G.R. No. 217365. August 14, 2019 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title: Heirs of Satramdas V. Sadhwani and Kishnibai S. Sadhwani vs. Gop S. Sadhwani, et al.

### Facts:

The core of the dispute involves two properties: a parcel of land located in Bel Air, Makati and a condominium unit in Ritz Tower, Makati. The properties were purchased by Spouses Satramdas and Kishnibai Sadhwani and were allegedly placed under the name of their son, Gop S. Sadhwani, in trust for his siblings and parents. After the parents’ death, their other children filed a Complaint for Reconveyance, Partition, Accounting, Declaration of Nullity of Documents, Injunction and Damages against Gop and his wife, Kanta, as well as Union Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Savings Bank, and the Register of Deeds of Makati. The plaintiffs claimed they were rightful owners of the properties as heirs. Gop and Kanta Sadhwani filed a motion to dismiss, citing prescription, lack of capacity to sue, and failure to state a cause of action. Union Bank and PSB also filed respective motions to dismiss. The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati dismissed the complaint, citing lack of legal capacity to sue, failure to state a cause of action, and lack of cause of action, primarily because the Sadhwani spouses were Indian nationals and thus barred from owning property in the Philippines. The petitioners appealed to the Philippine Supreme Court.

### Issues:

1. Whether the petitioners availed themselves of the correct remedy to challenge the dismissal of their complaint.
2. Whether the dismissal of the complaint was correct based on the allegations of lack of legal capacity, failure to state a cause of action, and lack of cause of action.

### Court’s Decision:

The Supreme Court dismissed the petition for review on certiorari on the grounds that the petitioners availed themselves of the wrong remedy and violated the hierarchy of courts. The Court clarified that the correct remedy for challenging an order of dismissal without prejudice is a Rule 65 petition for certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals, not a direct appeal to the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the Court agreed with the RTC that the petitioners failed to state a cause of action because they premised their claim of ownership over the subject properties on the inheritance laws, not considering that their parents, being Indian nationals, were disqualified from owning land in the Philippines.

### Doctrine:

The Supreme Court reiterated the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of lands in the Philippines, except in cases of hereditary succession. The Court highlighted that aliens are absolutely prohibited from acquiring lands in the Philippines and cannot transmit rights over such lands through succession to their children if they are disqualified from owning them due to their nationality.

### Class Notes:

– A motion to dismiss based on failure to state a cause of action should challenge only the sufficiency of the complaint’s allegations.
– The constitutional prohibition on aliens owning lands in the Philippines is absolute, with the only exception being hereditary succession.
– The legal capacity to sue is determined by the plaintiff’s ability to have a standing in court, which may be affected by relevant constitutional provisions.
– The correct procedural remedy for challenging an order of dismissal without prejudice is through a Rule 65 petition for certiorari, and not through a direct appeal.
– The doctrine of hierarchy of courts must be observed, where the Court of Appeals is the proper venue for petitions for certiorari against orders of dismissal by the trial courts.

### Historical Background:

This case underscores the Philippine legal framework’s strict regulations on land ownership by foreigners, grounded in the intention to preserve national patrimony. It illustrates the judicial system’s procedural intricacies, specifically regarding how legal remedies should be properly availed of and the significance of adhering to the principle of hierarchy of courts.


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