Supreme Court: In the instant case the question arose that whether transfer of the gifted property was a transfer of the corpus or mere transfer of usufruct. In the instant case the appellant was transferred the property whose previous owner (deceased) had received it as gift/Hiba through a gift deed. After the owner’s demise, the legal heirs of the donor challenged the validity of the transfer to the appellant and claimed ownership over the gifted property and argued via their counsel A.D.N. Rao that the owner only had a life interest over the property. The appellant counsel G.R. Prasad relied on various interpretations and commentaries of Muslim law on the subject of Gift/ Hiba.

On perusing the arguments furthered by the counsels, referring various treatises of Muslim law on Hiba, and taking into account the language of the gift deed, the Court observed that it is necessary to look into the fact that whether the gift deed contemplated a transfer of the corpus or of the usufruct only. Distinguishing between transfer of the corpus and usufruct the Court said that transfer of corpus refers to change in ownership whereas transfer of the usufruct denotes the change in rights of property’s use and enjoyment. Taking the language of the gift deed in consideration, the Court noted that the language clearly states the transfer of absolute ownership to the donee (deceased owner) and recognised donee’s and her successors’ rights over the property and bear all its liabilities and also extinguishing the donor and his successor’s rights of claim and transfer therein. The deed further gives donee the right to further alienate the property to her children or any other person as she deems fit. Therefore, the Court held that the gift deed transferred the corpus to the owner; therefore, the further alienation to the appellant is valid. V. Sreeramachandra Avadhani v. Shaik Abdul Rahim, Civil Appeal No. 2364/2005, decided on 21.08.2014   

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnline

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