Section 96/ Order XLI Rule 31 CPC - HC Cannot Dispose Of First Appeal Without Framing Points For Determination And Considering Both Facts And Law - SC Reiterates
A two-judge Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna, while relying on the precedent K. Karuppuraj Vs. M.Ganesan has held that without framing points for determination and considering both facts and law; without proper discussion and assigning the reasons, the First Appellate Court cannot dispose of the first appeal under Section 96 CPC and that too without raising the points for a determination as provided under Order XLI Rule 31 CPC.
In the present case, the Appellant (Original Plaintiff) filed a suit for recovery of Rs 47,90,088 /-along with 18% interest from Respondents 1 and 2 (Original Defendants). The suit was decreed by the Trial Court. The Respondents moved a miscellaneous application before the High court to implead A.P. Transco and MAYTAS Infra Pvt. Ltd. as party Respondents to the first appeal.
The High Court in its order allowed the impleadment of parties to the first appeal as well as to the original suit. Not only that, while allowing the said application for impleadment, without further entering into the merits and/or expressing anything on merits and solely relying on the ground that as the application for impleadment was allowed, the High Court set aside the judgment and decree passed by the trial court and remanded the matter to the trial court with a direction to decide the suit afresh after affording an opportunity to the impleaded party to lead evidence in the suit. Aggrieved by the said order, the Appellants approached the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court noted, "This is not the manner in which the High Court was required to deal with the first appeal arising out of the judgment and decree passed by the trial court. Nothing has been observed and/or decided on merits. Even no reasoning has been given why the A.P. Transco was required to be impleaded as a party to the appeal. The High Court has not only directed to implead the A.P. Transco as party to the appeal but has also directed to implead the A.P. Transco in the original suit also."
"It is required to be noted that as such the suit was filed by the appellant – original plaintiff and as per the settled proposition of law, the plaintiff is the dominus litis. No issue was raised before the trial court on non- joinder of parties. Therefore, as such whether in the appeal preferred by the original defendants against the judgment and decree passed by the trial court, such an application would be maintainable or not, that itself is a question, which was required to be first considered and decided by the High Court," the Bench opined.
Further, the Court added, "There cannot be an automatic allowing of the appeal and quashing and setting aside the judgment and decree passed by the trial court without any further entering into the merits of the appeal and/or expressing anything on merits in the appeal on an impleadment of a party in an appeal."
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and remanded the matter back to High Court for disposal of the case on merits.
The Cost also ordered Respondents 1 and 2 to deposit Rs. 25,000 as costs with the State Legal Services Authority of the High Court within a period of four weeks.