Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Sri V. N. Krishna Murthy & Anr. Etc. Etc. v. Sri Ravikumar & Ors. Etc. Etc., [Civil Appeal Nos. 2701-2704/2020], vide its Judgment dated 21.08.2020, reiterated and held that a #stranger cannot be permitted to file an #appeal in any proceedings unless he satisfies the Court that he falls within the category of #aggrieved persons.
Under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, Sections 96 and 100 provide for preferring an appeal from any original decree or from decree in appeal respectively. These
provisions do not enumerate the categories of persons who can file an appeal. However, the Court referred to the case of Smt. Jatan Kumar Golcha Vs. Golcha Properties Private Ltd [(1970) 3 SCC 573], to state that it is only where a judgment and decree prejudicially affects a person who is not party to the proceedings, he can prefer an appeal with the leave of the Appellate Court.
That the brief facts of the instant case relate to the disputes of a land situated at Village Jakkur, Bengaluru, North Taluk, in respect of which an Agreement to Sell and General Power of Attorney was executed by the Respondents in favour of some other Respondents herein, granting absolute rights for the sale of the said land. A Suit for permanent injunction was filed by one of the Respondents before the Trial Court for cancellation of the Agreement to Sell executed with regard to the disputed land. The Trial Court granted the permanent injunction to the Plaintiffs, who are Respondents herein. The Appellants, who were in possession of the disputed land through a sale deed, filed an Application for their impleadment during the pendency of the Suit before the Trial Court, which was dismissed by the Trial Court. The Order was challenged by filing a Writ Petition before the High Court which was dismissed as infructuous, as the Suit itself came to be decided, in the meantime. Aggrieved by the Judgment and Decree of the Trial Court, the Appellants preferred Appeals duly accompanied by an Application seeking leave to file an Appeal against the Judgment and Decree. The Hon’ble High Court, vide a common Judgment declined to grant leave to file an Appeal and rejected the Application.
The issue arises before the Hon’ble Supreme Court was whether the Appellants had the locus standi to question the Judgment and Decree passed by the Trial Court and whether the High Court was justified in rejecting their leave to Appeal.
The Court while dealing with the maintainability of an Appeal by a person who is not a party to a suit has relied on the following Judgments:
i) In the case of State of Punjab & Ors. Vs. Amar Singh & Anr [(1974) 2 SCC 70], the Court observed that “Firstly, there is a catena of authorities which, following the dictum of Lindley, L.J., in re Securities Insurance Co., [(1894) 2 Ch 410] have laid down the rule that a person who is not a party to a decree or order may with the leave of the Court, prefer an appeal from such decree or order if he is either bound by the order or is aggrieved by it or is prejudicially affected by it.”
ii) In the case of Baldev Singh Vs. Surinder Mohan Sharma and Ors [(2003) 1 SCC 34], the Supreme Court held that an appeal under Section 96 of the Civil Procedure Code, would be maintainable only at the instance of a person aggrieved by and dissatisfied with the judgment and decree. While dealing with the concept of ‘person aggrieved’, it was observed in paragraph 15 as under:- “A person aggrieved to file an appeal must be one whose right is affected by reason of the judgment and decree sought to be impugned.”
iii) In the case of A. Subash Babu Vs. State of A.P. and Anr. [(2011) 7 SCC 616], the Supreme Court held as under:-“The expression ‘aggrieved person’ denotes an elastic and an elusive concept. It cannot be confined that the bounds of a rigid, exact and comprehensive definition. Its scope and meaning depends on diverse, variable factors such as the content and intent of the statute of which contravention is alleged, the specific circumstances of the case, the nature and extent of the complainant’s interest and the nature and extent of the prejudice or injuries suffered by him.”
iv) In the case of Srimathi K. Ponnalagu Ammani Vs. The State Of Madras represented by the Secretary to the Revenue Department, Madras and Ors., [66 Law Weekly 136], the Supreme Court laid down the test to find out when it would be proper to grant leave to appeal to a person not a party to a proceeding against the decree or judgment passed in such proceedings in following words:-
“Now, what is the test to find out when it would be proper to grant leave to appeal to a person not a party to a proceeding against the decree or judgment in such proceedings? We think it would be improper to grant leave to appeal to every person who may in some remote or indirect way be prejudicially affected by a decree or judgment. We think that ordinarily leave to appeal should be granted to persons who, though not parties to the proceedings, would be bound by the decree or judgment in that proceeding and who would be precluded from attacking its correctness in other proceedings.”
In view of the aforesaid Judgments, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the Appellants have failed to place any material or demonstrate as to how the Judgment and Decree passed by the Trial Court adversely or prejudicially affects them. Merely saying that the Appellants are prejudicially affected by the Decree is not sufficient. It has to be demonstrated that the Decree affects the legal rights of the Appellants and would have adverse effect when carried out.
Thus, the Hon’ble Court held that the Appellants can neither be said to be aggrieved persons nor bound by the Judgment and Decree of the Trial Court in any manner. The relief claimed in the Suit was cancellation of agreement to sell. On the other hand, the sale deeds which were the basis of the claim of the Appellants were executed on the basis of General Power of Attorney, and had nothing to do with the Agreement to Sell, which was subject matter of Suit. The Judgment and Decree of the Trial Court is in no sense a judgment in rem and it is binding only as between the Plaintiffs and Defendants of the Suit, and not upon the Appellants. The Appeal was dismissed and the Judgment of the High Court was upheld by the Court.
The Indian Lawyer