—A  witness  may
be cross-examined as to previous  statements  made  by  him  in  writing  or
reduced into writing, and relevant to  matters  in  question,  without  such
writing being shown to him, or being proved;  but,  if  it  is  intended  to
contradict him by the writing, his attention must, before  the  writing  can
be proved, be called to those parts of it which  are  to  be  used  for  the
purpose of contradicting him.”


10.    The  afore-mentioned  provisions  are  to  be  read  conjointly   and
homogenously. It is evident from sub-section (2)  of  Section  172  Cr.P.C.,
that the Trial Court has unfettered  power  to  call  for  and  examine  the
entries in the police diaries maintained by the Investigating Officer.  This
is a very important safeguard. The legislature has  reposed  complete  trust
in the Court which is conducting the inquiry or the trial.  If there is  any
inconsistency or contradiction arising in the evidence, the  Court  can  use
the entries made in the  diaries  for  the  purposes  of  contradicting  the
police officer as provided in sub-section (3) of Section 172 of  Cr.P.C.  It
cannot be denied that  Court  trying  the  case  is  the  best  guardian  of
interest of justice.  Under sub-section (2) the criminal court may send  for
diaries and may use them not as evidence, but to aid it  in  an  inquiry  or
trial.  The information which the Court may get from  the  entries  in  such
diaries usually will be utilized as foundation for questions to  be  put  to
the police witness and the court may, if necessary  in  its  discretion  use
the entries to contradict the  police  officer,  who  made  them.   But  the
entries in the  police  diary  are  neither  substantive  nor  corroborative
evidence, and that they cannot  be  used  against  any  other  witness  than
against the police officer that too for the limited extent indicated above.
11.   Coming to the use of police diary by the accused, sub-section  (3)  of
Section 172 clearly lays down that neither the accused nor his agents  shall
be entitled to call for such diaries nor he or they may be entitled  to  see
them merely because they are referred to by the Court.   But,  in  case  the
police officer uses the entries in the diaries to refresh his memory  or  if
the Court uses them for the purpose of contradicting  such  police  officer,
then the provisions of Sections 145 and 161, as the  case  may  be,  of  the
Evidence Act would apply.  Section 145 of  the  Evidence  Act  provides  for
cross examination of a witness as to the previous statements made by him  in
writing or reduced into writing and if it was intended to contradict him  in
writing, his attention must be called to those  portions  which  are  to  be
used for the purpose of contradiction.  Section 161 deals with  the  adverse
party’s right as to the writing used to refresh memory.  It can,  therefore,
be seen that, the right of the accused to cross-examine the  police  officer
with reference to the entries in the police diary is very  much  limited  in
extent and even that limited scope arises  only  when  the  Court  uses  the
entries to contradict the police officer or when the police officer uses  it
for refreshing his memory.
12.   In other words, in case if the Court does not use  such  entries   for
the purpose of  contradicting the police officer or if  the  police  officer
does not use the same for  refreshing  his  memory,  then  the  question  of
accused getting  any right to use entries even to that limited  extent  does
not arise.  The accused persons cannot force the police officer  to  refresh
his memory during his examination in the Court by referring to  the  entries
in the police diary.
13.   Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act consists of two limbs.   It  is
provided in the first limb of Section 145  that  a  witness  may  be  cross-
examined as to the previous statements made  by  him  without  such  writing
being shown to him.   But the Second limb provides that, if it  is  intended
to contradict him by the writing, his attention  must before writing can  be
proved, be called  to those parts of  it  which  are  to  be  used  for  the
purpose of contradicting him. Sections 155 (3) and 145  of  Indian  Evidence
Act deal  with  the  different  aspects  of  the  same  matter  and  should,
therefore, be read together.
14.   Be that as it may, as mentioned supra, right of the accused  to  cross
examine the police officer with reference  to  the  entries  in  the  police
diary is very much limited in extent and  even  that  limited  scope  arises
only when the Court uses such entries to contradict the  police  officer  or
when the police officer uses it for refreshing his memory and that again  is
subject to provisions of Sections 145 and 161 of the  Indian  Evidence  Act.
Thus, a witness may be cross-examined as to his previous statements made  by
him as contemplated under Section 145 of the Evidence Act if  such  previous
statements are brought on record, in accordance with law, before  the  Court
and if the contingencies as contemplated under  Section  172(3)  of  Cr.P.C.
are fulfilled.  Section 145 of the  Indian  Evidence  Act  does  not  either
extend or control the provisions of Section 172 of Cr.P.C. We may hasten  to
add  here itself that there is no scope in Section 172  of  the  Cr.P.C.  to
enable the Court, the prosecution  or the accused to use  the  police  diary
for the purpose of contradicting any witness other than the police  officer,
who made it.
15.   In case of Malkiat Singh and  others  vs.  State  of  Punjab[1],  this
Court while considering the scope of Section 172(3) Cr.P.C.  with  reference
to Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act observed thus:-
“It is manifest from its bare reading without  subjecting  to  detailed  and
critical analysis that the case diary  is  only  a  record  of  day  to  day
investigation of the investigating officer to  ascertain  the  statement  of
circumstances ascertained through the investigation. Under  sub-section  (2)
the court is entitled at the trial or  enquiry  to  use  the  diary  not  as
evidence in the case, but as aid to it in the inquiry or trial. Neither  the
accused, nor his agent, by operation of sub-section (3), shall  be  entitled
to call for the diary, nor shall he  be  entitled  to  use  it  as  evidence
merely because the court referred to it.  Only  right  given  thereunder  is
that if the police officer who made the entries in  the  diary  uses  it  to
refresh his memory or if the court uses it for the purpose of  contradicting
such witness, by operation of Section 161 of the Code  and  Section  145  of
the Evidence Act, it shall be used for  the  purpose  of  contradicting  the
witness, i.e. Investigation Officer or to explain it  in  re-examination  by
the prosecution, with permission of the court. It is, therefore, clear  that
unless the investigating officer or the court uses it either to refresh  the
memory or contradicting the  investigating  officer  as  previous  statement
under Section 161 that  too  after  drawing  his  attention  thereto  as  is
enjoined under Section 145 of the Evidence Act, the entries cannot  be  used
by the accused as evidence.”

16.   The police diary is only a record of day to day investigation made  by
the investigating officer.  Neither the accused nor his  agent  is  entitled
to call for such case diary and also are not entitled  to  see  them  during
the course of inquiry or trial.   The  unfettered  power  conferred  by  the
Statute under Section 172 (2)  of  Cr.P.C.  on  the  court  to  examine  the
entries of the police diary would not allow the  accused  to  claim  similar
unfettered right to inspect the case diary.
17.   This Court in the case of Mukund Lal vs. Union of India  and  Anr[2].,
while considering the question relating to  inspection of the  entries  made
in the case diary by the accused has observed thus:-

“We are of the opinion that the provision embodied  in  sub-section  (3)  of
Section  172  of  the  CrPC  cannot  be  characterised  as  unreasonable  or
arbitrary. Under sub-section (2) of Section 172 CrPC the  court  itself  has
the unfettered power to examine the entries in the diaries. This is  a  very
important safeguard. The legislature  has  reposed  complete  trust  in  the
court which is conducting the inquiry or the trial.  It  has  empowered  the
court  to  call  for  any  such  relevant  case  diary;  if  there  is   any
inconsistency or contradiction arising in the context of the case diary  the
court can use the entries  for  the  purpose  of  contradicting  the  police
officer as  provided  in  sub-section  (3)  of  Section  172  of  the  CrPC.
Ultimately there can be no better custodian or guardian of the  interest  of
justice than the court trying the case. No court will  deny  to  itself  the
power to make use of the entries in  the  diary  to  the  advantage  of  the
accused by contradicting the police officer with reference to  the  contents
of the diaries. In view of this safeguard, the  charge  of  unreasonableness
or arbitrariness cannot stand scrutiny. The petitioners claim an  unfettered
right to make roving inspection of the entries in the case diary  regardless
of whether these entries  are  used  by  the  police  officer  concerned  to
refresh his memory or regardless of the fact  whether  the  court  has  used
these entries for the purpose  of  contradicting  such  police  officer.  It
cannot  be  said  that  unless  such  unfettered  right  is  conferred   and
recognised, the embargo engrafted in sub-section (3) of Section 172  of  the
CrPC would fail to meet the test of  reasonableness.  For  instance  in  the
case diary there might be a note as regards the identity  of  the  informant
who gave some information which resulted in investigation into a  particular
aspect. Public interest demands that such an entry is not made available  to
the accused for it might endanger the safety of the informants and it  might
deter  the  informants  from  giving   any   information   to   assist   the
investigating agency, as observed in Mohinder Singh v. Emperor:

“The accused has no right to insist upon a police witness referring  to  his
diary in order to elicit information which is privileged.  The  contents  of
the diary are not at the disposal of the defence and cannot be  used  except
strictly in accordance with the provisions of Sections 162 and 172.  Section
172 shows that witness may refresh his memory by reference to them but  such
use is at the discretion of the witness and the judge, whose duty it  is  to
ensure  that  the  privilege  attaching  to  them  by  statute  is  strictly
enforced.”

The public interest requirement from the standpoint of the need to ensure  a
fair trial for an accused  is  more  than  sufficiently  met  by  the  power
conferred on the court, which is the ultimate custodian of the  interest  of
justice and can always  be  trusted  to  be  vigilant  to  ensure  that  the
interest of accused persons standing the trial, is fully safeguarded.”

18.   From the afore-mentioned, it is clear that the denial of right to  the
accused to inspect the case diary cannot be  characterized  as  unreasonable
or  arbitrary.  The  confidentiality  is  always  kept  in  the  matter   of
investigation and it is not desirable to make available the police diary  to
the accused on his demand.
19.   Since we are not called upon to decide the question as to whether  the
copy of the case diary or a portion thereof can be provided to  the  accused
under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, we  are  not  deciding
the said question in the matter on hand. In the case of Sidharth  etc.  etc.
vs. State of Bihar[3],   the entire case diary maintained by the police  was
made available to the accused by the trial Court. In  that  context  certain
observations were made by this Court which read thus:-

“….But if the entire case diary is made available to  the  accused,  it  may
cause serious prejudice to others and even affect the  safety  and  security
of those who may have given statements to the  police.  The  confidentiality
is always kept in the  matter  of  criminal  investigation  and  it  is  not
desirable to make available the entire case diary to  the  accused.  In  the
instant case, we have noticed that the entire case diary was  given  to  the
accused and the investigating  officer  was  extensively  cross-examined  on
many facts which were not very much relevant for the purpose  of  the  case.
The learned Sessions Judge should have  been  careful  in  seeing  that  the
trial of the case was conducted in accordance with the provisions of CrPC.”


20.    Since  in  the  matter  on  hand,  neither  the  police  officer  has
refreshed his memory with reference to entries in the police diary  nor  has
the trial  court  used  the  entries  in  the  diary  for  the  purposes  of
contradicting the police officer (PW-15), it is not open for the accused  to
produce certain pages of police diary obtained by him under  the  provisions
of Right to Information Act for the  purpose  of  contradicting  the  police
officer.
21.   In view of the above, the High Court is not  justified  in  permitting
the accused to produce certain pages of police diary at the  time  of  cross
examination of PW-15/Investigating Officer. Accordingly, the impugned  Order
is liable to be set aside and the same stands  set  aside.   The  appeal  is
allowed.

                                                           …….…………………………..J.
                                   (Dipak Misra)


                                                           …….…………………………..J.
                                 (A.M. Khanwilkar)


                                                             …………………………………J.
                                                   (Mohan M. Shantanagoudar)
New Delhi
Dated: April 19, 2017
-----------------------
[1]   . 1991(4) SCC 341

[2]    AIR 1989 SC 144

[3]    AIR 2005 SC 4352



Friday, April 28, 2017

During the pendency of suit, an application was filed by the defendant Nos. 1 to 5 including the appellant herein under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter called as ‘CPC’) for rejection of plaint. The said application was allowed by the Wakf Tribunal on 8th March, 2016. On revision by the plaintiff, the order of rejection of plaint passed by the Wakf Tribunal is set aside by the High Court.= The property in question is not notified in the Gazette as a Wakf Property at any point of time till this date and hence it is not open for the respondent to file this suit on the presumption that the property in question is a Wakf property. Since the property is not a Wakf property, the Wakf Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. That though the notification issued containing the list of certain Wakf properties was gazetted by the Wakf Board as early as in the year 1962, the High Court is not justified in raising doubt in the year 2013 about such notification which had been remained unchallenged for more than 50 years. It is not open for the respondent to generate the litigation only to harass the appellant.- In the matter on hand, as mentioned supra, the Tribunal and the High Court, on facts have held that the property in question is not included in the list published in the Official Gazette as a wakf property. Such non- inclusion was never questioned by any person including the Wakf Board. The Board has not exercised jurisdiction under Section 27 of 1954 Act and Section 40 of 1995 Act, though 50 years have elapsed from the date of the gazette notification. Hence, in our considered opinion, the averments in the plaint do not disclose the cause of action for filing the suit. The suit is manifestly meritless and vexatious. So also the suit is barred by law for the reasons mentioned supra.

                                                                (Reportable)

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                          CIVIL APPEAL NO.5368/2017
              (Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No.35352 of 2016)

       Madanuri Sri Rama Chandra Murthy                   ….Appellant

                                     Vs.

  Syed Jalal                                                …..Respondent



                               J U D G M E N T



Mohan M.Shantanagoudar,J.



Leave granted.

2.     The  order  dated  07.09.2016  passed  in  Civil  Revision   Petition
No.2472/2016 by the High Court  of  Judicature  at  Hyderabad  allowing  the
Revision  Petition  and  setting  aside  the  order  dated   08.03.2016   on
I.A.No.458/2015 in OS No.59/2013 passed by the  Andhra  Pradesh  State  Wakf
Tribunal at Hyderabad is called in this Appeal. The brief facts  leading  to
this appeal are as under:

3.    The respondent herein filed  suit  No.59/2013  before  Andhra  Pradesh
State Wakf Tribunal at Hyderabad  seeking  cancellation  of  the  sale  deed
dated 12.1.2013 in respect of the land bearing Survey No.113  admeasuring  4
acres 72 cents situated at Pernamitta village, Prakasam District,  State  of
Andhra Pradesh. Certain consequential reliefs are also  sought  for.  It  is
the case of plaintiff that Survey Nos.112 and 113 to an extent of  18  acres
88 cents situated at  Pernamitta  village  were  notified  in  the  Official
Gazette of Wakf Board  dated  28.6.1962  at  serial  No.966  and  were  also
surveyed by the Survey Commissioner appointed under the  provisions  of  the
Wakf Act. The part of Survey No.113 to an extent of 4  acres  72  cents  was
purchased by the defendant through the sale deed  dated  12.1.2013  executed
by Mr. Alluri Koteshwar Rao (Defendant No.6)  in  whose  name  property  was
standing. Plaintiff  claims  to  be  Mutwalli  of  the  Wakf.  The  sum  and
substance of the plaintiff’s case is that the  defendant  Nos.1  to  5  have
purchased the suit property from a private person though the  said  property
is the Wakf property and therefore the sale deed dated  12.1.2013  does  not
convey any right, title or interest in favour of the defendants 1 to 5.

4.    It is the case of the appellant/defendant No.1 that the  property  was
and is not a Wakf property inasmuch as it  was  never  notified  as  a  Wakf
property; though official gazette was published as  back  as  on  28.6.1962,
the property does not find place in the gazette notifying the same  as  Wakf
property; it is a private property  and  that  he  had  purchased  the  same
through a valid sale deed.

5.    During  the  pendency  of  suit,  an  application  was  filed  by  the
defendant Nos. 1 to 5 including the appellant herein under  Order  VII  Rule
11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter called  as  ‘CPC’)  for
rejection of plaint. The said application was allowed by the  Wakf  Tribunal
on 8th March, 2016. On revision by the plaintiff, the order of rejection  of
plaint passed by the Wakf Tribunal is set aside by the High Court.

6.    Learned counsel for the  appellant  taking  us  through  the  impugned
judgment of the High Court submitted that this is a  fit  case  wherein  the
plaint ought to be rejected at the threshold inasmuch  as  the  plaint  does
not disclose any cause of action and  the  suit  is  barred  by  law.    The
property in question is not notified in the Gazette as a  Wakf  Property  at
any point of time  till  this  date  and  hence  it  is  not  open  for  the
respondent to file this  suit  on  the  presumption  that  the  property  in
question is a Wakf property.  Since the property is  not  a  Wakf  property,
the Wakf Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain  the  suit.  That  though
the notification issued containing the list of certain Wakf  properties  was
gazetted by the Wakf Board as early as in the year 1962, the High  Court  is
not justified in raising doubt in the  year  2013  about  such  notification
which had been remained unchallenged for more than 50  years.    It  is  not
open for the respondent to  generate  the  litigation  only  to  harass  the
appellant.
7.    Per contra, advocate for the  respondent  submitted  that  though  the
gazette notification did not contain the property  in  question  as  a  Wakf
property, the Survey Report disclosed the property in  question  as  a  Wakf
property and therefore the defect while publishing the Gazette  notification
needs to be rectified.  He submitted that the High  Court  is  justified  in
passing the impugned judgment after verifying the records and therefore,  it
is not a fit case for rejecting of plaint at the threshold.


8.    The plaint can be rejected under  Order  VII  Rule  11  if  conditions
enumerated in the said provision are fulfilled. It is  needless  to  observe
that the power under Order VII Rule 11, CPC can be exercised  by  the  Court
at any stage of the suit. The relevant facts which need to  be  looked  into
for deciding the application are the averments of the plaint  only.   If  on
an entire and meaningful reading of the plaint, it is found  that  the  suit
is manifestly vexatious and meritless in the sense  of  not  disclosing  any
right to sue, the court should exercise power under Order VII Rule 11,  CPC.
Since the power conferred on the Court to  terminate  civil  action  at  the
threshold is drastic, the conditions enumerated under Order VII Rule  11  of
CPC to the exercise of power of rejection of  plaint  have  to  be  strictly
adhered to. The averments of the plaint have to be read as a whole  to  find
out whether the averments disclose a cause of action or whether the suit  is
barred by any law. It is  needless  to  observe  that  the  question  as  to
whether the suit is barred by any law, would always depend  upon  the  facts
and circumstances of each case. The averments in the  written  statement  as
well as the  contentions  of  the  defendant  are  wholly  immaterial  while
considering the prayer of the defendant for rejection of  the  plaint.  Even
when, the allegations made in the plaint are taken to be correct as a  whole
on their face value, if they show that the suit is barred by any law, or  do
not disclose cause of action, the application for rejection  of  plaint  can
be entertained and the  power  under  Order  VII  Rule  11  of  CPC  can  be
exercised. If clever drafting of the plaint has created the  illusion  of  a
cause of action, the court will nip it in the bud at the  earliest  so  that
bogus litigation will end at the earlier stage.

9.    In order to prima facie satisfy his case as  pleaded  in  plaint  that
the Suit property  is  a  Wakf  property,  the  plaintiff  produced  certain
documents including Gazette Notification dated  28.06.1962.   The  averments
in the plaint disclose that the property bearing Survey No. 113 situated  at
Pernamitta village was notified as Wakf property under  Serial  No.  966  in
the Official Gazette  published  by  Andhra  Pradesh  State  Wakf  Board  on
28.06.1962.  On verification of the Gazette Notification, the Wakf  Tribunal
has concluded that under Serial No. 966 (Page No.742) the property  attached
to Ashoorkhana situated at Kolachanakota  village  was  shown  and  not  the
property belonging to Pernamitta village. The  name  of  the  plaintiff  was
also not shown  as  Mutwalli.  The  property  in  question  is  situated  in
Pernamitta village, whereas the Gazette which is relied upon shows that  the
survey no. 113 is situated at a different village which is stated to be  far
away (about 20 kms.) from village Pernamitta. There is one more  Ashoorkhana
situated at Pernamitta village which is  not  the  subject  matter  of  this
litigation. List of wakf properties pertaining to  Pernamitta  village  does
not contain the property in question.  The  Tribunal,  on  facts,  thus  has
concluded that property in question does not  find  place  in  the  Official
Gazette of the Wakf Board.  The  High  Court  also  concurs  with  the  Wakf
Tribunal in that regard. Thus, there are concurrent findings  of  fact  that
property in question  was  not  notified  in  Official  Gazette  as  a  Wakf
property, as alleged by the plaintiff/respondent.

10.   The High Court though has agreed with the finding of fact  arrived  at
by the Tribunal that the property was not notified as Wakf property  in  the
Official Gazette, raising some doubt about  the  non-inclusion/inclusion  of
the property in the Survey Commissioner’s Report, erroneously has  proceeded
to set aside the order of the Tribunal.

11.    As  mentioned  supra,  notification  containing  the  list  of   Wakf
properties relied upon by the plaintiff  was published in  Gazette  as  back
as on 28.06.1962 as per the provisions of  Section  5  of   Wakf  Act,  1954
(hereinafter, in short, called as 1954 Act) which is  subsequently  replaced
by the Waqf Act, 1995 (hereinafter, in short, called as  1995  Act).  Before
proceeding further, it would be beneficial  to  note  the  certain  relevant
provisions contained under the 1954 Act as well as 1995 Act for the  purpose
of deciding this matter.



|The WAQF ACT, 1995                  |The WAKF ACT. 1954 (Old)             |
|4.  Preliminary survey of [auqaf]. –|4.  Preliminary survey of wakfs. –   |
|                                    |                                     |
|(1) The State Government may, by    |(1)  The State Government may, by    |
|notification in the Official        |notification in the Official Gazette,|
|Gazette, appoint for the state a    |appoint for the state a [Survey      |
|Survey Commissioner of [Auqaf] and  |Commissioner] of Wakfs and as many   |
|as many Additional or Assistant     |Additional or Assistant [Survey      |
|Survey Commissioners of [Auqaf] as  |Commissioners] of Wakfs as may be    |
|may be necessary for the purpose of |necessary for the purpose of making a|
|making a survey of [auqaf in the    |survey of Wakf properties existing in|
|state].                             |the State at the date of the         |
|[(1A) Every State Government shall  |commencement of this Act.            |
|maintain a list of auqaf referred to|                                     |
|in sub-section (1) and the survey of|                                     |
|auqaf shall be completed within a   |                                     |
|period of one year from the date of |                                     |
|commencement of the Wakf (Amendment)|                                     |
|Act, 20136, in case such survey was |                                     |
|not done before the commencement of |                                     |
|the Wakf (Amendment) Act, 2013:     |                                     |
|Provided that where no Survey       |                                     |
|Commissioner of Waqf has been       |                                     |
|appointed a Survey Commissioner for |                                     |
|aquaf shall be appointed within     |                                     |
|three months from the date of such  |                                     |
|commencement.]                      |                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|(2) All Additional and Assistant    |(2) All Additional and Assistant     |
|Survey Commissioners of [Auqaf]     |[Survey Commissioners] of Wakfs shall|
|shall perform their functions under |perform their functions under this   |
|this Act under the general          |Act under the general supervision and|
|supervision and control of the      |control of the [Survey Commissioner] |
|Survey Commissioner of [Auqaf].     |of Wakfs.                            |
|                                    |                                     |
|(3) The Survey Commissioner shall,  |(3) The [Survey Commissioner] shall, |
|after making such inquiry as he may |after making such inquiry as he may  |
|consider necessary, submit his      |consider necessary, submit his       |
|report, in respect of [auqaf]       |report, [in respect of Wakfs existing|
|existing at the date of commencement|at the date of commencement of this  |
|of this Act in the State or any part|Act in the State or any part         |
|thereof, to the State Government    |thereof,] to the State Government    |
|containing the following            |containing the following particulars,|
|particulars, namely:-               |namely:-                             |
|                                    |                                     |
|(a) …………..                          |(a) …………..                           |
|(b) ……………                           |(b) ……………                            |
|(c) ……………                           |(c) ……………                            |
|(d) ……………                           |(d) ……………                            |
|(e) ……………  and                      |(e) ……………  and                       |
|(f) …………….                          |(f) …………….                           |
|                                    |                                     |
|(4)…………………….                        |(4)…………………….                         |
|                                    |                                     |
|(5) …….                             |(5)…..                               |
|                                    |                                     |
|(6) The State Government may, by    |(6)  The State Government may, by    |
|notification in the Official        |notification in the Official Gazette,|
|Gazette, direct the Survey          |direct the Survey Commissioner to    |
|Commissioner to make a second or    |make a second or subsequent survey of|
|subsequent survey of [waqf]         |wakf properties in the State and the |
|properties in the State and the     |provisions of sub-sections (2), (3), |
|provisions of sub-sections (2), (3),|(4) and (5) shall apply to such      |
|(4) and (5) shall apply to such     |survey as they apply to a survey     |
|survey as they apply to a survey    |directed under sub-section (1):      |
|directed under sub-section (1):     |                                     |
|                                    |Provided that no such second or      |
|Provided that no such second or     |subsequent survey shall be made until|
|subsequent survey shall be made     |the expiry of a period of twenty     |
|until the expiry of a period of [ten|years from the date on which the     |
|years] from the date on which the   |report in relation to the immediately|
|report in relation to the           |previous survey was submitted under  |
|immediately previous survey was     |sub-section (3).]                    |
|submitted under sub-section (3):    |                                     |
|[Provided further that the waqf     |                                     |
|properties already notified shall   |                                     |
|not be reviewed again in subsequent |                                     |
|survey except where the status of   |                                     |
|such property has been changed in   |                                     |
|accordance with the previous of any |                                     |
|law.]                               |                                     |
|5.  Publication of list of [auqaf]. |5.  Publication of list of wakfs. –  |
|–                                   |                                     |
|                                    |(1)  On receipt of a report under    |
|(1) On receipt of a report under    |sub-section (3) of section 4, the    |
|sub-section (3) of section 4, the   |State Government shall forward a copy|
|State Government shall forward a    |of the same to the Board.            |
|copy of the same to the Board.      |                                     |
|                                    |(2) The Board shall examine the      |
|(2) The Board shall examine the     |report forwarded to it under         |
|report forwarded to it under        |sub-section (1) and publish, in the  |
|sub-section (1) and [forward it back|Official Gazette, a list of wakfs    |
|to the Government within a period of|[[in the State, or as the case may   |
|six months for publication in the   |be, the part of the State, whether in|
|Official Gazette] a list of Sunni   |existence at the commencement of this|
|[auqaf] or Shia [auqaf] in the      |Act or coming into existence         |
|State, whether in existence at the  |thereafter] to which the report      |
|commencement of this Act or coming  |relates, and] containing such        |
|into existence thereafter, to which |particulars as may be prescribed.    |
|the report relates, and containing  |                                     |
|such other particulars as may be    |                                     |
|prescribed.                         |                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|[(3) The revenue authorities shall –|                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|(i) include the list of auqaf       |                                     |
|referred to in sub-section (2),     |                                     |
|while updating the land records: and|                                     |
|(ii) take into consideration the    |                                     |
|list of auqaf referred to in        |                                     |
|sub-section (2), while deciding     |                                     |
|mutation in the land records.]      |                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|[(4) The State Government shall     |                                     |
|maintain a record of the lists      |                                     |
|published under sub-section (2) from|                                     |
|time to time.]                      |                                     |
|6.  Disputes regarding [auqaf]. –   |6.  Disputes regarding wakfs. –      |
|                                    |                                     |
|(1) If any question arises whether a|(1) If any question arises [whether a|
|particular properly specified a     |particular property specified as wakf|
|[waqf] property in the list of      |property in a list of wakfs published|
|[auqaf] is [waqf] properly or not or|under sub-section (2) of Section 5 is|
|whether a [waqf] specified in such  |wakf property or not whether a wakf  |
|list is a Shia [waqf] or Sunni      |specified in such list is a Shia wakf|
|[waqf], the Board or the mutawalli  |or sunni wakf] the Board of the      |
|of the [waqf] of [any person        |mutawalli of the wakf or any person  |
|aggrieved] may institute a suit in a|interested therein may institute a   |
|Tribunal for the decision of the    |suit in a civil court of competent   |
|question and the decision of the    |jurisdiction for the decision of the |
|Tribunal in respect of such matter  |question and the decision of the     |
|shall be final:                     |civil court in respect of such matter|
|Provided that no such suit shall be |shall be final:                      |
|entertained by the Tribunal after   |Provided that no such suit shall be  |
|the expiry of one year from the date|entertained by the Civil court after |
|of the publication of the list of   |the expiry of one year from the date |
|[auqaf]:                            |of the publication of the list of    |
|[Provided further that no suit shall|wakfs under sub-section (2) of       |
|be instituted before the Tribunal in|Section 5:                           |
|respect of such properties notified |[Provided further that in the case of|
|in a second or subsequent survey    |the list of wakfs relating to any    |
|pursuant to the provisions contained|part of the State and published or   |
|in sub-section (6) of section 4.]   |purporting to have been published    |
|                                    |before the commencement of the Wakf  |
|                                    |(Amendment) Act, 1969 (38 of 1969,   |
|                                    |such suit may be entertained by the  |
|                                    |Civil Court within the period of one |
|                                    |year from such commencement.]        |
|                                    |                                     |
|                                    |(2)……..                              |
|(2)…….                              |                                     |
|                                    |(3) ……….                             |
|(3) ……..                            |                                     |
|                                    |(4)  The list of wakfs published     |
|(4) The list of [auqaf] shall,      |under sub-section (2) of Section 5   |
|unless it is modified in pursuance  |shall, unless it is modified in      |
|of a decision or the Tribunal under |pursuance of a decision of the Civil |
|sub-section (1), be final and       |Court under sub-section (1), be final|
|conclusive.                         |and conclusive.                      |
|                                    |                                     |
|                                    |(5)  On and from the commencement of |
|(5) On and from the commencement of |the Wakf (Amendment) Act, 1984 in a  |
|this Act in a State, no suit or     |State, no suit or other legal        |
|other legal proceeding shall be     |proceeding shall be instituted or    |
|instituted or commenced in a court  |commenced in a Civil Court in that   |
|in that state in relation to any    |State in relation to any question    |
|question referred to in sub-section |referred in sub-section (1).]        |
|(1).                                |                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|7.  Power of Tribunal to determine  |6-A.   Power of Tribunal to determine|
|disputes regarding [auqaf]          |disputes regarding wakfs             |
|                                    |                                     |
|(1) If, after the commencement of   |(1) If, after the commencement of the|
|this Act, [any question or dispute] |Wakf (Amendment) Act, 1984, any      |
|arises, whether a particular        |question arises whether a particular |
|property specified as [waqf]        |property specified as wakf property  |
|property in a list of [auqaf] is    |in a list of wakfs published under   |
|[waqf] property or not, or whether a|sub-section (2) of the Section 5 is  |
|[waqf] specified in such list is a  |wakf property or not, or whether a   |
|Shia [waqf] or a Sunni [waqf], the  |wakf specified in such list is a Shia|
|Board or the mutawalli of the       |wakf or a Sunni wakf, the Board or   |
|[waqf], or [or any person aggrieved |the mutawalli of the wakf, or any    |
|by the publication of the list of   |person interested therein, may apply |
|auqaf under section 5] therein, may |to the Tribunal having jurisdiction  |
|apply to the Tribunal having        |in relation to such property, for the|
|jurisdiction in relation to such    |decision of the question and the     |
|property, for the decision of the   |decision of the Tribunal in respect  |
|question and the decision of the    |of such matter shall be final:       |
|Tribunal thereon shall be final:    |Provided that –                      |
|Provided that –                     |                                     |
|                                    |(a) in the case of the list of wakfs |
|                                    |relating to any part of the State and|
|(a) in the case of the list of      |published or purporting to have been |
|[auqaf] relating to any part of the |published after the commencement of  |
|State and published after the       |the Wakf (Amendment) Act, 1984, no   |
|commencement of this Act no such    |such application shall be entertained|
|application shall be entertained    |after the expiry of one year from the|
|after the expiry of one year from   |date of publication of the list of   |
|the date of publication of the list |wakfs under sub-section (2) and      |
|[auqaf]; and                        |Section 5; and                       |
|                                    |                                     |
|                                    |                                     |
|                                    |(b) in the case of the list of wakfs |
|                                    |relating to any part of the State and|
|                                    |published or purporting to have been |
|(b) in the case of the list [auqaf] |published at any time within a period|
|relating to any part of the State   |of one year immediately preceding the|
|and published at any time within a  |commencement of the Wakf (Amendment) |
|period of one year immediately      |Act, 1984, such an application may be|
|preceding the commencement of this  |entertained by the Tribunal within   |
|Act, such an application may be     |the period of one year from such     |
|entertained by Tribunal within the  |commencement:                        |
|period of one year from such        |                                     |
|commencement:                       |                                     |
|                                    |Provided further that where any such |
|                                    |question has been heard and finally  |
|                                    |decided by a civil court in a suit   |
|                                    |instituted before such commencement, |
|Provided further that where any such|the Tribunal shall not re-open such  |
|question has been heard and finally |question.                            |
|decided by a civil court in a suit  |                                     |
|instituted before such commencement,|                                     |
|the Tribunal shall not re-open such |                                     |
|question.                           |                                     |


12.   A bare reading of the  afore-quoted  provisions  (relevant  provisions
for the purpose of this matter) contained in 1954 Act and  1995  Act,  makes
it manifestly clear that the provisions, which are relevant  for  this  case
are almost parimateria with each other.

13.   Section 4 of 1954 Act, empowered the State  Government  to  appoint  a
State  Commissioner,  and  as   many   Additional   and   Assistant   Survey
Commissioners of Wakf  as  may  be  necessary,  by  a  notification  in  the
Official Gazette for  the  purpose  of  making  survey  of  wakf  properties
existing within the State.  The Survey Commissioner after  making  a  survey
of  wakf  properties  would  submit  his  report  to  the  State  Government
containing various particulars as mentioned in sub-sections (3) and  (4)  of
Section 4 of  the Act.  Section 5 of 1954 Act mandated that  on  receipt  of
such report from Survey Commissioner made under sub-section (3)  of  Section
4, the State Government should forward a  copy  of  the  same  to  the  Wakf
Board. The Wakf Board would examine the report forwarded to it  and  publish
in Official Gazette, the list of Wakfs  in  the  State.  For  resolving  the
disputes regarding Wakfs, Section 6 of  1954  Act,  provided  jurisdictional
Civil Court as a forum and decision  of  Civil  Court  in  respect  of  such
matters should be final. It was also clarified that no such suit  should  be
entertained by the Civil Court, after the expiry of one year from  the  date
of publication of the list of Wakfs as per sub-section  (2)  of  Section  5.
Sub-section (4) of Section 6 stated that the list of Wakfs  published  under
sub-section (2) of Section 5 shall be final and conclusive unless such  list
is modified on the direction of the Civil Court.

14.   The provisions found in Sections 5 and 6 of Wakf Act 1995 and  Act  of
1954 are almost akin to each other.  However the change brought  in  by  the
Parliament under 1995 Act is that, in the case of dispute  regarding  Wakfs,
the aggrieved party needs to approach the Wakf  Tribunal  constituted  under
Section 83 of the Waqf Act 1995 and consequently  the  jurisdiction  of  the
Civil  Court  is  taken  away.   Except  the  aforesaid  change,  no   other
substantial modification is found in those provisions.  Section  7  of  1995
Act empowers the Tribunal to determine the disputes, regarding  Auqaf/Wakfs,
the particulars of which are specified therein.

15.   Section 6 and Section 7 of Waqf Act  1995  bars  jurisdiction  of  the
Civil Court to try the civil  suit  in  respect  of  questions  specifically
enumerated under those provisions. Section 85  of  Waqf  Act,  1995  further
clarifies that no suit or other legal proceeding  shall  lie  in  any  civil
court, revenue court and any other authority  in  respect  of  any  dispute,
question or other matter relating  to  any  wakf,  wakf  property  or  other
matter which is required by  or  under  this  Act  to  be  determined  by  a
Tribunal.

16.   The overall view of the aforementioned provisions  contained  in  Wakf
Act, 1954 and Waqf Act 1995 make it evident that even under 1954 Act, as  in
1995 Act, the Survey Commissioners were appointed for the purpose of  making
survey of wakfs in  State.   The  Survey  Commissioner  was  duty  bound  to
conduct the survey of wakfs in the State and after making such  enquiry,  as
he might consider necessary, would submit his report  in  respect  of  Wakfs
existing in the State to the State Government  with  necessary  particulars.
Copy of the said report would be forwarded by the State to  the  Wakf  Board
which in turn would examine the report by applying its mind  and  thereafter
would publish the notification.  Whereas under  1995  Act,  the  Wakf  Board
after examining the report forwards it back to Government  within  a  period
of 6 months for publication in the Official Gazette in the State.   Pursuant
thereto the  State  will  publish  the  Gazette  notification.  The  revenue
authorities will consequently include the list  of  Auqaf  properties  while
updating the revenue records under sub-section (3)  of  Section  5  of  1995
Act.

17.   Thus it is amply clear that the conducting of  survey  by  the  Survey
Commissioner and preparing a report and forwarding the same to the State  or
the Wakf Board precedes  the  final  act  of  notifying  such  list  in  the
official gazette by the State under 1995 Act, (it was  by  the  Board  under
1954 Act). As mentioned supra, the list would  be  prepared  by  the  Survey
Commissioner after making due enquiry and after  valid  survey  as  well  as
after due application of mind.  The enquiry contemplated  under  sub-section
(3) of Section 4 is not merely an informal enquiry but a formal  enquiry  to
find out at the grass root level, as to  whether  the  property  is  a  Wakf
Property or not.  Thereafter the Wakf Board  will  once  again  examine  the
list sent to it with due application of it’s mind and  only  thereafter  the
same will be sent to Government for  notifying  the  same  in  the  Gazette.
Since the list  is  prepared  and  published  in  the  official  Gazette  by
following aforementioned procedure, there is no scope for the  plaintiff  to
get the matter reopened by  generating  some  sort  of  doubt  about  Survey
Commissioner’s report. Since  the  surveyor’s  report  was  required  to  be
considered by the State Government as well as Wakf Board (as  the  case  may
be), prior to finalisation of the list of properties to be published in  the
Official Gazette, it was not open for the High Court to  conclude  that  the
Surveyor’s report will have to be reconsidered. On the  contrary  Surveyor’s
report merges with the Gazette Notification published  under  Section  5  of
the Wakf Act.

 18.  As held by the Tribunal as well as the High  Court,  the  property  in
question does not find place in the  Gazette  notification  published  under
Section 5 of the Wakf Act.  In other words, the property in question is  not
notified in the official Gazette as Wakf  property.   If  anybody  including
the Wakf Board or the plaintiff was aggrieved by such non-inclusion  of  the
property in the list notified, the aggrieved person should have  raised  the
dispute under Section 6 within a  period  of  one  year  from  the  date  of
publication of the Gazette notification in the  matter.  The  plaintiff  has
practically questioned the non-inclusion of the property  in  the  list  and
the validity of the list notified in the official gazette  dated  28.06.1962
after the lapse of about 50 years, i.e. in  the  year  2013  by  filing  the
present suit.

19.   As per Section 27 of 1954 Act (Section 40 of 1995 Act), the Board  may
itself collect information regarding any property which  it  has  reason  to
believe to be wakf property and if any question arises whether a  particular
property is wakf property or not the Board after making such enquiry  as  it
deems fit, decide the question. The decision of the Board  on  any  question
under sub-section (1) of Section 27 of 1954 Act (or under Section  40(1)  of
1995 Act) shall, unless revoked or modified by the Civil  Court,  be  final.
The effect of Section 27 of 1954 Act or Section 40 of 1995 Act is  that,  if
any property had been omitted to  be  included  in  the  list  of  auqaf  by
inadvertence or otherwise,  then it  was/is  for  the  Wakf  Board  to  take
action, as per said provision. In this context, it is relevant to  note  the
observations by this Court in the case of T.N.Wakf Board vs.  Hathija  Ammal
[1] which read thus:

“In the event, any property has been omitted by inadvertence  or  otherwise,
then it is for the Wakf Board to take action as provided  under  Section  27
of the Act. If the Wakf Board  has  reason  to  believe  that  a  particular
property is a wakf property then it can itself collect  information  and  if
any question arises whether a particular property  is  a  wakf  property  or
not, it may, after making such  enquiry  as  it  may  deem  fit  decide  the
question and such decision of the Wakf Board shall be final  unless  revoked
or modified by a civil court. Such action has not been  taken  by  the  Wakf
Board in this case.”



20.   Sub-section (1A) of Section 4 is inserted by Act  27  of  2013  w.e.f.
1.11.2013 and the same reads thus:

            “(1A) Every State Government shall  maintain  a  list  of  auqaf
referred to in sub-section (1) and the survey of auqaf  shall  be  completed
within a period of one year from  the  date  of  commencement  of  the  Wakf
(Amendment) Act,  2013,  in  case  such  survey  was  not  done  before  the
commencement of the Wakf (Amendment) Act, 2013:

            Provided that where no Survey  Commissioner  of  Waqf  has  been
appointed a Survey Commissioner for auqaf shall be  appointed  within  three
months from the date of such commencement.”



21.   In the matter on hand, the said provision also will not  come  to  the
aid of the plaintiff inasmuch as the said sub-section can be  employed  only
if survey of auqaf was not done before the commencement of Wakf  (Amendment)
Act, 2013. Admittedly in the matter on hand, the survey was conducted  prior
to    1962 and based on such Surveyor’s report only, the list  was  prepared
and the  same  was  submitted  to  State  Government,  which  in  turn,  was
forwarded  to  Wakf  Board,  the  Wakf  Board  after  examining  the  report
published the list in the official gazette in the  year  1962.  Hence,  sub-
section (1A) of Section 4 also will be of no avail to the plaintiff.

22.   In the matter on hand, as mentioned supra, the Tribunal and  the  High
Court, on facts have held that the property in question is not  included  in
the list published in the Official Gazette as a  wakf  property.  Such  non-
inclusion was never questioned by any person including the Wakf  Board.  The
Board has not exercised jurisdiction  under  Section  27  of  1954  Act  and
Section 40 of 1995 Act, though 50 years have elapsed from the  date  of  the
gazette notification. Hence, in our considered  opinion,  the  averments  in
the plaint do not disclose the cause of action  for  filing  the  suit.  The
suit is manifestly meritless and vexatious. So also the suit  is  barred  by
law for the reasons mentioned supra.

  23. In view of the above, the Order of the High Court is liable to be  set
aside.  Accordingly, the same stands  set  aside.  Appeal  is  allowed.  The
order of the Wakf Tribunal is restored. No costs.



                                              …..…………………………….J.
                                               (R.K.Agrawal)



                                               …..……………………………J.
                                               (Mohan   M.   Shantanagoudar)

New Delhi,
Dated: April 19, 2017

-----------------------
[1]

      [2] (2001) 8 SCC 528


maintenance to the respondent-wife. - 25% of the husband’s net salary = Following Dr. Kulbhushan Kumar vs. Raj Kumari and Anr. (1970) 3 SCC 129, in this case, it was held that 25% of the husband’s net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the respondent-wife. In the result, the maintenance amount of Rs.23,000/- awarded to the respondent-wife is reduced to Rs.20,000/- per month and the impugned judgment is modified and this appeal is partly allowed. The maintenance of Rs.20,000/- per month is payable to the respondent-wife on or before 10th of every succeeding english calendar month. No costs.

                                REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  5369    OF 2017
                  (Arising out of SLP(C) No. 34653 of 2016)


KALYAN DEY CHOWDHURY                            .....Appellant
                                   Versus
RITA DEY CHOWDHURY NEE NANDY             .....Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T


R. BANUMATHI, J.

Leave granted.

2.    Challenge in this appeal is to the order dated  15.09.2016  passed  by
the High Court at Calcutta in RVW No.85 of 2016 in  C.O.  No.4228  of  2012,
reviewing an order dated 02.02.2015 passed earlier in an  application  filed
under Section 25(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, thereby  enhancing  the
amount of maintenance from Rs.16,000/- per month to Rs.23,000/- per month.

3.    Parties are entangled in  several  rounds  of  litigation.  Background
facts in a nutshell are as follows: The marriage of the  appellant  and  the
respondent was solemnized on 10.08.1995 as per Hindu rites  and  customs  at
the appellant’s residence at Kalna. A male child was born on 04.10.1996   at
Chandannagore who is now a major pursuing his college education.  After  the
birth of child, it is alleged that the respondent continued in her  parent’s
house. The appellant-husband requested  the  respondent  to  return  to  the
matrimonial home at Kalna alongwith the child.  It is alleged  that  instead
of acceding to the request of the appellant-husband and  returning  back  to
the matrimonial home,  the  respondent-wife  insisted  that  the  appellant-
husband shifts to her father’s place at Chandannagore.

4.    Appellant filed an application under Section 9 of the  Hindu  Marriage
Act, 1955 for restitution of conjugal rights against the respondent-wife  in
Matrimonial Suit No.370 of  1997  before  the  District  Judge,  Burdwan  on
23.12.1997.  On  receipt  of  summons  in  the  above  matrimonial  suit  on
9.02.1998, the respondent-wife lodged an FIR bearing P.S. Case  No.25  dated
13.02.1998 under Sections 498A and 406 IPC against  the  appellant  and  his
parents at P.S. Chandannagore. The appellant and his  parents  were  granted
anticipatory bail by the Sessions Judge, Burdwan on 20.05.1998  in  the  FIR
filed by the respondent-wife. The respondent-wife also filed  a  maintenance
case being Misc.  Case  No.24/98  under  Section  125  Cr.P.C.  against  the
appellant-husband claiming maintenance for herself and the minor son.

5.    On 10.08.2000, the Additional District Judge,  Burdwan  passed  decree
of restitution of  conjugal  rights  in  favour  of  the  appellant-husband.
However, the respondent did not reconcile and preferred  an  appeal  against
the said decree of restitution of conjugal  rights  before  the  High  Court
being F.A. No.198 of 2001.  In the High Court, by an order dated  24.05.2001
an interim arrangement was made directing the appellant herein to go to  the
parental home of the respondent-wife at  Chandannagore  and  take  back  the
wife and the child to his residence at Kalna and make necessary  arrangement
for living with his wife and  child  separately  from  the  parents  of  the
husband in the first  floor  of  the  matrimonial  home.  Subsequently,  the
interim arrangement was recalled.  The interim arrangement did not work  and
the appeal filed by the respondent-wife was allowed on 13.08.2003.

6.    In the year 2003, respondent-wife filed a Matrimonial Suit  No.533  of
2003 before the District Judge Hooghly against the  appellant-husband  under
Section 10 of the Act for judicial separation.  According to the  appellant,
though he filed written objections denying allegations made against him,  he
could not attend the hearing and it is alleged that  he  was  manhandled  in
the court premises by some men of the respondent-wife.  Ex parte decree  for
judicial separation was ordered on 19.05.2006, as  a  consequence  of  which
decree for permanent alimony was also ordered under Section 25 of the  Hindu
Marriage Act to the respondent-wife amounting to Rs.2,500/-  per  month  and
          Rs. 2,000/- per month to the minor son.

7.     In  the  meanwhile,  the  appellant-husband  and  his  parents   were
acquitted of all the charges by the Additional District and Sessions  Judge,
2nd Fast Track Court, Serempore on 20.07.2006 in  the  case  filed  alleging
dowry harassment.  Being aggrieved by the order hereinabove, the respondent-
wife filed a revision petition being CRR No. 3087 of 2006  before  the  High
Court at Calcutta which came to be dismissed on 21.03.2011.

8.    The appellant-husband filed a divorce petition being Matrimonial  Suit
No.71 of 2007 which was renumbered as Suit  No.193  of  2010  under  Section
13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act for  dissolution  of  marriage.  In  the
said  divorce  petition,  the  respondent-wife  filed  an  application   for
permanent  alimony  under  Section  25  of  the  Act.   By  an  order  dated
19.05.2006, passed by the Additional District Judge, 1st Court,  Hooghly  in
Matrimonial Suit No.533 of 2003, enhanced the amount of maintenance  to  Rs.
8,000/- per month in F.A. No. 193 of 2008.
9.    On 10.10.2010, the respondent filed an  amendment  application  before
the Court being Misc. Case No.2 of 2010 in Matrimonial Suit No.533  of  2003
under Section 25(2) of  the  Act  praying  for  enhancement  of  maintenance
amounting to Rs.10,000/- per month for  herself  and  Rs.  6,000/-  for  her
minor son.  Vide order dated 10.10.2012, the said  application  was  allowed
and  maintenance  at  the  rate  of  Rs.6000/-  each  was  ordered  for  the
respondent and her minor son.

10.    Aggrieved  by  this  order,  respondent-wife  preferred  a   revision
petition under Article 227 of the Constitution  of  India  before  the  High
Court being C.O. No.4228 of 2012.   During  its  pendency,  the  Matrimonial
Suit No.193 of 2010 was decreed and the marriage between  the  parties  came
to be dissolved by the order of the  Additional  District  Judge,  1st  Fast
Track Court, Serampore on 30.11.2012.  Post-divorce,  the  appellant  herein
re-married and has a male child born out of the second wedlock.
11.   By an order dated 02.02.2015, the High Court  disposed  of  the  above
revision petition by  directing  the  appellant-husband  to  pay  a  sum  of
Rs.16,000/- towards the maintenance of the respondent-wife as  well  as  her
minor son.   Aggrieved  by  this  order,  the  respondent-wife  preferred  a
Special Leave Petition (C)  No.12968  of  2015  which  was  disposed  of  as
withdrawn with liberty  to  approach  the  High  Court  by  way  of  review.
Pursuant to the above order,  respondent-wife  filed  a  review  application
being RVW No.85 of 2016 arising out of CO  NO.4228  of  2012.  Upon  hearing
both the parties, by order dated 15.09.2016, the  learned  Single  Judge  of
the High Court modified the order under review and enhanced  the  amount  of
maintenance from Rs.16,000/- to Rs.23,000/- which is the subject  matter  of
challenge in this appeal.
12.   Learned counsel for the appellant Mr. Pijush K. Roy submitted that  in
exercise of review jurisdiction, the High Court ought not to  have  enhanced
the maintenance amount from Rs.16,000/-  to  Rs.23,000/-.   It  was  further
submitted that the appellant-husband is posted  at  Malda  Medical  College,
Malda, West Bengal and gets a net  salary  of  Rs.87,500/-   per  month  and
while so, the appellant would find it difficult to pay enhanced  maintenance
amount of  Rs.23,000/-  per  month  to  the  respondent-wife.   It  is  also
submitted that the respondent  is  a  qualified  beautician  and  Montessori
teacher and earns Rs.30,000/- per  month  and  the  son  has  also  attained
eighteen  years  of  age  and  hence  the  enhanced  maintenance  amount  of
Rs.23,000/- per month is on the higher side and  prayed  for  restoring  the
original order of Rs.16,000/- per month.
13.    Per  contra,  learned  counsel  for  the  respondent-wife         Ms.
Supriya Juneja submitted that the High Court on perusal of the pay slip  and
the expenditure of appellant-husband has arrived at the right conclusion  of
granting Rs.23,000/- as maintenance to the respondent. The  learned  counsel
has also further submitted that even though the son  has  attained  majority
and since the son is aged only eighteen years and is presently  studying  in
a college and for  meeting  the  expenses  of  higher  education  and  other
requirements, enhanced maintenance amount of  Rs.23,000/-  per  month  is  a
reasonable one and the impugned order warrants no interference.
14.   We have considered the rival  contentions  and  perused  the  impugned
judgment and other materials on record.
15.   Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act,  1955  confers  power  upon  the
court to grant a permanent alimony to either spouse who claims the  same  by
making an application.  Sub-section (2) of Section 25 of Hindu Marriage  Act
confers ample power on the court to vary, modify or discharge any order  for
permanent alimony or permanent maintenance that may have been  made  in  any
proceeding under the Act under the provisions contained in  sub-section  (1)
of Section 25.  In exercising the power under  Section  25  (2),  the  court
would have regard to the “change  in  the  circumstances  of  the  parties”.
There must be some change in the circumstances of  either  party  which  may
have to be taken into account when an application is made under  sub-section
(2) of Section 25 for variation, modification or rescission of the order  as
the court may deem just.
16.   The review petition under Order XLVII Rule 1 CPC came to be  filed  by
the respondent-wife pursuant to the liberty granted by this Court  when  the
earlier order dated 02.02.2015 awarding a maintenance of Rs.16,000/- to  the
respondent-wife as well as to her minor son was under challenge before  this
Court.  As pointed out by the High Court, in February 2015,  the  appellant-
husband  was  getting  a  net  salary  of  Rs.63,842/-  after  deduction  of
Rs.24,000/- on account  of  GPF  and  Rs.12,000/-  towards  income-tax.   In
February, 2016, the net salary of the appellant is stated to be  Rs.95,527/-
.  Following Dr. Kulbhushan Kumar vs. Raj Kumari and Anr. (1970) 3 SCC  129,
in this case, it was held that 25% of the  husband’s  net  salary  would  be
just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to  the  respondent-wife.   The
amount of permanent alimony awarded  to  the  wife  must  be  befitting  the
status of the parties and the capacity of the  spouse  to  pay  maintenance.
Maintenance is always dependant on the factual situation  of  the  case  and
the court would be justified in moulding the claim  for  maintenance  passed
on various factors.  Since in February, 2016, the net salary of the  husband
was Rs. 95,000/- per month, the High Court was justified  in  enhancing  the
maintenance amount.  However, since  the  appellant  has  also  got  married
second time and has a child from the second marriage,  in  the  interest  of
justice, we  think  it  proper  to  reduce  the  amount  of  maintenance  of
Rs.23,000/- to Rs.20,000/- per month as maintenance to  the  respondent-wife
and son.
17.   In the result, the maintenance amount of Rs.23,000/-  awarded  to  the
respondent-wife is  reduced  to  Rs.20,000/-  per  month  and  the  impugned
judgment is modified and this appeal is partly allowed. The  maintenance  of
Rs.20,000/- per month is payable to the respondent-wife on  or  before  10th
of every succeeding english calendar month.  No costs.

  ..….…...........……………………….J.
            [R. BANUMATHI]


          ……...............………………………..J.
                              [MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR]
New Delhi;
April 19, 2017
















ITEM NO.1A                 COURT NO.7               SECTION XVI
(For judgment)
               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

CIVIL APPEAL NO.5369/2017 @
Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s).  34653/2016

(Arising out of impugned final judgment and order dated  15/09/2016 in CO
No. 4228/2012 15/09/2016 in RVW No. 85/2016 passed by the High Court Of
Calcutta)

KALYAN DEY CHOWDHURY                               Petitioner(s)

                                VERSUS

RITA DEY CHOWDHURY NEE NANDY                       Respondent(s)


Date : 19/04/2017 This matter was called on for pronouncement of judgment
today.


For Petitioner(s)    Mr. Rajan K. Chourasia,Adv.


For Respondent(s)    Mrs Sarla Chandra,Adv.

                     Ms.Supriya Juneja,Adv.

                        Ms. Mehaak Jaggi, Adv.


             Hon'ble Mrs. Justice R.  Banumathi  pronounced  the  reportable
judgment  of the Bench comprising  Her  Lordship  and  Hon'ble  Mr.  Justice
Mohan M. Shantanagoudar.

             Leave granted.

            The appeal is partly allowed.  The  maintenance  of  Rs.20,000/-
p.m.  is  payable  to  the  respondent-wife  on  or  before  10th  of  every
succeeding English Calendar Month.

             No costs.

              Application, if any, also stands disposed of.


          (USHA BHARDWAJ)                            (RENU DIWAN)
           AR-CUM-PS                               ASSISTANT REGISTRAR
      Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file.