Question: Denial of Title | X purchased a house in a Court auction. A was a tenant in it from before and attorned the tenancy in favour of X and came to pay rent to X accordingly. X sold the house to Y. Both X and Y issued notice to A tenant to attorned the tenancy in favour… Read More »

Question: Denial of Title | X purchased a house in a Court auction. A was a tenant in it from before and attorned the tenancy in favour of X and came to pay rent to X accordingly. X sold the house to Y. Both X and Y issued notice to A tenant to attorned the tenancy in favour of Y. But A declined to do so and assailed not only the derivative title of Y to the property- but also the validity of a sale in favour of X himself. ‘A’ alleged that one of the Decree holders whose rights...

Question: Denial of Title | X purchased a house in a Court auction. A was a tenant in it from before and attorned the tenancy in favour of X and came to pay rent to X accordingly. X sold the house to Y. Both X and Y issued notice to A tenant to attorned the tenancy in favour of Y.

But A declined to do so and assailed not only the derivative title of Y to the property- but also the validity of a sale in favour of X himself. ‘A’ alleged that one of the Decree holders whose rights were purchased by X in Court auction was in a subsequent civil proceeding held to be not having full saleable right in the property.

The question is whether A can deny the title of X and Y? [D.J.S. 1991]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Denial of Title | X purchased a house in a Court auction. A was a tenant in it from before and attorned the tenancy in favour of X…The question is whether A can deny the title of X and Y?]

Answer

As per Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act, A tenant may not dispute the right of his landlord by saying that he had nothing in the property.” The ground of the doctrine is that inasmuch as the parties have approved that they should stand in the relation of landlord and tenant, and the one accordingly receives possession from the other and enters premises, so long as he continues in possession, he cannot be heard to deny the state of facts which he had agreed shall be taken as the basis of the arrangement; in other words, he cannot set up that the landlord had no legal title.

The law as to estoppel of a tenant under Section 116 of the Evidence Act is a recognition, and statutory assimilation, of the equitable principles underlying estoppel in relation to tenants. The section is not exhaustive of the law of estoppel.

In regard to the effect of attornment Spencer Bower on Estoppel says:

“Where a tenant, with full knowledge of the facts, either expressly in writing, or impliedly by acts, such as the payment of rent, attorns tenant to a person other than his original landlord or one who is claiming the estate or interest of such original landlord by assignment, succession, or otherwise, he is ordinarily estopped from questioning the title of the person to whom he has so attorned. But, here too, it is open to the party sought to be estopped to explain away the attornment, and so escape the estoppel to which is would otherwise be subject, by proof that, when he so attorned, he was labouring under mistake or ignorance as to material facts affecting the title of the person to whom he attorned, particularly if such error or ignorance was due to the fraud of that person.”

The facts of the present case are similar to that of Tej Bhan Madan v. IInd Additional D.J., [A.I.R. 1988 S.C. 1413].

Mainavati, who had purchased the premises in question at a court sale, conveyed the same by sale in favour of Gopinath. The appellant who was in occupation attorned his tenancy in favour of Gopinath. Gopinath, in turn, sold the property in favour of Chhaya Gupta, the third respondent.

The appellant-tenant on being asked to attorn the tenancy in favour of Chhaya Gupta declined to do so and assailed not only the derivative title of the third respondent to the property but also the validity of the sale in favour of Gopinath himself on the ground that Mainavati had not acquired the totality of all rights and interests in the property and, as such, her title was defective.

This act of disclaimer of the title of Gopinath to whom the appellant had attorned was the foundation of proceedings in ejectment. The High Court, dismissing the appellant’s writ petition, upheld the order of ejectment made by the Courts below.

To this, the contention of the appellant (tenant) was that the High Court was in error in its view that the stand taken by the appellant amounted in law to a denial of title of the landlord, and that the view of the High Court on the scope of a tenant’s estoppel was erroneous.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that:

  1. The law as to the estoppel of a tenant under Section 116 of the Evidence Act was a recognition, and statutory assimilation, of the equitable principles underlying the doctrine of estoppel in relation to tenants. The Section was not exhaustive of the law of estoppel. The section inter-alia predicated that no tenant of immovable property during the continuance of the tenancy would be permitted to deny that the landlord of such tenant had, at the beginning of the tenancy, title to such property.
  2. There could be a denial of the title of his landlord without the tenant renouncing his own character as a tenant, where, for instance, he had set up a plea of Jus-Tertii.
  3. The derivative title of the third-respondent was not denied on any other ground than the one that the vendor, Gopinath-to whom the appellant had attorned-had himself no title, the implication of which was that if appellant could not have denied Gopinath’s title by virtue of the inhibitions of the attornment, he could not question third- respondent’s title either. What appellant did, indeed, amounted to a denial of title which appellant was precluded from doing on the general principles of estoppel between landlord and tenant.

Therefore, in the present case at hand, a tenancy is created by attornment A, a landlord of a house lent it to B. Afterwards A sold the house to C and B attorns and continues to pay rent to C. Here a relationship of landlord and tenant was created between C and B so B cannot deny the title of C in view of section 116, Indian Evidence Act.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-11-13T06:32:43+05:30
Admin LB

Admin LB

Next Story