Malluru Mallappa(D) Thr. Lrs vs Kuruvathappa on 12 February, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Malluru Mallappa(D) Thr. Lrs vs Kuruvathappa on 12 February, 2020

Author: S. Abdul Nazeer

Bench: R. Banumathi, S. Abdul Nazeer, A.S. Bopanna

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                                                                                 REPORTABLE

                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                      CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                     CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1485        OF 2020
                                    [Arising out of SLP(C) No.18092 of 2014]


          MALLURU MALLAPPA(D) THR. LRS.                                    … APPELLANT(S)

                                                     VERSUS

          KURUVATHAPPA & ORS.                                              … RESPONDENTS



                                               JUDGMENT

S. ABDUL NAZEER, J.

1. Delay condoned. Leave granted.

2. This is the plaintiff’s appeal challenging the judgment and decree in RFA

No.1731 of 2006 dated 09.02.2012 passed by the High Court of Karnataka at

Bangalore, whereby the High Court has confirmed the judgment and decree

passed by the trial court in O.S. No. 32 of 2005 dated 09.06.2006.

3. The plaintiff filed the above suit against the respondents/defendants for

specific performance of the agreement to sell dated 30.3.2000. The agreement

provided that the sale was to be executed within three years from the date of the
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by

agreement, subject to the defendants fulfilling certain obligations.
MADHU BALA
Date: 2020.02.12
16:54:14 IST
Reason:

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4. Defendant No.1 filed the written statement and the other defendants filed

a memo adopting the same as their written statement. Defendant No.1 admitted

the execution of the agreement to sell in favour of the plaintiff. However, the

defendant pleaded that the suit was barred by limitation. It was further

contended that plaintiff was not ready and willing to perform his part of the

contract.

5. Based upon the rival pleadings of the parties, the trial court framed the

following issues: –

“1.Whether the plaintiff proves that, the defendants 1 and 2 their
father have executed an agreement to sell on 30.3.2000 for
Rs.2,00,000/- in favour of the plaintiff after receiving
Rs.1,50,000/- as earnest money?

2. Whether the plaintiff proves that, he is always ready and
willing to perform his part of contract?

3. Whether the suit of the plaintiff is barred by limitation?

4. What order or decree?”

6. The plaintiff got himself examined as PW-1 and Ex. P-1, P1(a) to (c)

were marked in his evidence. The defendant No.1 was examined as DW1 and

three other witnesses were examined as DW-2 to 4. On appreciation of the

evidence on record, the trial court held that the suit was barred by time. It was

also held that the plaintiff was not ready and willing to perform his part of the

contract. The suit was accordingly dismissed.

7. As noticed above, the High Court has confirmed the said decree of the

trial court.

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8. We have heard Shri S.N. Bhat, learned counsel for the appellant/plaintiff.

Though notice was served on the respondents, no one has entered appearance on

their behalf.

9. Shri Bhat, learned counsel, has made two-fold submissions. Firstly, he

submits that the High Court has passed a cryptic judgment without

reappreciating the evidence on record. It was argued that the first appeal filed

by the plaintiff under Section 96 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (for short

‘the CPC’) was a continuation of the suit and it was incumbent upon the High

Court to reassess the entire evidence on record. It was argued that the High

Court as an appellate court has failed to follow the guidelines provided under

Order XLI Rule 31 of the CPC while deciding the appeal. Secondly, it was

argued that the agreement to sell was dated 30.03.2000, providing for three

years’ time from the date of the agreement to complete the execution of the sale

deed. The suit was filed on 28.01.2005 which was well within time. Referring

to Article 54 of the Schedule to the Limitation Act, 1963, (for short ‘the

Limitation Act’) it was submitted that when a date is fixed for performance of

the contract, the period of limitation for filing the suit is three years from the

date fixed for the performance. It was further argued that there is no finding by

the High Court as to the readiness and willingness of the plaintiff to perform his

part of the contract.

10. We have carefully considered the submission of the learned counsel made

at the Bar and perused the materials placed on record.
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11. Section 96 of the CPC provides for filing of an appeal from the decree

passed by any court exercising original jurisdiction to the court authorized to

hear the appeals from the decisions of such courts. In the instant case, the

appeal from the decree passed by the trial court lies to the High Court. The

expression ‘appeal’ has not been defined in the CPC. Black’s Law Dictionary

(7th Edn.) defines an appeal as “a proceeding undertaken to have a decision

reconsidered by bringing it to a higher authority.” It is a judicial examination of

the decision by a higher court of the decision of a subordinate court to rectify

any possible error in the order under appeal. The law provides the remedy of an

appeal because of the recognition that those manning the judicial tiers too

commit errors.

12. In Hari Shankar v. Rao Girdhari Lal Chowdhury 1 it was held that a

right of appeal carries with it a right of re-hearing on law as well as on fact,

unless the statute conferring a right of appeal limits the re-hearing in some way

as has been done in second appeal arising under the CPC.

13. In Shankar Ramchandra Abhyankar v. Krishnaji Dattatreya Bapat2

it was held thus:

5. ……….. In the well known work of Story on
Constitution (of United States), Vol. 2, Article 1761, it is
stated that the essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction is
that it revises and corrects the proceedings in a cause
already instituted and does not create that cause. The
appellate jurisdiction may be exercised in a variety of forms
and, indeed, in any form in which the Legislature may

1
AIR 1963 SC 698
2
1969 (2) SCC 74
5

choose to prescribe. According to Article 1762 the most
usual modes of exercising appellate jurisdiction, at least
those which are most known in the United States, are by a
writ of error, or by an appeal, or by some process of
removal of a suit from an inferior tribunal. An appeal is a
process of civil law origin and removes a cause, entirely
subjecting the fact as well as the law, to a review and a
retrial…….”

14. It is a settled position of law that an appeal is a continuation of the

proceedings of the original court. Ordinarily, the appellate jurisdiction involves

a re-hearing on law as well as on fact and is invoked by an aggrieved person.

The first appeal is a valuable right of the appellant and therein all questions of

fact and law decided by the trial court are open for re-consideration. Therefore,

the first appellate court is required to address itself to all the issues and decide

the case by giving reasons. The court of first appeal must record its findings

only after dealing with all issues of law as well as fact and with the evidence,

oral as well as documentary, led by the parties. The judgment of the first

appellate court must display conscious application of mind and record findings

supported by reasons on all issues and contentions [see: Santosh Hazari v.

Purushottam Tiwari (Deceased) By Lrs.3, Madhukar and others v. Sangram

and Others4, B. M. Narayana Gowda v. Shanthamma (Dead) By Lrs. and

Another5, H. K. N. Swami v. Irshad Basith (Dead) By Lrs.6 and M/s. Sri

Raja Lakshmi Dyeing Works v. Rangaswamy Chettiar7].

3
(2001) 3 SCC 179
4
(2001) 4 SCC 756
5
(2011) 15 SCC 476
6
(2005) 10 SCC 243
7
(1980) 4 SCC 259
6

15. A first appeal under Section 96 of the CPC is entirely different from a

second appeal under Section 100. Section 100 expressly bars second appeal

unless a question of law is involved in a case and the question of law so

involved is substantial in nature.

16. Order XLI Rule 31 of the CPC provides the guidelines for the appellate

court to decide the matter. For ready reference Order XLI Rule 31 of the CPC

is as under: –

“31. Contents, date and signature of judgment.- The
judgment of the Appellate Court shall be in writing and shall
state—

(a) the points for determination;

(b) the decision thereon;

(c) the reasons for the decision; and

(d) where the decree appealed from is reversed or varied, the
relief to which the appellant is entitled;

and shall at the time it is pronounced be signed and dated by the
Judge or by the Judges concurring therein.”

17. In Vinod Kumar v. Gangadhar8 this Court has reiterated the principles

to be borne in mind while disposing of a first appeal, as under:-

“15. Again in B.V. Nagesh v. H.V. Sreenivasa Murthy [(2010) 13
SCC 530 : (2010) 4 SCC (Civ) 808] , this Court taking note of
all the earlier judgments of this Court reiterated the
aforementioned principle with these words: (SCC pp. 530-31,
paras 3-5)

“3. How the regular first appeal is to be disposed of by
the appellate court/High Court has been considered by
this Court in various decisions. Order 41 CPC deals
with appeals from original decrees. Among the various
rules, Rule 31 mandates that the judgment of the
appellate court shall state:

(a) the points for determination;

(b) the decision thereon;

8

(2015) 1 SCC 391
7

(c) the reasons for the decision; and

(d) where the decree appealed from is reversed or
varied, the relief to which the appellant is entitled.

4. The appellate court has jurisdiction to reverse or
affirm the findings of the trial court. The first appeal is
a valuable right of the parties and unless restricted by
law, the whole case is therein open for rehearing both
on questions of fact and law. The judgment of the
appellate court must, therefore, reflect its conscious
application of mind and record findings supported by
reasons, on all the issues arising along with the
contentions put forth, and pressed by the parties for
decision of the appellate court. Sitting as a court of first
appeal, it was the duty of the High Court to deal with
all the issues and the evidence led by the parties before
recording its findings. The first appeal is a valuable
right and the parties have a right to be heard both on
questions of law and on facts and the judgment in the
first appeal must address itself to all the issues of law
and fact and decide it by giving reasons in support of
the findings. (Vide Santosh Hazari v. Purushottam
Tiwari
[(2001) 3 SCC 179 : (2001) 1 SCR 948] , SCC
p. 188, para 15 and Madhukar v. Sangram [(2001) 4
SCC 756] SCC p. 758, para 5.)”

18. In Shasidhar and Ors. v. Ashwani Uma Mathad and Anr.9, it was held

as under:-

“21. Being the first appellate court, it was, therefore, the
duty of the High Court to decide the first appeal keeping in
view the scope and powers conferred on it under Section 96
read with Order 41 Rule 31 of the Code mentioned above. It
was unfortunately not done, thereby, causing prejudice to
the appellants whose valuable right to prosecute the first
appeal on facts and law was adversely affected which, in
turn, deprived them of a hearing in the appeal in accordance
with law.”

19. It is clear from the above provisions and the decisions of this Court that

the judgment of the first appellate court has to set out points for determination,

record the decision thereon and give its own reasons. Even when the first

appellate court affirms the judgment of the trial court, it is required to comply
9
(2015) 11 SCC 269
8

with the requirement of Order XLI Rule 31 and non-observance of this

requirement leads to infirmity in the judgment of the first appellate court. No

doubt, when the appellate court agrees with the views of the trial court on

evidence, it need not restate effect of evidence or reiterate reasons given by trial

court. Expression of a general agreement with the reasons given by the trial

court would ordinarily suffice.

20. Keeping in mind the above principles, let us examine the present case. As

stated above, the issue relating to readiness and willingness of the plaintiff to

perform his part of the contract and issue relating to limitation were held against

the plaintiff and the suit was accordingly dismissed. The appeal before the High

Court involved both disputed questions of law and fact. The High Court

without examination of any of these aspects has dismissed the appeal by a

cryptic order. The court below has neither reappreciated the evidence of the

parties, nor it has passed a reasoned order. The High Court has failed to follow

the provisions of Order XLI Rule 31 of the CPC while deciding the appeal. Mr.

Bhat has argued that the suit was well within time under Article 54 of the

Schedule to the Limitation Act. Even this question has not been examined in its

proper perspective.

21. In the result, the appeal succeeds and is accordingly allowed in part. The

judgment and decree of the High Court in RFA No.1731 of 2006 dated

09.02.2012, is set aside and the matter is remanded to the High Court for fresh

disposal in accordance with law.

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22. All the contentions of the parties are left open. There will be no order as

to costs.

…………………………J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

.…………………………J.

(SANJIV KHANNA)
New Delhi;

February 12, 2020.



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