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Memorandum of Family Settlement does not require registration, HC cannot interfere in Second Appeal in casual manner: SC

The SC on July 31, 2020 {Ravinder Kaur Grewal & Ors. vs. Manjit Kaur & Ors.} held that in present case it is not possible to conclude   that   the   High   Court   in   exercise   of   its   appellate jurisdiction (second appeal) had undertaken proper analysis and scrutiny of the judgment of the first appellate Court in right perspective,   much   less   keeping   in   mind   the   limited   scope   of jurisdiction to entertain second appeal under Section 100 of the Code   of   Civil   Procedure,   1908. It was held that the   impugned   judgment   is bordering on a casual approach by the High Court in overturning the   well­ considered   decision   of   the   first   appellate   Court. It was held by the SC that although   the   impugned   judgment   runs   into,   the manner   in   which   it   proceeds   leaves   it   to   observe   that   it   is cryptic.    On   this   count   alone, it was held that impugned judgment does not stand the test of judicial scrutiny.

It was observed by the  Bench, comprising of Justice A.M. KHANWILKAR and Justice DINESH MAHESHWARI that the first appellate Court has justly opined that the parties had acted upon the stated family settlement and to the prejudice of the other party. It was held that the property in the name of plaintiff at Prem Basti was given to Sohan Singh (original defendant No. 2), which was otherwise in possession of Mohan Singh (original defendant No. 1). Further, it was held that the plot purchased by the plaintiff in the name of his son was given to Mohan Singh (original defendant No. 1) and his wife, but that plot was admittedly sold by them to one Surjit Kaur. It was held that being a   case   of   a   family   settlement   between   the   real   brothers   and having been acted upon by them, it was not open to resile from the same. It was held by the SC that they were estopped from contending to the contrary. It was held that this crucial aspect has been glossed over by the High Court, the second appeal has been disposed of in a most casual manner inasmuch as, the impugned judgment of the High Court merely contains extraction of the judgment of the trial   Court   and   first   appellate   Court   and   of   the   relied   upon judgments (precedents).

The SC held that settled legal position is that   when   by   virtue   of   a   family   settlement   or   arrangement, members of a family descending from a common ancestor or a near relation seek to sink their differences and disputes, settle and resolve their conflicting claims or disputed titles once and for all in order to buy peace of mind and bring about complete harmony and goodwill in the family, such arrangement ought to be governed by a special equity peculiar to them and would be enforced if honestly made. It was held that the object of such arrangement is to protect the family from long drawn litigation or perpetual strives which   mar   the   unity   and   solidarity   of   the   family   and   create hatred and bad blood between the various members of the family.

It was held that  the  Court   restated   that   a   family arrangement being binding on the parties, clearly operates as an estoppel, so as to preclude any of the parties who have taken advantage under the agreement from revoking or challenging the same.

The SC held that established facts and circumstances  in the present case  clearly   establish   that   a   family   settlement   was arrived at in 1970 and also acted upon by the concerned parties. It was held by the SC that finding of fact recorded by the first appellate Court being unexceptionable, it must follow that the document Exhibit P­6 was merely a memorandum of a family settlement so arrived at. Resultantly, it was held it was not required to be registered and in any case, keeping   in   mind   the   settled   legal   position,   the   contesting defendants   were   estopped   from   resiling   from   the   stated arrangement in the subject memorandum, which had recorded the settlement terms arrived at in the past and even acted upon relating to all the existing or future disputes qua the subject property   amongst   the   (signatories)   family   members   despite absence of antecedent title to the concerned property.

In the present case, the   core   issue involved   in   the   appeal before the SC  was:   whether   the document Exhibit P­6 was required to be registered as interest in immovable property worth more than Rs.100/­ was transferred in favour of the plaintiff?

Considering the above, it was held by the SC that the High Court committed manifest error in interfering with and in particular reversing the well­ considered decision of the first appellate Court, which had justly concluded that document dated   10.3.1988   executed   between   the   parties   was   merely   a memorandum of settlement, and it did not require registration. It was held that it must follow that the relief claimed by the plaintiff in the suit, as granted   by   the   first   appellate   Court   ought   not   to   have   been interfered   with  by   the   High   Court   and   more   so,   in a casual manner.

Accordingly, it was concluded by the SC that it deems it appropriate to set aside the impugned judgment and restore the judgment and decree passed by the first appellate Court in favour of the plaintiffs (appellants herein). Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.   Impugned judgment and decree of the High Court was set aside.   The judgment and decree passed by the first appellate Court was restored in favour of the plaintiff (appellants herein) by the SC.

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