Rajender Singh v. Santa Singh, AIR 1973 SC 2537

The ‘Rajender Singh v. Santa Singh (1973)’ case is a pivotal milestone in property law, particularly regarding limitations. The court meticulously analyzed Lis Pendens and its impact on limitation. It clarified that lis pendens aims to bring all parties involved in the property dispute under the court’s jurisdiction, ensuring the integrity of the legal process. By drawing on previous legal precedents, the court reaffirmed that lis pendens empowers the court to oversee the property until a final judgment is rendered. This case underscores the judiciary’s commitment to maintaining legal coherence and upholding legislative intent in property law matters.


This case pertains to the legal concept of lis pendens as outlined in Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (TPA). It examines how this doctrine is applied to the specific provisions of the Limitation Act, of 1963, highlighting the contrasts between the restrictions imposed by lis pendens and the time limits established by the Limitation Act.


The plaintiffs, being the sons of Smt. Premi and the legal heirs of Sham Singh, the original owner of the disputed plots, received a gift from Smt. Malan, Sham Singh’s widow, in 1935. This gift was divided equally between the plaintiffs and Smt. Khemi, Smt. Premi’s younger sister. Before her demise in 1944, Smt. Khemi returned her share of the gift to the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was initially filed in 1941 but was put on hold until 29th May 1946, under the Indian Soldiers (Litigation) Act, which favoured the plaintiffs. Claiming that the defendants wrongfully seized the land after a High Court ruling on 23rd November 1958, the plaintiffs then filed a possession suit.

The defendants argued that they gained full possession of the land after Smt. Khemi’s passing in 1944, asserted continuous, open, and exclusive possession adverse to others. Consequently, they contended that the plaintiffs’ suit was time-barred. While the plaintiffs sought possession, the defendants raised the issue of limitation and claimed ownership through adverse possession spanning over 12 years.

The first appellate court held that ongoing litigation prevented the adversaries from asserting their rights. Subsequently, the High Court affirmed the rightful possession of the current occupants. It pointed out that despite the plaintiffs’ attempts to reclaim the land, their endeavors failed because the initial case was still unresolved, thus preserving the occupants’ rights. As a result, an appeal was lodged before the Supreme Court.

Issues Involved

The core question at hand is whether the doctrine of lis pendens, as outlined in Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, has the effect of suspending the running period of limitation while the defendants’ lawsuit, initiated in 1940 and concluded in 1958, remained pending.


The court noted that the purpose of limitation laws is to safeguard against disruption or loss of rights acquired through equitable and just long-term enjoyment, or through a party’s negligence or inaction. Additionally, the court remarked that if Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act was intended to affect the running of limitation periods, it would have expressly excluded the time spent in litigation from the calculation. 

The exclusion of time for limitation periods is a distinct matter addressed in Part III of the Limitation Act. Moreover, the court highlighted certain prerequisites for the applicability of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, including the diligent prosecution of civil proceedings based on the same cause of action. 

Regarding the doctrine of lis pendens, the court emphasized its purpose to bring parties involved in litigation, as well as others seeking rights in immovable property under dispute, within the court’s jurisdiction, thereby preventing the defeat of the objective of pending actions.

The court elucidated that the primary purpose of the doctrine of lis pendens is to bring all parties involved in litigation, as well as any other individuals seeking rights in immovable property under dispute, within the jurisdiction of the court. This ensures that the objective of a pending legal action is not thwarted. 

Furthermore, the court referenced the case of Jayaram Mudaliar v. Ayyaswami and Ors. [1973] 1 SCR 139, where it was clarified that lis pendens, translating to a pending suit, refers to the authority, influence, or control that a court exercises over property that is the subject of ongoing litigation, extending until the final judgment is rendered.


The Court firmly rejected the application of the unfamiliar doctrine of lis pendens in opposition to the clearly defined provisions laid out in the Limitation Act, of 1963. By refusing to incorporate this concept, the Court upheld the integrity and specificity of the Limitation Act, emphasizing the importance of adhering to established legal frameworks. This decision underscores the judiciary’s commitment to interpreting laws faithfully and ensuring that legal principles are applied consistently and following legislative intent. It reaffirms the significance of legal clarity and coherence in upholding the rule of law within the Indian legal system.


This case revolves around a complex legal inquiry into how the lis pendens doctrine, outlined in Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act of 1882 (TPA), interacts with the specific constraints outlined in the Limitation Act of 1963. The dispute over land ownership stemmed from a gift given to the plaintiffs, heirs of Sham Singh, in 1935, later divided between the plaintiffs and Smt. Khemi. Following a High Court ruling, the plaintiffs contested the defendants’ alleged unlawful possession of the property, commencing legal proceedings in 1941, paused until 1946, and concluded in 1958. The central question was whether lis pendens could suspend the statute of limitations while the defendants pursued their claim. The court emphasized the purpose of limitation laws: to uphold acquired rights and prevent injustices due to negligence. Section 52 of the TPA was scrutinized, revealing no provision excluding litigation time from limitation calculations. The court underscored the prerequisites for invoking Section 14 of the Limitation Act, emphasizing that civil proceedings must stem from the same cause of action, which the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate. Clarifying “lis pendens,” the court affirmed its intention to subject all parties and claimants to the court’s jurisdiction over the disputed property to maintain the legal proceedings’ integrity. Referencing past cases, the court reaffirmed that lis pendens grants the court authority over the property until a final judgment. Ultimately, the court firmly rejected applying lis pendens against the Limitation Act’s requirements, reinforcing statutory laws’ primacy in legal interpretation and application. This verdict underscores the judiciary’s commitment to preserving legislative intent and legal coherence.

Author: Shradha Suman Rath
Christ Deemed to be University Bangalore Karnataka

Leave a Reply

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