Supreme Court: The bench of Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi, JJ held that the brother of a married female tenant is neither a ‘heir’ as visualized under Section 3(a) nor ‘family’ within the meaning of Section 3(g) of the U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972.
In the present case, the suit property was taken on rent by the father-in-law of deceased tenant and after his death, his son became tenant of the suit property. Upon his death, his wife i.e. the appellant’s sister became the tenant of the suit property.
The Court noticed that the word ‘heir’ is not defined in the Act and hence, it has to be given the same meaning as would be applicable to the general law of succession. Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act lays down the general order of succession to the property of a female intestate who dies after the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act and the exception carved out in Section 15(2)(b) provides for a special order of succession in case of property inherited by her from her husband or her father-in-law; but its operation is confined to the case of her dying without leaving a son or a daughter or children of pre-deceased children to inherit her property. Language used in the section clearly specifies that the property inherited from the husband and father-in-law would devolve upon the heirs of husband/father-in-law from whom she inherited the property. Hence, upon death of the deceased tenant, in terms of Section 15(2)(b) of the Hindu Succession Act, in the absence of any son or daughter, the tenancy would devolve upon the heirs of her husband.
Determining whether the appellant was “family” as per Section 3(g) of the Act, the Court said that the said section defines ‘family’, in relation to landlord which includes the spouse that is husband or wife of a person, male lineal descendants which means his or her son, son’s son, son’s son’s son and so on, parents, grandparents, unmarried, widowed, divorced daughter or granddaughter, etc. The definition given in the clause is an inclusive one and is supposed to be construed in its technical meaning which implies what is not given has to be excluded as not forming part of the family of landlord or tenant. Therefore, sisters and brothers of landlord and tenant are excluded from his/her family. [Durga Prasad v. Narayan Ramchandaani, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 103, decided on 07.02.2017]