Lajwanti Vs. Lal Chand & Ors
 INSC 76 (22 March 1968)
22/03/1968 MITTER, G.K.
CITATION: 1969 AIR 27 1969 SCR (3) 506
East Punjab Factories (Control of
Dismantling) Act 1948, S. 3-Whether bars execution of delivery of possession.
Execution of Decree-No appeal from earlier
execution application Fresh application, if barred by res judicata-S. 3 of East
Punjab Factories (Control of Dismantling) Act, if bars.
The eviction of the Respondent 'from the
appellants premises, which was used as a factory, was decreed and application
for execution of an order for possession was made. The respondents resisted the
execution on the plea that the machinery installed in the factory could not be
removed without the prior permission of chief Inspector of Factories as
provided by the East Punjab Factories (Control of Dismantling) Act. The
premises was allowed. Both parties appealed. The appellate Court took of the
machinery was stayed, but the Possession of the part the premises was allowed.
Both parties appealed. The appellate Court took the view that the machinery and
spare parts were lying practically in all the rooms, and the locking and
sealing of the factory would result in its closure which would be against the
provisions of the Act, and therefore directed -the appellant to pursue the
matter with the State Government. The order dated April 22, 1953 was not
challenged by any appeal. But the appellant restarted the execution proceedings
in which it was held that the State Government had refused permission for
demolition of the factory, so the file was ordered to be consigned to the
record room. 'Me appellant filed an appeal, which was dismissed, but in further
revision the High Court by its order dated July 13, 1955 observed that on the
record it was not possible to decide whether the execution of the decree would
defeat the provisions of s. 3 of the Act, so it set aside the order and
directed the executing court to give decision on points that arose under s. 3
of the Act. 'Me executing court found that the provisions of the Art did not
prohibit the execution and as such the respondents were liable to ejectment but
since the application had become over a year old it would be 'struck off the
file with liberty to make a fresh application. The respondents appealed. The
District Judge held that the Act did not apply to involuntary dismantling of
factories and that the issue raised by the executing court did not arise but in
fact it had been decided against the appellant by the High Court in revision.
The appellant's appeal to High Court was dismissed by a Single Judge, and in
the Letters Patent Appeal, it was held that the delivery of possession was not
barred in execution of decree by the Act, but the matter had become res
judicata in consequence of the decisions in the first execution application and
the decision of the High Court dated July 13 1955 in the second execution
application. Allowing the appeal,
HELD : The Act does not bar the delivery of
possession in execution, of a decree. It makes no reference to any decree for
Possession against the owner of a factory. By ordering delivery of possession
of the premises, the executing court does not make an order for dismantling a
factory and a bailiff charged with execution of a warrant for possession, does
not infringe the provision of law by rendering possession of the property to
the decree-holder. [510 C-D] 507 There was no final order about the in excitability
of the decree on the first application for execution. Further the High Court by
its order dated July 13, 1955, did Dot decide the question as to whether the
decree for possession would be in executable in view of the Act. It stated
expressly that it was not possible for it to decide whether the execution of
the decree would defeat the provisions of the Act, and being unable to come to
a decision on the record it remanded the matter to the court of execution. It
found itself unable to interpret the section on the evidence before it. The
proceedings subsequent to the remand order culminated in the order of the
Division Bench from which the present appeal arose. The order dated July 13,
1955 was not a final order which put a seal on the proceedings. [510 F-H]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 687 of 1965.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
decree dated October 3, 1961 of the Punjab High Court in Letters Patent Appeal
No. 405 of 1958.
C. B. Agarwala and K. P. Gupta, for the
S. N. Anand, for respondent No. 1.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Mitter, J. This is an appeal by special leave from a judgment and order of the
Punjab High Court in Letters Patent Appeal No. 405 of 1956.
The matter arises out of an application for
execution of an order for possession passed on a compromise between the
parties. The Division Bench of the Punjab High Court felt itself unable to help
the decree-holder because of an earlier decision in the execution proceedings
which was held to constitute res judicata against her. The main question for
consideration is, whether it was right in doing so.
The relevant facts are as follows. As far
back as April 1950. Harbans Lal, the late husband of the appellant before us,
obtained an order for eviction from the Rent Controller against Lal Chand and Ram
Rattan Dass Jain in respect of certain, premises which were being used as a
factory. This decree was upheld in appeal and in July 1951 the decreeholder
applied for execution. The court bailiff made a report dated the 14th July 1951
that on his going to givedelivery of possession resistance was offered by a
number of persons and being apprehensive of breach of peace he could not effect
delivery of possession. The judgment debtors appear to have -approached the
Department of Industries and informed them of the attempt at their eviction by
the, decree-holder. The copy of a letter from the Extra Assistant Director of
Industries to the Chief Inspector of Factories dated July 18, 1951 exhibited at
the instance of the judgment-debtors, goes to show that the machinery installed
in the factory could not be removed without 7 Sup.
C.I./68-8 508 the prior permission of the
Chief Inspector of Factories.
Obviously the judgment-debtors wanted to
thwart the decreeholder from getting possession through court by invoking the
aid of the East Punjab Factories (Control of Dismantling) Act XX of 1948,
hereinafter referred to as the Act. The judgment-debtors applied for stay of
execution of the decree on August 23, 1951. The Subordinate Judge issued
notices but did not grant stay. On appeal the District Judge accepted the
appeal noting that the Subordinate Judge had not given any finding about the
applicability of the Act.
He had before him the report of the bailiff
that possession of the premises could not be given over as there were machinery
stored therein. By order dated October 11, 1951 he directed the Subordinate
Judge to decide the objections under the Act.
The Subordinate Judge framed a number of
issues including one which read : 'whether the judgment-debtors could not be
dispossessed of the factory and machinery could not be dismantled without
permission of the Government ?" Taking evidence of the parties and noting
the contents of the letter of the Industries Department, he observed that the
judgment-debtors had not secured permission but the decree holder might follow
up the matter through court. He stayed execution of the decree in so far as it
involved the dismantling or removal of the machinery but allowed the same for
securing possession of the part of the premises where no machinery was stored.
This was on 7th February, 1953.
Both parties filed appeals from this order
which were dismissed. The appellate court was of the view that machinery and
spare parts were lying practically in all the rooms of the building and the
locking and sealing of the factory would result in its closure which would go
against the provisions of the above-mentioned Act. The decree holder was
therefore directed to pursue the matter with the State Government.
Incidentally, the court noted that the decree-holder had not challenged -the
proposition that the court could not order delivery of possession without the
requisite sanction for the dismantling of the factory. This order dated 22nd
April 1953 was not challenged by any appeal to the High Court. It appears that
the court consigned the execution proceedings to the record room on July 25,
On August 18, 1953 the decree-holder applied
for execution proceedings being restarted. On November 7, 195 3 the executing
court observed that a reply from the State Government had been received to the
effect that permission for demolition of the factory could not be given. The.
execution file was therefore ordered to be
consigned to the record room once more. From this order. an appeal was preferred
by the 'decree-holder. The Additional District Judge held that in view of the
imperative provisions of section 3 of the Act the decree-holder could not be
granted possession in execution of the decree and dismissed the appeal by order
dated January 8, 1954. On further appeal, a learned Judge of the High Court by
order dated July 13, 1955 observed that in the execution proceedings no
evidence had been adduced on the points arising under Punjab Act XX of 1948. He
therefore said as follows :
"On the present record it is not
possible for me to decide whether the execution of the decree would defeat the
provisions of section 3 of the Punjab Act XX of 1948. That being the position
of matters, I set wide the order passed by the Subordinate courts and direct
the court of execution to give fresh decision on the points that arise under
section 3 of Punjab Act XX of 1948.
In proceedings pursuant to this order parties
will be given opportunity to examine hearing on the points that arise under
section 3 of Punjab Act XX of 1948." On remand the Subordinate Judge by
order dated 30th December, 1955 hold that the Act was not intended to cover
involuntary dismantling in execution of orders of competent courts : further
the Rent Restriction Act, 1949 passed after Act XX of 1948 did not take any
notice of the prohibition contained in the said Act' In the result he found
that the respondent was liable to be ejected in execution of the decree for
eviction but as the application had become over a year old it would be struck
off the file and the decree holder be at liberty to take out execution of the
decree by a fresh application.
The judgment-debtors went up in appeal to the
court of the District Judge. The District Judge by order dated December 31,
1956 hold that the Act did not apply to involuntary dismantling of factories
and that the issue raised by the Subordinate Judge in this connection did not
arise but in fact it had been decided against the landlord by the High Court in
Revision. According to him, the order of the High Court Went to show that s. 3
of Act XX of 1948 covered delivery of possession even in execution of the order
of the Rent Controller or otherwise the revision application would, have been
accepted by him straightaway. In the result he dismissed the execution
The appellant went up in Second Appeal to the
High Court at Chandigarh. A single Judge of that Court dismissed the appeal.
The decree-holder filed a Letters Patent Appeal.
Although of the view that delivery of
possession was not barred in execution of the decree by Act XX of 1948, the
Division Bench concluded that so far as the parties before it were concerned,
the matter had become, res judicata inconsequence of the decisions of the
executing court and the first appellate court on the 510 first execution
application and the decision of a single Judge in revision on the previous
occasion in the second execution application.
Section 3 sub-s. (1) of East Punjab Act XX of
1948 provides as follows :
"No person shall, without the written
permission of the State Government or of an officer authorised in this behalf
by the State Government, dismantle any factory or remove from a factory any
spare parts kept for maintaining the machinery of the factory in order."
The Act which contains only eight sections makes no reference to any decree for
possession against the owner of a factory. By ordering delivery of possession
of the premises the executing court does not make an order for dismantling a
factory and a bailiff charged with execution of a warrant for possession does
not infringe the above provision of law by rendering possession of the property
to the decree-holder. So far as the judgment-debtor' the owner of the factory,
is concerned, it would be his look out to take the matter up with. the State
Government, if necessary and we have no doubt that in a 'case like this where
there is no collusion between the decree-holder and the judgment debtors the
State Government would not prosecute the judgment-debtors or refuse to accord
sanction to the judgment-debtors for removal of the machinery from the premises
of which they could not lawfully continue in possession.
it appears that the Subordinate Judge, the
District Judge and the Judges of the Punjab High Court were all of the view
that the Act did not bar the delivery of possession in execution of a decree.
In our opinion there was no final order about
the in excitability of the decree on the first application for execution which
was consigned-to the record room by order dated July 25, 1953. Further, the
judgment of the learned single Judge of the Punjab High Court dated July 13,
1955 did not decide the question as fin whether the decree for possession would
be in executable in view of Act XX of 1948. He stated expressly that It was not
possible for him to decide whether, the execution of the decree would defeat
the provisions of s. 3 of Punjab Act XX of 1948 and being unable to come to a
decision on the record he remanded the matter to the court of execution. He
found himself unable to interpret the section on the evidence before him. The
proceedings subsequent to the remand order culminated in the order of the
Division Bench from which the present appeal arises. The order dated July 13,
1955 was not a final order which put a seal on the proceedings.
The course of litigation subsequent to the
order for eviction in 1950 is truly amazing. For 17 years the decreeholder has
511 been unable to reap the fruits of the decree although practically all the
courts felt that the Act of 1948 could not be called in aid by the
judgment-debtors to resist execution by delivery of possession. We cannot but
condemn in very strong terms the attitude ,of the judgment-debtors who, to say
the least, are persons who have little regard for sanctity of their own solemn
promise made before a court of law. On June 29, 1,950 in Miscellaneous Civil
Appeal No. 39 of 1950 they stated on oath that they had reached an agreement
with the landlord that they would "remain on the premises only up till
31st March 1951 when they would of their own accord vacate the premises"
and on their failure to do so the landlord would be entitled to take out
execution against them. Even -before the time to vacate the premises came, one
of the judgment-debtors filed a suit for a perpetual injunction to restrain the
decree-holder from obtaining possession in terms of the consent order of 29th
June 1950. The suit was dismissed on July 11, 1951. The judgment debtors also
lost the appeal filed against that dismissal. At every step and turn for nearly
two decades they have successfully resisted delivery of possession by raising
an illusory plea.
Learned counsel for the respondents argued
that even now his clients can urge the plea that the decree was not executable
because of the provisions of Act XX of 1 1948. According to him, the agreement
was in contravention of a statute and 'the respondents could not be estopped
from pleading or proving facts which -would render the agreement void. His,
case was that Act XX of 1948 being in force on June 29, 1950 any agreement
arrived at between the parties in contravention of its provisions would not be
binding on the parties. No exception can be taken to the broad proposition of
law but no question of estoppel ever arose in this case because Act XX of 1948
did not operate as a bar to the delivery of possession of premises in execution
of a decree.
In the result, the appeal is allowed with
costs throughout from the 18th August 1953 irrespective of any order in that
behalf made at any time thereafter. It is unfortunate the decree holder has
been kept out of possession so long; but she is partly responsible for it
herself. If she had preferred an appeal from the order of the District Judge
passed on 22nd April, 1953 to the High Court. probably her troubles would have
ended long ago.
Y.P. Appeal allowed.