Singh (Dead) Lrs. on Record & Ors Vs. Shri Harbhajan Singh  INSC 207
(22 August 1991)
M.M. Punchhi, M.M. Ramaswamy, K.
1992 AIR 109 1991 SCR (3) 703 1992 SCC Supl. (1) 709 JT 1992 (1) 546 1991 SCALE
of Civil Procedure, 1908--Section 148 read with Section 15(1), the Punjab
Pre-emption Act and Article 136, Constitution of India, 1950--Suits for
pre-emption--Dis- missed under Order 20, Rule 14-Deposit of pre-emption
amount--Extention of time--Whether to be raised in appeal before the Supreme
of India, 1950--Article 136--Appeal--Depos-
it of pre-emption amount--Whether to be raised before the Supreme Court.
brothers executed four sale deeds on June 25, 1968, to respondent. The 4th brother,
whose legal represen- tatives are the appellants, filed four suits of
pre-emption against the vendee-respondent and those were decreed on terms of
payment of pre-emption money on or before August 30, 1970.
plaintiff-pre-emptors-appellants filed four appeals before the District Judge
for the reduction of the pre- emption money. On an application moved by the
pre-emptors the time for deposit of the amount fixed under the decree by the
Trial Court was extended till further orders.
appeals were rejected under Order 41 Rule 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure as
being insufficiently stamped and not properly presented.
hand, however on 26.10.1970, the plaintiff-pre- emptors, deposited the
pre-emption amount in the Trial Court.
pre-emptors sought execution of the pre-emption decrees. The vendee-judgment
debtor raised objections stat- ing that the suits stood automatically dismissed
for non- deposit of the pre-emption money within the time identically
stipulated under the decrees.
objection was sustained by the Trial/Executing Court.
The appeal to the Appellate Court at the instance of the preemptors, was
allowed, permitting the execution to pro- ceed.
Single Judge of the High Court in further appeal upheld the view of the
District Judge, but the Division Bench of the High Court allowed the Letters
Patent Appeals, upholding the objection made by the vendee-respondent, that
there were no decrees which could be executed, against which these appeals by
special leave to this Court .were filed.
appellants contended that the controversy could be determined on the anvil of
Section 148 of the Code of Civil Procedure by extending time by the Court, as
it was extend- able when any period was fixed or granted by the Court for the
doing of any act prescribed or allowed by the Court, even though the period
originally fixed or granted had already expired; that this Court should
exercise its plenary power in the interests of justice to extend the time.
the appeals, this Court,
1. There is no law of pre-emption permitting a decree to be drawn in terms of
Section 15(1) of the Punjab Pre-emption Act. Were the Court to exercise at all
the discretions on the subject, the Court would in any event be completing the
process of decreeing the suits; the suits which have been held to fall down
under Order 20 Rule 14 of the Code of Civil Procedure, tantamounting to their
dismiss- al, and that too on present day when such decrees cannot be passed.
objections of the vendee must remain sustained and the pre-emptor-appellants
must fail in the event, not getting their suits for pre-emption decreed. Decretal
money deposited by the appellants may be permitted to be withdrawn by them, if
not already withdrawn. [707F-G] Atarn Parkash v. State of Haryana & Ors.,
 1 SCR 399, followed.
v. Babu Ram & Ors.,  1 SCR 844 and Jagar Dhish Bhargava v. Jawahar Lal
Bhargava and Others,  2 SCR 918, referred to.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal Nos. 2266-69 of 1979.
From the Judgment dated 9.8.1978 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in L.P.A. Nos. 576 to 579 of 1975.
Lal and M.V. Goswami for the Appellants. Iqbal Singh for the Respondent.
following Order of the Court was delivered:
appeals by special Leave are directed against the common judgment and decree of
the Punjab and Haryana High Court passed in
L.P.A. Nos. 576-79 of 1975.
brothers, by means of four sale deeds executed on June 25, 1968, sold some parcels of land to Harbhajan Singh-respondent
herein. The 4th brother by the name of Ujagar Singh, whose legal
representatives are the appellants herein,. filed four suits of preemption
,against the vendee and those were decreed on July 15, 1970, on terms of payment of pre-emption money on or before August 30, 1970. Four appeals were filed by the
plaintiff-pre-emptors before the District Judge for the reduction of the
application moved by the pre-emptors the time for deposit of the amount fixed
under the decree by the Trial Court was extended till further orders. The
appeals finally were rejected under Order 41 Rule 3 of the Code of Civil
Procedure as being insufficiently stamped and hence not properly presented.
Before hand, however, 'the laintiff-pre-emptors all the same, deposited the
pre-emption amount in the Trial Court, on their own, on October 26, 1970.
the rejection of their appeals, the pre-emptors sought execution of the
pre-emption decrees which attracted objections by the vendee-judgment debtor.
The primary objec- tion raised was that the suits stood automatically dismissed
for non-deposit of the preemption money within the time identically stipulated
under the questioned decrees. The plea of the vendee was based on the mandate
of Order 20 Rule 14, Civil Procedure 'Code whereunder the Court when decree- ing
the claim to pre-emption is required to specify in the decree on or before
which the pre-emption money shall be paid, if not already paid, and further if
it is not so paid, the suit shall stand dismissed with costs. (Whatever is
relevant in Order 21 Rule 14 alone has been taken note of).
date specified by the Trial Court as said before was August 30, 1970 and under
the interim orders of the Appel- late Court the time for depositing the said
money was ex- tended till 706 further orders. Undeniably the Court never passed
any fur- ther orders in that regard and thus the time for depositing the said
money stood extended without any limit. The. objec- tion was sustained by the
Trial/ Executing Court. On appeal to the Appellate Court
at the instance of the pre-emptors, the District Judge took .a contrary view
permitting the execution to proceed. A learned Single Judge of the High Court
in appeal upheld the view of the District Judge, but a Division Bench of the
High Court. In Letters Patent Appeals, reversed the District Judge as also the
Single Judge uphold- ing the objection by the vendee that there were no decrees
which could be executed.
have heard learned counsel for the appellant for he alonewas present.
has been a sea change in the law of pre-emption in the States of Punjab and Haryana
where from these appeals have arisen. Whereas in Punjab the Punjab Pre-emption Act itself has been repealed, in Haryana
it has substantially been chopped down by justicing. This Court in Atam Parkash
v. State of Haryana & Ors.,  1 SCR 399 declared ultra vires section
15(1) of the Punjab Pre-emption Act, as ap- plicable to Haryana, whereunder
certain relatives of the vendor had been given the right to pre-empt a sale of immov-
able. property. The view of this Court and the present state of law is not by
any means insignificant or irrelevant for judging the present matter and for
resolving the controversy in hand. Rather its pervasive thought permeats the
counsel for the appellants would have the con- troversy determined on the anvil
of Section 148 of the Code of Civil Procedure, pleading for time to be extended
by the Court, as it is extendable when any period is fixed or granted by the
Court for the doing of any act prescribed or allowed by the Court, even though
the period originally fixed or granted has already expired. He has brought to
our notice that in the main matter when the appeal was rejected by the District
Judge as being insufficiently stamped time was asked from the District Judge to
make good the deficien- cy in the stamp duty but that was rejected and though
he concedes that the matter was not taken up in revision before the High Court,
it is still contended that this Court should exercise its plenary power to
extend the time in the inter- ests of justice and have the Court fee made good.
He also concedes that when the District Judge was asked to extend and specify
the time for deposit of the pre-emption money, he had declined to exercise his
discretion, so as to regula- rise payment, when the appellants had by
themselves 707 deposited the pre-emption money on October 26, 1970 before- hand,leaving
the matter to be agitated before the executing Court. Likewise it is contended
that this Court can and should specify the time for deposit so as to regularise
it in exercise of powers under Section 148 C.P.C. He also high- lights that the
mistake herein was that of the Courtand for both the propositions he takes aid
of Jogdhayan v. Babu Ram & Ors.,  1 SCR 844 and Jagat Dhish Bhargava
v. Jawahar Lal Bhargava and Others,  2 SCR 918. In any event he concedes
that for the later wrongful non-exercise of discre- tion of the District Judge,
the matter was not taken in Second Appeal or Revision, as the case may be,
before the High Court.
have pondered over, the matter. Our view may appear some-what slanting but we
cannot disassociate ourselves from the canvass now spread, showing there is no
law of pre-emp- tion permitting a decree to be drawn in terms of Section 15(1)
of the Punjab Pre- emption Act. Were we to exercise at all the discretions on
the subject afore-mentioned we would in any event be completing the process of
decreeing the suits; the suits which have been held to fall down under Order 20
Rule 14 of the Code of Civil Procedure, tantamount- ing to their dismissal, and
that too on present day when such decrees cannot be passed.
High Court however, took the controversy in a different- light. It took the
view that the insufficiently stamped appeals be/ore the District Judge were no
appeals in the eye of law, as was contende don behalf of the vendee, and the
view of the District Judge in not extending time was right as it was rightly
considered that the appeals had not been entertained at all. Support was also
taken for its view by the High Court from the circumstance of the order of the
Court extending time ex-parte, which conferred no obligation on the vendee to
treat the decree operative against him as and when the pre-emptors chose to
deposit the pre-emption money. The High COurt on this reasoning restored the judg-
ment of the Trial/Executing
objections of the vendee. Where the High Court arrived by following one way, we
have been led to arrive by another. The end result, however, is the same that
the objections of the vendee mustremain sustained and the pre-emptor-appellants
must fail in the event,not getting their suits for pre-emption de- creed. The
appeals must thus inevitably fail and are hereby dismissed. Decreetal money
deposited by the appellants may be permitted to be withdrawn by them, ii not
already with- drawn. No costs for there is no opposition.
Appeals dis- missed.