Land Dispute: Burden of Proof Case Involving Plaintiff-First Respondent vs. Appellant-Defendant

In a significant legal battle over land ownership, the Supreme Court of India recently issued a judgment in the case of plaintiff-first respondent against the appellant-defendant. The dispute revolves around the cancellation of a sale deed and the authenticity of a power of attorney related to inherited property. The Court addressed the crucial issue of burden of proof in this complex case.


  • First respondent filed a suit against the defendant for cancellation of a sale deed dated 10 May, 1995.
  • Plaintiff claimed ownership and possession of the property in question inherited from her father.
  • Alleged that defendant prepared a forged power of attorney in plaintiff’s name to sell the property at a lower price.
  • Plaintiff asserted the sale deed was never acted upon as she had not received the full sale consideration.
  • Trial court framed multiple issues including cancellation of sale deed, authenticity of power of attorney, ownership, and possession.
  • Both parties presented oral and documentary evidence in defense.
  • Defendants in the suit were identified as the sons of plaintiff’s great grandfather.
  • Various legal contentions were raised by both parties during the trial.
  • The trial Judge dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiff-first respondent on 19 January, 2001.
  • The first appeal was also dismissed on 27 August, 2001.
  • The High Court admitted the second appeal based on substantial questions of law regarding burden of proof on the plaintiff/appellant.
  • The High Court, considering the plaintiff-first respondent as an illiterate lady, placed burden of proof on the appellant-defendant.
  • The burden was placed on the appellant-defendant to prove that the alleged power of attorney was not a result of fraud and misrepresentation.
  • The High Court set aside the judgments of the lower Courts and remitted the matter back for a fresh decision.

Also Read: Restitution Order in the Case of Temple Management: High Court vs. State


  • The copy of the plaint filed by the plaintiff-first respondent does not mention her as a pardanasheen illiterate lady.
  • The High Court’s examination of the plaintiff’s status as a pardanasheen illiterate lady is considered unsustainable due to the lack of pleading on record.
  • The trial Judge framed issues based on the pleadings on record, all of which were decided against the plaintiff-first respondent.
  • The High Court erred in shifting the burden of proof on the appellant-first defendant to establish that the document was explained to the plaintiff-first respondent, as it was not mentioned in the pleadings.
  • The burden of proof should have been on the defendant-appellant to establish the genuineness of the power of attorney
  • The plaintiff-first respondent is a pardanasheen illiterate lady, making it challenging for her to prove the forgery herself
  • The trial judge erred in placing the burden of proof on the plaintiff-first respondent
  • The High Court correctly identified this error in their judgment
  • No further interference from this Court is warranted in this matter

Also Read: Land Dispute: Legal Battle between Smt. Harinder Singh Ghuman and Lt. Col. Paramjit Singh Dhillon


  • The High Court admitted the appeal without factual foundation and framed two substantial questions of law not supported by pleadings on record
  • The plaintiff-first respondent filed Suit No. 155 of 1996 before the Civil Judge (J.D.), Roorkee
  • The plaint did not mention that the plaintiff-first respondent is a pardanasheen illiterate lady
  • The plaint instead alleged a conspiracy by defendant nos. 1, 2, and 3 to grab the plaintiff’s land
  • A power of attorney was prepared and registered in the plaintiff’s name on 25 April 1995, leading to the sale of the suit land
  • In the ordinary course, the burden of proof lies on the party attacking
  • The plaint did not establish that the lady was a pardanasheen illiterate entitled to protection of law.
  • The burden of proof regarding alleged fraud in the power of attorney was on the defendant.
  • The High Court erred in reversing the concurrent findings of the lower courts.
  • The judgment was found to be not sustainable due to this error.

Also Read: Land Dispute Resolution: Supreme Court Judgement on Intervention in Trust Sale Proceedings


  • The appeal succeeded and was allowed.
  • Any pending application(s) were disposed of.
  • No costs were awarded in the case.
  • The judgment of the High Court in the second appeal dated 18 August, 2008 was set aside.


Case Number: C.A. No.-007137-007137 / 2010

Click here to read/download original judgement

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