Buyer beware is the cardinal principle applicable to everyone when it comes to purchasing a property or an article. The legal principle holds that buyers must take all precautions before entering into a deal and if they dont do so,a court of law will not come to their rescue.
Dinesh Pratap Singh learnt this the hard way. He had to first spend almost a decade entangled in a legal wrangle and eventually had to wash his hands off the Rs 7 lakh he gave towards the purchase of a property without verifying the legality of the deal.
Singh was induced into an agreement by one Rampat in March 1999. Rampat was to be allotted land in Rohini by the DDA and the agency gave him a recommendation letter. Expressing his inability to pay the earnest money,Rampat sold this recommendation letter for Rs 7 lakh to Singh and signed an agreement relinquishing all rights in his favour.
Then followed a long wait for the actual allotment of land and the issuance of a possession letter to Rampat by the DDA,following which a formal sale deed would be executed. In 2003,when Rampat was given the possession of the plot,Singh realised that the former did not intend to hand it over to him and was in fact in talks with a company for disposing it off.
Singhs communications to the DDA regarding the deal and protests failed to fetch any relief for him and Rampat sold the land to M/s Trishala Agencies Pvt Ltd.
The company,in turn,transferred the land to one Pooja in 2005. Left with no alternative,he went to court,requesting a declaration that since he was the owner of the property after making the payment,all other transactions were null and void.
In its defence,the DDA,which had registered the sale deed when Rampat sold it to the company and when the company transferred it to Pooja,said it had no knowledge about the sale of the recommendation letter and that Singh could not have any right over the property before the actual possession was given to the allottee.
After perusing the facts of the case right from the first agreement,Additional District Judge (ADJ) Kamini Lau held that all the transactions were invalid and unenforceable,for the leasehold property could not be sold before 10 years of its allotment.
However,Singh could not be accorded any reprieve because he failed to exercise due care and caution before entering into the deal and ignored this legal aspect,the court observed. Under these circumstances,Singh derives no legal right to claim any specific performance of an agreement that is per se dependent upon an event which was yet to happen and is patently illegal on the face of it being in violation of the terms of the perpetual lease. Even otherwise,the principle of Caveat Emptor requires a purchaser to be aware. The purchaser would have no remedy in case he does not use common prudence, ADJ Lau said dismissing the petition.
The court also noted that Singh could not be given the rights to recover his money from Rampat because he never asked for it in his petition and that he would have to move a separate plea for it.
While asking the DDA to take control of the land and straighten out the whole affair,the court also took to task its sub-registrar for negligently ratifying two sale deeds even before completion of the statutory period of 10 years.
It has asked the DDA chairman and the Delhi Chief Secretary to probe the alleged inaction of all officials involved in the illegal sale of the plot.