DELHI HIGH COURT HOLDS THAT TITLE IN IMMOVABLE PROPERTIES CANNOT BE TRANSFERRED WITHOUT A REGISTERED DOCUMENT
A single Judge Bench of the High Court of Delhi, comprising of Justice Prateek Jalan passed a Judgment dated 22.12.2023, in a recent case of Narendra Kumar v. Rajesh Chaudhary and Anr. RFA 282 of 2023 and held that title in immovable properties cannot be transferred to third parties without a registered document.
i) In the present case, one, Narender, the Appellant herein had purchased a Property located at C-125, Greater Kailash-I, New Delhi (Suit Property) from one, Mrs. Roma Singh, wife of Late Col. Ranbir Singh, vide Sale Deed dated 19.11.2004.
ii) Roma Singh had executed the said sale transaction based on an unregistered Agreement to Sell and Special Power of Attorney dated 18.11.1992 executed by one, Rajesh, the Respondent herein, in favour of Col. Ranbir Singh and based on Letters of Administration granted by the Ld. Additional District Judge-04, South East District, Saket Court, New Delhi (Trial Court) in favor of Mrs. Roma Singh, upon the death of Col. Ranbir Singh, vide Order dated 13.11.1990.
iii) The Respondent had earlier obtained title to the Suit Property, vide Deed of Relinquishment dated 25.10.1978 executed by his mother, Mrs. Dropati Devi in favor of the Respondent.
iv) The Appellant filed a Suit bearing Suit No. 8708 of 2016 before the Trial Court against the Respondent seeking a decree of possession and declaration that the Appellant is the exclusive and absolute owner of the Suit Property and other consequential reliefs.
v) The Respondent also filed two Suits: (i) one, bearing Suit Nos. 7262 of 2016 before the Ld. Trial Court against Mrs. Roma Singh and her two sons, Mr. Gaurav Singh and Mr. Sorabh Singh seeking a declaration that the Respondent is the legitimate owner of the Suit Property and that the alleged Unregistered Agreement to Sell and Power of Attorney relied upon by Mrs. Roma Singh to execute the Sale Deed dated 19.11.2004 in favor of the Appellant were fake and falsified. (ii) The second Suit was filed by the Respondent bearing Suit No. 10272 of 2016 before the Ld. Trial Court against the Appellant, Mrs. Roma Singh and her two Sons, seeking a declaration that the Sale Deed dated 19.11.2004 executed by Mrs. Roma and her Sons in favour of the Appellant was null and void.
vi) Earlier Mrs. Roma had filed a Suit against the Respondent and others in the year 1992 claiming herself to be the Owner of the Suit Property and seeking possession of the Suit Property and during the pendency of the Suit, she sold the Suit Property to the Appellant. However, Mrs. Roma later withdrew the Suit filed against the Respondent.
vii) Aggrieved by the Order dated 13.11.1990 passed by the Ld. District Court granting Letters of Administration in favor of Mrs. Roma, the Respondent filed an Application on 08.03.1994 seeking setting aside of the said Order, which was dismissed, vide Order dated 03.08.2002.
viii) The Ld. Trial Court passed a judgment dated 05.12.2022, and thereby, (i) declared the Respondent as the absolute owner of the Suit Property, (ii) canceled the Special Power of Attorney dated 18.11.1992 allegedly executed by the Respondent in favor of Col. Ranbir Singh and (iii) cancelled the Registered Sale Deed dated 19.11.2004 executed by Mrs. Roma and her Sons in favour of the Appellant. (iv)The Trial Court further dismissed the Suit bearing Suit No. 8708 of 2016 filed by the Appellant that was pending before the said Forum.
ix) Being aggrieved by the impugned judgment dated 05.12.2022, the Appellant and Mrs. Roma Singh filed Appeals bearing RFA 282 of 2023 and RFA 283 of 2023 respectively on 10.03.2023 before the High Court of Delhi (High Court).
x) During the pendency of the Appeals, the Appellant filed Applications before the High Court for impleading two parties, Mr. Anup Garg and Mr. Jeevesh Sabharwal, who had purchased the Suit Property from the Respondent on 22.03.2023 (Subsequent Purchasers), after passing of the impugned judgment dated 05.12.2022 by the Ld. Trial Court, which was allowed vide Order dated 12.09.2023.
xi) Further, the Appellant filed an Application under Order XXXIX Rule 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) (Temporary Injunctions) seeking injunction against the Subsequent Purchasers from constructing, transferring, alienating or creating any third party interest in the Suit Property.
Analysis and Findings of the High Court
1) That the Appellant contented that the sale of the Suit Property by the Respondent in favor of the Subsequent Purchasers, during the pendency of the Appeal, was done with a malafide intention to mislead the Court.
2) That the Doctrine of lis pendens under Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act 1882 (TPA) (Transfer of property pending suit relating thereto) states that during the pendency of a litigation, any transaction in respect of a property cannot be executed without the leave of the Court.
“Section 52 reads as follows:
During the pendency in any court having authority within the limits of India excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir or established beyond such limits by the Central Government, of any suit or proceeding which is not collusive and in which any right to immovable property is directly and specifically in question, the property cannot be transferred or otherwise dealt with by any party to the suit or proceeding so as to affect the rights of any other party thereto under any decree or order which may be made t, except under the authority of the Court and on such terms as it may impose.
Explanation.- For the purposes of this section, the pendency of a suit or proceeding shall be deemed to commence from the date of the presentation of the plaint or the institution of the proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction, and to continue until the suit or proceeding has been disposed of by a final decree or order, and complete satisfaction or discharge of such decree or order has been obtained, or has become unobtainable by reason of the expiration of any period of limitation prescribed for the execution thereof by any law for the time being in force.”
3) In Sanjiv Kumar Singh vs. the State of Bihar & Ors. SLP(C) 19038/2022, the Supreme Court, vide Order dated 24.01.2023, held that mere filing of an appeal does not operate as an order of stay against the impugned order, in the absence of an appeal being listed and an interim order being passed.
4) Further, in another case having citation 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1526, the Apex Court held that the title in immovable properties cannot be transferred without a registered document.
5) That in the present case, there was no conveyance / documents executed / registered by the Respondent in favour of Col. Ranbir and hence, the High Court was of the prima facie view that the Trial Court correctly held that Col. Ranbir and his family did not have the power to transfer the Suit Property to the Appellant. Nevertheless, the said issue would be dealt in detail by the High Court in subsequent hearings.
6) Meanwhile, the High Court, on the other hand, held that the Respondent could not have sold the Suit Property to the Subsequent Purchasers during the pendency of the Appeal, as per the Doctrine of lis pendens.
Thus, based on the aforesaid observations, the High Court held that it is the purchasers’ responsibility to make sure that any other parties who have been granted access to the property through title, possession, or any other interest are made aware of the status of these Appeals and the decisions made thereof. The High Court held that while the Appeals are pending, the Subsequent Purchasers would not be entitled to any compensation for any actions performed by the Respondent, such as building costs or the acquisition of an interest in the Suit Property, etc.
The matter would be next listed on 02.05.2024 for deciding the rightful ownership and title of the Suit Property.
Suneel Kumar Jaiswal
The Indian Lawyer