The Supreme Court observed that the terms or the language used in a deed are binding on the parties even if they meant different things.

A Bench of Justice C.T. Ravikumar and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti observed, “The Court can understand the true intent of the deed only by the words used in the deed. It does not matter what the parties, in their most state of mind, thought what the terms meant. They may have meant different things, but still the terms or the language used in the deed should bind them. It is for the court to interpret such terms or language used in the deed.

AOR Prabha Swami represented the appellant, while Sr. Advocate Tapesh Kumar Singh appeared for the respondent.

A suit was filed seeking partition and possession of a plaint schedule property. The property in question, a residential house, was initially owned by the owner, who entered into a lease-cum-sale agreement with the Vishakhapatnam Urban Development Authority and subsequently purchased the property through a registered sale deed. Upon his death, the property was inherited by his brothers and sister under Mohammedan law.

The key contention was the validity of an agreement which divided the property into two halves, allotting the western half to one party and the eastern half among others. The enforceability of the agreement was contested on the argument that it was fabricated and that one of the parties, who was a cousin, was not a legitimate heir under Mohammedan succession laws.

The trial court acknowledged the agreement's existence but deemed it invalid due to non-compliance with registration and stamp duty requirements. Nevertheless, the High Court set aside the decision, asserting that objections to a document's admissibility must be raised at the trial's outset. It further noted that family settlements need not be restricted to immediate heirs and that the agreement created legal rights among the parties.

The Supreme Court stated, “As a court, once we notice that Exhibit-A6 is proved as duly executed by all the parties, we lean in favour of settlement of the rights as agreed upon by the parties. A few objections available in law and fact, i.e., frame of suit, payment of court fee, etc., are not taken by Defendant No. 2. The contentions, which are bereft of pleadings, are not entertained at this stage of litigation.

Exhibit-A6 is captioned as an agreement for the settlement of the family property. Therefore, the requirement that the executants of the document must have a subsisting interest is completely beside the point. The brothers and sister, being the elders of the family, can agree and settle the property in such a way that would otherwise take place as per Mohammedan law. The brothers and sister, by the time of execution of Exhibit-A6, are the sharers, and they can deal with the property the way the sharers agree,” the Court remarked.

Consequently, the Bench held, “In our jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, we do not see any error of fact or an illegality warranting interference with the impugned judgment.”

Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title: Naseem Kahnam & Ors. v. Zaheda Begum (D) & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 492)


Appellant: AOR Prabha Swami; Advocates Nikhil Swami and Divya Swami

Respondent: Sr. Advocate Tapesh Kumar Singh; AOR Ambar Qamaruddin and S. Mahendran; Advocates Tejasvi Kumar, Syed Sarfaraz Karim, Ekansh Bansal, and Renu Bhandari

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