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The Transfer Of Property Act, 1882
Section 53A in The Transfer Of Property Act, 1882
Section 12 in The Transfer Of Property Act, 1882
The Specific Relief Act, 1963
Section 16 in The Transfer Of Property Act, 1882

Kerala High Court
Against The Judgment In Os ... vs By Advs on 27 September, 2003

PRESENT:

THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE T.R.RAMACHANDRAN NAIR

&

THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE A.V.RAMAKRISHNA PILLAI TUESDAY, THE 20TH DAY OF AUGUST 2013/29TH SRAVANA, 1935 RFA.No. 385 of 2003 ( )

------------------------

AGAINST THE JUDGMENT IN OS 349/1995 of PRL.SUB COURT,KOTTAYAM DATED 27-09-2003

APPELLANT/DEFENDANT(S):

------------------------

A.K. CHACKO, S/O. KURIAKOSE, ROBIN VILLA,

PERUNNA MURI, CHETHIPUZHA VILLAGE, CHANGANASSERY. BY ADVS..

SRI.ANIL THOMAS (MELEMALAYIL)

SRI.P.S.KRISHNA PILLAI

RESPONDENTS/PLAINTIFF(S):

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1. K. GEORGE DOMIC, S/O. K.D. DOMINIC, (DIED)

KALLARACKALAYA VADAKKEPARAMBIL HOUSE,

PERUNNA KARA, CHANGANASSERY.

2. K. JOSHI DOMINIC, DO.

3. MRS. GITA EAPEN, W/O. EAPEN, KOITHARTA HOUSE, VAZHAPALLY KARA, DO.- VILLAGE, REPRESENTED BY

POWER OF ATTORNEY HOLDER MRS. ELSAMMA DOMINIC

4. MRS. ELSAMMA DOMINIC, W/O. K. DOMINIC,

VADAKKEPARAMBIL HOUSE, PERUNNA KARA, CHANGANASSERY. R, BY ADV. SRI.T.KRISHNAN UNNI (SR.)

R,R2 BY ADV. SRI.R.RAMADAS

RSUPPL.5 TO 8 BY ADV. SRI.SAJU.S.A

THIS REGULAR FIRST APPEAL HAVING BEEN FINALLY HEARD ON 17/7/2013, THE COURT ON 20.8.2013 DELIVERED THE FOLLOWING:

T.R.RAMACHANDRAN NAIR &

A.V.RAMAKRISHNA PILLAI, JJ.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - R.F.A. No. 385 of 2003

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - DATEDTHIS THE 20th DAY OF AUGUST,2013

JUDGMENT

Ramachandran Nair, J.

This is an appeal by the defendant, from the judgment and decree in O.S.No.349/1995 of the Principal Subordinate Judge's Court, Kottayam. The plaintiffs/respondents filed the suit for recovery of possession of the plaint schedule property with future mesne profits.

2. The appellant herein entered into an agreement for sale with the plaintiffs/respondents in respect of the plaint schedule property. The agreement is dated 28.9.1994 wherein the total sale consideration for the property and improvements is fixed at Rs.8 lakhs. Rupees One Lakh was paid as advance which is acknowledged in the agreement itself. The total extent of the property is 19 acres and 8 cents in Sy. No.2651 of Kootickal Village, Kanjirappally Taluk. The plaintiffs obtained the property as per three documents, viz. 1836/1987, 1823/1987 and 1825/1987 of Poonjar Sub Registry Office and Dananischaya Adharam No.147 of 1994 of the same Sub Registry Office. It was agreed that the defendant will pay balance RFA No.385/2003

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sale consideration on or before 31.3.1995 and to take the sale deed at his expenses. The possession of the property was also handed over to the defendant. The property was identified by the defendant prior to the agreement and after handing over of possession he is taking the income from the property also. Subsequent to the execution of the agreement, the defendant paid a further amount of Rs.1 lakh on 1.11.1994 by cheque and another sum of Rs.1 lakh was paid by four cheques dated 5.2.1995 and 6.2.1995 and all these have been endorsed in the original agreement itself.

3. It was pleaded by the plaintiffs that they have cleared the encumbrances outstanding against the property, obtained the power of attorney of the third plaintiff and were ready and willing to execute the document, but the defendant did not pay the balance amount or take the sale deed at his expense on or before 31.3.1995. It was pleaded that even after the plaintiffs contacted the defendant personally, he was putting-forth false and frivolous contentions. Accordingly, the suit was filed on 3.6.1995.

4. The defendant inter-alia contended that the plaintiffs have not taken out necessary steps for carrying out the obligations under the agreement. They have got title only over 16.85 acres, going by the re- RFA No.385/2003

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survey records. The defendant has made improvements in the property to the tune of Rs.10 lakhs, spending his money and the plaintiffs, apart from clearing the encumbrances, were bound to get necessary release deeds executed. They had to measure the property in order to ascertain the correct extent and boundaries and had to settle all the claims of the labourers employed there and these obligations have not been discharged by them. Thus, the defendant disputed the averments made by the plaintiffs that they have been ready and willing to perform their part of the contract. It is the contention of the appellant that on 31.3.1995 based on the documents furnished by the plaintiffs, the defendant had prepared the draft sale deed and had waited in the Sub Registry Office for executing the document with necessary funds. But the plaintiffs did not turn up. They are bound to execute the sale deed and the defendant is willing for the same and for payment of balance sale consideration. The plaintiffs filed a replication and the plaintiffs also filed an additional replication to the counter claim filed by the defendant. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant is not entitled to the benefit of the provisions of Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act.

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5. The evidence consists of the deposition of P.W.1 and D.Ws.1 to 5 and the documents Exts.A1 to A4 and B1 to B4. Ext.C1 is the report of the Commissioner.

6. We heard Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai, learned counsel appearing for the appellant and Shri T. Krishnanunni, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondents.

7. Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai, learned counsel appearing for the appellant contended that the trial court has erred in granting a decree in favour of the plaintiffs. It is submitted that the defendant was always ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. By referring to the clauses in the agreement Ext.A1, learned counsel submitted that the plaintiffs were bound to get the release deeds executed after clearing the encumbrances, which was not done. They were bound to show the correct measurement of the property and the boundaries, which was also not done. It is therefore submitted that the defendant is well protected by Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act. The defendant was ready and willing and is still willing for executing the document of sale deed. It is submitted by the learned counsel that at the time when the application for appointment of the RFA No.385/2003

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receiver was filed by the plaintiffs before the court below, the balance sale consideration was deposited by the defendant. It is submitted that apart from the advance amount of Rs.1 lakh which was paid on the date of agreement, the defendant had advanced another amount of Rs.1 lakh on 1.11.1994 and 5.2.1995 which will show that he has been performing his part of the contract and has taken further action for performing his part. Learned counsel, by relying upon the oral evidence adduced by the defendant, submitted that he was present in the Sub Registry Office on 31.3.1995 along with DW.3, the scribe and the court below erred in disbelieving the oral evidence in this regard. It is submitted that the plaintiffs have never informed the defendant about the fulfilment of the obligations on their part of the contract before 31.3.1995. D.W.4 is a broker who was also having knowledge about the transactions and has supported the case of the defendant. It is submitted by relying upon various judgments of the Apex Court and other High Courts that the legal position under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act really supports the case of the defendant. It is important to notice the sequence of the steps to be taken under the agreement in a case like this. If that be so, the plea raised RFA No.385/2003

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by the defendant is well protected. Further, reliance was placed on Section 55 of the Transfer of Property Act and the relevant provisions of the Contract Act, to explain the terms.

8. It is further submitted that even though the counter claim filed by the defendant, viz. seeking for specific performance of the contract was rejected by the court below, this Court will be justified in considering the plea of the defendant for executing the document, as he is still ready and willing to perform his part of the contract and as the ingredients of Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act are satisfied in this case. It is submitted that going by the resurvey documents, the total extent is 16.85 acres and even for invoking Section 12(3) of the Specific Relief Act, part performance of the contract is possible which can be considered by this Court at this stage also. Learned counsel also relied upon Section 26 of the Specific Relief Act to contend for the position that a rectification of the instrument is also possible and this Court will be perfectly justified in invoking the above provision to grant relief to the appellant/defendant.

9. Learned counsel for the appellant relied upon the following decisions: Nathulal v. Phoolchand (AIR 1970 SC 546), Shrimant RFA No.385/2003

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Shamrao Suryavanshi and another v. Pralhad Bhairoba Suryavanshi (Dead) By Lrs. and others [(2002) 3 SCC 676}, Surinder Singh v. Kapoor Singh (Dead) through Lrs. {(2005) 5 SCC 142), Ekadashi v. Ganga and others (AIR 1981 All. 373), Piru Charan Pal and another v. Minor Sunilmoy Nemo (AIR 1973 Calcutta 1 - FB), Ahmadhasan Munshi Nanne v. Mishrilal Bhavarlal and another (AIR 1955 M.B. 49), P.D. 'Souza v. Shondrilo Naidu {(2004) 6 SCC 649}, P.C. Varghese v. Devaki Amma Balambika Devi and others {(2005) 8 SCC 486} and Rattanlal (Since deceased) through his legal representatives v. S.N. Bhalla and others {(2012) 8 SCC 659}. It is also submitted that the decision of this Court relied upon by the trial court, viz. M/s. Jacobs Private Limited v. Thomas Jacob (1994 (2) KLJ 738) is per incuriam.

10. Learned Senior Counsel for the respondent Shri T. Krishnanunni submitted that the suit was filed on 3.6.1995 and the counter claim by the defendant is clearly barred by the law of limitation. The order passed by the trial court in the counter claim preferred by the defendant, has been confirmed by this Court in C.R.P.No.1531/1998 and therefore no plea for specific performance of the agreement can be raised by the defendant at this RFA No.385/2003

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stage. It is submitted that the defendant also had filed C.R.P.Nos.2183/1999 and 2227/1999 challenging two different orders passed by the trial court in the applications filed by the defendant: one for permission to deposit before the court the registration charges and charges for stamp papers for preparing the sale deed and the other application was for review of the order closing the evidence and for reopening the evidence. Both these have been considered together and dismissed by order dated 7.2.2003. It is further submitted that pending the suit the plaintiffs approached the trial court for appointment of a receiver and only to avoid the appointment of the receiver, the defendant deposited Rs.5 lakhs and it is not a case where he could take recourse to the plea of readiness and willingness by such a deposit made before the court below. It is submitted that the plaintiffs have filed the suit on title and therefore were not required to plead and prove that they were ready and willing and therefore the plea raised by the defendant that the plaintiffs were not ready and willing assumes no importance. Actually the defendant was not fully ready and was willing to execute the sale deed. It is submitted that in the written statement as originally filed, the defendant had pleaded in para 15 that the plaintiffs are bound to deduct the RFA No.385/2003

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value of the property proportionately by contending that the extent of the property is only 16.85 acres. When such a conditional offer was made by the defendant and after raising that proportionate amount alone is payable, he cannot get the aid of Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act. It is further submitted that going by the terms of the agreement, the total sale consideration is fixed as Rs.8 lakhs and it was never in contemplation of the parties that any such proportionate deduction is possible as the value of the property was not fixed on centage basis. It is further submitted that the term "Is willing" under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act is different from readiness and willingness in Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act and willingness should have been demonstrated and simple assertion before the court is not sufficient. Herein, no notice was sent to the plaintiffs showing readiness to execute the document. The balance sale consideration was never tendered. No notice was sent even after 31.3.1995 till the filing of the suit and there is no whisper even thereafter about the readiness and willingness. It is submitted that the conduct of the defendant will show that he was not ready and willing. The defendant being in possession of the property, had never disputed anything about the extent or RFA No.385/2003

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about the boundaries of the property. He did not take any steps to measure out the property also. The boundaries are well demarcated which is clear from Ext.C1 report of the Advocate Commissioner and further, the Commissioner himself has deposed as D.W.1 that the property is well demarcated by clear boundaries. In the light of the failure of the defendant, the reservation clause in the agreement to forfeit the advance get attracted and therefore the plaintiffs were well within their rights to file the suit.

11. With regard to the obligation of the plaintiffs, it is submitted that all the encumbrances have been cleared as evident from Ext.A2 series receipts showing clearance of the loan in a co-operative bank. The power of attorney of the third plaintiff was also handed over to the defendant which is admitted by him in his deposition also.

12. Learned counsel for the plaintiffs further submitted that the plea raised by the defendant that on 31.3.1995 he went to the office of the document writer and thereafter went to the Sub Registry Office, is clearly without any basis. The evidence adduced does not support the said plea also. There is nothing to show that the defendant had purchased any stamp RFA No.385/2003

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paper on that day and nothing is evident from the deposition of D.W.3 that the draft of the sale deed was prepared or stamp papers were purchased and no accounts have been produced. To show that the defendant was ready with the money, no details have been made available. Thus, learned Senior Counsel submitted that the readiness shown is only conditional which means that the defendant was not ready and willing. No payment was tendered or made by the defendant towards the balance sale consideration. The present suit is not one under Section 16(c) of the Specific Relief Act and there is total absence of evidence to show readiness and willingness on the part of the defendant to claim support of Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act. The defendant did not measure out the property and if at all measurement was necessary, it could be done only after money is tendered and before actual execution of the sale deed.

13. In reply, Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai, learned counsel for the defendant submitted that the plaintiffs did not take any interest to show the boundaries after measuring out the property. According to the learned counsel, the term "is willing" under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act will show that the appellant should be willing at the time of filing of RFA No.385/2003

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the suit and thereafter and even now, which condition is attracted herein. The appellant was never convinced about the extent. In that view of the matter, it is submitted that the benefit of Section 12(3) of the Specific Relief Act can be granted by this Court even in this appeal and this Court can direct the plaintiffs to perform that part of the contract by receiving the proportionate amount for the actual extent of the property. It is submitted that Section 26 of the Specific Relief Act also will come to the help of the defendant and the defendant can be permitted, even at the appellate stage, to allow the amendment of the pleadings to get the benefit of the said provision.

14. We will now come to the relevant findings by the court below. The learned Sub Judge, after an analysis of the oral and documentary evidence, found that the case of the defendant that he has been ready and willing and had appeared in the Sub Registry Office, is not convincing. The said contention was raised as a result of an after-thought and he even had applied for an encumbrance certificate on that day as part of a well designed attempt to evade the liability. It was held that as the defendant has been advancing a case of reduction in sale consideration due to the alleged RFA No.385/2003

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shortage in extent, the case of the plaintiffs is highly probable and the preponderance of the probability is in favour of the plaintiffs' case. It was also found that the defendant has committed breach of the contract in getting the sale deed executed as per the agreement. It was found that he was not entitled to the benefit of Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act. Finally, the court below allowed the plaintiffs to recover possession of the plaint schedule property by paying Rs.3 lakhs to the defendant within two months. The defendant was allowed to receive back Rs.5 lakhs deposited by him in pursuance of the appointment of receiver.

15. We will now consider the merits of the respective contentions. A copy of the agreement with the plaintiffs, has been produced as Ext.A1. The same is dated 28.9.1994. Going by the terms of the agreement, out of the total extent of 19.08 acres and virivu, 4 acres and 95 cents belongs to the first plaintiff, 4 acres and 59 cents belongs to the second plaintiff, another extent of 4 acres and 95 cents belongs to the third plaintiff and the remaining 4 acres and 59 cents belongs to the fourth plaintiff, the mother of the other plaintiffs. The details of the documents under which they are claiming the right in the property are also stated in the agreement. The RFA No.385/2003

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property is having various improvements like rubber, coffee, etc. and there is a nursery also. There is one building also within the entire extent of the property. The total sale consideration is fixed as Rs.8 lakhs and the document had to be executed on or before 31.3.1995. The advance amount of Rs.1 lakh has been received by way of cheque. The defendant was put in possession of the property and he was allowed to cultivate the same and to enjoy it. It is also specified that for executing the sale deed, if necessary, the power of attorney of the third plaintiff will be obtained; all the encumbrances should be cleared and release deeds will be executed and boundaries and extent will be verified and the original documents will be made available. In case of default of the defendant, the plaintiffs are entitled to forfeiture of the advance amount. It is also proved that before execution of the sale deed the plaintiffs will settle the claims of any of the labourers employed by the plaintiffs.

16. We will refer to some of the contents of Ext.C1 report. Point No.3 required the Commissioner to ascertain whether the plaint schedule property is lying with clear boundaries. It is reported by him that the schedule property is lying with clear boundaries. On the northern side RFA No.385/2003

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there is a thodu which is flowing east-west. On the eastern side there is a kayyala (boundary wall) constructed with country stones which is aged more than two years. There is a thodu on the southern side having flow of water which separates the plaint schedule property from the property of one Mr. Valiplakkal Kunju. On the western side of the property also there is a thodu which is the western boundary. There is a kayyala on the said portion which starts from the north-western corner of the property and proceeds on the south-east direction. All these will testify that property is well demarcated by clear boundaries.

17. D.W.1, the Advocate Commissioner has deposed that the property is well demarcated with boundaries on all sides.

18. The second plaintiff was examined as P.W.1. Apart from stating the plaintiff's case, he has stated that the encumbrance with the Meenachil Urban Development Bank has been cleared on 3.11.1994 and the receipts have been produced as Ext.A2 series, wherein it is stated that the account is closed. He has further deposed that the defendant was aware about the closure of the loan. For preparing the sale deed, the original documents and the power of attorney of the third plaintiff were entrusted to the defendant RFA No.385/2003

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and he did not prepare the document and come with the money. The defendant never requested the plaintiffs to measure out the property and did not demand for reduction of any proportionate amount from the total sale consideration for which there is no clause in the agreement also. Ext.A3 series are the property tax receipts. It is also stated that after clearing the loan release deed was got ready. To a specific question, he deposed that the defendant did not ask to measure the property. He further stated that the defendant has been in possession of the property after the agreement was executed.

19. In the cross examination, to a specific question as to whether the plaintiffs are not bound to reduce the amount proportionately if there is any reduction in the extent of the property, the answer is in the negative.

20. D.W.2 is the defendant. According to him, after 31.3.1995 he had informed directly and through a broker and mediators that he is prepared to get the sale deed executed. On 27.3.1995 he went to the residence of the plaintiffs. Then the power of attorney of the third plaintiff was handed over and he was asked to prepare the draft also. He had prepared the draft which was taken to the plaintiffs. On 31.3.1995 initially he went to the document RFA No.385/2003

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writer's office and by about 10.30 a.m. he along with the document writer, went to the Sub Registrar's Office and waited till 3 p.m. The plaintiffs did not arrive there. He enquired in the Sub Registrar's Office and came to know that the encumbrance of the property is not cleared. Thereafter, he also submitted an application for getting the encumbrance certificate. According to him repeatedly he had asked the plaintiffs to execute the sale deed, but they did not oblige.

21. According to the defendant, he had sold another item of property in February for an amount of R.7 lakhs for purchasing the plaint schedule property. With regard to the boundaries, he admitted that on two sides there are thodus and on the southern side he has constructed a kayyala. On the eastern side there is property of one Baby and the property of the Bank. There is a kayyala on the east, situated north-south which was constructed by him. On the north also he constructed a kayyala. He had not taken out the measurement of the property at any time before.

22. In cross examination, the defendant admitted that there is no document to show that balance amount of sale consideration and expenses for registration was available with him on that day. He also stated that RFA No.385/2003

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there is no reason for not sending any notice to the plaintiffs after 31.3.1995 demanding to execute the sale deed. According to him, one Mr. Kakkamthottil Kurian was sent as the mediator in April, 1995. He had not demanded in writing that the property will have to be measured or that since there is a reduction in the extent of the property the sale consideration will have to be reduced proportionately. In the cross examination he admits that the copy of the sale deed showing the sale of his property on 9.2.1995 is not with him.

23. The evidence of D.W.3 is relied upon by the defendant to show that he was ready with the money on 31.3.1995. D.W.3 is the document writer, who deposed that he had prepared a draft sale deed 3 or 4 days prior to the expiry of the period of agreement, as requested by the defendant. He prepared the draft after referring to the copies of the prior document and agreement and entrusted the file to the defendant. According to him, on the crucial day the defendant came to his office at 10 a.m. He was having a suitcase with him, which may have contained money. They waited for some time and went to the office of the Sub Registrar and waited there till 3.30 p.m. In cross examination he has deposed that the originals of the prior RFA No.385/2003

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document and power of attorney were not shown to him for preparing the draft and copies were shown and he was not told about the whereabouts of the originals. He did not ask the defendant whether the encumbrances have been cleared and the draft was prepared on the premise that there was no encumbrance, which was told by the defendant. The Sub Registrar's office is at a distance of 40 kms. away from his office. He does not remember the fee received for preparing the draft. He does not remember the details of the draft concerning the balance sale consideration and in his office there is no document to show that a draft was prepared. He admits that stamp papers were not purchased. The defendant entrusted with him an amount of Rs.80,000/- for the purchase of stamp papers, but the same has not been entered in is account. According to him, stamp papers were not purchased before going to the Sub Registrar's Office and he did not prepare the document in the stamp paper. He did not verify the contents of the suitcase by opening it. According to him, for preparing the draft and for going to the Sub Registrar's Office, he did not get any fee also and the draft was prepared in his handwriting.

24. D.W.4 is stated to be the broker in the transaction. According to RFA No.385/2003

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him, he went and met the first plaintiff as requested by the defendant during March 1995 and he went again on 28.3.1995 and was told by the plaintiffs that the document can be executed on 31.3.1995. In the cross examination he pleaded ignorance as to whether the original document and power of attorney were handed over to the defendant. He was also not told about the preparation of a draft sale deed before he went to the house of the plaintiffs on 28.3.1995 and he was not told about any dispute regarding the extent of the property, by the defendant.

25. D.W.5 is a neighbour of the property who stated that the defendant is cultivating the property.

26. As rightly pointed out by the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents, in the evidence of D.W.2 nothing has been stated about the absence of a measurement or any defects with regard to the same and he has also not raised any dispute about the extent and boundaries of the property.

27. The evidence of D.W.3 actually did not advance the defendant's case that the draft of the sale deed was prepared and they were present in the office of the Sub Registrar on 31.3.1995. It is evident that stamp papers have not been purchased and no arrangements have been made to finalise RFA No.385/2003

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the document. Even though he stated that the defendant had handed over an amount of Rs.80,000/- it was never the case of the defendant that he had handed over the said amount for the purchase of stamp paper. There is no document in his office to show that the draft was prepared. He has not seen any money with the defendant and has only seen the suitcase.

28. As far as the support sought by the defendant through D.W.4 also, as rightly pointed out by the learned Senior Counsel, D.W.2 had no case in the written statement that a broker was sent to the house of the plaintiffs. In the deposition of D.W.2, he has stated the name of one Kurian who according to him, was the mediator. Therefore, D.W.4's evidence is also not helpful to support the plea of readiness and willingness of the defendant.

29. We will now come to the decisions relied upon by the learned counsel on both sides. Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act is relied upon by the learned counsel for the appellant to show that in terms of the provisions, herein the defendant continued to be in possession in part performance of the contract and he has done certain acts in furtherance of the contract also which is proved by the payment of additional amount of Rs.One Lakh twice. Learned counsel emphasised the fact that the section RFA No.385/2003

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provides that the appellant will have to show that he has performed or is willing to perform his part. The term "is willing" is therefore important. His willingness is clear from the fact that he is even now prepared to get the document executed, it is pointed out. He relied upon the decision of the Apex Court in Nathulal v. Phoolchand (AIR 1970 SC 546) wherein in para 9 the Apex Court has explained the condition necessary for making out the defence of part performance to an action in ejectment by the owner, as hereunder:

"(1)that the transferor has contracted to transfer for consideration any immovable property by writing signed by him or on his behalf from which the terms necessary to constitute the transfer can be ascertained with reasonable certainty;

(2)that the transferee has, in part performance of the contract, taken possession of the property or any part thereof, or the transferee, being already in possession continues in possession in part performance of the contract;

(3)that the transferee has done some act in furtherance of the contract; and

(4)that the transferee has performed or is willing to perform his part of the contract."

Learned counsel further relied upon the following sentence in para 11, viz. RFA No.385/2003

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"In considering whether a person is willing to perform his part of the contract the sequence in which the obligations under a contract are to be performed must be taken into account." It is submitted that the same will also go to the advantage of the appellant herein. The plaintiffs cannot ask the defendant to comply with the obligations, without the plaintiffs performing their part.

30. The decision of the Allahabad High Court in Ekadashi's case (AIR 1981 All. 373) is relied upon to show that the benefit under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act can be allowed to be raised in second appeal. He also relied upon the following sentence in para 9: "........... It is true that while in a suit for specific performance of a contract a plaintiff has to aver and prove that he has always been ready and willing to perform his part under the contract sought to be specifically enforced but to be always ready and willing to perform one's part of the contract, is not identically the same thing as the willingness to perform one's part of the contract, required under the third clause of Section 53A."

31. Piru Charan Pal's case (AIR 1973 Cal. 1) which is a Full Bench decision of Calcutta High Court is relied upon to show that the RFA No.385/2003

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defendant can raise the defence under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act if all ingredient facts for the purpose of the section are stated, even if not specifically pleaded in the written statement.

32. Ahmadhasan Munshi Nanne's case (AIR 1955 M.B. 48) and especially para 12 is relied upon to show that herein the defendant has paid an amount of Rs.One Lakh each in furtherance of the performance of the contract. There, the court was of the view that "if a connection is established by evidence between the payment and the contract, then the payment would be an unequivocal act referable to and in furtherance of the alleged contract."

33. In P.D.'Souza's case {(2004) 6 SCC 649} the suit was for specific performance of contract for enforcing the agreement. While reiterating the principles on the requirement to plead and prove readiness and willingness by the plaintiff to perform his part of the contract, it was held in para 21 as follows:

"21. It is not a case where the plaintiff had not made the requisite averments in the plaint. The readiness and willingness on the part of the plaintiff to perform his part of contract would also depend upon the question as to whether the defendant did everything RFA No.385/2003

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which was required of him to be done in terms of the agreement for sale. The plaintiff was a tenant of the defendant." Para 23 was also relied upon, where on the facts of the said case, there was a finding that the defendant had not redeemed the mortgage which aspect was taken as against the plaintiff, against his plea of readiness and willingness.

34. Rattan Lal {(2012) 8 SCC 659} is a case where the suit was filed for specific performance of the contract. Heavy reliance is placed on paragraphs 26.1, 26.2 and 27. Therein, the findings are on an analysis of the evidence in the said case. Clause 9 of the agreement therein allowed the seller to determine the agreement on certain conditions. It was held in para 27 that "In our view, Clause 9 was never meant to provide the Respondents with an escape route if they themselves failed to discharge their responsibility of not only applying for sale permission, but to also follow up the matter with the authorities in order to obtain the same within the stipulated period of six months. In the absence of any material on record to show that the Respondents had made positive efforts for procuring the necessary sale permission and clearance certificates, they were not entitled to determine the Agreement in terms of Clause 9." The above observation is RFA No.385/2003

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relied upon by Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai, learned counsel for the appellant to show that herein the release deeds were not obtained by the plaintiffs.

35. The other two decisions relied upon to advance the plea under Section 12(3) of the Specific Relief Act are: Surinder Singh's case {(2005) 5 SCC 142} and P.C. Varghese's case {(2005) 8 SCC 486}. In Surinder Singh's case (supra) in paragraphs 7 and 8 the conditions under Section 12(3) of the Specific Relief Act were explained and in para 8 it was held that "Section 12(3) of the Act is a beneficial provision so far as the purchasers are concerned." Therein, there was an application for amendment to incorporate the plea under Section 12(3) of the Act and in para 13 it was held that "sub-section (3) of Section 12 does not lay down any limitation for filing such an application. Such an application can be filed at any stage of the proceedings and in that view of the matter an application even before this Court would be maintainable."

36. The decision in P.C. Varghese's case {(2005) 8 SCC 486} has also explained the scope of Section 12(3) of the Act, especially in the context of the specific facts of the case. Therein, the facts show that one among the respondents, viz. respondent No.4 was the minor daughter of RFA No.385/2003

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respondents 1 and 5 and she was entitled for a property having 3.75 cents in extent. The total extent was 19 cents. In the suit filed by the appellant before the trial court seeking specific performance of the contract in respect of 19 cents, there was an alternate prayer that if specific performance could not be granted in regard to the entire extent, he may be allowed to take a sale deed in respect of the share of defendants 1 to 3. It is in that context Section 12(3) of the Specific Relief Act was examined and it was held that the said provision has been enacted for the benefit of the purchaser and thus cannot operate to his detriment. In para 24 an earlier decision of the Apex Court in Rachakonda Narayanan v. Ponthala Parvathamma {(2001) 8 SCC 173} was relied upon, wherein it has been held as follows:

"Thus, the ingredients which would attract specific performance of the part of the contract, are: (i) if a party to an agreement is unable to perform a part of the contract, he is to be treated as defaulting party to that extent, and (ii) the other party to an agreement must, in a suit for such specific performance, either pay or has paid the whole of the agreed amount, for that part of the contract which is capable of being performed by the defaulting party and also relinquish his claim in respect of the other part of the contract RFA No.385/2003

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which the defaulting party is not capable to perform and relinquishes the claim of compensation in respect of loss sustained by him. If such ingredients are satisfied, the discretionary relief of specific performance is ordinarily granted unless there is delay or laches or any other disability on the part of the other party." It is evident from the dictum laid down therein also that Section 12(3) of the Act could come into play wherein a suit for specific performance is filed and there should be a specific plea for performance of that part of the contract which is capable of being performed.

37. We are not impressed by the plea raised by the learned counsel for the appellant by relying upon Section 12(3) of the Specific Relief Act that even at this stage the appellant is entitled to claim the benefit of Section 12(3) of the Act. Learned Senior Counsel for the respondent submitted that such a case can be pleaded evidently only in a suit for specific performance and herein the plea of the defendant for specific performance has been found to be barred by limitation which has been confirmed in the civil revision petition filed before this Court. Even though it is contended by Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai that after considering the provision under Section 12(3) of the Act, this Court can direct part performance of RFA No.385/2003

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the agreement, we find no reason to accede to the above request in the light of the special facts of the case, and especially the counter claim does not survive for consideration.

38. The crucial question is whether the defendant was ready and willing for claiming the benefit under Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act. In M/s. Jacobs Private Ltd.'s case (1994 (2) KLJ 738) a Division Bench of this Court was of the view that what is contemplated is complete performance and not conditional willingness or even willingness in part. The above dictum is clear from paragraphs 11 and 12 of the judgment which we extract herein below:

"Willingness to perform the rules ascribed to a party in a contract is primarily a mental disposition. However, such willingness in the context of Sec.53-A of the T.P. Act must be absolute and unconditional. If willingness is studded with a condition, it is in fact no more than an offer and cannot be termed as willingness. As a right is created by the statute in favour of a transferee through Sec.53-A, the transferee has to fulfil all the conditions for acquiring the right. In other words, what is contemplated is the complete performance or complete willingness and not performance in part or conditional willingness or even willingness RFA No.385/2003

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in part. Here there is no dispute that the transferee (first defendant) has not performed his part of the contract. So the first alternative is out of scope. Regarding the other alternative i.e., willingness to perform, the first defendant says that it is willing to perform its part (i.e., payment to the plaintiff) provided the plaintiff clears his income tax arrears. It is not complete willingness but a conditional willingness or partial willingness which is not sufficient to arm the company with the shield provided by Sec.53-A of the T.P.Act."

Even though Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai submitted that the above decision is per incuriam as the section incorporates the words "is willing", we find no reason to accept the said contention and disagree with the dictum laid down therein. Their Lordships have held that "if willingness is studded with a condition, it is in fact no more than an offer and cannot be termed as willingness" and we respectfully agree with the same.

39. Herein, in the original written statement the defendant had pleaded that he is entitled for proportionate reduction of the value by claiming that the entire extent is only 16.85 acres. But those averments have been deleted by filing an amendment application. The trend of cross examination, as rightly pointed out by the court below, shows that the RFA No.385/2003

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defendant's counsel had put a specific question with regard to the same in cross examination, to P.W.1 and he had denied the said suggestion by pointing out that there is nothing in the agreement in that regard. As rightly pointed out by the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents, the total sale consideration is shown as Rs.8 lakhs and it is not on a centage basis. Therefore, it is evident, as rightly found by the court below, that the appellant had projected his willingness, but by proposing a condition for reduction of the sale consideration proportionally, even though he has been trying to wriggle out of the same after the filing of the written statement. But when the conduct of the defendant is examined in whole, it can be seen that his evidence regarding the readiness and willingness stood disproved.

40. We will now refer to some of the decisions relied upon by the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents. In Shrimant Shamrao Suryavanshi's case {(2002) 3 SCC 676) which was relied upon by the learned counsel for the appellant also to contend that even if the remedy of specific performance is barred by limitation, the plea of part performance of the contract to protect his position can still be advanced by the defendant. Therein, in paragraphs 16, 17 and 20 the legal position has been explained RFA No.385/2003

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thus:

"16. But there are certain conditions which are required to be fulfilled if a transferee wants to defend or protect his possession under Section 53-A of the Act. The necessary conditions are: (1) There must be a contract to transfer for consideration of any immovable property;

(2) The contract must be in writing, signed by the transferor, or by someone on his behalf;

(3) The writing must be in such words from which the terms necessary to construe the transfer can be ascertained: (4) The transferee must in part-performance of the contract take possession of the property, or of any part thereof; (5) The transferee must have done some act in furtherance of the contract; and

(6) The transferee must have performed or be willing to perform his part of the contract.

17. We are, therefore, of the opinion that if the conditions enumerated above are complied with, the law of limitation does not come in the way of a defendant taking plea under Section 53- A of the Act to protect his possession of the suit property even though a suit for specific performance of a contract is barred by limitation.

20. It is, therefore, manifest that the Limitation Act does not RFA No.385/2003

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extinguish a defence, but only bars the remedy. Since the period of limitation bars a suit for specific performance of a contract, if brought after the period of limitation, it is open to a defendant in a suit for recovery of possession brought by a transferor to take a plea in defence of part-performance of the contract to protect his possession, though he may not be able to enforce that right through a suit or action."

Going by para 17, it can be seen that the defendant's attempt will be unhindered by the law of limitation provided all the conditions which are required to be fulfilled are satisfied. The principles stated therein were explained in a subsequent decision by the Apex Court in D.S. Parvathamma's case {(2003) 4 SCC 705}, in para 12 thus: "12. Strong reliance was placed by the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant on a recent decision of this Court in Shrimant Shamrao Suryavanshi and Anr. v. Pralhad Bhairoba Suryavanshi (Dead) by L.Rs. and Ors., (2002) 3 SCC 676, wherein this Court has held that a person obtaining possession of the property in part performance of an agreement of sale, can defend his possession in a suit for recovery of possession filed by the transferor or by subsequent transferee of the property claiming under him, even if a suit for specific performance of the agreement of sale has become barred by limitation. (Emphasis supplied). Clearly it was RFA No.385/2003

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a case where the person in possession was so inducted in part performance of the agreement of sale. Excepting that his suit had gone barred by limitation there was nothing else to deny the benefit of the plea to the person in possession. The Court proceeded on the reasoning that the law of limitation barred the remedy but did not bar the defence. The distinguishing features of that case are that : (i) it was admitted that the transferee had taken possession over the property in part performance of the contract, (ii) that the transferee had not brought any suit for specific performance of the agreement to sell, and (iii) the transferee was always and still ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. These three significant factual features are missing in the case before us and, therefore, the appellant's effort to find support from the authority of Shrimant Shamrao Suryavanshi's case (supra) must fail. Bar of limitation alone does not bar the plea of part performance being raised if all other requisites of Section 53-A of T.P. Act are available." It is important, going by the dictum laid down therein, that the Apex Court was of the view that the bar of limitation alone does not bar the plea of part performance, being raised, if all other requisites of Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act are available. Therefore, evidence should be there that the transferee was always ready and willing to perform his part of the RFA No.385/2003

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contract, going by the particular facts of this case.

41. We will come to the evidence regarding the same later. In His Holiness Acharya Swami Ganesh Dassji v. Shri Sita Ram Thapar (AIR 1996 SC 2095) relied upon by the learned Senior Counsel for the respondent, in para 2 their Lordships have explained the distinction between readiness to perform the contract and willingness to perform the contract and the legal position was explained thus: "2. There is a distinction between readiness to perform the contract and willingness to perform the contract. By readiness may be meant the capacity of the plaintiff to perform the contract which includes his financial position to pay the purchase price. For determining his willingness to perform his part of the contract, the conduct has to be properly scrutinised. There is no documentary proof that the plaintiff had ever funds to pay the balance of consideration. Assuming that he had the funds, he has to prove his willingness to perform his part of the contract...................The draft sale deed was not returned after being duly approved by the petitioner. The factum of readiness and willingness to perform plaintiff's part of the contract is to be adjudged with reference to the conduct of the party and the attending circumstances. The Court may infer from the facts and RFA No.385/2003

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circumstances whether the plaintiff was ready and was always ready and willing to perform his part of the contract." The Apex Court was of the view that the facts of the said case demonstrated that the plaintiff was not ready nor had capacity to perform his part of the contract as he had no financial capacity to pay the consideration in cash as contracted and he intended to bite for the time.

42. In fact, Y.A. Kader v. Muthulakshmi Ammal (AIR 1992 Madras 208) it was held that the term 'willingness' in Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act means "readiness and willingness" as used in Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act, by relying upon various decisions. The decisions relied upon are: Karthikeya Mudaliar v. Singaram Pillai (AIR 1956 Madras 693), Anantha Piklai v. Rathnasa Bapathy Mudalier {(1968) 2 Mad.L.J. 574} and Sardar Govinsdrao Mahadik v. Devi Sahai (AIR 1982 SC 989). It was finally held in para 9 as follows: "9. So, it is clear from the above said passages quoted in the above referred three decisions, the term "willingness" used in Section 53- A would mean only 'readiness and willingness' used in Section 16 of the Specific Relief Act. Therefore, I find that the appellant cannot invoke Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act." RFA No.385/2003

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43. One of the decisions relied upon in the above decision of the Madras High Court, is Sardar Govindrao Mahadik's case (AIR 1982 SC 989). In para 41 it has been held as follows:

".Section 53-A requires that the person claiming the benefit of part performance must always be shown to be ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. And if it is shown. that he was not ready and willing to perform his part of the contract he will not qualify for the protection of the doctrine of part performance." The above dictum will also show that the appellant's case that he was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract, cannot be accepted, on the evidence in this case.

44. The Delhi High Court in Smt. Sushila Kumari v. M/s. Rama Stores (AIR 2005 Delhi 401), in paragraphs 34 to 39 has examined the very same question after considering the decision of the Apex Court in Shrimant Shamrao Suryavanshi's case {(2002) 3 SCC 676) which was explained in Rattan Lal's case {(2012) 8 SCC 659}. In para 38 it has been held that "the defendants have not even dared to say in their evidence, much less substantiate that they tendered the balance sale consideration."

45. We will have to analyse to the evidence in this case in the light of RFA No.385/2003

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the above principles. The appellant will have to prove that he was ready and willing and it cannot be said, as contended by Dr. P.S. Krishna Pillai, learned counsel for the appellant, that readiness and willingness at the present stage will be sufficient. As regards readiness, what is important is whether he had the capacity to raise funds and whether he had tendered the amount and had made preparation for taking the document. Herein, the appellant has miserably failed to prove the same. After the payment of an amount of Rs.One Lakh initially as advance on the date of agreement, another amount of Rs.One Lakh was paid on 1.11.1994 by cheques and another sum of Rs. One Lakh was paid by four cheques dated 5.2.1995 and 6.2.1995. There is no evidence to show that after paying the above amounts, any amount was tendered towards balance sale consideration. There is also no plea to that effect in the written statement and D.W.2 has also no case that he had offered the money towards balance sale consideration at any rate, before 31.3.1995 to the plaintiff.

46. From the oral evidence of D.W.2 to prove capacity, what is evident is that he is alleged to have disposed of a property in February, 1995 for an amount of Rs.7 lakhs. In chief examination he has not stated RFA No.385/2003

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anything about the details of the property, the date of sale, the person to whom it was sold and other details. In the cross examination he has stated that the property was sold on 9.2.1995, but he is not having the copy of the document. It is stated that he has received Rs.7,05,000/- as sale consideration. Except the mere assertion before the court, no documentary evidence has been produced to show the capacity to make the payment. None of the details have been made available even to support the plea that he had sold a property for Rs.7,05,000/-. The other evidence adduced is that of D.W.3, the scribe. Going by the evidence in chief, he has only seen a suitcase. He only presumes that it contained money. In the cross examination he has stated that he had not seen the inside portion of the said suitcase after opening it. Therefore, the said evidence is also totally insufficient to prove the contention of the defendant that he was ready with the money on 31.3.1995 for executing the document.

47. The appellant has no plea that he had given Rs.80,000/- to the document writer for purchase of stamp papers, even though D.W.3 stated that the defendant had handed over the money, to him. The deposition of D.W.3 on this aspect is also not believable, as he has plainly admitted that RFA No.385/2003

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there is no document to show that he has prepared the draft sale deed on that day in his office and that he had purchased any stamp paper. There is nothing on record that before going to the Sub Registrar's office stamp papers have been purchased and the sale deed was prepared in stamp paper.

48. Apart from the same, as rightly pointed out by the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondents, the defendant had never informed any of the plaintiffs about the preparations made for passing on the balance sale consideration and he had not issued any notice also regarding the same. On the pretext that the measurement of the entire property will have to be taken, he has clearly backed out from the deal. Thus, all the ingredients of Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act with regard to "willingness" have not been proved by the defendant.

49. Even though the plaintiffs have sought to introduce a broker and he was examined as D.W.4, the defendant had no case in the written statement that there was a broker for the transaction. Therefore, his evidence is also not believable and as held by the trial court, the preponderance of probability supports the case of the plaintiffs. They had cleared the encumbrances and handed over the original of the power of RFA No.385/2003

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attorney of the third plaintiff (which fact is admitted by the defendant also in his evidence). Once the encumbrances have been cleared, the non execution of the release deed is immaterial. The defendant never demanded any other prior documents for preparing the draft also. Therefore, it is not a case where willingness on the part of the defendant has also been properly proved by him.

50. In the light of the decision of this Court in M/s. Jacobs Private Ltd.'s case (1994 (2) KLJ 738) what is expressed by the defendant is a conditional willingness as evident from the trend of cross-examination of P.W.1. As noticed already, in the cross examination of P.W.1, he was asked a specific question whether the second plaintiff is prepared to execute the document by proportionately reducing the sale price, in the event of reduction of the actual extent of the property. In the light of the fact that Rs.8 lakhs is provided as the total sale price and there is no clause enabling the defendant to claim any proportionate reduction, the said contention loses its sheen and the defendant cannot advance such a plea also.

51. Even though learned counsel for the appellant vehemently submitted that the plaintiffs were bound to show the boundaries, in the light RFA No.385/2003

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of the report of the Commissioner that the property is well demarcated and the details of the boundaries have also been stated in the report, which are also admitted by the defendant in his evidence, the said argument also loses its acceptability. The defendant fairly admitted that he has not raised any written demand to measure out the property. Actually, he has been in possession of the property and therefore there was no difficulty for him also, if he was not satisfied, to measure out the property. On the day of handing over of possession also, no objection is seen raised with regard to the absence of any clear boundary and he has no such plea also. This is also significant. With regard to the encumbrances, Ext.A2 series have been produced to show that the liability has been cleared. Even though vehement argument has been raised by Dr. P.S, Krishna Pillai that unless release deeds are executed by the plaintiffs, the encumbrances will remain as such, that single factor also cannot favour the plea of the defendant since, on an assessment of the circumstances, it is seen that the conduct of the defendant will show that he was not ready and willing, and thus has comitted breach of contract.

In the light of the above, we find no reason to interfere with the RFA No.385/2003

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decree and judgment and hence the appeal is dismissed, but without any costs.

(T.R.RAMACHANDRAN NAIR, JUDGE)

(A.V. RAMAKRISHNA PILLAI, JUDGE)

kav/