[G.R. No. 12397. April 2, 1918. ]
FLORENCIA ANURAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANA AQUINO and RUFINA ORTIZ, administratrices of the intestate estate of Quiteria Ortiz, Defendants. ANA AQUINO, Appellant.
Luciano de la Rosa, for Appellant.
Perfecto Salas, for Appellee.
1. JUDGMENT; FRAUD IN PROCUREMENT. — There can be no question as to the right of any person adversely affected by a judgment, to maintain an action to enjoin its enforcement, and to have it declared a nullity, on the ground of fraud and collusion practiced in the very matter of obtaining the judgment, when such fraud is extrinsic or collateral to the matters involved in the issues raised at the trial which resulted in such judgment; and fraudulent collusion between an administrator and a third person resulting in an order or judgment whereby an interested person is unjustly deprived of his rights in, or to the estate under administration, has always been recognized as a sufficient ground for the grant of relief from the order or judgment thus fraudulently procured.
2. ID.; OPENING OR VACATING. — The remedies furnished in sections 113 and 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure were evidently intended to include and do in fact include every case wherein the courts should be permitted to open up cases after judgments have been entered and become final, other than the exceptional case of a judgment which appears on the face of the record (or more accurately speaking the "Book of Final Records" or Judgment Roll, sec. 387, Code of Civil Procedure) to have been entered without jurisdiction, and which is therefore a nullity which may be "stricken down or wholly disregarded" as the circumstances require, and vacated or set aside by the court wherein it was entered upon the attention of the court being directed by motion or otherwise to the fact that it is void for lack of jurisdiction in the court to enter it.
3. ID.; ID.; JUDICIAL DISCRETION. — Every consideration of expediency and justice is opposed to the uncontrolled exercise of discretion by the courts in opening up cases after judgments entered therein have become final, and our statutes having undertaken to regulate the practice and having furnished adequate remedies whereby the courts can grant relief of this kind in appropriate cases, no attempt to extend the authority of the courts beyond the prescribed limits should be tolerated.
4. ID.; ID.; IN SEPARATE PROCEEDINGS TO ENJOIN ENFORCEMENT. — What is said in the last head note must be understood as directed to the practice of reopening cases and vacating and setting aside judgments on motion, or by the courts themselves of their own volition, after such judgments have become final. This form of relief is wholly distinct from the relief which may and should be granted in separate proceedings instituted to enjoin a party from enforcing a judgment which he has obtained when it would be "against conscience to permit him to do so," and for such other further and additional relief as may be just under all the circumstances.
5. ID.; ID.; FRAUD IN EQUITY — Fraud has always been reckoned among the special abhorrences of equity, and fraud is one of the grounds upon which application is most frequently made to equity for relief or redress. It is well settled that equity will enjoin a party from enforcing a judgment which he had obtained by means of fraud. "Fraud will vitiate a judgment, and a court of equity may declare it a nullity. Equity has so great an abhorrence of fraud that it will set aside its own decrees if founded thereupon."
D E C I S I O N
The evidence of record in this case clearly discloses that the plaintiff, Florencia Anuran, is the widow of Ambrosio Aquino, deceased, to whose estate the property described in the complaint belongs; that the defendant, Ana Aquino, is the natural child of a sister of Ambrosio Aquino, deceased; that on the death of Ambrosio Aquino, one Norberto Capina was appointed administrator of his intestate estate. at the instance of Ana Aquino, the natural child of his sister; that in the course of the administration proceedings Ana Aquino, acting in collusion with the administrator, fraudulently represented to the court that Ambrosio Aquino had died intestate, leaving no heirs other than Ana Aquino a daughter of his deceased sister; that at the time when these representations were made, both Ana Aquino and the administrator well knew that the plaintiff, Florencia Anuran, was the surviving spouse of Ambrosio Aquino, deceased, and that Ana Aquino was not a legitimate but a natural daughter of the deceased sister of Ambrosio Aquino; that, without notice to the widow, Ana Aquino, acting in collusion with the administrator appointed at her instance, fraudulently procured the entry of an order in the administration proceedings dated March 12, 1912, authorizing and approving the delivery by the administrator of all property of the estate to the alleged sole heir, Ana Aquino, the defendant in this suit, and that the motion of the administrator on which this order was based was supported by the affidavit of Ana Aquino, setting forth the false and misleading statement of the alleged facts as hereinbefore indicated.
The widow, who was not a party of record in the administration proceedings, did not discover that this order had been entered until about the 14th day of February, 1914, when she promptly entered her appearance in the administration proceedings and moved that the order be set aside, and that she be declared the sole heir of the deceased, who, as she alleged, had died without leaving either ascendants, or descendants, or collateral relatives entitled to share in the estate. The court declined to entertain this motion on the ground that the alleged fraudulent order had been entered more than six months prior to the date of the motion, so that under the provisions o