Doctrine of Lis Pendens

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The doctrine of lis pendens is recognized in India under Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. This expression lis pendens means a pending litigation. The doctrine of lis pendens is expressed in the maxim ut lite pendent nihil innovateur which means nothing new should be introduced during the pendency of a suit.

This doctrine provides that where a suit or proceedings is pending in any Court between two persons with respect to any immovable property, the property cannot be transferred or otherwise dealt with by any party, except under the authority of the court. If any party transfers or otherwise deals with that property, the transferee will be bound by the result of the suit or proceedings, whether or not he had notice of the suit or proceeding.

Illustration

There is a dispute between A and B with regard to ownership of property. A files a suit against B in Court of law. A may wither win or lose the suit. If he wins, he gets the property but if he loses, B gets the property. If during the pendency of the suit, A professing to be the owner of the property, sells it to C and the suit ends in A’s favour, no difficulty will arise. But if it ends in B’s favour, C cannot retain the property. C is bound by the decree of the court and must return the property to B. He cannot take plea that he had no notice of pending litigation.

It is observed that the doctrine of lis pendens applies only when the property has been transferred by a party to the litigation and it does not apply when property has been transferred by a stranger i.e. the person who is not a party to litigation.

Case Laws

The doctrine of lis pendens' broad aim is to keep the title to an immovable property in dispute unaffected throughout the pendency of the lis, such that the party in whose favour the title accrues at the conclusion of the lis will profit from the judgment and decree, which, if not done, renders the lis' adjudication redundant. The Privy Council followed the theory enumerated in Bellamy v. Sabine in Faiyaz Hussain v. Munshi Prag Narrain – (1907) 34 Ind App 102, quoted in AIR 1978 All 318, where they emphasized the importance of final adjudication and observed that otherwise there would be no end to litigation.

The issue was extensively discussed by the Hon'ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana in the case of Sardar Singh v. Mohan Lal Major and Others1, where it was held, citing a judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Satish Kumar and Others v. Surinder Kumar and Others – AIR 1970 SC 833, that an Arbitration Award is not merely waste paper but has legal effect and is binding. The Court also held that, given the facts of the case, Krishan Lal's actions and conduct attempted to nullify the impact of the Award by transferring a portion of the suit land to Sajjan Singh, and that Krishan Lal could not move the Schedule property to Sajjan Singh because he had no right, title, or interest in it after the award.

In the case of Iqbal Singh v. Mahender Singh and Others2, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi held that once the Arbitration proceedings begin, the suit property becomes sub-judice, and any transfer made during the pendency of the Arbitration proceedings would be subject to section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act. In the case of Swaran Singh v. Arjun Singh and Others3, the Hon'ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana held that lis pendens principles would apply to arbitral proceedings if the award has the status of a decree enforceable in a Court of Law.

  1. AIR 1990 P&H 254 

  2. 2012 SCC OnLine Del 5852 

  3. 2013 SCC OnLine P&H 26883