Whether the date of demise of late R. Laxmikantham (Late Ranoji) the father of the vendors of the respondent, is proved ? whether that evidence clearly prove that Late Ranoji died on 3.4.1997 and thus, valid title was given to the respondent by sons of Late Ranoji or whether he died sometime in the year 2004 thus, giving valid title to the appellant through attorney of Late Ranoji . We may notice that since the respondent is plaintiff, the burden lay on him to prove his case. Apex court held that We may notice the observations of the trial Court that Exhibit A-5 was inadmissible as the respondent/plaintiff had not examined the Panchayat Secretary who had issued the certificate (allegedly without being authorised to do so) and the certificate issued on the basis of the register maintained by the Panchayat, as noticed above, gave rise to the additional evidence being led. We may also notice the observations made by the trial Court, as pointed out by the learned counsel for the appellant, qua the conduct of the vendors of the respondent to contend that even the trial Court found that they had executed the document twice over in respect of the sale of land i.e. one set of sale deeds in favour of the respondent while another sale deed in favour of B. Prabhkar on 16.9.2004 subsequent to the sale deeds executed in favour of the respondent and were thus stated to be misusing their position being the legal representatives of Late Ranoji. The register Exhibit C-1 to contend that the date of death of Late Rano Ji set out as 3.4.1997 is clearly an interpolation, apparent on the face of the reading of the document. In this behalf it is found that the first two pages show that different columns are maintained in respect of serial number, name of the deceased, name of the father/husband, age, date of death and nature of death. This was how the register was maintained prior to the entry in question and post entry. In respect of entry in question, setting out the date of death of late Ranoji, there are two entries on that page alone which bear two different seals, one seal being common to other pages. There are no columns. The name is written in English qua the date of death. The other pages are all maintained in Telugu Language and all entries are made in that language. the testimony of PW-3 P. Satyanarayana, who was the Panchayat Secretary, on the date he appeared as witness i.e. 27.12.2010. He had joined the post on 1.1.2007 and thus could only produce the relevant record for that period of time in question. Logically, he did not have personal knowledge. The testimony shows that the practice followed was that a Gram Sewak would conduct enquiry and inform about the death orally to the Panchayat Secretary who would then make an entry. There was a register which contained the provisions for incorporating the name of Gram Sewak and also their signatures. It is conceded that there was no signature of then Panchayat Secretary on any of the pages of Exhibit C-1 register which is normally maintained in a serial form. The entry at page 65, which is occurring after 2005, is stated to be pertaining to the year 1997 which he claimed he had not written as he was not an officer at the relevant time. The witness admits that while page 63-64 disclose details such as cause of death date of death and age at the time when the villager died, such details were not contained in the entry at page 65 and was unaware why such a variance existed. He could also not explain why that particular entry on that page was recorded in English while all other entries were recorded in Telugu. The Gram Panchayat was stated not to be having the register for the year 1996 or earlier years and records are stated to have been handed over to him only from 1997. He further admits it is true at page no.65 there is a vast blank space regarding the years 1997 and 1998. It is true that Ex.C-1 does not disclose closing of the relevant year after the expiry of the year. He, however, denied the allegation of fabrication. We may also notice another fact that Exhibit A-5, the date of death certificate was issued only in 2007 and no certificate was obtained contemporaneously after the alleged demise of Late Ranoji in 1997. We can find no worthy reason why a register maintained in normal course by the Panchayat in Telugu language with separate columns should acquire a different character of two entries made in English language only giving the date of death. We do not believe that the respondent has been able to discharge this burden. We are recording this aspect as, the fact whether Ranoji did die on 3.4.1997 or died some time in the year 2004, in a sense is conceded by the parties as the issue which determines whether the appellant would fail or succeed in the appeal.

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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.4661/2012
STRIPS INDIA LTD. Appellant(s)
VERSUS
V.L.S. PRASAD Respondent(s)
O R D E R

  1. The dispute over the date of demise of late R. Laxmikantham
    (Late Ranoji) the father of the vendors of the respondent, is a
    fundamental fact over which these disputes have dragged on from
    2006 with the two parties before us equally claiming their right as
    bona fide purchasers of the property which stood in the name of
    Late Ranoji. The manner of obtaining title by the two parties is
    different.
  2. The appellant claims that Late Ranoji executed a Power of
    Attorney dated 14.3.1984 in favour of one R.R. Madhusudhan Reddy.
    On 24.12.2002, R. R. Madhusudhan Reddy, power of attorney of Late
    Ranoji executed a sale deed in favour of M/s Nadella Estates Ltd.
    The said entity, in turn, executed a sale deed dated 28.3.2006 in
    favour of the appellant and another sale deed almost
    contemporaneously was executed between the same parties on
    22.05.2006 for adjoining land. On the other hand, the respondent
    traces his title through the three sons of late Ranoji who executed
    the sale deeds in respect of their stated 1/3rd share each vide

2
three sale deeds dated 29.08.2003, 18.9.2003 and 14.10.2003. It is
the say of the respondents that Late Rano ji died on 03.4.1997 and
thus the alleged power of Attorney dated 14.3.1984 ceases to have
any legal effect and thus could not have been utilised to execute
any further sale deeds in favour of M/s Nadella Estates Ltd. who in
turn transferred the title to the appellant. On the other hand,
the contention of the appellant is that Late Ranoji actually died
only sometime in the year 2004.

  1. Some other aspects may also be noticed i.e. the three vendors
    of the respondent are stated to have executed another sale deed
    dated 16.9.2004 in favour of one B. Prabhakar. This sale deed in
    turn is stated to have resulted in a dispute between the M/s
    Nadella Estate Ltd and B. Prabhkar which was decreed as settled and
    even B. Prabhakar became a party to the sale deed in favour of the
    appellant who thus perfected the title.
    The respondents filed a suit seeking the following reliefs:
    a) To pass a decree of declaration, declaring the
    plaintiff as absolute owner and possessor of the suit
    schedule property i.e. Agricultural Land bearing Sy.
    No.188 (188/A admeasuring an area of Ac.1.10 guntas,
    Ac.1.10 Guntas and Ac.1.12 guntas) total Ac.3.32 guntas,
    situated at Kollur village Ramachandrapuram Mandal, Medak
    District.
    b) To grant perpetual injunction, restraining the
    defendant, his men, or any other person of persons, on his
    behalf, from interfering with the possession and enjoyment
    of the plaintiff in respect of the suit schedule property
    i.e. Agricultural Land bearing Sy. No.188(188/A

3
admeasuring an area of Ac.1.10 guntas, Ac 1.10 Guntas and
Ac.1.12 Guntas) total Ac.3.32 guntas, situated at Kollur
village, Ramachandrapuram Mandal, Medak District.�

  1. The apparent sale consideration for the sale deeds in the year
    2003 deeds was 1.52 lakh. As per appellant as per sale deed of
    2006, it is Rs.14 .25 lakhs.
  2. The suit was tried by the District and Sessions Judge, Medak
    at Sangareddy and was dismissed by the order dated 8.02.2010. The
    respondents aggrieved by the same preferred an appeal before the
    then High Court of Andhra Pradesh and at the stage of final
    hearing, moved an application to lead additional evidence. This was
    so as the trial Court, on appreciation of evidence, found that the
    date of death certificate (which is a proforma to issue date of
    death certificate) was marked through PW-1, i.e. the original
    plaintiff and the respondent before us and he was not the person to
    prove the contents of Exhibit A-5. The correct course would have
    been to examine the Panchayat Secretary, who issued Exhibit A-5 but
    had not been examined. Moreover, Exhibit A-5 was issued under
    Section 12/17 and G.O.M. No.276 dated 18.07.2002 which meant that
    the Gram Panchayat became authorized to issue the date of death
    certificate only after 18.07.2002 under the said G.O. while the
    date of death certificate in question recorded the date of death as
    3.4.1997. In the year 1997 or at any time prior to 18.07.2002, it
    was the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) who could have issued the date
    of death certificate and not any other authority. Exhibit A-5 was,

4
thus, held as not admissible in evidence.

  1. In order to get over this aspect, the application came to be
    filed which was allowed with consent and thus additional evidence
    was led at the appellate stage before the High Court. The register
    of the Panchayat was brought on record and proved as Exhibit C-1.
  2. In the course of this evidence Exhibit C-1a, C-2 and C-2a were
    also marked. The testimony of Panchayat Secretary was recorded as
    PW-3 who was also cross-examined.
  3. The High Court, after examining the trial Court judgment and
    the additional evidence produced came to the conclusion that the
    respondent has been able to establish the date of death of late
    Ranoji as 3.4.1997 and thus decreed the suit.
  4. The appellant thus filed the present Special Leave Petition in
    which leave was granted on 11.5.2012.
  5. We have heard four learned senior counsels for the appellant
    and two learned senior counsels for the respondent.
  6. On hearing the submissions, we are of the view that really the
    only aspect which needs to be considered is the worthiness of the
    additional evidence led before the appellate Court i.e. whether
    that evidence clearly prove that Late Ranoji died on 3.4.1997 and
    thus, valid title was given to the respondent by sons of Late
    Ranoji or whether he died sometime in the year 2004 thus, giving
    valid title to the appellant through attorney of Late Ranoji . We
    may notice that since the respondent is plaintiff, the burden lay

5
on him to prove his case.

  1. Learned counsel for the parties have taken us through the
    discussion both in the trial Court and the appellate Court. We may
    notice the observations of the trial Court that Exhibit A-5 was
    inadmissible as the respondent/plaintiff had not examined the
    Panchayat Secretary who had issued the certificate (allegedly
    without being authorised to do so) and the certificate issued on
    the basis of the register maintained by the Panchayat, as noticed
    above, gave rise to the additional evidence being led.
  2. We may also notice the observations made by the trial Court,
    as pointed out by the learned counsel for the appellant, qua the
    conduct of the vendors of the respondent to contend that even the
    trial Court found that they had executed the document twice over in
    respect of the sale of land i.e. one set of sale deeds in favour of
    the respondent while another sale deed in favour of B. Prabhkar on
    16.9.2004 subsequent to the sale deeds executed in favour of the
    respondent and were thus stated to be misusing their position being
    the legal representatives of Late Ranoji. Learned counsel for both
    the parties have also taken us through the documents led in
    additional evidence as well as the testimony of the Panchayat
    witness. Learned counsel for the appellant has drawn our attention
    to the register Exhibit C-1 to contend that the date of death of
    Late Rano Ji set out as 3.4.1997 is clearly an interpolation,
    apparent on the face of the reading of the document.
  3. In this behalf it is found that the first two pages show that

6
different columns are maintained in respect of serial number, name
of the deceased, name of the father/husband, age, date of death and
nature of death. This was how the register was maintained prior to
the entry in question and post entry. In respect of entry in
question, setting out the date of death of late Ranoji, there are
two entries on that page alone which bear two different seals, one
seal being common to other pages. There are no columns. The name
is written in English qua the date of death. The other pages are
all maintained in Telugu Language and all entries are made in that
language. It is this aspect which is sought to be emphasized by
learned counsel for the appellant more so since the evidence led is
in the form of additional evidence before the appellate Court.

  1. Our attention has also been drawn to the testimony of PW-3 P.
    Satyanarayana, who was the Panchayat Secretary, on the date he
    appeared as witness i.e. 27.12.2010. He had joined the post on
    1.1.2007 and thus could only produce the relevant record for that
    period of time in question. Logically, he did not have personal
    knowledge. However, as per learned counsel for the appellant this
    fact was to be proved by the respondent.
  2. The testimony shows that the practice followed was that a Gram
    Sewak would conduct enquiry and inform about the death orally to
    the Panchayat Secretary who would then make an entry. There was a
    register which contained the provisions for incorporating the name
    of Gram Sewak and also their signatures. It is conceded that there
    was no signature of then Panchayat Secretary on any of the pages of
    Exhibit C-1 register which is normally maintained in a serial form.

7

  1. The entry at page 65, which is occurring after 2005, is stated
    to be pertaining to the year 1997 which he claimed he had not
    written as he was not an officer at the relevant time. The witness
    admits that while page 63-64 disclose details such as cause of
    death date of death and age at the time when the villager died,
    such details were not contained in the entry at page 65 and was
    unaware why such a variance existed. He could also not explain why
    that particular entry on that page was recorded in English while
    all other entries were recorded in Telugu. The Gram Panchayat was
    stated not to be having the register for the year 1996 or earlier
    years and records are stated to have been handed over to him only
    from 1997. He further admits � it is true at page no.65 there is a
    vast blank space regarding the years 1997 and 1998. It is true
    that Ex.C-1 does not disclose closing of the relevant year after
    the expiry of the year. � He, however, denied the allegation of
    fabrication.
  2. We may also notice another fact that Exhibit A-5, the date of
    death certificate was issued only in 2007 and no certificate was
    obtained contemporaneously after the alleged demise of Late Ranoji
    in 1997.
  3. Learned counsel for the respondent endeavoured to persuade us
    not to interfere with the findings of the High court which,
    accordingly to their submissions, are cogent and reasonable and
    cannot be called perverse and thus, no interference would be called
    for by this Court even if leave has been granted under Article 136
    of the Constitution of India.

8

  1. We did point out to learned counsel for the appellant that the
    present case is not one of either affirmation or reversal based on
    the findings of the trial Court but a reversal based on the
    additional documents led at the appellate stage which in turn has
    formed the basis of the reversal. Thus, a little closer scrutiny
    would be required as this Court is effectively acting as first
    Court of appeal over the findings of the High Court qua the
    additional evidence.
  2. It emerges from the impugned order that the argument of the
    respondent was based on an oral partition carried out after the
    death of Late Ranoji between the vendors of the respondent, though
    a perusal of the sale deed shows that there is no mention of either
    oral or written partition. In this behalf in the cross-examination
    questions were posed by the appellant to PW-2 where it is admitted
    that there was no written partition. Thus, it could not be said,
    as opined in the impugned order, that this aspect was not cross-
    examined qua there being a partition inter se the vendors of the
    respondent.
  3. We have also perused the impugned order insofar as it deals
    with the crucial question of the additional evidence led. The High
    Court appears to have been swayed by the fact that exhibit C-1 is a
    public document, no direct suggestion was given about the date of
    death of Late Ranoji, General Power of Attorney holder was not
    produced and the documents as produced were sufficient by
    themselves, and the testimony of PW-3 satisfactorily explains the
    death certificate of Late Ranoji as alleged by the respondent.

9

  1. It is also recorded that no suggestion was put as to the
    correctness of Exhibit A-5 filed which was marked by PW-1 but then
    we may note at this stage itself that the such Exhibit was issued
    on the basis of the records of the Panchayat and was not an
    independent document by itself.
  2. We have given our thoughtful consideration to the controversy
    in question and the submissions advanced by learned counsel for he
    parties.
  3. We are unable to persuade ourselves to uphold the impugned
    judgment of the High Court. The facts we have set out leave us with
    great doubt about the authenticity of the entries made stating the
    date of death of Late Ranoji. We can find no worthy reason why a
    register maintained in normal course by the Panchayat in Telugu
    language with separate columns should acquire a different character
    of two entries made in English language only giving the date of
    death. The methodology of recording before and after is the same.
  4. We may also note that the date of death certificate stated to
    have been obtained on the basis of these entries was only in the
    year 2007 i.e. after a gap of almost a decade from the alleged date
    of death and after the suit proceedings were filed by the
    respondent. There is something to be said also about the
    observations of the trial Court on both aspects � firstly, the
    respondent not leading the evidence required and the date of death
    certificate being not duly authorised and secondly the conduct of
    the vendors of the respondent in executing one set of sale deeds in

10
favour of the respondent while subsequently executing another sale
deed in favour of B. Prabhakar.

  1. As far as the first aspect is concerned, the respondent sought
    to cure the problem in the midst of arguments before appellate
    Court by adducing additional evidence. However, the evidence so
    produced despite being public record, becomes highly doubtful by
    reason of the manner in which entry has been made qua the death of
    Late Ranoji. In any case, in view of this the contents also were
    required to be proved.
  2. On the second aspect also the observations of the trial Court
    that sons of Late Ranoji seem to be utilizing his demise to sell
    the property more than once is an aspect casting doubt on the
    manner in which the vendors of the respondent executed the sale
    deed. It is trite to say that the respondent being the plaintiff
    had to state and prove his case in turn depending on the ability to
    prove that Late Ranoji actually died on 3.4.1997. We do not
    believe that the respondent has been able to discharge this burden.
    We are recording this aspect as, the fact whether Ranoji did die on
    3.4.1997 or died some time in the year 2004, in a sense is conceded
    by the parties as the issue which determines whether the appellant
    would fail or succeed in the appeal.
  3. We are conscious of the fact that possibly the respondent has
    also been led up the garden path by the vendors but then when we
    balance the legal position on the two sides we are not able to hold
    that the title of the respondent can be said to be superior to that

11
of the appellant. The respondent would be well within its right to
pursue such remedy as may be available against the vendors, in view
of what we have opined aforesaid.

  1. We note with some regret that we did endeavour in the
    interlude of lunch break, to persuade the parties to utilize the
    period to arrive at a mutual settlement of the suit pending for
    such a long period of time where one party would gain everything or
    lose everything but that appears to have failed, hence we have
    penned downed a judgment even if the result deprives one party of
    the fruits of the land. The impugned order is set aside and the
    decree passed by the trial Court is restored even taking into
    account additional evidence produced before the appellate Court.
  2. The appeal is allowed leaving parties to bear their own costs.
    ���������������..J.
    [SANJAY KISHAN KAUL]
    ����������������.J.
    [M.R. SHAH]
    NEW DELHI;
    SEPTEMBER 26, 2019.

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ITEM NO.105 COURT NO.10 SECTION XII-A
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Civil Appeal No(s). 4661/2012
STRIPS INDIA LTD. Appellant(s)
VERSUS
V.L.S. PRASAD Respondent(s)
([ RETAIN ITS POSITION ] )

Date : 26-09-2019 This appeal was called on for hearing today.
CORAM :
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJAY KISHAN KAUL
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE M.R. SHAH
For Appellant(s) Mr. Parag Tripathi, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Arvind Nayar, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Rana Mukherjee, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Anupam Lal Das, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Arjun Kant, Adv.
Ms. Upasana Chandrashekaran, Adv.
Mr. Lalltaksh Joshi, Adv.
Mr. Ugra Shankar Prasad, AOR

For Respondent(s) Mr. Raju Ramchandran, Sr. Adv.
Mrs. V. Mohana, Sr. Adv.
Mr. D. Mahesh Babu, AOR
Ms. Suchitra Hrangkhawl, Adv.
Mr. Ganesan Subbian, Adv.
Mr. T.V. Bhaskar Reddy, Adv.
Mr. Shaurya Sahay, Adv.
Ms. Rekha Bakshi, Adv.
Mr. Chetan Joshi, Adv.
UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following
O R D E R
The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed order.
Pending application, if any, stands disposed of.
(ASHA SUNDRIYAL) (ANITA RANI AHUJA)
COURT MASTER COURT MASTER

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[Signed order is placed on the file]