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Brakewel Automotive Components (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. P.R. Selvam Alagappan - (Supreme Court) (21 Mar 2017)

Decree of court of law being sacrosanct, execution thereof not to be thwarted on mere asking and on purported grounds having no bearing on executability thereof



The subject matter of impeachment is the order rendered by High Court of Judicature at Madras, thereby rejecting prayer of Appellant/plaintiff/decree-holder to eschew evidence of Respondent/defendant/judgment-debtor in a proceeding under Section 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 as well as to dismiss such application as not maintainable. By order impugned, High Court has affirmed determination made to same effect by Executing Court.

Plaint discloses that, Respondent had represented before Appellant to be authorised to act on behalf of both firms and in that capacity had participated in transactions that followed. In that perspective, even assuming that name of one of firms was wrongly mentioned and that in fact, it is wife of Respondent, who is the proprietor thereof, with whom there is no conflict of interest, these per se, would not render the decree void or inexecutable. Such errors, even if exist, would not infest the decree with any jurisdictional infirmity or reduce it to a nullity.

There is no dispute with regard to identity of the firms involved and their representation by the Respondent in the suit transactions. Allegation of fraud and collusion between learned Counsel for the Respondent and the Appellant is visibly self-serving, omnibus, speculative and unauthentic and cannot therefore, after so many years, ipso facto render decree invalid on account thereof. Visibly, Respondent had been the center figure in all transactions between parties on behalf of firms, as stand proved in suit and resistance to execution of decree is neither on behalf of M/s. Kargaappa Auto Products nor its proprietor, his wife contending that the decree is neither binding on the firm nor on her. For all practical purposes, said firm is still being represented by Respondent in subsisting proceedings. The sequence of events discloses that, suit had been instituted in year 2010 and was decreed on 16th October, 2011. Execution Petition though lodged in the year 2014 has not seen the fruit of the decree as on date. Review Petition filed by the Respondent has also been dismissed. Significantly, in all the proceedings initiated by Respondent to stall execution of the decree, same pleas have been reiterated.

It is no longer res integra that an Executing Court can neither travel behind the decree nor sit in appeal over the same or pass any order jeopardizing the rights of the parties thereunder. It is only in limited cases where decree is by a Court lacking inherent jurisdiction or is a nullity that, same is rendered non est and is thus inexecutable. An erroneous decree cannot be equalled with one which is a nullity. There are no intervening developments as well as to render the decree inexecutable.

Section 47 of CPC mandates determination by an executing Court, questions arising between parties or their representatives relating to execution, discharge or satisfaction of decree and does not contemplate any adjudication beyond the same. A decree of court of law being sacrosanct in nature, execution thereof ought not to be thwarted on mere asking and on untenable and purported grounds having no bearing on validity or the executability thereof.

Judicial precedents to the effect that, purview of scrutiny under Section 47 of the Code qua a decree is limited to objections to its executability on the ground of jurisdictional infirmity or voidness is plethoric. This Court, amongst others in Vasudev Dhanjibhai Modi v. Rajabhai Abdul Rehman and Ors. enunciated that only a decree which is a nullity can be the subject matter of objection under Section 47 of the Code and not one which is erroneous either in law or on facts. In Dhurandhar Prasad Singh v. Jai Prakash University and Ors., while dwelling on scope of Section 47 of CPC, it was ruled that the powers of the court thereunder are quite different and much narrower than those in appeal/revision or review. It was reiterated that, exercise of power under Section 47 of the Code is microscopic and lies in a very narrow inspection hole and an executing court can allow objection to executability of the decree if it is found that the same is void ab initio and is a nullity, apart from ground that it is not capable of execution under the law, either because same was passed in ignorance of such provision of law or law was promulgated making a decree inexecutable after its passing. None of the above eventualities as recognised in law for rendering a decree inexecutable, exists in case in hand.

Supreme Court opined that no case has been made out to entertain the remonstrance against the decree or application under Section 47 of CPC. Both Executing Court and High Court, have not only erred in construing scope and ambit of scrutiny under Section 47 of CPC, but have also overlooked fact that, decree does not suffer either from any jurisdictional error or is otherwise invalid in law. Objections to execution petition as well as to the application under Section 47 of CPC filed by Respondent do not either disclose any substantial defence to the decree or testify the same to be suffering from any jurisdictional infirmity or invalidity. Impugned order set-aside. Executing Court would proceed with the execution proceedings and take it to the logical end with utmost expedition.

Relevant : Vasudev Dhanjibhai Modi v. Rajabhai Abdul Rehman and Ors. MANU/SC/0531/1970 : 1971 (1) SCR 66, Dhurandhar Prasad Singh v. Jai Prakash University and Ors. MANU/SC/0381/2001 : AIR 2001 SC 2552


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