Amma Vs. Sundaram Pillai  INSC 486 (16 November 1993)
DAYAL (J) YOGESHWAR DAYAL (J) KULDIP SINGH (J) CITATION: 1994 SCC (1) 743 JT
1993 Supl. 319 1993 SCALE (4)420
Judgment of the Court was delivered by YOGESHWAR DAYAL, J.- This is an appeal
by the plaintiffs by special leave against the judgment of the Single Judge of
the High Court of Madras passed in Second Appeal No. 2050 of 1972 dated October
27, 1975 whereby the Single Judge set aside the decree of the Court of
Subordinate Judge, Nagercoll in Appeal Suit No. 33 of 1966 preferred against
the decree of the Court of the District Munsif of Nagercoil in Original Suit
No. 605 of 1962.
According to the plaintiffs, on May 30, 1945 the plaintiffs purchased the suit
property i.e. an extent of acres 0-37 cents with a building situated at From
the Judgment and Order dated October 27, 1975 of the Madras High Court in
Second Appeal No. 2050 of 1972 744 Nagercoil Town from one Parethuammal under
registered sale deed and paid full consideration. One Swaminatha Pillai was in
possession of the property, as a lessee under Parethuammal. As the possession
was not delivered to the plaintiffs, they filed civil suit being O.S. No. 555
of 1946 on the file of the District Munsif Court, Nagercoil, for the recovery of possession after evicting the lessee Swaminatha
Pillai. In this suit the owner Paretliuammal and the lessee Swaminatha Pillai
were impleaded as defendants 1 and 2.
the suit was filed, the plaintiffs learnt that Swaminatha Pillai, the lessee,
sublet the property to one Subramania Pillai. Subramania Pillai was impleaded
as defendant 3. Both the vendor and the sub-lessee (D-1 and D- 3) remained ex parte.
The suit was contested by the second defendant-lessee. The suit was dismissed
on the ground that defendant 2 was not paid the amount spent by him for
averting the sale of the property.
plaintiffs preferred an appeal being A.S. No. 637 of 1961. In the said appeal,
the contesting second defendant, the lessee, was only made as a
appeal was allowed and a conditional decree was passed for possession against
the contesting second defendant. The condition was that the plaintiffs should
pay Rs 5895 to the second defendant with interest at the rate of 6% per annum.
plaintiffs as well as the second defendant preferred separate appeals being
S.A. Nos. 315 of 1952 and 345 of 1952 in the High Court of Travancore, Cochin. In the Second Appeal No. 315 of
1952 i.e. the second appeal filed by the plaintiffs the decree was modified
reducing the interest to 4% and the Second Appeal No. 345 of 1952 filed by the
second defendant was dismissed.
the memorandum of Second Appeal No. 315 of 1952, the sublessee, Subramania Pillai
was added as a party to the appeal. He died during the pendency of the second
appeal and, therefore, his sons were brought on record as his legal
representatives. The sons filed a petition in the High Court to strike them off
from the array of parties as defendant 3 (sub-lessee) was not made a party in
the first appeal, A.S. No. 637 of 1961 filed by the plaintiffs. The court
struck off their names from the array of parties- respondents. Thus the second
appeal filed by the plaintiffs was only against second defendant, lessee-Swaminatha
the decree for possession granted to the plaintiffs against defendant 2 only
was a conditional decree, the plaintiffs deposited a sum of Rs 7000.
appears that on June
20, 1958 Execution
1958 was filed against Subramania Pillai directly under the provisions of Order
21 Rule 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure for delivery of possession. Subramania
Pillai, defendant 3, the sub-lessee, filed an application and raised an
objection that as he was not made party to the decree, the decree could not be
executed against him.
8. On September 24, 1958 Execution Petition No. 588 of 1958
was accordingly dismissed solely on the ground that the execution petition was
not straightaway maintainable against defendant 3 as there was no decree for
745 possession against him. The dismissal of the execution petition was not on
merit and there was no investigation of the claim of defendant 3.
9. On September 7, 1960, as the decree was only against
defendant 2-the lessee, Execution Petition being No. 819 of 1960 was filed
against him. Delivery of possession was ordered. When the Court 'Amin' went for
taking delivery of possession of the property, defendant 3-sub-lessee,
obstructed the 'Amin'. An application was then moved under Order 21 Rule 97 of
the Code of Civil Procedure to remove the obstruction and delivery of
September 9, 1961 the Executing Court i.e. the District Munsif Court dismissed Execution Petition No.
819 of 1960 on the ground (1) that prior order of dismissal in Execution
Petition No. 588 of 1958 operates res judicata;
(2) that there was no finding that the obstructor was only a sub-lessee.
The plaintiff thus again filed the suit out of which the present appeal has
arisen, O.S. No. 605 of 1962 on the file of the District Munsif Court, Nagercoil
for setting aside the order passed in Execution Petition No. 819 of 1960 under
Order 21 Rule 103 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Old rule prior to 1976
amendment of Code of Civil Procedure).
this suit the plaintiffs impleaded the original lessee as defendant 2 and the
sub-lessee, the obstructor, as defendant I but the trial court dismissed the
The plaintiffs filed an appeal in the District Court being A.S. No. 96 of 1965
but it was transferred to the Sub- Court, Nagercoil
and renumbered as No. 33 of 1966.
The sub-court in the appeal found (1) that the second defendant i.e. the
original lessee did not dispute that defendant 1, the sub-lessee, was in
possession of the property under him; (2) that the present obstructor i.e. the
heirs of present defendant 1 were not parties to the decree passed in O.S. No.
555 of 1946 and their names were struck off and the decision in O.S. No. 555 of
1946 does not operate res judicata; and (3) that the present first defendant
(sub-lessee) was only in possession under defendant 2 (lessee). The first
defendant in the suit who claimed title independent of second defendant
(original lessee) did not get into the witness-box to show how he claimed to be
in possession of the property independently of second defendant therein. The
lower appellate court found that he is only sub-lessee and observed "he
cannot simply rest content by saying that the plaintiff alone speaks to the
sub-lease and therefore his possession must be taken as adverse. Hence I find
the point in fivour of the plaintiffs." It is thus clear that the lower
appellate court gave a finding that the first defendant in the suit was merely
a sub-lessee of defendant 2 (original lessee) in the suit and had no
independent title and was not in adverse possession. The lower appellate court
also found that "the plaintiffs have succeeded in the prior suit in
respect of their claim that the second defendant was the lessee under their
vendor. Therefore, the possession of the second defendant must be deemed to be
possession on behalf of the present plaintiffs. This possession is shown to be
within 12 years of the present suit. Therefore, this point is also found in 746
favour of the plaintiffs." The lower appellate court accordingly allowed
the appeal of the plaintiffs.
The sub-lessee filed second appeal in the High Court being Second Appeal No.
2050 of 1972. During the pendency of the appeal Swaminatha Pillai, lessee,
(defendant 2 in the suit) died and his two sons were brought on record as
defendants 7 and 8. The High Court allowed the second appeal by order dated October 27, 1975 and held that Execution Petition
No. 588 of 1958 having been dismissed, the party not having filed an appeal or
suit against that order, it had become final and hence, operates as res judicata.
will be noticed that Execution Petition No. 588 of 1958 was filed against
defendant 3 in the first suit and on the face of it since defendant 3 was not
party to the original decree, the application under Order 21 Rule 35 of the
Code of Civil Procedure was dismissed on September 24, 1958 solely on the
ground that the execution petition was not maintainable against defendant 3 as
there was no decree against him. There was no adjudication on merits or
investigation into the claim of defendant 3 in that execution petition. Once
this position becomes clear it is obvious that the order dated September 24, 1958 merely held that the execution
petition in the earlier suit could not be filed against defendant 3 directly.
There was no need to challenge that order in appeal or otherwise as that was
the correct order. It was only when the second Execution Petition No. 819 of
1960 was filed against the original judgment-debtor (defendant 2) and the defendant
3 in suit i.e. sub-lessee obstructed the 'Amin', that the present suit was
filed under the provisions of Order 21 Rule 103 of the Code of Civil Procedure
and there was no legal bar to it either of res judicata or otherwise. It is
settled law that the general principles of Section 11 of the Code of Civil
Procedure apply to execution proceedings as well but the basic criteria for
applying the principles of res judicata is that the order must be between the
same parties and that the matter should have been heard and decided by such
Petition No. 819 of 1960 was not between the same parties as Execution Petition
No. 588 of 1958. Execution Petition No. 588 of 1958 was filed against Subramania
Pillai who was not a party to the decree for delivery of possession and it was
not heard and decided on merits. It was simply dismissed on the ground that the
execution did not lie against the third defendant. Hence the order in Execution
Petition No. 588 of 1958 did not operate res judicata for the purpose of
decision of Execution Petition No. 819 of 1960 or the present suit.
Though the application of the subsequent transferees as Respondents 4 and 5 for
intervention was not allowed by order of this Court dated November 21, 1977, yet the counsel on their behalf
addressed us and we heard him as well.
For the reasons aforesaid the appeal is allowed, the order of the High Court
dated October 27, 1975 is set aside and the order and decree of the Subordinate
Judge, Nagercoil, dated July 25, 1972 passed in A.S. No. 33 of 747 1966 are
restored. The appellants would also be entitled to their costs throughout.