Gurmail Singh vs Udham Kaur AIR 1999 P H 300, (1999) 122 PLR 747

Topic: Gurmail Singh vs Udham Kaur AIR 1999 P H 300, (1999) 122 PLR 747

Gurmail Singh vs Udham Kaur AIR 1999 P H 300, (1999) 122 PLR 747
Gurmail Singh vs Udham Kaur AIR 1999 P H 300, (1999) 122 PLR 747

Author: Eshita Prasad a Student of Symbiosis Law School Noida 



“The facts of the given case revolve around two main parties namely Udham Kaur (original plaintiff) and her husband Harcharan Singh (original defendant no.1). Udham Kaur and Harcharan Singh were married, however, their marriage soon resulted in the desertion of the original plaintiff by original defendant no.1. In lieu of maintenance, the plaintiff and the defendant reached an agreement whereby the original plaintiff was given certain parcels of land including the land in dispute. Udham Kaur believed that she had a rightful claim to become the owner of this land, along with some adjacent land. To pursue her ownership claim and gain legal possession of the land, Udham Kaur initiated a legal proceeding known as Suit No. 100 of 1980 in the Court of Senior Sub Judge, Hoshiarpur.

Her primary objective in that legal action was to obtain a court declaration that would confirm her rights to ownership and possession of the disputed land. The legal proceedings led to a judgment and decree issued by the learned Sub-Judge 1st Class in Hoshiarpur, dated 11-2-1982. According to that decision, Udham Kaur was recognized as the holder of the disputed land, primarily due to her maintenance rights. This meant that she could enjoy the produce of the land during her lifetime. However, it was determined that legal ownership of the land would still be attributed to defendant No. 1, Harcharan Singh.

Subsequently, Udham Kaur pursued an appeal against that judgment in the hope of achieving a more favourable outcome. The case was presented before the learned Additional District Judge, who conducted a review. Eventually, the Additional District Judge rendered a verdict that acknowledged Udham Kaur as the complete owner in possession of the disputed land, as well as the adjacent land in question. That judgment effectively overturned the earlier decision and confirmed Udham Kaur’s ownership and possession rights over the land in dispute and the surrounding property. 

While the above-mentioned dispute was ongoing, defendant no.1 sold the disputed land to Gurmail Singh on 17th March, 1982. Upon purchasing the property, Gurmail Singh appealed to the Additional District Judge for the possession of the same claiming that he was a genuine

purchaser who had bought the land for a valuable consideration. The court dismissed this appeal. 

During this appeal, an additional argument had been put forth that since Udham Kaur was the absolute owner of the property in dispute, her passing made respondents no. 1 & 2 entitled to an equal share of the land. Additionally, it had been noted that Harcharan Singh, one of the original parties to the dispute had passed away during the appeal, and at that time, respondent no. 1, Hardev Singh (the son of Gurmail Singh and Udham Kaur) had become the sole owner of the land. Subsequently, a case was filed for the purpose of declaring the sale of the property as valid.”


  • Whether Hardev Singh is entitled to the disputed land upon the death of Udham Kaur and Harcharan Singh? 
  • Whether Gurmail Singh has a legal right to possess the land in accordance with the doctrine of lis pendens as contained in section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882? 


  • Section 41 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882: this provision states that when an individual, with the consent, either explicitly stated or reasonably implied, of the individuals concerned with real estate, appears to be the rightful owner of said property and sells it for a fee, the sale will not be subject to cancellation on the basis that the seller lacked authorization to execute it. However, this exception applies only if the buyer, after making reasonable efforts to confirm that the seller had the authority to make the sale, acted in good faith.
  • Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882: According to this provision, if a person falsely or mistakenly claims to have the authority to transfer a specific piece of immovable property and attempts to transfer it in exchange for payment, the recipient of the property can choose to make the transfer legally effective on any interest that the person claiming to transfer it may subsequently acquire in that property if the transfer agreement is still valid. This provision does not affect the rights of individuals who have received the property in good faith and for consideration without knowledge of the option to enforce this provision.
  • Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882: This section contains the doctrine of lis pendens that suggests that during the ongoing proceedings in a Court with jurisdiction, either within India or established outside India by the Central Government, in any suit or legal action that is not a collusive one and where the ownership of immovable property is directly and specifically at stake, none of the parties involved in the suit or proceeding can transfer or handle the property in a way that would impact the rights of the other parties under any decree or order that might be issued by the Court. Such transfers or actions can only be undertaken with the Court’s permission and according to its specified conditions.

Ratio Decidendi 

“In the case of Gurmail Singh v. Udham Kaur AIR 1999 P&H 300, the court acknowledged that Harcharan Singh, the husband of Udham Kaur, had engaged in fraudulent behaviour by selling the land to Gurmail Singh while knowing that there was an ongoing legal dispute with the original plaintiff. As per the ratio, after Udham Kaur’s death, Harcharan Singh became the natural heir and inherited her property. Upon Harcharan Singh’s death, the property passed on to his son, Hardev Singh.

The court determined that even though the appellant couldn’t take advantage of Section 41 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, he could benefit from Section 43 of the said Act. Since Harcharan Singh had inherited half of Udham Kaur’s share after her death, he could not contest the sale he had made to Gurmail Singh. This implied that the appellant’s right to the extent of Harcharan Singh’s share was valid and unaffected.

Consequently, the appellant was granted the right to half of the share in the disputed property. Further, the court allowed the appeal based on the above grounds, set aside the judgments and decrees of the lower courts, and dismissed the suit with no order for costs.

In essence, the court’s decision favoured the appellant and granted him half of the share in the disputed property, while dismissing the claims of other parties involved in the case.


The central issue in this case revolves around the ownership of a disputed piece of land following the death of the original plaintiff Ms. Udham Kaur. While the initial judgement of the court only granted the plaintiff her right to enjoy the produce of the land and not the actual ownership, an appeal led to a subsequent judgement that recognized her as the complete owner of the disputed land. 

A key element of this case is the sale of the disputed land to Gurmail Singh by Harcharan Singh who was fully aware of the ongoing legal dispute between him and his wife. In deciding this matter, the court correctly applied section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 which contains the doctrine of lis pendens. The doctrine of lis pendens prohibits parties involved in a legal suit regarding immovable property from transferring or dealing with the property in a way that affects the rights of other parties under any decree or order issued by the court. Upon reading the case in detail, it becomes apparent that Mr. Harcharan Singh sold the plaintiff’s share of the property to the appellant only to frustrate the claim of Udham Kaur before the court. This highlights the malafide intent of the defendant to deny the plaintiff of the property that she is legally entitled to. 

In light of section 41 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the reason why the appellant Gurmail Singh could not claim the disputed property was because this section only applies to that individual who is an “ostensible owner” of a property. To become an ostensible owner, a person has to show that they are acting on the express or implied consent of the actual owner of the property. In this case, Gurmail Singh failed to obtain the consent of Udham Kaur before acting as the owner of the property. Instead, he bought Udham Kaur’s share of the property from Harcharan Singh knowing that he was selling his wife’s property in order to alienate her from her right to maintenance. As per the arguments presented by the learned counsel appearing for the respondent, Gurmail Singh was residing with Harcharan Singh during the ongoing dispute between him and his wife, thus he was fully aware of the circumstances and yet decided to purchase the disputed land knowing that its ownership rights are subjudice. 

Learned Counsel appearing for the appellant cited the case of Avtar Singh v. Hazura Singh AIR 1984 P&H 211 wherein it was held that in the State of Punjab. In this case, it was established that in Punjab, where verbal property transfers were legally accepted, the mandatory inspection of records at the registration office was not an absolute requirement when safeguarding the rights of the transferee under Section 41 of the Act. Nevertheless, it was also clarified that a careful examination of the specific facts and circumstances of each case was essential to ascertain whether relying solely on the revenue record, without checking the registration office records, would be advantageous to a transferee under Section 41 of the Act.

In this context, it is important to note that the details of this particular case varied from this case and was thus not taken into consideration by the court. 

Section 43 of Transfer of Property Act, 1882 allows the recipient of property to enforce the transfer if the seller falsely or mistakenly claims the authority to transfer the property. In this case, since Harcharan Singh had inherited half of Udham Kaur’s share following her death, he could not challenge the sale he had made to Gurmail Singh. 

In conclusion, the court’s decision appears to be well-reasoned and supported by the application of relevant legal principles. It correctly considered the implications of Sections 41 and 43 of the Transfer of Property Act, ultimately granting Gurmail Singh partial ownership of the disputed land. The court’s thorough analysis and consideration of the facts and law make its decision appear just and legally sound.


The legal dispute over ownership of a contested land, involving Udham Kaur, Harcharan Singh, Gurmail Singh, and Hardev Singh, underscores the intricate nature of property conflicts and the scrupulous application of pertinent legal provisions.

A crucial element of the case was Harcharan Singh’s sale of the disputed land to Gurmail Singh, despite being aware of the ongoing legal dispute with his wife, Udham Kaur. The court aptly applied Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, which prohibited parties from transferring property in a manner that could adversely impact the rights of others under court orders. Harcharan Singh’s sale was perceived as an attempt to obstruct Udham Kaur’s legitimate claim, leading the court to rightfully dismiss Gurmail Singh’s appeal.

Section 41 of the Act, addressing ostensible ownership, did not apply to Gurmail Singh, as he failed to secure Udham Kaur’s consent before acting as the property’s owner. His awareness of the ongoing dispute and his deliberate purchase of the disputed land, fully informed of the circumstances, weakened his claim.

Furthermore, Section 43 of the Act allowed the transfer to be enforced, as Harcharan Singh inherited a portion of Udham Kaur’s share following her demise, precluding him from contesting the sale to Gurmail Singh.

The court’s decision was well-grounded, rooted in a meticulous analysis of relevant legal principles and the specific case facts. It upheld the parties’ rights in accordance with the law, granting Gurmail Singh partial ownership of the disputed land while dismissing the claims of other involved parties. This case serves as a reminder of the paramount importance of legal clarity and transparency in property transactions and disputes, ensuring that rightful ownership is duly recognized and protected through due legal processes.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *