Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Whether unregistered partition deed is admissible in Evidence?

 In Roshan Singh & Ors. v. Zile Singh & Ors. 1988 (2) SCR 1106, this
Court was considering the admissibility of an unregistered partition deed. It was
held thus:
“……Section 17(i)(b) lays down that a document for
which registration is compulsory should, by its own
force, operate or purport to operate to create or declare
some right in immovable property……Two propositions
must therefore flow:12
(1) A partition may be affected orally; but if it is
subsequently reduced into a form of a document and that
document purports by itself to effect a division and
embodies all the terms of bargain, it will be necessary
to register it. If it be not registered, S.49 of the Act
will prevent its being admitted in evidence. Secondary
evidence of the factum of partition will not be admissible
by reason of S.91 of the Evidence Act, 1872.”
(emphasis supplied)
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5415 OF 2011

SHYAM NARAYAN PRASAD Vs KRISHNA PRASAD AND ORS.

S.ABDUL NAZEER, J.
Dated:July 02, 2018.


1. Defendant No.1, Shyam Narayan Prasad is the appellant before us. In this
appeal he has questioned the legality and correctness of the judgment and decree
dated 15.5.2006 passed by the High Court of Sikkim in RSA No.1 of 2005.
2. One Gopalji Prasad is the common male ancestor of the parties. The
appellant and Laxmi Prasad, 5th respondent herein, are the sons of Gopalji Prasad.
Respondent Nos. 1 to 3 are the sons of Laxmi Prasad and respondent No.4 is the
son of the 1st respondent. Respondent Nos.1 to 4 are the plaintiffs in the suit, being2
Civil Suit No.10 of 2001, and the appellant and respondent Nos.5 and 6 are the
defendants. No relief has been claimed against respondent No.6 (defendant No.3
in the suit). For the sake of convenience, parties are referred to by the ranking in
the trial court.
3. The plaintiffs filed the aforesaid suit against the defendants for a declaration
that the document dated 30.1.1990 (Exhibit P2) executed between defendant Nos.
1 and 2 is invalid and for certain other reliefs. According to them, the family
property was partitioned on 31.7.1987 between Gopalji and his five sons, namely,
Laxmi Prasad, Ayodhya Prasad, Shyam Narayan Prasad, Dr. Onkarnath Gupta and
Suresh Kumar. In the partition Gopalji has retained some of the properties for his
personal use till his death. Laxmi Prasad got his share of property along with half
portion of existing two-storey RCC building situated at Singtam Bazar, East
Sikkim, wherein presently a liquor shop is being run. Shyam Narayan Prasad was
allotted a shoe shop at Manihari which is run on a rented premises owned by Gouri
Shankar Prasad. He was also allotted other properties in the partition.
4. After the partition, the sons of Gopalji were put in possession of their share
of the properties. However, Laxmi Prasad (defendant No.2) in collusion with his
brother Shyam Narayan Prasad (defendant No.1) executed an agreement dated
30.1.1990 exchanging the liquor shop at Singtam Bazar, East Sikkim with the shoe
shop at Manihari. It is their contention that since the property is an ancestral3
property, they also have a share in the property which had fallen to the share of
defendant No.2 and that he has no legal right to exchange the property with
defendant No.1. It was further contented that the deed of exchange dated 30.1.1990
entered into between defendant Nos.1 and 2 is in relation to an immovable
property. Since the said document has not been registered, it has no legal effect.
5. Defendant No.1 has filed the written statement stating that the suit properties
are not ancestral properties. He has denied the contention of the plaintiffs that the
document dated 30.1.1990 is not a valid document. It was further contended that
the said document has already been given effect from the date of its execution.
6. Defendant No. 2 has filed the written statement contending that for the
alleged exchange deed, defendant No. 1 had approached him for exchanging only
the business of liquor shop at Sikkim with that of shoe shop at Gangtok for
convenience and that he had signed the document in good faith believing that the
exchange deed was only for the two businesses, and further, admitted that
exchange deed was made and executed behind the back of the plaintiffs.
7. On the basis of the pleadings of the parties, the trial court has framed
relevant issues. Parties have led evidence in support of their respective
contentions. On appreciation of the materials on record, the trial court had come to
the conclusion that the property in question is an ancestral property and that the
plaintiffs being the sons and grandson of defendant No.2, they have also equal4
share in the property allotted to him in the partition. The suit was accordingly
decreed.
8. The first defendant challenged the said judgment and decree by filing an
Appeal No.2 of 2003 before the District Judge, Sub-Division-II, Sikkim at
Gangtok. The District Judge by judgment and decree dated 19.11.2004 allowed the
appeal, set aside the judgment and decree of the trial court and dismissed the suit.
The plaintiffs filed a Second Appeal No.1 of 2005 challenging the judgment and
decree of the District Judge before the High Court. The High Court has set aside
the judgment and decree of the District Judge and restored the judgment and decree
of the trial court.
9. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant/defendant No.1 is
that the entire property of Gopalji was the self acquired property and he has
divided the property amongst his five sons by a deed of partition dated 1.3.1988.
According to the deed of settlement dated 30.1.1990 between defendant Nos. 1 and
2, only the businesses were transferred and not the buildings. Therefore, the sons
and the grandson of defendant No.2 have no right to seek cancellation of the said
deed. There is no exchange of immovable property as contended by the plaintiffs.
Therefore, the settlement deed does not require registration. The parties have acted
upon the said agreement. In the circumstances, possession of the appellant is5
protected under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (for short ‘the
T.P. Act’).
10. On the other hand, learned advocate appearing for the respondent Nos. 1 to
4/plaintiffs submits that the subject matter of the deed of settlement dated
30.1.1990 is a joint family property. The recitals of this document clearly show
that there is a transfer of immovable property. The plaintiffs, being the lineal
descendants of defendant No.2, are the members of the copercenary. They have a
right and interest over the property in question. The settlement deed dated
30.1.1990 has not been registered. Hence, it is inadmissible in evidence.
Defendant No.1 has not pleaded in his written statement that he has taken the
possession of the property in part performance of the contract. Therefore, it is not
open for him to claim the benefit of Section 53A of the T.P. Act. Learned counsel
prays for dismissal of the appeal.
11. Having regard to the contentions urged, the first question for consideration is
whether the property allotted to defendant No.2 in the partition dated 31.07.1987
retained the character of a coparcenary property. Admittedly, Gopalji Prasad and
his five sons partitioned the property by a deed of partition dated 31.07.1987. It is
clear from the materials on record that Gopalji Prasad retained certain properties in
the partition. Certain properties had fallen to the share of defendant No.2 who is
the father of plaintiff Nos. 1 to 3 and grandfather of plaintiff No. 4. Certain6
properties had fallen to the share of the first defendant. The trial court has held
that the properties are ancestral properties. The High Court has confirmed the
finding of the trial court. We do not find any ground to disagree with this finding
of the courts below.
12. It is settled that the property inherited by a male Hindu from his father,
father’s father or father’s father’s father is an ancestral property. The essential
feature of ancestral property, according to Mitakshara Law, is that the sons,
grandsons, and great grandsons of the person who inherits it, acquire an interest
and the rights attached to such property at the moment of their birth. The share
which a coparcener obtains on partition of ancestral property is ancestral property
as regards his male issue. After partition, the property in the hands of the son will
continue to be the ancestral property and the natural or adopted son of that son will
take interest in it and is entitled to it by survivorship.
13. In C. Krishna Prasad v. C.I.T, Bangalore, 1975 (1) SCC 160, this Court
was considering a similar question. In the said case, C. Krishna Prasad, the
appellant along with his father Krishnaswami Naidu and brother C. Krishna Kumar
formed Hindu undivided family up to October 30, 1958, when there was a partition
between Krishnaswami Naidu and his two sons. A question arose as to whether an
unmarried male Hindu on partition of a joint Hindu family can be assessed in the
status of undivided family even though no other person besides him is a member of7
the family. It was held that the share which a coparcener obtains on partition is
ancestral property as regards male issue. It was held as under:
“The share which a coparcener obtains on partition of
ancestral property is ancestral property as regards his
male issue. They take an interest in it by birth,
whether they are in existence at the time of partition
or are born subsequently. Such share, however, is
ancestral property only as regards his male issue. As
regards other relations, it is separate property, and if the
coparcener dies without leaving male issue, it passes to
his heirs by succession (see p. 272 of Mulla’s Principles
of Hindu Law, 14th Ed.). A person who for the time being
is the sole surviving coparcener is entitled to dispose of
the coparcenary property as if it were his separate
property. He may sell or mortgage the property without
legal necessity or he may make a gift of it. If a son is
subsequently born to him or adopted by him, the
alienation, whether it is by way of sale, mortgage or gift,
will nevertheless stand, for a son cannot object to
alienations made by his father before he was born or
begotten”.
(emphasis supplied)
14. In M. Yogendra and Ors. v. Leelamma N. and Ors. 2009 (15) SCC 184, it
was held as under:
“It is now well settled in view of several decisions of
this Court that the property in the hands of a sole
coparcener allotted to him in partition shall be his
separate property for the same shall revive only when
a son is born to him. It is one thing to say that the
property remains a coparcenary property but it is another
thing to say that it revives. The distinction between the
two is absolutely clear and unambiguous. In the case of
former any sale or alienation which has been done by the8
sole survivor coparcener shall be valid whereas in the
case of a coparcener any alienation made by the karta
would be valid.”
(emphasis supplied)
15. In Rohit Chauhan v. Surinder Singh and Ors. 2013 (9) SCC 419, a
contention was raised by the defendant No. 1 that after partition of the joint Hindu
family property, the land allotted to the share of defendant No. 2 became his self
acquired property and he was competent to transfer the property in the manner he
desired. It was held that the property which defendant No. 2 got by virtue of
partition decree amongst his father and brothers was although separate property
qua other relations but it attained the characteristics of coparcenary property the
moment a son was born to defendant No. 2. It was held thus:
“A person, who for the time being is the sole surviving
coparcener as in the present case Gulab Singh was,
before the birth of the plaintiff, was entitled to dispose of
the coparcenary property as if it were his separate
property. Gulab Singh, till the birth of plaintiff Rohit
Chauhan, was competent to sell, mortgage and deal with
the property as his property in the manner he liked. Had
he done so before the birth of plaintiff, Rohit Chauhan,
he was not competent to object to the alienation made by
his father before he was born or begotten. But, in the
present case, it is an admitted position that the
property which Defendant 2 got on partition was an
ancestral property and till the birth of the plaintiff he
was the sole surviving coparcener but the moment
plaintiff was born, he got a share in the father’s
property and became a coparcener. As observed
earlier, in view of the settled legal position, the property
in the hands of Defendant 2 allotted to him in partition
was a separate property till the birth of the plaintiff and,
therefore, after his birth Defendant 2 could have alienated
the property only as karta for legal necessity. It is
nobody’s case that Defendant 2 executed the sale deeds
and release deed as karta for any legal necessity. Hence,
the sale deeds and the release deed executed by Gulab
Singh to the extent of entire coparcenary property are
illegal, null and void. However, in respect of the property
which would have fallen in the share of Gulab Singh at
the time of execution of sale deeds and release deed, the
parties can work out
their remedies in appropriate proceeding.”
(emphasis supplied)
16. Therefore, the properties acquired by defendant No.2 in the partition dated
31.07.1987 although are separate property qua other relations but it is a
coparcenary property insofar as his sons and grandsons are concerned. In the
instant case, there is a clear finding by the trial court that the properties are
ancestral properties which have been divided as per the deed of partition dated
31.07.1987. The property which had fallen to the share of defendant No.2 retained
the character of a coparcenary property and the plaintiffs being his sons and
grandson have a right in the said property. Hence, it cannot be said that the suit
filed by the plaintiffs was not maintainable.
17. This takes us to the next question as to whether the exchange deed at Exhibit
P2 is admissible in evidence or not. The transfer of ownership of their respective
properties by defendant Nos. 1 and 2 was done through Exhibit P2 deed of10
exchange. It was contended by defendant No.1 that the exchange was only of the
businesses. However, a careful perusal of Exhibit P2 clearly shows that the RCC
building is also a subject matter of the deed of exchange. The value of RCC
building exceeds Rs. 100/- which is not in dispute. Section 118 of the TP Act
defines ‘exchange’ as under:
“118. “Exchange” defined.-When two persons mutually
transfer the ownership of one thing for the ownership of
another, neither thing or both things being money only,
the transaction is called an “exchange”.
A transfer of property in completion of an
exchange can be made only in manner provided for the
transfer of such property by sale”.
18. It is clear from this provision that where either of the properties in exchange
are immovable or one of them is immovable and the value of anyone is Rs.100/- or
more, the provision of Section 54 of the TP Act relating to sale of immovable
property would apply. The mode of transfer in case of exchange is the same as in
the case of sale. It is thus clear that in the case of exchange of property of value of
Rs. 100/- and above, it can be made only by a registered instrument. In the instant
case, the exchange deed at Exhibit P2 has not been registered.
19. Section 49 of the Registration Act, 1908 provides for the effect of nonregistration
of the document which is as under:
“49. Effect of non-registration of documents required
to be registered.-No document required by section 1711
{or by any provision of the Transfer of Property Act,
1882 (4 of 1882)}, to be registered shall-
(a) affect any immovable property comprised
therein, or
(b) confer any power to adopt, or
(c) Be received as evidence of any transaction
affecting such property or conferring such
power,
Unless it has been registered:”
20. Section 17(i)(b) of the Registration Act mandates that any document which
has the effect of creating and taking away the rights in respect of an immovable
property must be registered and Section 49 of the Registration Act imposes bar on
the admissibility of an unregistered document and deals with the documents that
are required to be registered under Section 17 of the Registration Act. Since, the
deed of exchange has the effect of creating and taking away the rights in respect of
an immovable property, namely, RCC building, it requires registration under
Section 17. Since the deed of exchange has not been registered, it cannot be taken
into account to the extent of the transfer of an immovable property.
21. In Roshan Singh & Ors. v. Zile Singh & Ors. 1988 (2) SCR 1106, this
Court was considering the admissibility of an unregistered partition deed. It was
held thus:
“……Section 17(i)(b) lays down that a document for
which registration is compulsory should, by its own
force, operate or purport to operate to create or declare
some right in immovable property……Two propositions
must therefore flow:12
(1) A partition may be affected orally; but if it is
subsequently reduced into a form of a document and that
document purports by itself to effect a division and
embodies all the terms of bargain, it will be necessary
to register it. If it be not registered, S.49 of the Act
will prevent its being admitted in evidence. Secondary
evidence of the factum of partition will not be admissible
by reason of S.91 of the Evidence Act, 1872.”
(emphasis supplied)
22. It is clear from the above judgment that the best evidence of the contents of
the document is the document itself and as required under Section 91 of the
Evidence Act the document itself has to be produced to prove its contents. But
having regard to Section 49 of the Registration Act, any document which is not
registered as required under law, would be inadmissible in evidence and cannot,
therefore, be produced and proved under Section 91 of the Evidence Act. Since
Exhibit P2 is an unregistered document, it is inadmissible in evidence and as such
it can neither be proved under Section 91 of the Evidence Act nor any oral
evidence can be given to prove its contents. Therefore, the High Court has rightly
discarded the exchange deed at Exhibit P2.
23. The last contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is in relation to
application of Section 53A of the T.P Act. It is well settled that the defendant who
intends to avail the benefit of this provision must plead that he has taken
possession of the property in part performance of the contract. Perusal of the
written statement of the first defendant shows that he has not raised such a plea.
Pleadings are meant to give to each side, intimation of the case of the other, so that,
it may be met to enable courts to determine what is really at issue between the
parties. No relief can be granted to a party without the pleadings. Therefore, it is
not open for the first defendant/appellant to claim the benefit available under
Section 53A of the T.P. Act.
24. In the result, this appeal fails and it is accordingly dismissed. There will be
no order as to costs.
 …..……………………………...J.
 (ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE)
 …….……………………………J.
 (S. ABDUL NAZEER)
New Delhi;
July 02, 2018.
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