|CITATION||CIVIL APPEAL No. 6070 OF 2023|
|DATE OF JUDGMENT||21st SEPTEMBER 2023|
|COURT||Supreme Court of India|
|APPELLENT||SURESH LATARUJI RAMTEKE|
|RESPONDENTS||SAU SUMANBAI PANDURANG PETKAR & ORS|
|BENCH||HON’BLE JUSTICE B.R GAVAI & HON’BLE JUSTICE SANJAY KAROL|
The main contention in this case revolves around a contractual dispute regarding the acquisition of a parcel of land situated in Navegaon, identified by survey number 236/2, encompassing an approximate area of 1.19 hectares. The crux of the matter hinges on whether the involved parties indeed came to terms for the defendant to sell the plaintiff’s land at a specified price, if any earnest money was tendered, and if the plaintiff demonstrated readiness and willingness to fulfill the contractual commitments. Additionally, the case delves into the plaintiff’s entitlement to precise remedies, specifically the enforcement of the sales agreement. The legal proceedings encompass issues related to the agreement’s legality and execution, financial transactions, and contractual duties.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In the current appeal, the respondent, Sumanbai Pandurang Petkar, originally served as the defendant. Sumanbai had initially agreed to sell the property to the appellant, who is the plaintiff in the original case, for a sum of 6,60,000/-. The focal point of contention in this case pertains to the disputed property, specifically 3 acres of land. The Divisional Commissioner of Nagpur Division granted the necessary approvals for the execution of the sale deed. Despite the plaintiff’s diligent efforts to have the deed executed, it remained unfulfilled. The plaintiff went so far as to issue multiple notices to the respondents, summoning them to appear at the responsible authorities’ office on December 16, 2009, at 11:30 AM for the execution of the deed. Regrettably, it appears that these notices were disregarded, as the defendants purportedly made attempts to avoid attending the authority’s office for this purpose.
Unable to secure the execution of the deed, the plaintiff approached the trial court seeking specific performance. The trial court stipulated that the plaintiff must deposit a sum of 6 lakhs in the court, and further mandated that the defendant would only be entitled to the deposited amount upon executing the sale deed. The matter was subsequently appealed before the first appellate court, primarily on grounds of limitation and the necessity for intervention in the trial court’s judgment. The first appellate court dismissed the appeal without altering the trial court’s findings, affirming that the suit fell within the period of limitation.Subsequently, the case was taken to second appeal before the High Court. The Court, in the second appeal, formulated a substantial question of law and heard the appeal on the same day. It ultimately overturned the concurrent judgments delivered by both lower courts, leading to the dismissal of the plaintiff’s suit for specific performance. Dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, the current appeal was lodged before the Supreme Court.
Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) – Section 100: This section deals with the second appeal to the High Court and outlines the conditions under which a second appeal can be filed on substantial questions of law.
Section 100(5): This subsection of Section 100 allows the respondent in a second appeal to argue that the case does not involve substantial questions of law.
Whether the High Court, in a second appeal, framed substantial questions of law at the time of admission and allowed the parties adequate opportunity to address those questions before making a decision?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT:
The appellant contended that the High Court’s ruling contradicted established legal norms as it introduced critical legal issues in the second hearing without affording ample time for the parties to respond. The appellant maintained that the High Court’s swift dismissal of the appeal, without allowing the parties a thorough opportunity to present their arguments, ran counter to the legal mandate requiring comprehensive deliberation on all pertinent matters. It was stressed that the Court should have adhered to the prescribed procedural sequence outlined in relevant legal precedents, which includes framing substantial questions, hearing the parties, and subsequently adjudicating on the appeal.
Furthermore, it was argued that the High Court ought to have followed established guidelines for intervening in factual determinations. Overturning concurrent factual findings without a thorough review of the trial court records was posited as unjust to the Court of First Appeal. To substantiate the need for such reversals, the appellant expressed concerns regarding either a dearth of evidence or a distortion in the findings, underlining the necessity for this to be substantiated after a meticulous scrutiny of the trial court records.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:
The respondent contended that the High Court issued a valid judgment by correctly applying the protocols for formulating crucial legal matters during the second hearing. It was asserted that the appellant had the opportunity to address any significant legal queries that the High Court chose to raise in the course of the hearing. The respondent maintained that the High Court’s approach was within legal bounds and facilitated a swifter resolution of the appeal. According to this perspective, the factual determinations were appropriately overturned through a legal examination and did not necessitate a reevaluation of the trial court’s records. The respondent took care to underscore that the High Court’s decision to pose vital questions during the hearing was both lawful and did not infringe upon the appellant’s rights.
JUDGMENT AND ANALYSIS:
In the case, the appellant contested the concurrent factual determinations made by the lower courts in a property dispute, bringing the matter to a second appeal before the High Court. The appellant argued that during this second hearing, the High Court improperly introduced crucial legal matters without affording the parties sufficient time to respond.
In contrast, the respondent maintained that the High Court’s approach was appropriate, as it expedited the resolution of the appeal and did not run afoul of legal requirements. However, the Supreme Court underscored that in second appeals, significant legal issues should be raised at the time of admission, ensuring that the parties have ample opportunity to address them. It was noted that the High Court did, in fact, introduce crucial issues during the second hearing and hastily dismissed the appeal without giving it due consideration.
The Supreme Court emphasized the importance of affording parties the opportunity to address all relevant questions, asserting that the High Court’s approach breached the procedural requisites for second appeals. As a result, the case was remitted to the High Court for a thorough revaluation. The judgment reiterated the necessity of adhering to the step-by-step procedure in second appeals, which encompasses formulating substantial questions of law, hearing parties, and scrutinizing trial court records when overturning factual determinations. The decision placed significant emphasis on upholding the law and ensuring procedural fairness in appellate proceedings.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s decision in this case underscores the paramount importance of adhering to procedural integrity and legal mandates in the adjudication of second appeals. It highlights the significance of a systematic approach, involving the accurate formulation of critical legal matters, affording parties an opportunity to address these issues, and, when overturning factual determinations, conducting a thorough review of trial court records. The Supreme Court reiterates the imperative for appellate proceedings to follow a methodical and just process, ensuring that parties are granted ample chances to present their arguments and that judgments are rendered in accordance with the law, as demonstrated by the remand of the case to the High Court.