The Supreme Court observed that filing of a suit for asserting the rights of parties does not amount to contempt of the court.

The Court observed thus in an appeal preferred against the order of the Gujarat High Court by which a contempt petition was dismissed.

The three-Judge Bench of Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Rajesh Bindal, and Justice Sandeep Mehta said, “We find that, by no stretch of imagination, it could be said that the filing of the suit for asserting the rights of the plaintiffs/respondents could be said to be amounting to contempt of the Court. … In that view of the matter, we find that no interference is warranted in the impugned order.”

Senior Advocate Amar Dave appeared for the appellant while Advocate Nachiket Anil Dave appeared for the respondents.

In this case, in the years 1953-54, a land was given on lease for 99 years and in 1956, the lease deed was cancelled by the original owners by way of a notice. In 1969, the said land was bought by 67 persons, however, the sale deed was originally executed in the name of four persons. The land was subsequently divided into 67 divisions and in 1972, the legal heirs filed a special civil suit, claiming possession over the land based on the lease deed. A compromise agreement was entered into between the heirs and original owners of the property by which it was agreed that the lease issued in 1953 was cancelled in 1956 after the cancellation, the legal heirs had no right, title, and interest in the property based on heirship.

The said compromise agreement was recorded as consent decree by the Civil Judge and in 1986, the appellant bought land vide a registered sale deed. Thereafter, legal heirs filed regular civil suit against 264 defendants including the appellant for declaration and permanent injunction. The appellant sent legal notices and requested the respondents to withdraw the suit. Since they did not withdraw the suit, a contempt petition was filed before the High Court but the same was dismissed. Hence, the matter was before the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “In the present case, there is no adjudication. No doubt that the consent terms entered into between one of the predecessors-in-title of the respondents and the Original Owners have received the imprimatur of the Court. However, the respondents claiming their ancestral rights over more than 2000 acres of land and also claiming that the said consent decree was obtained in collusion, had filed the suit in question. Not only this, but the appellant has participated in the said proceedings. At his instance, preliminary issues have been framed with regard to limitation and res judicata. Further, the application for rejection of the plaint under Order VII Rule 11(d) of the CPC has also been rejected.”

Accordingly, the Apex Court dismissed the appeal and refused to interfere in the impugned order.

Cause Title- M/s Shah Enterprises Thr. Padmaben Mansukhbhai Modi v. Vaijayantiben Ranjitsingh Sawant & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 182)


Appellant: Senior Advocate Amar Dave, Advocates Pradhuman Gohil, Taruna Singh Gohil, AOR Vikash Singh, Advocates Ranu Purohit, Alapati Sahithya Krishna, Rushabh N. Kapadia, Mohit Prasad, and Siddharth Singh.

Respondents: Advocates Nachiket Anil Dave, Priyanka Das, and AOR Anirudh Sanganeria.

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