Plaint is required to be rejected If the suit is clearly barred by law of limitation: Raghwendra Sharan Singh vs. Ram Prasanna Singh

Introduction

The two judge bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice M. R. Shah of Supreme Court in the recent case of Raghwendra Sharan Singh vs. Ram Prasanna Singh[1] have reiterated that, while considering the averments in the plaint if it is found that the suit is clearly barred of the Law of Limitation, the same can be rejected in exercise of the powers under order 7 Rule 11(d) of the CPC.”[2]

Facts Of The Case

A gift deed was executed in favour of Appellant by the Respondents i.e. the Father of the appellant and his brother in 1981. In 2001 the appellant filed a suit against his brothers in respect of partition of the Joint Hindu Family properties. Later in 2003, one of the Respondents i.e. Father of the appellant filed a suit in the Court of Munsif, Danapur for a declaration that the gift deed executed in favour of the appellant herein is a false transaction and no ownership or title with respect to the gifted property ever passed to the appellant i.e. the original defendant.

Later on the appellant also filed an application under “Order 7 Rule 11 r/w Order XIV, Rule 2 CPC for rejection of the plaint on the ground that the suit is clearly barred by law of limitation in accordance with the Article 59 of Limitation Act, since 22 years have already been passed from the date of gift deed and therefore, it needs to rejected. However, the Munsif Court rejected the Order 7 Rule 11 application on the ground that proper evidence has to be led out by both the parties for adjudication.

Aggrieved by the decision of the Munsif Court, the appellant filed a revision application before the High Court. However, the High Court dismissed the revision application filed by the appellant and thereafter, confirmed the order passed by the Munsif. Both the High Court and Munsif Court have reasoned that the question with respect to the limitation can be said to be a mixed question of law and facts, so in order to adjudicate the matter of limitation, evidence needs to be submitted by both the parties. Aggrieved by the order of High Court, Patna, an appeal was made by the appellant to the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the grounds that the Trial and High Court have made an error while imparting their decision as they have failed to appreciate the fact that by mere clever drafting a suit cannot be brought within the Limitation Period. It was further submitted that, whenever an application under Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC is considered, the averments in the plaint alone are required to be considered.

Ruling Of The Court

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in order to determine the scope and ambit of the application under Order 7 Rule 11, relied upon many decisions, while referring to the decision of the Court in Ram Singh v. Gram Panchayat Mehal Kalan,[3] the Court held “that when the suit is barred by any law, the plaintiff cannot be allowed to circumvent that provision by means of clever drafting so as to avoid mention of those circumstances, by which the suit is barred by law of limitation.”

Futher, in case of T. Arivandandam v. T.V. Satyapal,[4] the “Court held that when a suit is clearly barred by law of limitation, the plaint is required to be rejected in exercise of powers under Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC.” Therefore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court allowed the petition by quashing and setting aside the High Court’s order and ruled that the earlier plaint filed the defendant in the Munsif Court is barred by limitation as per Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC and observed that the High Court and Munsif Court erred in their finding because of the brilliant draft made by the Respondents, since they never claimed to nullify the gift deed which might clearly show the limitation rather they directly claimed for title and possession which diverted the Courts to rule in such a way. However, they were added as defendants in the partition suit in 2001, only there after they initiated a suit for title, till then they didn’t raised any question or claim on that matter, which shows the real intention and credibility of the gift deed.

Conclusion

It can be thus summarised that as a general rule, a plaint can be rejected, if it is “barred by law”. In the present case, one of the major reasons for rejecting the plaint was due to the undue delay in the filing of the suit as almost 22 years have passed from the date of the gift deed, therefore, the suit was clearly barred by the Law of limitation and further, no sufficient cause were shown to condone the delay.


[1] Raghwendra Sharan Singh vs. Ram Prasanna Singh, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2960 OF 2019

[2] Sham Lal alias Kuldip v. Sanjeev Kumar (2009) 12 SCC 454; N. V. Srinivas Murthy v Mariyamma, AIR 2005 SC 2897, Ram Prakash Gupta v. Rajiv Kumar Gupta (2007) 10 SCC 59.

[3] Ram Prakash Gupta v. Rajiv Kumar Gupta (2007) 10 SCC 59.

[4] T. Arivandandam v. T.V. Satyapal (1977) 4 SCC 467.

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