The Supreme Court has observed that even if the family settlement was not registered, it would operate as a complete estoppel against the original plaintiff who was party to such settlement.
The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah was considering an appeal (Thulasidhara vs. Narayanappa) against a Karnataka High Court judgment which held that Exhibit D4 styled as Palupatti requires registration and the same could not be looked into, reversing the finding of both the courts below that it does not require any registration. The Trial court and the first appellate court had dismissed the suit on the basis of this document.
Assailing the High Court judgment, the defendants contended before the Apex Court that, even if the family settlement was not registered, it would operate as a complete estoppel against the original plaintiff who was party to such family settlement. They relied on the judgment in Kale and Others v. Deputy Director of Consolidation and Others.
The bench observed that Exhibit D4 can be said to be a Palupatti, which means a list of properties partitioned. At the most, it can be said to be a family arrangement and the same was not required to be registered, the bench said.
Referring to Subraya M.N. v. Vittala M.N., the bench said that even without registration a written document of family settlement/family arrangement can be used as corroborative evidence as explaining the arrangement made thereunder and conduct of the parties. Reversing the High Court findings, the bench further observed:
"It is required to be noted that the deed dated 23.04.1971, under which the suit property had gone /devolved in favour of the Krishnappa, was reduced in writing before the Panchayat and Panchas, and the same was signed by the village people/panchayat people and all the members of the family including even the plaintiff. Though the plaintiff disputed that the partition was not reduced in writing in the form of document Exhibit D4, on considering the entire evidence on record and even the deposition of plaintiff (cross-examination), he has specifically admitted that the oral partition had taken place in the year 1971. He has also admitted that he has got the share which tellies with the document dated 23.04.1971 (Exhibit D4). Execution of the document/ Partition Deed/ Palupatta dated 23.04.1971 has been established and proved by examining different witnesses. The High Court has refused to look into the said document and/or consider document dated 23.04.1971 (Exhibit D4) solely on the ground that it requires registration and therefore as it is unregistered, the same cannot be looked into. However, as observed by this Court in the case of Kale (Supra) that such a family settlement, though not registered, would operate as a complete estoppel against the parties to such a family settlement."