Attachment (Section 60-64)

Section 60: Property liable to attachment and sale in execution of decree.—

(1) The following property is liable to attachment and sale in execution of a decree, namely, lands, houses or other buildings, goods, money, bank-notes, cheques, bills of exchange, hundis, promissory notes, Government securities, bonds or other securities for money, debts, shares in a corporation and save as hereinafter mentioned, all other saleable property, movable or immovable, belonging to the judgment-debtor, or over which, or the profits of which, he has a disposing power which he may exercise for his own benefit, whether the same be held in the name of the judgment-debtor or by another person in trust for him or on his behalf:

Provided that the following particulars shall not be liable to such attachment or sale, namely:—

(a) the necessary wearing-apparel, cooking vessels, beds and bedding of the judgment-debtor, his wife and children, and such personal ornaments as, in accordance with religious usage, cannot be parted with by any woman;

(b) tools of artisans, and, where the judgment-debtor is an agriculturist, his implements of husbandry and such cattle and seed-grain as may, in the opinion of the Court, be necessary to enable him to earn his livelihood as such, and such portion of agricultural produce or of any class of agricultural produce as may have been declared to be free from liability under the provisions of the next following section;

(c) houses and other buildings (with the materials and the sites thereof and the land immediately appurtenant thereto and necessary for their enjoyment) belonging to an agriculturist or a labourer or a domestic servant and occupied by him;

(d) books of account;

(e) a mere right to sue for damages;

(f) any right of personal service;

(g) stipends and gratuities allowed to pensioners of the Government or of a local authority or of any other employer, or payable out of any service family pension fund notified in the Official Gazette by the Central Government or the State Government in this behalf, and political pensions;

(h) the wages of labourers and domestic servants, whether payable in money or in kind; 

(i) salary to the extent of the first one thousand rupees and two-thirds of the remainder in execution of any decree other than a decree for maintenance:

Provided that where any part of such portion of the salary as is liable to attachment has been under attachment, whether continuously or intermittently, for a total period of twenty-four months, such portion shall be exempt from attachment until the expiry of a further period of twelve months, and, where such attachment has been made in execution of one and the same decree, shall, after the attachment has continued for a total period of twenty-four months, be finally exempt from attachment in execution of that decree;

(ia) one-third of the salary in execution of any decree for maintenance;

(j) the pay and allowances of persons to whom the Air Force Act, 1950 (45 of 1950), or the Army Act, 1950 (46 of 1950), or the Navy Act, 1957 (62 of 1957), applies;

(k) all compulsory deposits and other sums in or derived from any fund to which the Provident Funds Act, 1925 (19 of 1925), for the time being applies in so far as they are declared by the said Act not to be liable to attachment;

(ka) all deposits and other sums in or derived from any fund to which the Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 (23 of 1968), for the time being applies, in so far as they are declared by the said Act as not to be liable to attachment;

(kb) all moneys payable under a policy of insurance on the life of the judgment-debtor;

(kc) the interest of a lessee of a residential building to which the provisions of law for the time being in force relating to control of rents and accommodation apply;

(l) any allowance forming part of the emoluments of any servant of the Government or of any servant of a railway company or local authority which the appropriate Government may by notification in the Official Gazette declare to be exempt from attachment, and any subsistence grant or allowance made to any such servant while under suspension;

(m) an expectancy of succession by survivorship or other merely contingent or possible right or interest;

(n) a right to future maintenance;

(o) any allowance declared by any Indian law to be exempt from liability to attachment or sale in execution of a decree; and

(p) where the judgment-debtor is a person liable for the payment of land-revenue, any movable property which, under any law for the time being applicable to him, is exempt from sale for the recovery of an arrear of such revenue.

Explanation I.—The moneys payable in relation to the matters mentioned in clauses (g), (h), (i), (ia), (j), (l) and (o) are exempt from attachment or sale, whether before or after they are actually payable, and, in the case of salary, the attachable portion thereof is liable to attachment, whether before or after it is actually payable.

Explanation II.—In clauses (i) and (ia), “salary” means the total monthly emoluments, excluding any allowance declared exempt from attachment under the provisions of clause (l), derived by a person from his employment whether on duty or on leave.

Explanation III.—In clause (I) “appropriate Government” means—

(i) as respects any person in the service of the Central Government, or any servant of a Railway Administration or of a cantonment authority or of the port authority of a major port, the Central Government;

(iii) as respects any other servant of the Government or a servant of any other local authority, the State Government.

Explanation IV.—For the purposes of this proviso, “wages” includes bonus, and “labourer” includes a skilled, unskilled or semi-skilled labourer.

Explanation V.—For the purposes of this proviso, the expression “agriculturist” means a person who cultivates land personally and who depends for his livelihood mainly on the income from agricultural land, whether as owner, tenant, partner or agricultural labourer.

Explanation VI.—For the purposes of Explanation V, an agriculturist shall be deemed to cultivate land personally, if he cultivates land—

(a) by his own labour, or

(b) by the labour of any member of his family, or

(c) by servants or labourers on wages payable in cash or in kind (not being as a share of the produce), or both.

(1-A) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, an agreement by which a person agrees to waive the benefit of any exemption under this section shall be void.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to exempt houses and other buildings (with the materials and the sites thereof and the lands immediately appurtenant thereto and necessary for their enjoyment) from attachment or sale in execution of decrees for rent of any such house, building, site or land. 


Section 61: Partial exemption of agricultural produce.—

The State Government may, by general or special order published in the Official Gazette, declare that such portion of agricultural produce, or of any class of agricultural produce, as may appear to the State Government to be necessary for the purpose of providing until the next harvest for the due cultivation of the land and for the support of the judgment-debtor and his family, shall, in the case of all agriculturists or of any class of agriculturists, be exempted from liability to attachment or sale in execution of a decree.


Section 62: Seizure of property in dwelling-house.—

(1) No person executing any process under this Code directing or authorising seizure of movable property shall enter any dwelling-house after sunset and before sunrise.

(2) No outer door of a dwelling-house shall be broken open unless such dwelling-house is in the occupancy of the judgment-debtor and he refuses or in any way prevents access thereto, but when the person executing any such process has duly gained access to any dwelling-house, he may break open the door of any room in which he has reason to believe any such property to be.

(3) Where a room in a dwelling-house is in the actual occupancy of a woman who, according to the customs of the country, does not appear in public, the person executing the process shall give notice to such woman that she is at liberty to withdraw; and, after allowing reasonable time for her to withdraw and giving her reasonable facility for withdrawing, he may enter such room for the purpose of seizing the property, using at the same time every precaution, consistent with these provisions, to prevent its clandestine removal.


Section 63: Property attached in execution of decrees of several Courts.—

(1) Where property not in the custody of any Court is under attachment in execution of decrees of more Courts than one, the Court which shall receive or realise such property and shall determine any claim thereto and any objection to the attachment thereof shall be the Court of highest grade, or, where there is no difference in grade between such Courts, the Court under whose decree the property was first attached.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to invalidate any proceeding taken by a Court executing one of such decrees.

Explanation.—For the purposes of sub-section (2), “proceeding taken by a Court” does not include an order allowing, to a decree-holder who has purchased property at a sale held in execution of a decree, set off to the extent of the purchase price payable by him.


Section 64: Private alienation of property after attachment to be void.—

(1) Where an attachment has been made, any private transfer or delivery of the property attached or of any interest therein and any payment to the judgment-debtor of any debt, dividend or other monies contrary to such attachment, shall be void as against all claims enforceable under the attachment.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, claims enforceable under an attachment include claims for the rateable distribution of assets.

(2) Nothing in this section shall apply to any private transfer or delivery of the property attached or of any interest therein, made in pursuance of any contract for such transfer or delivery entered into and registered before the attachment.


IMPORTANT CASE LAWS

1. What property can be attached and what is an agricultural property?

Shrimant Appasaheb Tuljaram Desai v. Bhalchandra Vithalrao Thube, AIR 1961 SC 589: “Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Code of Civil Procedure makes all saleable property, movable and immovable, belonging to the judgment-debtor and over which he has a disposing power liable to attachment and sale in execution of a decree against him. In this subjection unless the terms of the proviso came to the rescue of the judgment-debtor, all lands and houses or other buildings, goods and money, amongst other things, belonging to him would be liable to be attached. The legislature, however, recognized that it would not be expedient to leave the matter at that. Hence the proviso. The relevant clauses in order to determine what the word “agriculturist” means are clauses (b) and (c) of the proviso. Under clause (b) the tools of an artisan are exempted from attachment. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary the word “artisan” means a mechanic, handicraftsman or an artificer. The object of the legislature in exempting from attachment tools of an artisan was obviously to leave him his tools in order to enable him to make a living. Without his tools the artisan would be destitute, a situation which the legislature intended to avoid. In the case of a judgment-debtor who was an agriculturist, the legislature intended that his implements of husbandry and such cattle and seed-grain as, in the opinion of the court, were necessary to enable him to earn his livelihood as an agriculturist should be exempted from attachment. Here again, the intention of the legislature was to leave in the hands of an agriculturist sufficient means whereby he could earn his livelihood as an agriculturist. According to Shorter Oxford Dictionary one of the meanings of the word “husbandry” is the business of husbandry, that is to say, a person who tills and cultivates the soil or a farmer. The same dictionary states that one of the meanings of the word “livelihood” is means of living maintenance. It can also mean income, revenue, stipend. In the case of an agriculturist his implements of husbandry must therefore mean implements with which he tills the soil. These are saved from attachment. So far as his cattle and seed-grain are concerned, only that much is exempted which, in the opinion of the court, would be necessary to enable him to earn his livelihood and by which he could earn his maintenance. It is to be noticed that under clause (b) the land which an agriculturist tills is not exempted from attachment. The agricultural produce of the land is exempted to the extent as notified in the Official Gazette issued under Section 61 of the Code. On a fair reading of the provisions of clause (b), that which is saved to an agriculturist are his implements with which he tills the soil and such cattle and seed-grain which, in the opinion of the court, are necessary for him to use in order to enable him to maintain himself. The provisions of clause (b) in the case of an agriculturist, therefore, suggest a person who tills the soil in order to maintain himself.”


2. Purpose and Scope of Section 64(2)

Salem Advocate Bar Assn. (II) v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 344: “Section 64(2) in the Code has been inserted by Amendment Act 22 of 2002. Section 64, as it originally stood, has been renumbered as Section 64(1). Section 64(1), inter alia, provides that where an attachment has been made, any private transfer or delivery of property attached or of any interest therein contrary to such attachment shall be void as against all claims enforceable under the attachment. Sub-section (2) protects the aforesaid acts if made in pursuance of any contract for such transfer or delivery entered into and registered before the attachment. The concept of registration has been introduced to prevent false and frivolous cases of contracts being set up with a view to defeat the attachments. If the contract is registered and there is subsequent attachment, any sale deed executed after attachment will be valid. If it is unregistered, the subsequent sale after attachment would not be valid. Such sale would not be protected. There is no ambiguity in sub-section (2) of Section 64.”


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