A Supreme Court Bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sanjay Karol has criticized the Bombay High Court for hastily overturning the findings of two Civil Courts without adequately hearing the parties or examining the Trial Court records.

In light of the same, the Apex Court said, "The haste with which the Court proceeded to dispose of the appeal without proper and adequate opportunity to address arguments cannot be appreciated. The governing statute lays considerable emphasis on hearing the parties on all questions the same is reflected in various pronouncements of this Court. The approach adopted by a Court in disposing of such appeals must abide by the same."

Counsel Prafulla S Kubalkar, among others, appeared for the appellant, while Counsel Rajat Joseph, among others, appeared for the respondents.

In this case, a property valued at approximately ₹6,60,000 that the respondent had agreed to sell to the appellant. Despite several attempts to complete the sale deed, it did not materialize because the seller failed to appear at the relevant office, leading to the initiation of civil proceedings.

The Trial Court directed the intending buyers (plaintiffs) to deposit ₹60,000 as earnest money. Subsequently, the defendants (sellers) were required to execute the sale deed. The first appellate Court upheld this order and also determined that the civil suit was not time-barred.

However, in a second appeal, the High Court overturned both orders. The decision of the High Court was challenged before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court stressed that when overturning findings of fact, the Court will be required to call for the records of the Trial Court or if placed on record, peruse the same and only then question the veracity of the conclusions drawn by the Court below.

In a similar context, it was said that "A Court sitting in second appellate jurisdiction is to frame substantial question of law at the time of admission, save and except in exceptional circumstances. Post such framing of questions the Court shall proceed to hear the parties on such questions, i.e., after giving them adequate time to meet and address them. It is only after such hearing subsequent to the framing that a second appeal shall come to be decided."

Noting that the impugned judgment overturned the concurrent findings of fact in respect of readiness and willingness on the part of the plaintiff to perform the contract, without pointing out the exceptional circumstance or the perversity in the findings which were returned by the Courts below, the Apex Court remanded the matter to the High Court for consideration afresh in accordance with law.

Cause Title: Suresh Lataruji Ramteke vs Sau. Sumanbai Padurang Petkar & Ors.

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