Chacko and Ors. v. Mahadevan [AIR 2007 SC 2967]
- The appellant Chacko (‘C’) owned 20 cents of land. In 1982, he sold 1 cent of this land for ₹18000. Later in 1983, he sold 3 cents of land to the defendant Mahadevan (‘M’) for a meagre amount of ₹1000.
- Then this sale was contended by ‘C’ and his wife, that it was null and void on the grounds of it being fraud, as the defendant ‘M’ had got ‘C’ under the influence of alcohol when the sale deed was executed.
- Another fact to notice was that 1 month prior to this sale ‘C’ was admitted to a mental hospital for 3 days for Alcoholic Psychosis.
- Was the sale deed vitiated owing to the unsoundness of mind as claimed by the appellant?
- Unsoundness of mind making a contract null and void.
- Sections 96 and 100 of CPC.
Judgment [Authored by J. Markandey Katju]
- The court overruled the Kerala HC order and held the sale deed was null and void on the grounds that ‘C’ was unsound at the time of execution of the deed.
- On the procedural law aspect, the court said, that only in the first appeal under §96 can delve into the question of law, and in the second appeal under §100 it cannot interfere with the factual findings of the first appellate court and can only look into a question of law.
- The court established that the deed was void as ‘C’ was of unsound mind at the time of execution, from the fact that only 10 months prior to this he had sold 1 cent of land for ₹18000, thus accordingly the price for such transaction of 3 cents should have been something around ₹54000, but it was sold for a scanty amount of ₹1000. The court said that no person in his right mind would execute such a deed, and that the maxim ‘Res Ipsa Loqiutur’ applied.
- Further, the fact that shortly before the sale ‘C’ was diagnosed of alcoholic psychosis, only substantiated that there was a good chance that ‘M’ had actually gave him alcohol which induced his psychosis making him delusional and detached from reality.
Current Day Significance
- The case law still holds good and is a landmark authority on the unsoundness of mind in a contract vitiating the consent and relieving the appellant of his contractual obligations.
- It was followed in Sudama v. Rakshpal Singh wherein the Allahabad HC held that no such circumstantial fact (The admission of Chacko in mental hospital) was found, which could vitiate the transaction owing to the mental incapacity of the appellant.
- The case law is majorly cited because of its procedural findings that the second court of appeal can’t look into the facts but only into the question of law, which was followed in Koppisetty Venkat Ratnam (Dead) Through Lrs. vs. Pamarti Venkayamma; Narayanan Rajendran And Another v. Lekshmy Sarojini And Others; Dashrath v. Pandurang among others.
1. Cent is a unit of land, 100 cents = 1 acres.
2. Psychosis is a mental disorder which makes every thing for the patient superficial, i.e., he loses touch from reality and can’t determine what is actually happening. Alcoholic Psychosis, shows its symptoms when a patient’s consumes large quantities of alcohol, triggering the hallucinations and making him delusional.
3. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908; §96 and §100.
4. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908; §96.
5. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908; §100.
6. It means “the matter speaks for itself”.
7. Sudama v. Rakshpal Singh, 2013 ADJ 6 714.
8. Koppisetty Venkat Ratnam (Dead) Through Lrs. vs. Pamarti Venkayamma, 2009 SCC 2 728.
9. Narayanan Rajendran And Another v. Lekshmy Sarojini And Others, 2009 SCC 5 264.
10. Dashrath v. Pandurang, 2009 SCC ONLINE BOM 1955.