Rattan Singh v. Nirmal Gill
Civil Appeal Nos. 3681- 3682 of 2020 decided on 16.11.2020
Bench: A.M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ.
Facts: The dispute in the present case dates back to 1990, which pertains to a General Power of Attorney which was purported to have been executed by the plaintiff in favour of defendant and subsequently sale deeds executed by the defendant as an attorney of the plaintiff. A suit was filed by the plaintiff in the year 2001, alleging that the defendants sought her signatures on blank papers in the year 1990. The signatures were sought under the guise of preparing and processing the documents for the purpose of getting the estate left behind by their father mutated in their names.
The Trial Court as well as the First Appellate Court dismissed the suit. High Court reversed the decisions of the previous courts and decreed the suit.
Hence the present appeal was filed in the Supreme Court by the defendants. The Supreme Court set aside the High Court judgement and allowed the appeal.
Issue: Whether a General Power of Attorney and the sale deeds purported to have been executed by the plaintiff in 1990 is result of fraud and forgery?
Held: The Court held that there is a presumption that a registered document is validly executed and to prove otherwise would require the production of a tangible evidence. It was noted that the document is presumed to be genuine if the same is registered and the onus to prove otherwise is on the person who challenges the said registered document. The court held that the plaintiff has failed to prove the fact of misuse of trust by the defendants.
The court observed that, the discrepancies in the 1990 General Power of Attorney is bound to create some doubt, however, in the absence of any tangible evidence produced by the plaintiff to support the plea of fraud, it does not take the matter further.
Issue: What is the effect of fraud on limitation as prescribed in the Section 17 of the Limitation Act, 1963?
Held: The court held that, for invoking Section 17 of The Limitation Act, 1963, two ingredients have to be pleaded and duly proved. One is the existence of a fraud and the other is discovery of such fraud. In the present case, since the plaintiff has failed to establish the existence of fraud, there is no occasion for its discovery. Therefore, the plaintiff cannot be extended the benefit under the said provision.
Since, the plaintiff could not establish the existence of fraud, it must follow that the suits are exfacie barred by limitation.
The Court also held that since the 1990 General Power of Attorney has been proved, there is no reason to doubt the titles of the subsequent purchasers.