Supreme Court Explains Implied Revocation of Power of Attorney

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled on the concept of implied revocation of power of attorney in a property dispute between two sisters. The case, Civil Appeal No. 6495 of 2023, titled Thankamma George vs Lilly Thomas and Another, was decided by a bench comprising Justices C.T. Ravikumar and S.V.N. Bhatti.

Background:

The case revolves around a property dispute between Thankamma George (appellant) and her sister Lilly Thomas (respondent no. 1). In 1991, the sisters jointly purchased an 11.50 are plot. In 2003, Thankamma, who was working abroad, executed a power of attorney in favor of Lilly to manage the property. The dispute arose when Lilly sold a portion of the property to her husband P.M. Thomas (respondent no. 2) in 2008, allegedly without Thankamma’s knowledge or consent.

Key Legal Issues:

1. Whether there was an implied revocation of the power of attorney

2. Validity of the sale deed executed by Lilly in favor of her husband

3. Applicability of limitation period for filing the suit

Court’s Decision:

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, setting aside the Kerala High Court’s judgment and restoring the trial court’s decree in favor of Thankamma. 

On Implied Revocation:

The Court held that Thankamma’s act of jointly executing a sale deed with Lilly for a portion of the property in January 2008 amounted to an implied revocation of the power of attorney. Justice Bhatti observed:

“We have no doubt in holding that the Appellant, in terms of Section 207, impliedly revoked the authority of Respondent No. 1, and as required by Section 208, Respondent No. 2 had the knowledge of the independent dealing with the property by the Appellant. Therefore, the revocation takes effect on 18.01.2008.”

On Validity of Sale Deed:

Consequently, the Court ruled that the subsequent sale deed executed by Lilly in April 2008 in favor of her husband was void, as she no longer had the authority to act on Thankamma’s behalf.

On Limitation:

The Court rejected the respondents’ argument that the suit was barred by limitation, stating:

“From a consideration of relevant circumstances, including the filing of a grievance petition before the Legal Services Authority and the reply of the Respondents in the instant suit, we are of the view that the suit is filed within three years from the date when the right to sue first accrued to Appellant and, therefore, the suit is not barred by limitation.”

The Court directed the trial court to explore the possibility of determining the current market value of Thankamma’s half share in the property and pass a final decree accordingly, subject to the respondents paying the amount to Thankamma.

Lawyers:

Senior Advocate V. Chitambaresh appeared for the appellant, while Advocate Harish Beeran represented the respondents.

Civil Appeal No. 6495 of 2023, Thankamma George vs Lilly Thomas and Another, Supreme Court of India, July 9, 2024.

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