SUPREME COURT OF INDIA – THE LAW RELATING TO POWER OF ATTORNEY
Supreme Court of India
Date of Judgement: 28.01.2016
The law relating to power of attorney is governed by the provisions of the Power of Attorney Act, 1882. It is well settled therein that an agent acting under a power of attorney always acts, as a general rule, in the name of his principal. Any document executed or thing done by an agent on the strength of power of attorney is as effective as if executed or done in the name of principal, i.e., by the principal himself. An agent, therefore, always acts on behalf of the principal and exercises only those powers, which are given to him in the power of attorney by the principal. Any act or thing done by the agent on the strength of power of attorney is, therefore, never construed or/and treated to have been done by the agent in his personal capacity so as to create any right in his favour but is always construed as having done by the principal himself. An agent, therefore, never gets any personal benefit of any nature. Applying the aforesaid principle, this Court in Suraj Lamp and Industries Private Limited vs. State of Haryana & Anr. (2012) 1 SCC 656 held in paragraphs 20 and 21 as under:
“20. A power of attorney is not an instrument of transfer in regard to any right, title or interest in an immovable property. The power of attorney is creation of an agency whereby the grantor authorises the grantee to do the acts specified therein, on behalf of grantor, which when executed will be binding on the grantor as if done by him (see Section 1-A and Section 2 of the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882). It is revocable or terminable at any time unless it is made irrevocable in a manner known to law. Even an irrevocable attorney does not have the effect of transferring title to the grantee.
21. In State of Rajasthan v. Basant Nahata, (2005) 12 SCC 77, this Court held:
“13. A grant of power of attorney is essentially governed by Chapter X of the Contract Act. By reason of a deed of power of attorney, an agent is formally appointed to act for the principal in one transaction or a series of transactions or to manage the affairs of the principal generally conferring necessary authority upon another person. A deed of power of attorney is executed by the principal in favour of the agent. The agent derives a right to use his name and all acts, deeds and things done by him and subject to the limitations contained in the said deed, the same shall be read as if done by the donor. A power of attorney is, as is well known, a document of convenience. * * *
52. Execution of a power of attorney in terms of the provisions of the Contract Act as also the Powers of Attorney Act is valid. A power of attorney, we have noticed hereinbefore, is executed by the donor so as to enable the donee to act on his behalf. Except in cases where power of attorney is coupled with interest, it is revocable. The donee in exercise of his power under such power of attorney only acts in place of the donor subject of course to the powers granted to him by reason thereof. He cannot use the power of attorney for his own benefit. He acts in a fiduciary capacity. Any act of infidelity or breach of trust is a matter between the donor and the donee.”
An attorney-holder may however execute a deed of conveyance in exercise of the power granted under the power of attorney and convey title on behalf of the grantor.”
This was followed by this Court in Church of Christ Charitable Trust and Educational Charitable Society vs. Ponniamman Educational Trust, (2012) 8 SCC 706 (para 20) 43).