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SMT. DIPO V. WASSAN SINGH & OTHERS

Smt. Dipo v. Wassan Singh, AIR 1983 SC 846

ISSUE:

  • Whether the grounds of dismissal of appeals by High court and other courts valid?
  • Whether plaintiff is entitled of all the plaints properties?

RULE:

  • Rules of procedure are meant to advance the cause of justice and not to short circuit decisions on merits.
  • If a person inherits property, whether movable or immovable, from his father or father’s father, or father’s father’s father, it is ancestral property as regards his male issue.

FACTS:

  • The plaintiff J. Smt. Dipo sued to recover possession of the properties which belonged to her brother, Bua Singh, who died in 1952.
  • She claimed to be the nearest heir of Bua Singh. The suit was filed in forma pauperis.
  • The suit was contested by the defendants who are the sons of Ganda Singh, paternal uncle of Bua Singh.
  • The grounds of contest were that Smt. Dipo was not the sister of Bua Singh and that even if she was the sister, the defendants were preferential heirs according to custom, as the whole of the land was ancestral in the hands of Bua Singh.
  • The learned subordinate judge held that the plaintiff was sister of Bua Singh and he found that few of the suit properties were ancestral and some are non-ancestral and decreed in favor of the plaintiff and was awarded certain shares of the property.
  • The plaintiff preferred an appeal to the District Judge, Amritsar. The appeal was purported to be filed in forma pauperis. It was dismissed on the ground that the plaintiff did not present the appeal in person as required by Order 33 Rule 3.
  • The defendants also preferred an appeal, but that was also dismissed.
  • There was a second appeal to the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by the plaintiff. The second appeal was dismissed as barred by limitation.
  • It was dismissed on the grounds that a copy of the trial court’s judgment was not filed along with the memorandum of the second appeal. Though the memorandum of the second appeal was filed within time, the copy of the decree was filed after the expiry of the period of limitation.
  • An appeal by special leave was made.

HELD:

  • The Supreme Court set aside judgments of the district judge and High Court.
  • The reasoning court gave was that it was not satisfied that the High Court dismissed the second appeal on the ground of limitation.
  • The defect was technical as the second appeal itself had been presented in the time. It was only a copy of the trial courts judgment that was filed after the expiry of the period of limitation.
  • The delay in filing a copy of the trial courts judgment should have been condoned and the second appeal should have been entertained and disposed of on merits.
  • The court said that rules of procedure are meant to advance the cause of justice and not to short circuit decision on merits.
  • The court set aside judgments of lower court regarding the share of the property to the plaintiff.
  • It said that the defendants were collaterals of Bua Singh and as regards them the property was not ‘ancestral property’ and hence the plaintiff was the preferential heir. The plaintiff was entitled to a decree in respect of all the plaints properties.