14 Oct 2022 4:45 AM GMT
The Andhra Pradesh High Court, while hearing a writ petition challenging the mutation proceedings and the mutation order passed by the Municipal Commissioner, Tirupati ('Commissioner'), held that mutation orders must be made on the basis of possession and not based on title deed, when the title itself is contested. The petitioner had filed the petition for the issuance of the writ...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court, while hearing a writ petition challenging the mutation proceedings and the mutation order passed by the Municipal Commissioner, Tirupati ('Commissioner'), held that mutation orders must be made on the basis of possession and not based on title deed, when the title itself is contested.
The petitioner had filed the petition for the issuance of the writ of Certiorari quashing the impugned mutation proceedings that took place before the Commissioner as illegal, and for directing the Commissioner to cancel the mutation order issued and to restore the petitioner's name in the relevant records.
The case of the petitioner was that she was the widow of one Mohan Reddy, who was the absolute owner of a building. In 2006, Mohan Reddy made a registered gift deed in favour of his brother, Babu Reddy, making him the absolute owner of the building. However, after the death of Babu Reddy, Mohan Reddy revoked the gift deed through a revocation deed made in 2010. The petitioner claimed that since the Commissioner did not have knowledge of the existence of the revocation deed, the same led to an erroneous mutation order in favour of the third respondent – the wife of Babu Reddy.
The third respondent argued that by virtue of the gift deed, Babu Reddy had become the owner of the entire building and that the gift deed could not be revoked by the donor after the death of the donee.
Ascertaining that it was not the determination of the title of the property which was in issue before the High Court, the Court held that the proceedings before the Commissioner in the present nature were for the purpose of collection of property tax and that such proceedings could not be for determination of title. The court added that any determination of title shall be of no legal effect on title of the rightful owner of the property if such determination is made in mutation proceedings.
Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari, relied on the Supreme Court decisions in H. Laskhmaiah Reddy and Others v. L. Venkatesh Reddy, (2015) 14 SCC 784 and Municipal Corporation, Aurangabad v. State of Maharashtra and Another, (2015) 16 SCC 689, both of which decisions held that mutation entries do not convey or extinguish any title and that such entries are relevant only for the purposes of collection of land revenue. The Court also placed reliance on the Allahabad High Court decision in Kalawati v. Board of Revenue and Others, AIR 2022 CC 1814, which held that a writ petition may be entertained against the orders passed in mutation proceedings when mutation has been directed not on the basis of possession or on the basis of some title deed, but after entering into questions relating to entitlement to succeed the property, touching the merits of the rival claims.
"It is only in the case of undisputed document of title that mutation can be made based on the title deed, but where it is a contested case of title based on so many documents, as in the present case, the Commissioner had no jurisdiction to hold the gift deed dated 14.11.2006 as valid and its cancellation deed dated 07.09.2010 as contrary to rule...The impugned order of mutation in favour of the 3rd respondent could not be legally passed based upon title in view of the gift deed dated 14.11.2006. The order is passed not on the basis of possession but on the title deed with respect to which there was contest," said the Court.
Accordingly, the High Court ordered that the Commissioner shall mutate the name of the petitioner in its records, cautioning that such mutation order shall not have the effect of any declaration of title in favour of either party, which title shall be decided only by a competent court of law.
Case Title: Dr. P. Pranjali v. State of Andhra Pradesh
Case No: Writ Petition No. 1198 of 2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AP) 129
Coram: Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari
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