Thulasidhara & another v/s Narayanappa & others: without registration a written document of family settlement can be used as corroborative evidence

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practicing in the Bombay High Court. He can be reached at aditya@adityapratap.com

Through the judgment of the case – Thulasidhara & Another v/s Narayanappa & Others, delivered on May 1, 2019, the division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice M.R. Shah, at the Supreme Court of India have made it clear that on the fact that without registration a written document of family settlement or family arrangement can be used as corroborative evidence as explaining the arrangement made thereunder and conduct of the parties.

Introduction: Thulasidhara & another v/s Narayanappa & others

Thulasidhara vs Narayanappa, the Supreme Court considering an appeal against a Karnataka High Court judgment which held that Exhibit D4 styled as Palupatti requires registration and the same could not be looked into, reversing the finding of both the courts below that it does not require any registration.

The Trial court and the first appellate court had dismissed the suit on the basis of this document. Assailing the High Court judgment, the defendants contended before the Apex Court that, even if the family settlement was not registered, it would operate as a complete estoppel against the original plaintiff who was party to such family settlement. They relied on the judgment in Kale and Others v. Deputy Director of Consolidation and Others.

Issues raised in the matter

  • Issues related to written documents which should be registered but were not are usually not permissible as evidence in court.
  • Issues related to allowance of an unregistered memorandum of family settlement as corroborative evidence.
  • Issues related to oral family settlements bypass related to any registration requirements.

Legal Analysis of the Case

Under Section 17 of the Registration Act, the documents which create, declare, assign, limit or extinguish any right, title or interest of the value of Rs. 100 and upwards, are to be registered. Under Section 49 of the Registration Act no document required by Section 17 or by any provision of the Transfer of Property Act to be registered, shall be received as evidence of any transaction affecting an immovable property.

Thus, as provided by Section 49 of the Registration Act, any document, which is not registered as required under the law would be inadmissible in evidence and cannot therefore be produced and proved under Section 91 of the Evidence Act.

A document which is in the nature of a memorandum of an family arrangement and which is filed before the court for its information for mutation of names is not compulsorily registrable and therefore can be used in evidence of the family arrangement and is final and binding on the parties.

Judgement of the Case

It was held by the Supreme Court of India that the question framed by the high court in second appeal was not the substantial question of law. The basis of the substantial question of law is when relevant or material evidence is not considered, or if considered, would led to an opposite conclusion.

In the said case, in a suit filed by the plaintiff, for a declaration, on the basis of the registered sale deed, it was held that it is always open for the defendant, who is stranger to the sale deed, to raise a plea that the Sale Deed was void, fictitious, collusive or not intended to be acted upon or not binding upon the defendant.

On further matter it was held that family arrangements do not require any registration, containing list of properties partitioned, such family settlement, albeit not registered, would operate as a complete estoppel against the parties to such a family settlement from the terms of the settlement. The High Court order in second appeal was set aside and the order of the trial court and first appellate Court restored, by which the suit was dismissed.

About the Author – Aditya Pratap

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.

Cases argued by Aditya Pratap can be viewed here.

Spread the word