Sunil Ambwani, J.
1. This second appeal arises out of judgment and decree dated 16.2.1978 by which the 1st Additional Civil Judge, Meerut, dismissed Civil Appeal No. 265 of 1974 against the judgment and decree dated 30.9.1974 passed by Munsif Havali, Meerut in Original Suit No. 548 of 1962 decreeing the Suit for possession, future damages at the rate of Rs. 50 per month and Rs. 20 per month as damages from 1.11.1962 to 12.11.1962 with costs and to recover the damages after payment of court fees and execution. The issue of limitation was decided as issue No. 6 vide order dated 7.12.1970.
2. This Court did not frame any substantial question of law at the time of admission of this Second Appeal on 27.2.1978. Learned Counsel for the appellant has filed an amendment application dated 14.1.2005, for adding 11 grounds as substantial question of law to be decided in this second appeal. Sri R. S. Misra, learned Counsel for the respondents has objected to the amendment at this stage. The application was allowed. However, only following grounds are found to be substantial questions of law arising from the pleadings and evidence of the case to be considered and decided in this second appeal;
1. Whether the fiction in law for adoption for tenant's father, who had died before adoption would come to the benefit of the adopted son for challenging the sale deed which was executed by his mother before he was adopted.
2. Whether in absence of claiming relief for cancellation of sale deed and the consequential refund of sale amount under Sections 31 and 33 of the Specific Reliefs Act. The registered sale deed could be declared to be void on the ground that there was no legal necessity to execute the sale deed of the property which belonged to minor through adoption deed executed subsequently to the sale deed.
3. Whether sale deed dated 22.11.1943 was executed by Smt. Hardevi, widow of Ch. Raghubir Singh for legal necessity to discharge the antecedent debt by registered mortgage deed of 1928 executed by Ch. Raghubir Singh, her husband for payment of Rs. 500 as land revenue.
3. Heard Sri Sankatha Rai, learned Counsel for the appellants and Sri R. S. Misra learned Counsel for respondent.
4. Sri Surya Dev, the plaintiff respondent filed Original Suit No. 548 of 1962 for possession over the 'haveli' shown at the foot of the plaint, and for recovery of damages with the allegations that late Ch. Raghubir Singh and his wife Smt. Hardevi had no issue. Ch. Raghubir Singh wanted to adopt the first son of his sister's son Ch. Krishna Swarup, who lived with Ch. Raghubir Singh and got education there. Ch. Raghubir Singh fell ill before any child was born to Ch. Krishna Swarup. His condition suddenly became serious. He was not in a position to leave a Will or a written order. He called his wife Smt. Hardevi, in the presence of family members and asked her to adopt the first son of Ch. Krishna Swarup after his death. He died in 1937 leaving all his movable and immovable properties to his wife. Her name was mutated in the revenue records against the lands of Ch. Raghubir Singh. She was an old and pardanashin lady. Smt. Brahma Devi wife of Shyam Singh, devrani of Smt. Hardevi with the help of his brother Mool Chand used to look after the properties. They wanted to grab her properties and thus got their names mutated with the name of Smt. Hardevi on 46 blghas, 16 biswas land left by Ch. Raghubir Singh, and thereafter Smt. Brahma Devi as Manager and Karkun executed a patta of 15 bighas land in favour of defendants. Smt. Brahma Devi thereafter got sale deed executed on 22.11.1943 for Rs. 2,100 from Smt. Hardevi in the name of Chander Bhan. Smt. Khubia, Jeeraj and Tareef Singh purportedly showing that they needed money for taking care of mortgage of Rs. 500 as land revenue whereas she had no such need as her husband had left 100 bighas of land, cattle and other movable properties and iron boxes and ornaments with annual income of not less of Rs. 8,000. The cost of disputed house was not less than Rs. 4,500 and that it was sold without any legal necessity.
5. A son was born to Ch. Krishna Swarup on 1.12.1941. Smt. Hardevi, honoured desire of her late husband, and adopted the child Surya Dev, the plaintiff on 11.6.1944 in accordance with to Hindu rites.
6. After the death of Smt. Hardevi, the plaintiff respondent got possession of all her properties and filed the suit on 13.11.1962 at the age of 20 years and 11 months for possession of the land sold by sale deed dated 22.11.1943, allegedly without any legal necessity.
7. The defendant-appellants contested the suit on the ground that the plaintiff is neither the adopted son nor is entitled to file the suit. The relationship between Ch. Raghubir Singh and wife Hardevi were strained. At the time of his death she was at her father's house in village Mubarikpur, district Muzaffarnagar and was not present at the time of death. The financial position of Ch. Raghubir Singh was not so rich and thus she always remained indebted. Several warrants were issued to recover the debts from her properties which was auctioned time to time. The disputed house was mortgaged for Rs. 1,600 to Shri Sampat Ram through registered mortgage deed dated 15.11.1928, which he could not pay and was also in need of money of Rs. 500 for paying land revenue and thus she executed the sale deed for legal necessity. The plaintiff was born on 24.6.1940. The sale deed was executed on 22.11.1943 and thus the suit filed on 13.11.1962 was barred by time, as it could be filed within 12 years of the sale deed, i.e., dated 22.11.1955. In case the sale deed was forged, Smt. Hardevi could have challenged it in her life time. The property was correctly valued and that the defendants have invested Rs. 10,000 with bona fide intention for improvement of haveli and are entitled to the amount under Section 51 of the Transfer of Property Act.
8. The trial court framed the question of limitations as preliminary issue and decided this issue No. 6 in favour of the plaintiff. The High Court allowed Revision No. 356 of 1977 and remanded the case for hearing on the issue. The trial court discussed the oral evidence and the extract of birth register (Exh. A-13) showing the birth of Krishna Tagga on 24.6.1940 and found that it does not relate to the plaintiff. The evidence of D.W. 1 Jai Nand is full of lies as he could not give the date of birth of any of his family members, and did not give the name of the members with the name of Krishna in the village. He could not even give the date when he was sent to jail in criminal case in which he was convicted. The trial court believed upon the evidence of plaintiffs natural father Ch. Krishna Swarup and the High School certificate of the plaintiff. The trial court found that the date of birth of the plaintiff is 1.1.1941 and that the suit was filed within three years of attaining majority and was thus within the period of limitation, as prescribed by the Limitation Act.
9. The trial court in its judgment dated 30.9.1974, held that the plaintiff born on 1.12.1941 was validly adopted by Smt. Hardevi and her husband Ch. Raghubir Singh on 11.6.1944 after performing all the religious ceremonies to which all the biradari people were invited. The invitation cards and photographs of the ceremony were proved. The adoption deed written and executed by Smt. Hardevi on 23.6.1944, was also registered and thus the adoption was established. Relying upon Sriniwas v. Narayan AIR 1954 SC 380 and F. Hanumantha v. Nagappa , it was found that adoption relates back to the date of death of the adoptive father to the asset of the adoptive father. It further held relying upon Sripad v. Dutta Ram , that the dispositions made by the widow exceeding her limited powers of alienations could be challenged. On issue No. 7 the trial court held that the house was in tenancy of District Board School and was mortgaged to Lala Sampat Rai for Rs. 1,600 with right to the mortgagee to realise rent from the property for a period of five years. Smt. Hardevi was not required to pay any interest on the mortgaged amount and that she could redeem the usufractuary mortgage within the limitation of 65 years. There was no pressure on the assets from the mortgagee nor there was any damage to be averted. If the property was sold to make the payment of the Government land revenue it could be said to be legal necessity. But in this case Smt. Hardevi who had 85 bighas, 1 biswa land in Mahal Rai Singh out of which she had let out 38 bighas 6 biswas and 14 biswansi to the kastkar and was recovering Rs. 580 and 6 anns as land revenue, out of which she could have easily paid the amount of Rs. 753 towards land revenue. Similarly she was recovering land revenue from Mahal Khusal Singh and had enough money to be paid to the Government. There was no pressing need for alienating the disputed properties and thus the alienation for only Rs. 500 was not justified. Further there was no material to indicate that the land revenue was due on the date of execution of the sale deed. The trial court held that the land was sold without any legal necessity.
10. Issue No. 8 with regard to the sale deed and fraud practised on Smt. Hardevi for getting the sale executed was returned against the plaintiff as there was no evidence for fraud and her lawyer Pritam Singh was present with her at the time of the execution of the document. On issue No. 2 it was held that disputed sale deed executed without legal necessity was void and the plaintiff who is adopted son has right to the possession of the house. The improvement made in the house by the defendants could not be established. On issue No. 9 the trial court held that the sale deed need not be set aside as the transaction was without legal necessity. Relying upon Radha Ram v. Hanuman Prasad , it was held that the void document could be treated to be nullity and thus the reverter was not bound to institute a declaratory suit. There was no need of intervention of the Court in treating the document as nullity. The suit was thus decreed for possession with damages.
11. The appellate court in a well discussed judgment supporting each conclusion by relevant citations confirmed the findings and dismissed the appeal. The appellate court framed three points as follows:
(1) Whether the plaintiff was legally adopted by Smt. Hardevi for her husband late Ch. Raghubir Singh?
(2) Whether the date of birth of the plaintiff is 1.12.1941, as alleged by the plaintiff or it is 24.6.1940, as alleged by the defendants-appellants and the suit is not within time?
(3) Whether the sale deed of the haveli in dispute was for legal necessity?
12. On Point No. 1 the appellate court held relying upon the findings of the trial court and the judgment Exh. 31 (paper No. 124C), in Special Appeal No. 307 of 1959 of the High Court, Allahabad, against the judgment of Deputy Director of Consolidation and Settlement Officer, Consolidation in a litigation between Surya Dev v. Jai Nand and Anr. (defendants in the suit) that grounds regarding effect of adoption were taken in special appeal and the appeal was dismissed.
13. On Point No. 2 the appellate court relying upon the statement of Krishna Swarup natural father of the plaintiff held that the plaintiff Surya Dev was born on 24.6.1940 in Village Malpur. His contention was supported by High School certificate and the evidence of other witnesses namely Baroo Singh (P.W. 2) and Sukhbans Singh (P.W. 3). In view of this evidence the copy of Death and Birth Register could not be relied upon. He also held that the ceremonies namely feast in 'jasootan' by which plaintiffs birth was announced in a plate with sliver paper pasted on sweats face was also established. The findings relevant for the purposes of considering the substantial question of law, in this second appeal are quoted as below:
In the present case, Smt. Hardevi transferred the property on 21.11.1943 and after that she adopted the plaintiff on 11.6.1944. In case of adoption the doctrine of relation back applies and the plaintiff will be deemed in existence from the moment of the death of Ch. Raghubir Singh who died in 1937. It was held in Shripad Gajanan Suthankar v. Dattaram Kashinath Suthankar and Ors. AIR 1974 SC 878:
Under the Hindu law an adopted son continues the line of the adoptive father for secular and spiritual purposes and when a widow adopts a son to her husband the doctrine of relation back makes son-ship retroactive from the moment of the death of the late husband. The adopted son is deemed to have been born on the date of the death of the adoptive father.
Thus, the plaintiff would be deemed to have born in 1937 when Ch. Raghubir Singh had died. The property was transferred after 1937 and the plaintiff is entitled to get benefit of Section 6 of the Limitation Act.
Article 126 provides 12 years limitation for a suit by a Hindu to set aside his father's alienation from the date the alienee takes possession over the property. The property was transferred on 21.11.1943 and the limitation of 12 years expired on 21.11.1955. But the plaintiff was minor in 1955. As discussed above, the plaintiff born on 1.12.1941 and he became major in 1.12.1959. Section 6(1) of the Limitation Act says:
Where a person entitled to institute a suit or to make an application for the execution of a decree, is, at the time from which the period of limitation is to be reckoned, a minor, or insane or an idiot, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the disability has ceased, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time prescribed therefor in the third column of the first Schedule.
Mere reading in the section makes it clear that a minor can institute a suit after becoming major within the period prescribed in First Schedule Column 3. Article 44 of the Limitation Act provides three years limitation for a suit by a Ward who has attained majority to set aside a transfer of property by his guardian. Thus, the plaintiff is entitled to get benefit of Section 6 and he could file suit within three years from the date of becoming major. He became major on 1.12.1959 and he filed the present suit within three years on 13.11.1962.
14. On Point No. 3 the appellate court confirmed the finding of the trial court and found that Smt. Hardevi was possessed of sufficient properties and regular income. Her annual income was not less than Rs. 8,000 and she had no legal necessity to transfer the haveli. The appellate court discussed the evidence adduced by the defendant namely copies of decree, against Ch. Raghubir Singh, and held that all the decrees were for making payments from the year 1941 to 19.5.1942 only. Exh. A-10 shows that the decree was passed on 18.8.1943 and was satisfied on 24.8.1943 whereas the sale deed of the haveli was executed on 21.11.1943. There was no document to show that she was in need of money on 21.11.1943 and relied upon Hardevi Lal v. Govind Saran AIR 1924 All 902, that recital in deed executed by Hindu widow is admissible in evidence of legal necessity as well as judgment of Smt. Rani and Ors. v. Smt. Santa Bala Dev Nath and Ors. , that the recitals are admissible evidence, their value varying according to circumstances as well as Buniyad Hussain v. Nata Din Singh 1916 IC 57, for the proposition that where the consideration is proved to be paid in legal necessity and only small amount remains unaccounted, the alienation should not be set aside. The appellate court found that some persons were alienating haveli as tenant of Ch. Raghubir Singh. The mortgagee was entitled to the rent. The property was mortgaged for five years. Ch. Raghubir Singh could not get it released. There was no evidence to show that Lala Sampat Rai had ever pressed Smt. Hardevi to pay her debt. She could have filed suit for foreclosure or sale of mortgage property within 60 years and thus there was no legal necessity to sell the property.
Question No. 3
15. The third question whether the sale deed dated 22.11.1943 was executed by Smt. Har Devi for legal necessity to discharge the antecedent debt by registered mortgage deed of 1928 executed by Ch. Raghubir Singh for payment of Rs. 500 as land revenue, which requires to be decided first, I find from the recital of the mortgage deed registered on 15.11.1988 that Ch. Raghubir Singh mortgaged the properties by way of usufractuary mortgage for five years for Rs. 1,600, within which he promised to pay the amount, after which the properties would be released from mortgage. He could not pay the mortgage money. The disputed sale deed dated 22.11.1943 registered on 23.11.1943 clearly recites that the 'haveli' was mortgaged by husband of the executor Smt. Har Devi to Lala Sampat Rai on 15.11.1928. The crop in kharif in the Jasli 1451, yielded lesser crops and that she has to pay the land revenue. She could not pay any amount to discharge the mortgage nor she is in a position to pay the amount and as such she agreed to sell the 'haveli' for Rs. 2,100 to Chander Bhan. Smt. Khubia, Jeeraj and Tareef Singh and has sold it to them by absolute sale and has delivered possession.
16. The recitals in deeds of sale may not be evidence by themselves of the fact, but they are admissible in evidence. In Bed Nath and Anr. v. Rani Rajeswari Devi AIR 1937 Oudh 406, it was held that in Hindu law antecedent debt of mortgage money is valid consideration. In Jaisri Sahu v. Rajdewan Dubey and Ors. , Supreme Court held that where there is necessity for a transfer, the restriction imposed by Hindu law on widow's power to alienate, ceases to operate. The widow is entitled to the full beneficial enjoyment of the estate and is not accountable to any one. She may not alienate the properties unless it is for necessity or for benefit to the asset, but this restriction on a her is not one imposed for the benefit of a reversioner but is an incident of the asset as known to Hindu law. Where, there is necessity for a transfer, the restriction imposed by Hindu law on her power to alienate ceases to operate, and the widow as owner gets fullest discretion to decide what forms of alienation should assume. Her powers in this regard are as held in Hanooman Persaud v. Mt. Babooee Mundraj Koonweree 8 Moo Ind App 393 (PC), those of the managers of an infant's asset or the manager of a joint Hindu family.
17. In Viraraju v. Venkataratnam AIR 1939 Mad 98, it was held "how exactly this obligation is to be carried out, whether by a mortgage, sale or other means, is not to be determined by strict rules or legal formulae, but must be left to the reasonable discretion of the party bound. In the absence of mala fides o r extravagance, and so long as it is neither unfair in character nor unreasonable in extent, the Court will not scan too nicely the manner or the quantum of the alienation". The question whether widow could sell and discharge of debt which she was unable to pay and for a future liability on account of land revenue was to be determined on the facts prevailing at the relevant time. In the present case she had not adopted the plaintiff, even to the benefit of her husband on the day when she sold the property. The clear recitals in the sale deed, could not be denied. The evidence was not led to show that the Haweli' was not mortgaged or that Ch. Raghubir Singh had paid the mortgage money. There was a charge on the property. Even if Smt. Hardevi was having other properties and possessed sufficient land with sufficient income, the sale of a property for satisfaction of antecedent debt of Rs. 1,600 and further Rs. 500 In 1943, could not be treated as a sale without any legal necessity.
18. The appellate court has given the details of the decrees passed against Ch. Raghubir Singh and Smt. Hardevi between 1930 to 1946. The appellate court also found that Lala Chhatar Sen was zamindar and Ch. Raghubir Singh was ex-proprietory-tenant. Lala Chhatar Sen offered the loan to Ch. Raghubir Singh and whenever Ch. Raghubir Singh made any delay In making the payment of land revenue to him, he got decrees against him. Ch. Raghubir Singh and Smt. Hardevi made payments of these decrees from time to time and never remain indebted. It was found that on 21.11.1943 when the sale deed was executed only one decree namely decree dated 18.8.1943 (Exh-10) was due to be satisfied. In these circumstances, the finding that there was no legal necessity to sell the property in 1943 and it was not sold for the benefit of the estate, have been recorded in complete ignorance of the Hindu law relating to legal necessity, cited as above.
Question No. 1
19. Ch. Raghubir Singh died in 1937 leaving of his movable and immovable properties to his wife Smt. Hardevi and making a desire to adopt the first son of his sister's son Ch. Krishna Swaroop, who was born on 24.4.1943. Before Smt. Hardevi could adopt him by performing ceremonies on 11.6.1944, she had sold disputed property namely haveli o n 21.11.1943 by registered deed for a sale consideration of Rs. 2,100. The sale deed is sought to be declared not binding upon the plaintiff, on the ground that his adoption relates back to the date of death of his father and that the sale was not for legal necessity. The doctrine of "relation back' in Hindu law, to the line of the adoptive father, is available for secular and spiritual purpose. The sonship as held in Sripad Gqjanan Suthankar v. Dattaram, Kashinath Suthankar and Ors. , is retroactive from the moment of the death of late husband. The adopted son is deemed to have been born on the date of death of the adoptive father. In para 18 of the judgment, however, Supreme Court after discussing the law and considering the case law held that a widow's adoption cannot be stultified by an anterior partition of the joint family and the adopted son can claim a share as if he was begotten and alive when the adoptive father breathed his last. Nevertheless the Jactum of partition is not wiped out by the later adoption. It was further held that any deposition, testamentary or inter vivos, lawfully made antecedent to the adoption is immune to challenge by the adopted son. The lawful alienation, in this context, means not necessarily for a family necessity but alienation made competently in accordance with the law. Where a widow exercises powers of alienation subject to conditions set out by the Hindu law the alienation binds the subsequently adopted son. The same principles apply to alienation by karta of undivided Hindu family or transfer by a co-parcener governed by Benaras School. In this case the Supreme Court excluded gift made by Mahadeo, a co-parcener who gifted away the property coming to his share vide partition dated 24.4.1944, much before adoption on 16.2.1956.
20. In Sripad v. Dutta Ram (supra) Supreme Court relied upon Anant Bhikappa v. Shanker Ram Chandra AIR 1943 PC 196, in which it was held that the right of the adopted son to claim properties as on the date of the death of the adoptive father, by reason of the theory of relation back is subject to the limitation that alienations made prior to the date of adoption are binding on him, if they were for purposes binding on the estate. Thus, transferees from limited owners whether they be widows or coparceners in a joint family are amply protected. But no such safeguard exists in respect of property inherited from a collateral, because if the adopted son is entitled on the theory of relation back to divest the property, the position of the mesne holder would be that by an owner possessing a title defeasible on adoption, and the result of such adoption must be to extinguish that title and that of all persons claiming under him. Where, the adoption takes place long after the succession to the collateral had opened and in the mean time the property has changed hands several times, the title of the purchasers could not be disturbed after such long time.
21. A Hindu widow may adopt a son for the benefit of the adoptive father. The fixation, however, that the adoption relates back to the date of the death of the adoptive father applies only when the claim of the adoptive son relates to the asset of the adoptive father. Where the limited owners namely a Hindu widow, or coparceners alienate the property for legal necessity, there is no justification to disturb such rights of the purchases and to create a chaos by inventing new fixation that such adopted son can disturb the sale. A legal fiction cannot be stretched to the extent of disturbing the validly created rights in the properties through valid alienations. The courts have accepted the doctrine of relating back an adoptive son, only to the extent of claiming partition, without disturbing the legal rights and valid alienations, before his arrival in the family, as an adoptive son.
Question No. 2
22. Plaintiff wanted to avoid the sale made by his adoptive mother before he was actually adopted, on the ground that there was no legal necessity for such sale. He, however, did not choose to seek relief for cancellation of the sale deed of the haveli in dispute executed on 21.11.1943 which was registered document. A registered document is binding on the parties and is valid unless it is avoided or cancelled from competent court within the prescribed period of limitation. Where the sale deed is executed for consideration which discharges pre-existing debts, so recited in the deed and is a registered document, apart from presumption under Section 92 of the Evidence Act which may be rebutted by adducing evidence to contradict the terms of the recitals therein., it cannot be avoided as void document under Section 23 of the Contract Act. In order to avoid such a document it is necessary to seek a declaration to be given by the Court in that behalf. In Smt. Ramti Devi v. Union of India 1995 (1) ACJ 99 (SC), it was held that until the document is avoided or cancelled by proper declaration the duly registered document remains valid and binding on the parties.
23. For the aforesaid reasons I find that the plaintiff adopted in the family on 11.6.1944 for which a deed was executed by his adoptive mother Smt. Hardevi on 23.6.1944, for the benefit of her husband, who died in 1937, did not have right to unsettle the legal and valid transactions made by her mother as an absolute owner before his adoption, and for legal necessity. In any case, such sale was not void and that relief of declaration of such sale to be void and cancellation of the sale deed was necessary. The court below erred in law in holding otherwise.
24. Second appeal is consequently allowed. The Original Suit No. 548 of 1962 is dismissed.