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Right Of Pre-Emption Is A ‘Very Weak Right’; Cannot Be Exercised Recurringly: SC

The right to pre-emption is a “very weak right” and is capable of being defeated by all legitimate methods including the claim of superior or equal right, the Supreme Court has reiterated. The bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Dinesh Maheshwari observed that right of pre-emption is a right of substitution which cannot be exercised recurringly, but only once. The question considered in this appeal was whether the limitation shall commence from the first sale deed after coming into force of the Rajasthan Pre-Emption Act, 1966 or from any other subsequent sale on the basis of Article 97 of the Limitation Act, 1963? In this case, the plaintiff sought to enforce such right after three sale transactions had taken place in the past involving the subject immovable property in the years 1945, 1946 and 1966. A sale deed dated 10.01.1974 was challenged by the plaintiff seeking a decree of pre-emption. The Trial Court noted that even prior to the coming into force of the said Act, laws of pre-emption did exist in Ajmer. The sale deed dated 5.11.1966 came into existence after the said Act came into force. It was finally held that without challenging that sale deed, the suit would not be maintainable and would be barred by limitation. The First Appellate Court upheld this view. The High Court, allowing the appeal, held that the earlier sale deeds would have to be assailed and concluded that each sale of such property gives a fresh cause of action.

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