Money is the root of all evil and money is at the root of property. Whether it is a house or a flat. Skyrocketing prices of real estate in Delhi has ensured that the worst side of human nature is exposed in family relationships.
How does a typical property case start?
It starts with a family with multiple real brothers/sisters, a property, a doubt in the ownership and usually a builder interested in the property (if it is a house and not a flat).
The various children have ego issues with each other and within themselves. This includes jealousy for the other persons success and simple greed. If that is not the case then a builder comes along who wants that property and doesn’t want to pay full price. He plants the seed of greed in one of the siblings head.
Then one of the brothers/sisters files a suit of partition against his/her siblings. Usually only those people are made party to the suit who have a right in the property and have not explicitly signed away that right.
The person filing the case becomes the plaintiff and the person(s) against whom it is filed are defendants.
Obviously to file a case one has to go to a lawyer. Not many lawyers are going to tell you not to file a case and settle it outside the court. Most lawyers are going to tell you that your case is winnable. The person filing the case is already pumped up and aching to go. Ego rules the brain.
Property cases are good because they take a long time and provide a lawyer with regular income.
The real fun and games begin once the notice is served to the defendants. Especially if they happen to be neighbours. This activates the ego of the defendants. All ties are broken. No one goes to the other persons house and obviously every move is treated with utmost suspicion. From that day all communication takes place through the lawyers.
Initially the plaintiff is really pumped up. Comes to each hearing. Then as the case gets more complicated with the defendant’s lawyer throwing punches and mixing up things a single case gives birth to multiple cases in different courts.
This obviously reduces the enthusiasm of the plaintiff but stil the ego is there. So he starts coming only for the crucial hearings (which happen once in 3-4 months). All this while both the lawyers are pretending to be gearing up for the fight of their life. This also ensures their clients that yes things are progressing.
As months turn into years and a grand tour of the courts of Delhi begins for both the sides, enthusiasm starts waning and the egos start getting crushed. Then only the most important hearings are attended.
After 4-5 years the ego of both the sides is completely crushed. That is when the lawyers start whispering about a compromise. A property case, while giving decent money over a few years, is a bit like a milk giving animal. There comes a time when you can make more money by slaughtering the animal and selling the meat than by milking it. Lawyers are usually expert at recognising this. They know if a compromise takes place they will get a lump sum of cash which would be at percentage of the property value.
It takes about a year for both the lawyers to bring the parties on to the table for a compromise. The most common compromise is everyone gets equal share. Once a compromise has taken place the plaintiffs move the court to pass a compromise decree under Order 23 Rule 3 of the Civil Procedure Code of India.
This puts the courts seal on the compromise. It is not a ‘decision’ by the court so it does not preclude further litigation thru ‘res judicata’.
Once the compromise is achieved and all the paperwork is done and over with the lawyer will do a bit of show off in front of the other side to convince their client that they managed to do a brilliant job and that they were in complete control all the time. Furthermore they will show that it was their side who were sensible and generous therefore decided to give a share to the other side.
All in all in any kind of a case one must always remember:
The judge, the lawyers and the legal staff are all actors.
The courtroom is the stage.
The case is a drama.
The poor people caught up in litigation are the hapless victims/spectators who see their fortunes rising and falling without having any control on the acting or the script.
So remember… before you file a case make sure you have tried talking to the other person.