Decide 96-year-old gift deed's validity, says Punjab and Haryana High Court

Decide 96-year-old gift deed's validity, says Punjab and Haryana High Court

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, August 4

Nearly a century after the ruler of erstwhile princely state of Malerkotla gifted a property to a community engaged in the skinning, washing and drying of animal skin, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the trial court to decide, among other things, the deed’s validity.

Justice Arun Palli also made it clear in his order that the question of title could also be examined in a suit for “injunction simpliciter”. The case has its genesis in the property being used by the community “since time immemorial”.

Justice Palli observed that the then ruler passed an order recognising their possession and bequeathed the property in their favour vide gift deed dated November 26, 1926. Accordingly, the “suit property” was in the community’s continuous and uninterrupted possession.

Justice Palli also observed the plaintiff-community members indisputably filed a “simpliciter suit for injunction”. But injunction prayed for was not simply to protect possession, but also to avert any interference in their possession, management, control and right to raise constructions over the suit property.

One of the issues framed by the trial court was whether the disputed property was owned and possessed by the community and was gifted away to it vide the gift deed and whether it was forged and fictitious document?

Justice Palli asserted both the sides were conscious of the true essence of the controversy. They, accordingly, led their evidence. Yet, the trial court chose not to record any finding on the six issues framed by it after forming the opinion that the question of ownership/title could not be examined in a simpliciter suit for injunction.

Justice Palli further asserted that the trial court refrained itself even from addressing the question regarding the gift deed’s execution and validity as that too, in its opinion, would be determining “nothing but the ownership of the plaintiffs”.

Justice Palli added that the trial court’s approach, analysis and understanding of the matter was, ex facie, flawed. “There cannot be any quarrel with the general proposition that in a simpliciter suit for injunction, the question of title/ownership cannot be examined. But, it has not been laid down as yet as an absolute principle of law that notwithstanding anything, the question of title can never be examined or gone into in a suit for injunction simpliciter”.

Justice Palli added two decades had gone by since the institution of the suit. The appeal in the matter was decided by the appellate Court on November 25, 2013. “The trial court shall re-decide the suit on the basis of the evidence already on record.”

The case

The ruler of erstwhile princely state of Malerkotla had gifted a property to a community engaged in the skinning, washing and drying of animal skin vide gift deed dated November 26, 1926.

#Malerkotla

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