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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Partition list admissible for collateral purpose i.e. severancy of title, nature of possession of various shares but not for the primary purpose i.e. division of joint properties by metes and bounds = whether the document dated 09.09.1994 which was inadmissible in evidence could have been used for any collateral purpose. In a suit for partition, an unregistered document can be relied upon for collateral purpose i.e. severancy of title, nature of possession of 10 various shares but not for the primary purpose i.e. division of joint properties by metes and bounds. Further, an unstamped instrument is not admissible in evidence even for collateral purpose, until the same is impounded. = whether these can be used for any collateral purpose. The larger Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Chinnappareddigari Peda Mutyala Reddy v. Chinnappareddigari Venkata Reddy(AIR 1969 AP 242) has held that the whole process of partition contemplates three phases i.e. severancy of status, division of joint property by metes and bounds and nature of possession of various shares. In a suit for partition, an unregistered document can be relied upon for collateral purpose i.e. severancy of title, nature of possession of various shares but not for the primary purpose i.e. division of joint properties by metes and bounds. An unstamped instrument is not admissible in evidence even for collateral purpose, until the same is impounded. Hence, if the appellant­defendant want to mark these documents for collateral purpose it is open for them to pay the stamp duty together with penalty and get the document impounded and the trial court is at liberty to mark Exts. B­21 and B­22 for collateral purpose subject to proof and relevance. Following the law laid down by this Court in the above case, we are of the opinion that document dated 09.09.1994 may be admissible in evidence for collateral purpose provided the appellant get the document impounded and to pay the stamp duty together with penalty as has been directed in the above case.

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO................OF 2018
(ARISING OUT OF SLP(C)NO.11067 OF 2017)
SITA RAM BHAMA                       … PETITIONER
VERSUS
RAMVATAR BHAMA         … RESPONDENT
J U D G M E N T
ASHOK BHUSHAN, J.
The appellant, who was plaintiff in Civil Suit No.4 of
2011, has filed this appeal questioning the judgment of the
High   Court   of   Judicature   for   Rajasthan   at   Jodhpur   dated
23.01.2017   by   which   writ   petition   filed   by   the   appellant
against the order dated 03.03.2015 of the Additional District
Judge has been dismissed.
2. Brief facts of the case which are necessary to be noted
for deciding this appeal are:
We shall refer the parties as described in the plaint.
Plaintiff and respondent are real brothers being sons of late
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Devi Dutt Ji Verma. Plaintiff's case is that his father Devi
Dutt Verma on 25.10.1992 decided to divide his self­acquired
movable   and   immovable   properties   between   plaintiff   and
defendant.   The   late   father,   however,   did   not   execute   any
settlement   deed.   Devi   Dutt   Verma   died   on   10.09.1993   and
thereafter   on   09.09.1994   plaintiff   and   defendant   recorded   a
memorandum of settlement as decided by their father regarding
his self­acquired properties. The memorandum of settlement was
signed by mother of the parties as well two sisters had signed
as   witnesses.   According   to   memorandum   of   settlement   both
residential   house   as   well   as   shop   in   the   Aguna   Bazar   were
distributed as decided by their late father.
3. A   Civil   Suit   No.5   of   2010   was   filed   by   the   plaintiff
praying for partition of the residential house as well as the
shop. In the suit an application under Order VII Rule 11 of
the Civil Procedure Code was filed by the defendant, Ramvatar
Bhama taking the plea that on 25.10.1992 during the life time
of   Shri   Devi   Dutt   Verma,   the   father   of   the   plaintiff   and
defendant, had partitioned the house and the shop. Southern
portion of the house came in the share of the plaintiff and
northern   part   came   in   the   share   of   the   defendant.   In
confirmation   of   the   earlier   partition   dated   25.10.1992   the
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family   settlement   dated   09.09.1994   was   executed   which   was
signed   by   the   plaintiff   and   defendant   along   with   both   the
sisters  as well as mother. It was pleaded by the defendant,
in view of the aforesaid, that there was no cause of action
for the plaintiff to file a partition suit. Defendant prayed
that suit of the plaintiff is liable to be dismissed.
4. The trial court vide its order dated 19.01.2011 allowed
the application filed by the defendant under Order VII Rule 11
CPC   and   dismissed   the   suit   for   want   of   cause   of   action   in
favour of the plaintiff. The civil court accepted the case of
the defendant that the parties which were in joint family have
been divided, there being nothing joint between the parties,
there is no cause of action for the plaintiff for filing the
suit for partition. The relief for permanent injunction was
also held to be related to the partition.
5. Another   Civil   Suit   No.4   of   2011   was   filed   by   the
plaintiff claiming that after dismissal of the earlier suit of
the plaintiff on 19.01.2011, defendant broke open the lock of
the house and took possession of the house. Plaintiff prayed
for   decree   of   possession   against   the   defendant   as   well   as
decree   of   permanent   injunction.   Plaintiff   also   sought   for
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mesne profit and expenses.
6. In   the   suit,   plaintiff   has   filed   the   document   dated
09.09.1994 evidencing family settlement which was claimed by
the   plaintiff   as   memorandum   of   settlement.   An   application
under Order XIII Rule 3 CPC and Article 45 and Section 35 of
the   Indian   Stamp   Act   and   Sections   17   and   49   of   the   Indian
Registration   Act,   was   filed   by   the   defendant   claiming   that
document dated 09.09.1994 being not a registered document and
being not properly stamped is not admissible in evidence, same
may be rejected. The application was replied by the plaintiff.
The trial court vide its order dated 03.03.2015 allowed the
application of the defendant holding that the document dated
09.09.1994 is a family settlement deed and a relinquishment
document   which   is   not   admissible   as   evidence   being
inadequately   stamped   and   not   being   registered.   Against   the
said   order   dated   03.03.2015   writ   petition   was   filed   by   the
plaintiff which was dismissed by the High Court upholding the
order of the trial court. The High Court also took the view
that so called family settlement takes away the share of the
sisters   and   mother,   therefore,   the   same   was   compulsorily
registrable. Aggrieved by the said order, the plaintiff has
come up in this appeal.
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7. Shri Ajit Kumar Sinha, learned senior counsel, appearing
for the appellant submits that document dated 09.09.1994 is
only a memorandum of partition which took place on 25.10.1992
when father of the parties had partitioned the house and the
shop. The memorandum of family settlement is not compulsorily
registrable. The document itself being not a family settlement
rather only a memorandum ought to have been accepted by the
trial court. He further submits that in the earlier suit filed
by   the   plaintiff   being   Suit   No.5   of   2010,   the   suit   was
dismissed   under   Order   VII   Rule   11   CPC   on   the   plea   of   the
defendant that the partition has already taken place between
the parties as claimed by the plaintiff, hence,  no cause of
action has arisen for filing a suit for partition. He submits
that   partition   effected   by   the   father   of   the   parties   on
25.10.1992   which   was   subsequently   recorded   on   09.09.1994
having already been accepted, it is not open for trial court
to   reject   the   document   dated   09.09.1994   for   being   taken   in
evidence. It is submitted that by order of the court below the
plaintiff has become remedy­less.
8. Learned   counsel   for   the   respondent   refuting   the
submission of the learned counsel for the appellant contends
that the trial court as well as the High Court has rightly
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come   to   the   conclusion   that   document   dated   09.09.1994   was
compulsorily registrable. It being neither registered nor duly
stamped   has   rightly   been   rejected   by   the   trial   court   from
being taken in evidence. He submits that the High Court has
rightly dismissed the writ petition filed by the plaintiff.
9. We   have   considered   the   submissions   of   the   parties   and
perused the records.
10. The   only   question   which   needs   to   be   considered   in   the
present case is as to whether document dated 09.09.1994 could
have  been  accepted  by  the  trial court  in  evidence  or  trial
court   has   rightly   held   the   said   document   inadmissible.   The
plaintiff claimed the document dated 09.09.1994 as memorandum
of   family   settlement.   Plaintiff's   case   is   that   earlier
partition took place in the life time of the father of the
parties   on   25.10.1992   which   was   recorded   as   memorandum   of
family   settlement   on   09.09.1994.   There   are   more   than   one
reasons   due   to   which   we   are   of   the   view   that   the   document
dated 09.09.1994 was not mere memorandum of family settlement
rather a family settlement itself. Firstly, on 25.10.1992, the
father of the parties was himself owner of both, the residence
and shop being self­acquired properties of Devi Dutt Verma.
The  High Court has rightly held that the said document cannot
be said to be a Will, so that father could have made Will in
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favour of his two sons, plaintiff and defendant. Neither the
plaintiff nor defendant had any share in the property on the
day   when   it   is   said   to   have   been   partitioned   by   Devi   Dutt
Verma.   Devi   Dutt   Verma   died   on   10.09.1993.   After   his   death
plaintiff,   defendant   and   their   mother   as   well   as   sisters
become   the   legal   heirs   under   Hindu   Succession   Act,   1955
inheriting   the   property   being   a   class   I   heir.   The   document
dated 09.09.1994 divided the entire property between plaintiff
and defendant which document is also claimed to be signed by
their   mother   as   well   as   the   sisters.   In   any   view   of   the
matter, there is relinquishment of the rights of other heirs
of   the   properties,   hence,   courts   below   are   right   in   their
conclusion that there being relinquishment, the document dated
09.09.1994   was   compulsorily   registrable   under   Section   17   of
the Registration Act.
11. Pertaining to family settlement, a memorandum of family
settlement and its necessity of registration, the law has been
settled   by   this   Court.   It   is   sufficient   to   refer   to   the
judgment of this Court in Kale and others vs. Deputy Director
of   Consolidation   and   others,   (1976)   3   SCC   119.   The
propositions   with   regard   to   family   settlement,   its
registration were laid down by this Court in paragraphs 10 and
11:
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“10. In other words to put the binding effect
and the essentials of a family settlement in a
concretised   form,   the   matter   may   be   reduced
into the form of the following propositions:
(1) The family settlement must be a bona fide
one so as to resolve family disputes and rival
claims   by   a   fair   and   equitable   division   or
allotment   of   properties   between   the   various
members of the family;
(2) The said settlement must be voluntary and
should   not   be   induced   by   fraud,   coercion   or
undue influence;
(3) The family arrangement may be even oral
in which case no registration is necessary;
(4)   It   is   well   settled   that   registration
would   be   necessary   only   if   the   terms   of   the
family   arrangement   are   reduced   into   writing.
Here also, a distinction should be made between
a document containing the terms and recitals of
a   family   arrangement   made  under   the   document
and a mere memorandum prepared after the family
arrangement   had   already   been   made   either   for
the purpose of the record or for information of
the   court   for   making   necessary   mutation.   In
such   a   case   the   memorandum   itself   does   not
create   or   extinguish   any   rights   in   immovable
properties  and therefore does not fall within
the   mischief   of   Section   17(2)   of   the
Registration   Act   and   is,   therefore,   not
compulsorily registrable;
(5)   The   members   who   may   be   parties   to   the
family   arrangement   must   have   some   antecedent
title, claim or interest even a possible claim
in   the   property   which   is   acknowledged   by   the
parties to the settlement. Even if one of the
parties   to   the   settlement   has   no   title   but
under   the   arrangement   the   other   party
relinquishes all its claims or titles in favour
of such a person and acknowledges him to be the
sole owner, then the antecedent title must be
assumed   and   the   family   arrangement   will   be
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upheld and the courts will find no difficulty
in giving assent to the same;
(6)   Even   if   bona   fide   disputes,   present   or
possible,   which   may   not   involve   legal   claims
are settled by a bona fide family arrangement
which   is   fair   and   equitable   the   family
arrangement is final and binding on the parties
to the settlement.
11. The principles indicated above have been
clearly enunciated and adroitly adumbrated in a
long course of decisions of this Court as also
those   of   the   Privy   Council   and   other   High
Courts, which we shall discuss presently.”
12. We are, thus, in full agreement with the view taken by
the trial court as well as the High Court that the document
dated   09.09.1994   was   compulsorily   registrable.   The   document
also   being   not   stamped   could   not   have   been   accepted   in
evidence   and   order   of   trial   court   allowing   the   application
under Order XII Rule 3 CPC and the reasons given by the trial
court in allowing the application   of the defendant holding
the document as inadmissible cannot be faulted.
13. There   is   only   one   aspect   of   the   matter   which   needs
consideration,   i.e.,   whether   the   document   dated   09.09.1994
which was inadmissible in evidence could have been used for
any   collateral   purpose.   In   a   suit   for   partition,   an
unregistered   document   can   be   relied   upon   for   collateral
purpose   i.e.   severancy   of   title,   nature   of   possession   of
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various shares but not for the primary purpose i.e. division
of joint properties by metes and bounds. Further, an unstamped
instrument is not admissible in evidence even for collateral
purpose,   until   the   same   is   impounded.   A   two­Judge   Bench
judgment of this Court in  Yellapu Uma Maheswari and another
vs. Buddha Jagadheeswararao and others, (2015) 16 SCC 787, is
appropriate. In the above case also admissibility of documents
Ext. B­21 dated 05.06.1975 a deed of memorandum and Ext. B­22
dated   04.06.1975   being   an   agreement   between   one   late
Mahalakshamma,   respondent   No.1­plaintiff   and   appellant
No.1­defendant   came   for   consideration.   Objection   was   taken
regarding   admissibility   which   was   upheld   both   by   the   High
Court and trial court. Matter was taken up by this Court. In
the above case, this Court held that the nomenclature given to
the   document   is   not   decisive   factor   but   the   nature   and
substance   of   the   transaction   has   to   be   determined   with
reference   to   the   terms   of   the   documents.   This   Court   after
considering both the documents, B­21 and B­22 held that they
require registration. In paragraph 15 following was held:
“15. It is well settled that the nomenclature
given   to   the   document   is   not   decisive   factor
but the nature and substance of the transaction
has   to   be   determined   with   reference   to   the
terms   of   the   documents   and   that   the
admissibility   of   a   document   is   entirely
dependent upon the  recitals contained in  that
document but not on the basis of the pleadings
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set up by the party who seeks to introduce the
document   in   question.   A   thorough   reading   of
both   Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   makes   it   very   clear
that   there   is   relinquishment   of   right   in
respect   of   immovable   property   through   a
document   which   is   compulsorily   registrable
document and if the same is not registered, it
becomes   an   inadmissible   document   as   envisaged
under   Section   49   of   the   Registration   Act.
Hence,   Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   are   the   documents
which squarely fall within the ambit of Section
17(1)(b) of the Registration Act and hence are
compulsorily registrable documents and the same
are inadmissible in evidence for the purpose of
proving   the   factum   of   partition   between   the
parties. We are of the considered opinion that
Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   are   not   admissible   in
evidence   for   the   purpose   of   proving   primary
purpose of partition.”
14. After   holding   the   said   documents   as   inadmissible,   this
Court further proceeded to consider the question as to whether
the documents  B­21  and  B­22 can be  used for any collateral
purpose.   In   the   above   context   the   Court   accepted   the
submission of the appellant that the documents can be looked
into   for   collateral   purpose   provided   appellant­defendant   to
pay the stamp duty together with penalty and get the document
impounded.   In   paragraphs   16   and   17   following   has   been   laid
down:
“16.  Then   the   next   question   that   falls   for
consideration is whether these can be used for
any collateral purpose. The larger Bench of the
Andhra Pradesh High Court in Chinnappareddigari
Peda   Mutyala   Reddy  v.  Chinnappareddigari
Venkata   Reddy(AIR   1969   AP   242)  has   held   that
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the   whole   process   of   partition   contemplates
three phases i.e. severancy of status, division
of   joint   property   by   metes   and   bounds   and
nature   of   possession   of   various   shares.   In   a
suit   for   partition,   an   unregistered   document
can be relied upon for collateral purpose i.e.
severancy   of   title,   nature   of   possession   of
various shares but not for the primary purpose
i.e. division of joint properties by metes and
bounds.   An   unstamped   instrument   is   not
admissible   in   evidence   even   for   collateral
purpose, until the same is impounded. Hence, if
the   appellant­defendant   want   to   mark   these
documents for collateral purpose it is open for
them   to   pay   the   stamp   duty   together   with
penalty and get the document impounded and the
trial   court   is   at   liberty   to   mark   Exts.   B­21
and   B­22   for   collateral   purpose   subject   to
proof and relevance.
17.  Accordingly, the civil appeal is partly
allowed   holding   that   Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   are
admissible   in   evidence   for   collateral   purpose
subject   to   payment   of   stamp   duty,   penalty,
proof and relevancy.”
15. Following the law laid down by this Court in the above
case, we are of the opinion that document dated 09.09.1994 may
be admissible in evidence for collateral purpose provided the
appellant get the document impounded and to pay the stamp duty
together with penalty as has been directed in the above case.
16. In   the   result,   this   appeal   is   partly   allowed   in   the
following manner:
The order of the trial court as well as the High Court
holding   that   the   document   dated   09.09.1994     required
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compulsory   registration   is   upheld.   Following   the   aforesaid
view   of   this   Court   in  Yellapu   Uma   Maheswari   (supra),  this
appeal is partly allowed holding that deed dated 09.09.1994 is
admissible   in   evidence   for   collateral   purpose   subject   to
payment of stamp duty and penalty.
...............................J.
( A.K. SIKRI )
...............................J.
( ASHOK BHUSHAN )
NEW DELHI,
MARCH 23, 2018.

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