The Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs cannot be permitted to bring the suits within the period of limitation by clever drafting, which otherwise is barred by limitation.
The respondents original plaintiffs have filed the respective suits before the Trial Court for cancellation of the sale deed executed by the plaintiffs in favour of the appellant original defendant as null and void and also to declare that the plaintiffs are the absolute owners of the suit schedule property and consequently restrain the defendant from in any manner alienating the suit schedule property.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the appellant, submitted that the sale deeds, which are now sought to be cancelled were executed in the year 2005 and the sale consideration was paid by demand drafts and the same were credited into the bank accounts of the plaintiffs.
He contended that the suits have been filed in the year 2016, i.e., after a lapse of more than 10 years and so the said suits are clearly barred by the law of limitation. The Trial Court ought to have rejected the plaints in exercise of powers under Order VII Rule 11(d) CPC.
Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, appearing on behalf of the respondents, submitted that there is specific cause of action pleaded in the respective plaints and there are allegations of fraud and it is the case on behalf of the plaintiffs that the sale deeds/documents are the result of fraud and sham and from the date of knowledge in the year 2015 thereafter immediately the respective suits were filed, it cannot be said that the respective suits are barred by limitation.
The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Krishna Murari noted that by filing the respective suits, the original plaintiffs have prayed to cancel the registered Sale Deeds, which were executed by the original plaintiffs.
The court said that nothing had been mentioned when the plaintiffs visited the suit property. It is not understandable how on visiting the suit property, the plaintiffs could have known the contents of the sale deed and/or the knowledge about the alleged fraudulent sale.
“Mere stating in the plaint that a fraud has been played is not enough and the allegations of fraud must be specifically averred in the plaint, otherwise merely by using the word “fraud”, the plaintiffs would try to get the suits within the limitation, which otherwise may be barred by limitation” the court added.
The bench stated that therefore, even if the submission on behalf of the respondents original plaintiffs that only the averments and allegations in the plaints are required to be considered at the time of deciding the application under Order VII Rule 11 CPC is accepted, in that case also by such vague allegations with respect to the date of knowledge, the plaintiffs cannot be permitted to challenge the documents after a period of 10 years.
The court held that the plaintiffs cannot be permitted to bring the suits within the period of limitation by clever drafting, which otherwise is barred by limitation.
The court opined that both the Courts below have materially erred in not rejecting the plaints in exercise of powers under Order VII Rule 11(d) CPC.
Case title: C.S. Ramaswamy v/s V.K. Senthil & Ors.
Citation: Civil appeal no. 500 of 2022