Friday, 28 October 2016

Whether non examination of principal is fatal to case if agent was examined who was having knowledge of facts of case?

The appellant contended that none of the three vendors (defendants 1, 2 and 3) stepped into the witness box to give evidence and therefore an  adverse inference should be drawn against them that the case put forth by them is incorrect. Reliance was also placed on the decisions of this court in Vidhyadhar v. Mankikrao & Anr. (1999) 3 SCC 573 and Balasaheb Dayandeo Naik (Dead) through LRs. and Ors. v. Appasaheb Dattatraya Pawar (2008 ) 4 SCC 464 in that behalf. There were four defendants in the suit. Defendants 1,2 and 3, who were the owners of the lands were respectively the wife, son and daughter of the fourth defendant. It is an admitted position that the entire transaction was done on behalf of the defendants 1,2 and 3 by defendant No.4 who alone had complete knowledge of the entire transaction. Fourth defendant has given evidence on behalf of all the other defendants. When one of the defendants who is conversant with the facts has given evidence, it is not necessary for the other defendants to be examined as witnesses to duplicate the evidence.
The legal position as to who should give evidence in regard to the matters involving personal knowledge have been laid down by this court in Man Kaur (dead) by LRS. v. Hartar Singh Sangha (2010) 10 SCC 512. This court has held that where the entire transaction has been conducted through a particular agent or representative, the principal has to examine that agent to prove the transaction; and that where the principal at no point of time had personally handled or dealt with or participated in the transaction and has no personal knowledge of the transaction, and where the entire transaction has been handled by the agent, necessarily the agent  alone can give evidence in regard to the transaction. This court further observed:
"Where all the affairs of a party are completely managed, transacted and looked after by an attorney (who may happen to be a close family member), it may be possible to accept the evidence of such attorney even with reference to bona fides or 'readiness and willingness'. Examples of such attorney holders are a husband/wife exclusively managing the affairs of his/her spouse, a son/daughter exclusively managing the affairs of an old and infirm parent, a father/mother exclusively managing the affairs of a son/daughter living abroad."
Therefore the evidence of the fourth defendant (examined as DW2) was sufficient to put forth the case of the defendants and there was no need to examine the other three defendants who did not have full or complete knowledge of the transactions. In the circumstances we find no merit in the contention that the suits ought to have been decreed, as defendants 1,2 and 3 did not step into the witness box.
Reportable
Supreme Court of India
Saradamani Kandappan vs S. Rajalakshmi & Ors on 4 July, 2011
Bench: R.V. Raveendran, K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan
Citation:AIR 2011 SC 3234:(2011)12 SCC18 
Read full judgment here:click here      
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