The Supreme Court of India in its recent Judgment dated 17th July, 2019 in Civil Appeal Nos. 5522-5523 of 2019 Gurmit Singh Bhatia V. Kiran Kant Robinson & Ors. while upholding the Order of the High Court of Chhattisgarh held that the Plaintiff cannot be compelled to implead a person in a suit for specific performance, against his wish and more particularly with respect to a person against whom no relief has been claimed by the Plaintiff.
The Respondent Nos. 2 & 3 (the Original Plaintiffs) filed a Suit ("the said Suit") against Respondent No. 1 (the Original Defendant No. 1) for specific performance of the Agreement to sell/ contract dated 3th May, 2005 which was executed by Respondent No. 1 (the original Defendant No. 1), in the Court of the 4th Additional District Judge, at Bilaspur.
During the pendency of the said Suit and despite an injunction against Respondent No. 1 restraining him from alienating or transferring the suit property, the Respondent No. 1 executed a sale deed dated 10th July, 2008 in favour of the Appellant. The Appellant (the purchaser) who purchased the suit property during the pendency of the said suit, filed an Application under Order I Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 in the said suit for impleading himself as a party Defendant in the Suit.
The contention of the Appellant was that he had purchased the suit property and therefore he is a necessary and proper party to the said suit as he had a direct interest in the suit property. The Trial Court allowed the aforesaid Application vide an order dated 5th November, 2012 and directed the Original Plaintiffs to implead the Appellant as a Defendant in the Suit.
Being aggrieved by the order passed by the Trial Court, the Respondent Nos. 2 & 3 (the Original Plaintiffs) filed a Writ Petition before the High Court of Chhattisgarh. Vide an Order dated 3rd July, 2013, (the impugned Judgment) the High Court allowed the said Writ Petition and quashed and set aside the Order passed by the Trial Court. Thereafter, the Appellant preferred a Review Application which also came to be dismissed by the High Court. Hence, the Appellant moved the Supreme Court by way of a Special Leave Petition.
The question before the Supreme Court was as under:
Whether the Plaintiffs can be compelled to implead a person in a suit for specific performance, against his wish and more particularly with respect to a person against whom no relief has been claimed?
SUBMISSIONS ON BEHALF OF THE APELLANT:
The Appellant submitted that whilst allowing the impleadment Application under Order 1 Rule 10 of the CPC the Trial Court held that, the Appellant had purchased the suit property from the same vendor and in order to protect the interest of the Appellant in the suit property he is a necessary and proper party. Therefore the High Court, in exercise of powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, ought not to have interfered with the same.
Reliance was placed on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Robin Ramjibhai Patel v. Anandibai Rama @ Rajaram Pawar1, and the judgment of the Bombay High Court in Shri Swastik Developers v. Saket Kumar Jain.2
SUBMISSIONS ON BEHALF OF THE RESPONDENTS- (ORIGINAL PLAINTIFF):
The Original Plaintiffs submitted that the facts in the matter of Robin Ramjibhai Patel (supra) were different and the decision of the Supreme Court in the said matter would not be applicable to the case at hand. The judgment in Robin Ramjibhai (supra) involved an Application preferred by the original Plaintiff to implead the subsequent purchaser who purchased the property during the pendency of the suit. The Supreme Court in that case, allowed the Applications for impleadment considering the fact that, when the Plaintiff wants to implead certain persons as party defendants on the ground that they may be adversely affected by the outcome of the suit, then the interest of justice also requires allowing such a prayer for impleadment so that the persons likely to be affected are aware of the proceedings and may take the appropriate defence.
However, in the present case, the Appellant purchased the suit property during the pendency of the said Suit in violation of the injunction granted by the Trial Court. It was argued that a prior agreement to sell upon which reliance was placed was a concocted and forged one and hence, the Appellant cannot be impleaded as a Defendant in a suit filed by the original Plaintiffs for specific performance of the agreement to sell/ contract to which the appellant is not a party.
The contention of the Plaintiff was that the Plaintiff is the Dominus litis i.e. master of the suit and without his consent, nobody can be permitted to be impleaded as a defendant. Reliance was placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Kasturi v. Iyyamperumal3 which squarely covered the issue involved in the said Suit.
After hearing the arguments and contentions of both the parties, the Supreme Court inter alia observed that:
- There must be a right to some relief against such party in respect of the controversies involved in the proceedings.
- No effective decree can be passed in the absence of such party.
- A third party or a stranger cannot be added in a suit for specific performance, merely in order to find out who is in possession of the suit property or to avoid multiplicity of the suits as there was no semblance of right to some relief against the party to the contract.
- The Court further observed that in view of the principle that the Plaintiff who has filed a suit for specific performance of the contract to sell is the dominus litis, he cannot be forced to add parties against whom he does not want to fight unless, it is a compulsion of the rule of law.
Therefore, relying on the decision in the case of Kasturi (supra), the Apex Court held that the Appellant cannot be impleaded as a defendant in the suit filed by the Original Plaintiffs for the specific performance of the contract between the original Plaintiffs and the original Defendant No. 1 to which the Appellant is not a party, against the wish of the Plaintiff.
Accordingly, the Order of the Chhattisgarh High Court dated 3rd July, 2013 passed in Writ Petition No. 856 of 2012 and Order dated 5th August, 2013 passed in Review Petition No. 169 of 2013 was upheld by the Supreme Court.
1. (2018) 15 SCC 614
2. (2014) 2 Mah LJ 968
3. (2005) 6 SCC 733
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