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Suit Simpliciter For Injunction Without Claiming Declaration Of Title Not Maintainable If Plaintiff's Title Is Disputed: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
7 Sep 2021 12:58 PM GMT
Suit Simpliciter For Injunction Without Claiming Declaration Of Title Not Maintainable If  Plaintiffs Title Is Disputed: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that a suit simpliciter for permanent injunction without claiming declaration of title is maintainable only in cases where the plaintiff's title is not in dispute or under a cloud.The bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai observed that if the matter involves complicated questions of fact and law relating to title, the court has to relegate the parties...

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The Supreme Court observed that a suit simpliciter for permanent injunction without claiming declaration of title is maintainable only in cases where the plaintiff's title is not in dispute or under a cloud.

The bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai observed that if the matter involves complicated questions of fact and law relating to title, the court has to relegate the parties to the remedy by way of comprehensive suit for declaration of title, instead of deciding the issue in a suit for mere injunction.

In this case, the Trial Court filed a suit filed by plaintiff for grant of perpetual injunction against the defendants restraining them or anybody claiming through them from interfering with the plaintiff's peaceful possession and enjoyment of the suit property.  In appeal filed by the defendants, the Karnataka High Court set aside the decree, holding that, the suit simpliciter for permanent injunction without seeking a declaration of title was not tenable and as such.

Therefore, the issue raised before the Apex Court was whether, in this case, the suit simpliciter for permanent injunction without claiming declaration of title, as filed by the plaintiff, was not maintainable. 

The court referred to Anathula Sudhakar v. P. Buchi Reddy (dead) (2008) 4 SCC 594, wherein it was held as follows:

  1. Where a cloud is raised over the plaintiff's title and he does not have possession, a suit for declaration and possession, with or without a consequential injunction, is the remedy. Where the plaintiff's title is not in dispute or under a cloud, but he is out of possession, he has to sue for possession with a consequential injunction. Where there is merely an interference with the plaintiff's lawful possession or threat of dispossession, it is sufficient to sue for an injunction simpliciter.
  2. As a suit for injunction simpliciter is concerned only with possession, normally the issue of title will not be directly and substantially in issue. The prayer for injunction will be decided with reference to the finding on possession. But in cases where de jure possession has to be established on the basis of title to the property, as in the case of vacant sites, the issue of title may directly and substantially arise for consideration, as without a finding thereon, it will not be possible to decide the issue of possession.
  3. But a finding on title cannot be recorded in a suit for injunction, unless there are necessary pleadings and appropriate issue regarding title (either specific, or implied as noticed in Annaimuthu Thevar [Annaimuthu Thevar v. Alagammal, (2005) 6 SCC 202] ). Where the averments regarding title are absent in a plaint and where there is no issue relating to title, the court will not investigate or examine or render a finding on a question of title, in a suit for injunction. Even where there are necessary pleadings and issue, if the matter involves complicated questions of fact and law relating to title, the court will relegate the parties to the remedy by way of comprehensive suit for declaration of title, instead of deciding the issue in a suit for mere injunction.
  4. Where there are necessary pleadings regarding title, and appropriate issue relating to title on which parties lead evidence, if the matter involved is simple and straightforward, the court may decide upon the issue regarding title, even in a suit for injunction. But such cases, are the exception to the normal rule that question of title will not be decided in suits for injunction. But persons having clear title and possession suing for injunction, should not be driven to the costlier and more cumbersome remedy of a suit for declaration, merely because some meddler vexatiously or wrongfully makes a claim or tries to encroach upon his property. The court should use its discretion carefully to identify cases where it will enquire into title and cases where it will refer to the plaintiff to a more comprehensive declaratory suit, depending upon the facts of the case.

The bench noted that, in the above case, it was held that where the plaintiff's title is not in dispute or under a cloud, a suit for injunction could be decided with reference to the finding on possession

10. It could thus be seen that this Court in unequivocal terms has held that where the plaintiff's title is not in dispute or under a cloud, a suit for injunction could be decided with reference to the finding on possession. It has been clearly held that if the matter involves complicated questions of fact and law relating to title, the court will relegate the parties to the remedy by way of comprehensive suit for declaration of title, instead of deciding the issue in a suit for mere injunction.. No doubt, this Court has held that where there are necessary pleadings regarding title and appropriate issue relating to title on which parties lead evidence, if the matter involved is simple and straightforward, the court may decide upon the issue regarding title, even in a suit for injunction. However, it has been held that such cases are the exception to the normal rule that question of title will not be decided in suits for injunction.", the court said.

The court, referring to evidence on record, noted that this is not a case where the plaintiff­ can be said to have a clear title over the suit property or that there is no cloud on the title over the suit property. The question involved is one which requires adjudication after the evidence is led and questions of fact and law are decided, the bench said.

The court also noted the judgment in Jharkhand State Housing Board v. Didar Singh (2019) 17 SCC 692, in which it was held that when the defendant raises a cloud over the title of the plaintiff, a suit for bare injunction is not maintainable. While dismissing the appeal the court said: "In the facts of the present case, it cannot be said at this stage that the dispute raised by the defendant No.2 with regard to title is not genuine nor can it be said that the title of the plaintiff­ appellant over the suit property is free from cloud. The issue with regard to title can be decided only after the full­ fledged trial on the basis of the evidence that would be led by the parties in support of their rival claims."

The same bench made similar observations while dismissing an appeal filed against a Kerala High Court judgment which raise same legal issues.


Case 1 : T.V. Ramakrishna Reddy Vs. M. Mallappa [CA 5577 OF 2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 423
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai
Counsel: Sr. Adv Ajit Bhasme, for appellant, Sr. Adv Basava Prabhu S. Patil, Adv S.K. Kulkarni for respondents
Case 2: Kayalulla Parambath Moidu Haji Vs. Namboodiyil Vinodan ; CA 5575­-5576 OF 2021
Citation: LL 2021 SC 423A
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai
Counsel: Sr. Adv PN Ravindran for appellant, Sr. Adv V. Chitambaresh for respondent

Click here to Read/Download Judgment (Case 1)

Click here to Read/Download Judgment (Case 2)






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