Document how to read

A document, as is well known, must be construed in its entirety. Reading the said in its entirety, there cannot be any doubt whatsoever that it was a deed of sale. It satisfies all the requirements of a conveyance of sale as envisaged under Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act.

In Bishwanath Prasad Singh vs. Rajendra Prasad and Anr. (2006) 4 SCC 432, this Court held :

“16. A deed as is well known must be construed having regard to the language used therein. We have noticed hereinbefore that by reason of the said deed of sale, the right, title and interest of the respondents herein was conveyed absolutely in favour of the appellant. The sale deed does not recite any other transaction of advance of any sum by the appellant to the respondents which was entered into by and between the parties. In fact, the recitals made in the sale deed categorically show that the respondents expressed their intention to convey the property to the appellant herein as they had incurred debts by taking loans from various other creditors.

It was furthermore observed :

“19. It is of some significance to note that therein the expressions “vendor”, “vendee”, “sold” and “consideration” have been used. These expressions together with the fact that the sale deed was to be executed within a period of 23 months i.e. up to June 1978, evidently the expression “vaibulwafa” as a condition was loosely used.

Furthermore, the agreement was also executed for a fixed period. The other terms and conditions of the said agreement (ekrarnama) also clearly go to show that the parties understood the same to be a deed of reconveyance and not mortgage or a conditional sale.

The terminology “vaibulwafa” used in the agreement does not carry any meaning. It could be either “bai-ul-wafa” or “bai-bil-wafa”.

It will bear repetition to state that with a view to ascertain the nature of a transaction the document has to be read as a whole. A sentence used or a term used may not be determinative of the real nature of transaction.”

Despite the fact that the term ‘baib-ul-wafa’ was used in the transaction, this Court held that the document in question was a deed of reconveyance and not a mortgage with conditional sale, stating :

“23. Baib-ul-wafa, it was held by the trial court connotes only an agreement for sale. In terms of Section 91 of the Evidence Act, if the terms of any disposition of property is reduced to writing, no evidence is admissible in proof of the terms of such disposition of property except the document itself.”

It relied upon a decision of this Court in Ishwar Doss Jain vs. Sohan Lal (2000) 1 SCC 434 and Roop Kumar vs. Mohan Thedani (2003) 6 SCC 595 to which we would revert to a little later.

 Indisputably when a true character of a document is questioned, extrinsic evidence by way of oral evidence is admissible. {See R. Janakiraman vs. State Rep. by Inspector of Police, CBI, SPE, Madras (2006) 1 SCC 697 para 24); Roop Kumar vs. Mohan Thedani (2003) 6 SCC 595, para 19); and State Bank of India and Anr. vs. Mula Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd. (2006) 6 SCC 293 paras 23 to 32