Saturday 25 August 2012

execution proceeding does not abate on death of DH or JD

the normal principle arising in a suit -
Before the decree is passed - that the legal representatives
are to be brought  on record within a particular period and
if not,  the suit could abate, - is not applicable to cases
of death  of the  decree holder  or the  judgment debtor  in
execution proceedings.



DATE OF JUDGMENT: 18/02/1998

    We are disposing of this SLP by a reasoned order at the
stage of  admission, after  condoning the  delay. The SLP is
preferred by  the tenant against the order of the High Court
of Madras  in CRP 2272 of 1997 dated 19.9.1997 and the order
dismissing the Review application  No. 104  of  1997  dated
12.11.1997. The matter arises in execution proceedings under
the Tamil  Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960
(hereinafter called the Act).
     The eviction  proceedings under the Act were started in
1982 by  the respondents'  father in  RCOP 17/1982. Eviction
was  ordered  and  the said  order  was  confirmed  by  the
appellate authority.  The decree  holder filed an execution
petition (within  time for filing an execution petition) but
later he  died on  27.2.1993. In  the said pending execution
petition, the respondents, who are the decree holder's legal
representatives filed an interlocutory application for their
impleadment as the  legal  representatives  of  the  decree
holder, on 26.4.1994. The petitioner-tenant contended in the
execution Court  that the impleadment application thus filed
in the main execution petition was  time- barred as it was
filed beyond  as it was filed beyond the period of one month
specified in  Rule 25  of the Rules, Rule 25 prescribes `the
time limit  for bringing the legal representatives on record
in proceedings under the Act'. Accepting the said objection,
the impleadment application was dismissed.
     The applicants  in that  IA filed CRP No. 2272/1997 in
the High  Court. By an order dated 19.9.1997, the High Court
allowed the  revision on the ground that under Section 18 of
the Act,  the Rent  Controller has  to execute the eviction
order, "as  if such  order is an order of a Civil Court" and
hence there  was no  question of  limitation. The High Court
relied upon a Division Bench in Subramania Pillai Vs.
Rajakanni Nadar  [1971 (1)  MLJ  223]  rendered  before  the
amendment of  section 18  by Act  23/73 and  on N. Ramanujam
Naidu  Vs.   Panchanath  Mudaliar   [1980  (1)  MLJ   232].
Thereafter, the tenant filed a review application contending
that the  High Court,  while allowing  the revision, had not
taken  note   of  Hydro-Chains (P)  Ltd.  Vs. Mary  Thomas
Marattukulam [1994  (2) L.W.443] which was confirmed by this
Court in Hydro-Chains Pvt.Ltd. Vs. Thomas Marattukulam [1994
(5) SCC  337]. The  review application was disposed  of  on
12.11.1997 and it was held that  it was not a fit case for
review under  Order 47 Rule 1 CPC inasmuch as, even if the
application  filed  by the  legal  representatives  of  the
landlord was  beyond one month as stipulated is Rule 25, it
was conceded  for the  tenant that the said heirs could file
and independent execution petition and, therefore, there was
no  point   in allowing   the revision,   dismissing  the
impleadment application  filed in  the execution application
and permitting the heirs  of the  landlord to file a fresh
execution petition.  In the  result, the  review application
was dismissed. It is against both these orders that the SLP
is filed by the tenant.
     It is  contended in this SLP that in Hydro-Chains case,
[1994 (2)  LW 443],  the High  Court had  considered all the
previous decisions  including Ramanujam  Naidu's case  [1971
(1) MLJ  223] and  made a distinction between an application
for bringing  on record the legal representatives during the
pendency of  an execution  petition and  an application  for
bringing on record the legal representatives of the landlord
the time  of filing  the execution petition and that Rule 25
would be  attracted only to the former. It is contended that
the High  Court erred  in thinking  that there was no time
limit for  the legal  heirs to come on record. It is stated
that the  Division Bench  Judgement in Subramania  Pillai's
case [1971  (1) MLJ  223] was one rendered before Section 18
of the Act was  amended in 1973 by 23/73. It is pointed out
that the  principle laid  down by  the High  Court in  Hydro
Chains (P)  Ltd [1994  (2) LW 443] had been accepted by this
Court in  Hydro -Chains [1994 (5) SCC 337], a case where the
point arose  after the amendment to Section 18 of the Act in
1973 under T.N. Act 23 of 1973, as is the case before us and
that the  learned Single  Judge of  the High  Court, in  the
order allowing the revision,  erred in following Subramania
Pillai's case rendered before the 1973 amendment.
     The point that arises for consideration is whether - in
view of  section 18, amended in 1973 - Rule 25 introduced on
28.10.74 alongwith other Rules, was not intended to apply to
execution proceedings  and whether,  in any  event, a  fresh
execution petition  could  have  been  filed  by  the  legal
representatives of the decree holder?
     We shall briefly refer to certain provisions of the Act
and Rules.  Section 2(3)  defines `Rent  Controller' as  any
person appointed  by the  Government,  by  notification,  to
exercise the  powers of  a `Controller'  under the  for such
area as  may  be  specified  in  the  notification.  Section
23(1)(a) enables  the government  to notify  the  `appellate
     "Section 18:  Execution of  orders:
     (1) Every order made under sections
     10. 14.15.  16 and  17 every orders
     passed on appeal under  section 23
     or on  revision under  section  25,
     shall   be    executed    by    the
     Controller, as  if such order is an
     order of  the Civil  Court and  for
     this purpose,  the Controller shall
     have all  the  powers  of a  Civil
     Rules  have   been  issued   in  GOMs  No.  2529  dated
28.10.1974. Rule  11 of  the  rules  deals  with  filing  of
applications under  the Act for release under section 3-A or
for eviction  under section 10 or for recovery of possession
under section  12 or  14. (These sections are concerned with
eviction on  separate grounds  and  do not  concerned with
eviction on  separate grounds  and do  not concern execution
proceedings). Rule  12 deals with the procedure for disposal
of applications,  giving of  a hearing,  setting parties ex-
parte etc.  Rule 15 deals with filing of appeals and Rule 16
with procedure in appeals. Rule 21 deals with appearance of
parties  in  person  or  through  counsel  before  the Rent
Controllers, authorised  officers or  appellate authorities.
Rule 23  deals with scale of process fee. Rule 25 deals with
the time  limit for  bringing the  legal representatives  on
record in  `proceedings under  the Act'.  That rule reads as
follows :
     "Rule  25:  Every application  for
     making the  legal representative or
     representatives   of   a deceased
     person, party to a proceeding under
     the Act,  shall be preferred within
     one month from  the  date  of  the
     death of  the person  concerned  or
     the date of having knowledge of the
     death of the person concerned."
     A reading of section 18 of the Act as brought in by the
1973 amendment shows that  when an  execution petition  is
filed before  the Rent Controller, the Rent Controller shall
have all  the powers of a Civil Court and the eviction order
is to  be executed  as an  order of a Civil Court. The first
question is  what are  the powers  of a  Civil Court  while
executing orders passed by it?
Powers of Civil Court :
     If  during,   the pendency   of  a  regular  execution
proceeding filed  on the  basis of  a decree  or order of a
Civil Court,  the decree  holder or the judgment debtor dies
and his  legal representatives are not  brought  on  record
within ninety  days, can  the  Civil  Court dismiss  the
execution petition as abated?
Order 22  Rule 12  of the  Code of  Civil Procedure reads as
     "Order 22 Rule 12:  Application of
     order  to  execution  proceedings:
     Nothing in proceedings in execution
     of a decree or order."
     In other words the normal principle arising in a suit -
Before the decree is passed - that the legal representatives
are to be brought  on record within a particular period and
if not,  the suit could abate, - is not applicable to cases
of death  of the  decree holder  or the  judgment debtor  in
execution proceedings.
     In Venkatachalam  vs. Ramaswami [1932 ILR 55 Mad. 352 =
AIR 1932  Mad. 73  (FB)], a  Full Bench  of the  Madras High
Court has held  that this  rule enacts that the penalty of
abatement shall not attach to execution proceedings. Mulla's
Commentary on CPC (Vol.3) p. 2085 (15th Ed., 1997) refers to
a large number of judgments of the High Court:
     "Rule  12  engrafts  an  exemption
     which provides  that where  a party
     to an  execution  proceedings  dies
     during its  pendency, provisions as
     to abatement do not apply. The rule
     is, therefore,  for the  benefit of
     the decree  holder, for  his  heirs
     need    not    take    steps    for
     substitution under  Rule 2  but may
     apply immediately or at  any  time
     while the proceeding is pending, to
     carry on the proceeding or they may
     file    a   fresh        execution
     In our  opinion, the  above statement of law in Mulla's
Commentary  on the  CPC,  correctly  represents  the  legal
position relating  to the  procedure to  be adopted  by  the
parties in execution proceedings and as to the powers of the
Civil Court.
     It is  clear, therefore, that if after the filing of an
execution petition  in time,  the decree holder dies and his
legal representatives  do  not come  on  record  -  or  the
judgment debtor  dies an d his legal representatives are not
brought on  record,  then  there  is  no  abatement  of  the
execution petition.  If there  is no abatement, the position
in t  he eye  of law  is that the execution petition remains
pending on  the file  of the  execution Court. If it remains
pending and  if no  time limit is prescribed  to  bring the
legal representatives on record in execution proceedings, it
is open in case of death of the decree holder, for his legal
representative to  come on record at any time. The execution
application cannot  even be dismissed for default behind the
back of  the decree  holder's legal representatives. In case
of death  of the  judgment debtor,  the decree holder could
file an application to bring the legal representatives of he
judgment debtor  on record,  at any time. Of course, in case
of death  of judgment-debtor, the Court can fix a reasonable
time for  the said purpose and if the decree holder does not
file an application for the aforesaid purpose, the Court can
dismiss the execution petition for default. But in any event
the  execution petition  cannot  be  dismissed  as  abated.
Alternatively, it  is also open to the decree holder's legal
representatives, to  file a fresh execution petition in case
of death  of the  decree holder; OR, in case of death of the
judgment  debtor,   the  decree  holder  can  file  a  fresh
execution petition  impleading the  legal representatives of
the judgment  debtor; such  a fresh  execution petition,  if
filed, is,  in law,  only  a  continuation  of the  pending
execution petition  - the one which was filed in time by the
decree holder initially. This is the position under the Code
or Civil Procedure.
     Position of execution proceedings under the Act :
     We have   already referred to  Rule 25 which is one of
the rules  introduced on  28.10.74 after  the  amendment  of
section 18  by Act 23 of 1973. According to that rule, every
application  for   making  the  legal  representative   or
representatives of  a deceased person, party to a proceeding
under the  Act, shall be preferred within one month from the
date of  death of  the person concerned  or  the  date  of
knowledge of the death of the person concerned.
     The question  is :  what is the meaning of the words "a
proceeding under  the Act".  I s an execution petition not a
proceeding "under the Act".
     Section 18  as introduced in 1973  says that the order
for eviction  passed under  section 190,  14, 15,  16 and 17
"shall be executed by the Controller, as if such an order is
an order  of the  Civil Court  and  for  this  purpose,  the
Controller shall have all the powers of a Civil Court".
     Inasmuch as the words `as if' have been used in section
18, the  eviction order,  in our opinion, is to be deemed to
be an  order of a Civil Court and the execution petition has
to be  treated as  an execution  petition filed in the Civil
Court for execution of an order of a Civil Court. If section
18 were  not here, t he orders of eviction under section 10,
14, 15, 16 and 17 could not b e treated as orders of a Civil
Court and  were to  be treated only as orders passed by the
Rent Controller  under the Act. But, because of the fiction,
they are  to be  treated as  orders of a Civil  Court.  The
effect of  section  18 is  that  the  orders  of  the Rent
Controller under section 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17 will cease to
be orders  passed "under  the Act  by the  Rent Controller "
when they  reach the  stage of execution. Lest objection be
raised that the Rent Controller cannot execute an order of a
Civil Court,  section 18  further clarifies  that `for this
purpose' the  Rent Controller shall also have all the powers
of a  Civil Court,  - which Civil Courts have, while dealing
with execution petitions filed  to execute  orders  of  the
Civil Courts.  What is the effect of the fiction created by
use of the words `as if'?
     In Dargah Committee. Ajmer vs. State of Rajasthan [AIR
1962 SC  574] the  words `as if' fell for consideration. The
case  arose   out  of the   Ajmer-Merwara   Municipalities
Regulation, 1925,  which by  Section 93 provided for appeals
against the  levy of  any tax. Under section  222(4) it was
stated that  any money recoverable by the committee  under
section 222(1) shall be  recoverable as  if it  were a  tax
levied by the Committee". The question was whether an appeal
could be  filed under section 93 against a claim of money by
the municipal Committee under section 222(!). It was held by
this Court that an appeal lay in view of the fiction created
by the words `as if'. It was observed :
     "If by  the fiction  introduced  by
     section  222(4), the  amount   in
     question is  to be  deemed as if it
     were a tax, it is obvious that full
     effect must  be given to this legal
     fiction; and  in consequence,  just
     as a result of the said fiction the
     recovery  procedure  prescribed  by
     section  234  (for  taxes)  becomes
     available to   the  Committee,  so
     would the right of making an appeal
     prescribed  by   section  93(1)  be
     available to the appellant."
     If therefore  "full effect"   is  to be  given  to  the
fiction and  if the  eviction orders  under section 10, 143,
15, 15,  and 17  are to be deemed to b e orders of the Civil
Court and  if the  Rent Controller  is to  be deemed to be a
Civil Court,  then the execution petition, already filed in
the Rent  Controller's Court,  (within the  time limited for
filing execution petition) in our opinion become by force of
the fiction,  execution petition  under the  Code  of  Civil
Procedure and  no under  the Act. Death of  decree holder or
judgment  debtor   does  not  result  in  abatement  of  the
execution  petition.  If  it  does  not  abate,  it  remains
pending. Then  what we have said in regard to the execution
proceedings, under  the heading  `powers of  Civil Court' is
equally applicable  to execution  proceedings filed  in  the
Rent Controller's  Court. That appears to  us the  logical
result of the fiction.
     Further, after  section 18  was introduced in 1973, the
rule making  authority which  made the rules on  28.10.1974
must be deemed to be aware that the execution petition is to
be disposed  of as  an execution  petition in a Civil Court,
and also  aware that  because of  section 18,  there  is  no
period of   limitation  fixed  for  bringing  the   legal
representatives of a person, so far as execution proceedings
in a  Civil Court  are concerned.  The rule making authority
when it  fixed a  period  of  30  days for  bringing  legal
representatives on record must, therefore, must be deemed to
have use the words, "proceeding under the Act" as applicable
to proceedings before the passings of the order of eviction
and not  after. We  are, therefore, of the view that Rule 25
does not apply to execution proceedings.
     The High  Court was,  therefore, right initially in its
order dated  19.9.1997 in  setting aside  the order  of  the
execution Court and allowing the impleadment application, on
the basis  that Rule 25 did not apply for bringing the legal
representatives on record in execution proceedings.
     There is equally no fault in what the High Court did in
its order dated 12.11.1997 rejecting the review application.
All that  it said  was that  if it was conceded that a fresh
execution petition  lay, then there was no point in allowing
the review,  dismissing the  revision against the refusal to
implead and  in permitting  a fresh execution petition to be
filed. That  would b  e an  idle formality. The Court has to
avoid unnecessary multiplicity of proceedings.
     The point taken in the SLP that the High Court's order
runs counter to the judgment of this Court in Hydro - Chains
case [1994  (5) SCC  337] approving the judgment of Raju, J.
in Hydro-Chains  [1994 (2)  LW 443] is equally incorrect. It
is true that this Court affirmed the judgment of Raju, J. by
way of short speaking order. But, upon reading the judgment
of Raju,  J, we  find that the learned Judge followed Ghouse
Khan vs.  Rent Controller,  Coimbatore [1991 (2) LW 274] and
Trigolchand vs.  Baffna [(1986)  99 LW 438[. In the first of
these cases,  Vankataswami, J. (as he then was) followed the
judgment of  V . Ramaswami, J. (as he then was) in Ramanujam
Naidu vs.  Panchanath Mudaliar [1980 (1) MLJ 232] that Order
22 Rule  12 applies  and Rule 25 does not apply to execution
proceedings. It  was also  held t  hat as long as the decree
could  be  enforced,  an  application  to  bring  the  legal
representatives on  record, could  be presented  within that
     Here we  have clarified  further that  if the execution
petition was  initially filed  in time,  (that is within the
time limited for filing execution petition) it remains to be
pending even if the legal representatives are not brought on
record within  30 days.  If  the  decree  holder  dies,  the
petition cannot  be dismissed  even for  default, behind the
back of  his legal  representatives. Again   if the judgment
debtor died  and the  decree holder  does no bring the legal
representative on  record, the Court could  fix  reasonable
time an  d if  the legal  representatives  of  the  judgment
debtor are  not brought on record within the time granted by
Court, the   execution  petition  could  be  dismissed  for
     In the  second case,  Shanmugham, K.  pointed out that
Order 23 Rule 12 applied and the ratio of the Division Bench
which decided  Subramania Pillai  vs. Rajakanni  Nadar [1971
(1) MLJ  223], before  the 1973  amendment of Section 18 and
the old  Rule 32  - still  held  good. In  that  case,  the
Division Bench held that rule 32 did not apply to execution
proceedings. That  was also the view of V. Ramaswami, J. (as
the then  was) and  K. Venkataswami,  J. (as he then was) in
the cases  referred to above which  related to  post - 1973
cases. All  the Judges in the above cases disapproved of a
dictum of  Ratnavel Pandian,  J. (as  he then was) in Ghouse
Khan vs. Rent Controller [84 LW 568 = 1981 (2) MLJ 388] that
section 18  dealt with powers of the Civil Court under Order
21 CPC and not with powers under Order 22 Rule 12. We agree
with the  learned Judges in their dissent  of the opinion of
Ratnavel Pandian, J. and we are o f the view that section 18
attracts Order 22 Rule 12 also and not merely Order 21 CPC.
     In our  opinion, the  High Court was right in initially
allowing the  writ petition  on the  ground that Rule 25 was
not applicable to  execution  proceedings  an d  in  later
observing, in  the review petition, that if a fresh eviction
petition could be filed,  there was not point in allowing t
he review application.
     For the  above reasons,  this special leave petition is

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