Union of India Vs. Suresh J. Thanawala & Ors  Insc 496 (19 September 2001)
Thomas & S.N. Variava S. N. Variava, J.
Civil Appeal Nos. 6510-11 of 2001 (Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 1119-1120 of
and Civil Appeal Nos. 6512-13 of 2001 (Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 1282-1283 of
Appeals are against a Judgment dated 10th July, 2000 by which an Appeal against an Order
dated 17th January,
2000 has been
dismissed. By the Order dated 17th January, 2000 the Court has, exercising
powers under Order VII Rule 11 (d) of the Code of Civil Procedure, rejected the
Plaint as being barred by limitation.
stated the facts are as follows:
subject matter of the Suit involves large areas of land situated in and around
Mumbai. The Collector of Mumbai purporting to act under Section 20 of the Maharashtra
Land Revenue Code passed an Order dated 22nd June, 1995 holding that the lands in question
belong to Respondent Nos. 1 and 2. By an
Order dated 12th June,
1996 the State
Government, acting as the Appellate Authority under the Maharashtra Land
Revenue Code, affirmed the said Order.
Appellants then filed Suit on 16th July, 1997
wherein they have made various prayers. One of the reliefs sought is a declaration
that they are the owners of the suit land and that Respondents / Defendants
have no right, title or interest in the same.
/ Defendants filed Notice of Motion No. 399 of 1999 praying for rejection of
the Plaint filed under Order VII Rule 11(d) of the Code of Civil Procedure.
This prayer was based upon Section 20 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code
which, inter alia, provides as follows:
(4) Any suit in any civil court after the expiration of one year from the date
of any order passed under sub-section (1) of sub- section (2) or, if appeal has
been made against such order within the period of limitation, then from the
date of any order passed by the appellate authority, shall be dismissed (though
limitation has been not set up as a defence) if the suit is brought to set
aside such order or if the relief claimed is inconsistent with such order,
provided that in the case of an order under sub- section (2) the plaintiff has
had due notice of such order." This Notice of Motion was allowed and, as
stated above, the Plaint was rejected by the Order dated 17th January, 2000. The Appeal came to be dismissed by
the impugned Judgment.
in the Plaint, the Appellants have prayed for condonation of delay of the
period of limitation as prescribed under Section 20 of the Maharashtra Land
Revenue Code. However, the learned Solicitor General submitted that the main
relief is for a declaration that the Appellants are the owners of the suit
land. The learned Solicitor General also submitted that the main question would
be whether the provisions of Maharashtra Land Revenue Code and Section 20
therein applied to such a Suit. He pointed out that Respondents/Defendants had
not even filed a written statement in the suit. He submitted that it was open
for the Appellants/Plaintiffs to amend the suit. The learned Solicitor General
submitted that the Appellants/Plaintiffs will amend the Plaint, if the suit is
restored to the file.
stated that the Appellants/Plaintiffs would move for necessary amendments
within a period of 2 weeks from today.
not express any opinion on merits. However, in our view, this is not a matter
which should have been disposed of in such summary manner. The
Appellants/Plaintiffs should be allowed to carry out the amendments, which they
would have been entitled in law to do so if the Plaint was not rejected.
therefore, set aside the impugned Order and the Order of the learned single
Judge dated 17th
January, 2000. The
Suit stands restored to the file of the High Court. We permit the Plaintiffs to
carry out necessary amendments to the plaint if a motion for it is made within
a period of 2 weeks from today. After the amendments are carried out the
Respondents/Defendants shall file their written statement within a period of 4
clarify that the Respondents/Defendants will be at liberty to take up any or
all contentions. They are at liberty to file an Application raising preliminary
objections including objection as to the maintainability of the Suit on ground
of limitation. If such an application is filed the High Court is requested to
dispose of the same on merits within a period of 6 months from the date of its
these directions the Appeals are allowed. There will be no Order as to costs.
VARIAVA) September 19,