Author: Dhruv Khurana, student at ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad.
Citation: AIR 2019 SC 4374
Bench: Navin Sinha, B.R. Gavai
Original copy: View
Issue in question:
- Whether the sale deed obtained by the original defendant from their father was by fraud, deceit and with undue influence?
Background of the case:
- The plaintiff is the brother of defendant no. 2 who is the husband of defendant no. 1.
- The plaintiff made accusations on the defendants that they obtained sale deed from their late father by the process of deceit, fraud and with undue influence, as he was very old and weak and cannot walk by his own.
- The suit was discharged, but the county allowed the appeal, and the court held the defendants liable as they did not discharge their burden of being in a position to inherit the will of the late father by the process of undue influence.
- The matter was then taken to the Supreme Court of India.
- The Supreme Court of India held that the deceased might be old and weak who also had bad eyesight and he struggled to walk on his own, but it should also be noted that there was no concrete proof that he was bedreidden.
- The son of the deceased was plaintiff and he gave a bald statement as and there was no proof to support his statement. It is also an obvious fact that the deceased came to the sub-registrar for the registration process which squashes the whole argument of the appellant that the deceased was bedridden.
- In the office of the sub-registrar the deceased placed his thumb impression for the process of registration in front of him and the sale deed was also explained to him. The old man also acknowledged and understood the entire consideration in front of the sub-registrar. Then only the deed was carried out and the registration process was completed. The wife of the deceased was also present with him in the office of the sub-registrar. The sale deed is a registered instrument thus there should have been an assumption in favor of the defendants. The burden for rebuttal lay on the appellant that he did not discharge.
- The court referred to the case of Anil Rishi v. Gurbaksh Singh. It was said that the defendants would be clearly liable under Section 16 of The Indian Contract Act, 1872, if the complainant gave a clear statement with clear evidence.
- Also in the case of Subhash Mushib v. Ganga Prasad Mushib, no assumption should be made just because someone is old and weak, undue influence cannot be made just because of age.
- In the ever-changing world, it is absolutely wrong to make a brother guilty of undue influence without any concrete proof simply because he was taking care of the family elder.
- The court held that there is no proper evidence of undue influence but it may cause doubts in mind leading to bald statements and scarcity of the evidence. Hence, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
- In the present case, analysing undue influence, solely based on the fact that the parties are related to each other, cannot make proper evidence of the undue influence. Undue influence can not be verified solely on the proof of relationship between parties and dominance of the will.
- The appellate court understood all the facts and proof of the case. There should be proper hearings and pleadings of the case. Cases cannot be decided on the assumptions and presumptions. On the consideration of the whole matter, there was no reason to interfere with present findings found by the two courts.
- There was no proof that there was undue influence or fraud within the case, therefore, the appeal should have been and was discharged by the Supreme Court of India.