Supreme Court: In a suit where the Karta of a Joint Hindu Family, consisting of himself, his wife and his son, had alienated a property due to legal necessity without the signature of his son, the bench of MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ that the Karta was entitled to execute the agreement to sell and even alienate the suit property and the absence of signature of a coparcener would not nullify the rights and liabilities arising from the agreement to sell.
In the case at hand, one K. Veluswamy, as a Karta of the joint Hindu family, executed the agreement to sell of the suit property for Rs.29 lakhs and had received Rs.4 lakhs in advance from the appellant. His son, V. Manjunath, challenged the alienation and the Karnataka High Court gave him a favourable verdict.
While accepting that K. Veluswamy did execute the agreement to sell for the suit property for Rs.29 lakhs and had received Rs.4 lakhs as advance, the Karnataka High Court held that the agreement to sell is unenforceable as the suit property belongs to the joint Hindu family consisting of three persons, K. Veluswamy, his wife V. Manimegala and his son V. Manjunath and, therefore, could not have been executed without the signatures of V. Manjunath.
The Supreme Court took note of the agreement to sell which stated that the subject property is a joint Hindu family property, enjoyed jointly and that the Katha is in the joint names. The executants were in need of funds to meet the domestic necessities and, consequently, had agreed to sell the suit property. As per the agreement, if any dispute arose with regard to the sale transaction, it would be solved by the executants personally at their own risk and cost. Furthery, if there was any loan, mortgage, revenue arrears, etc. over the property, the same shall be cleared by the executants so as to execute and register the sale deed in favour of the appellant. However, the agreement to sell does mention that it would be also executed by V. Manjunath.
Important rulings on right of the Karta to execute agreement to sell or sale deed of a joint Hindu family property
Sri Narayan Bal v. Sridhar Sutar, (1996) 8 SCC 54
A joint Hindu family is capable of acting through its Karta or adult member of the family in management of the joint Hindu family property. A coparcener who has right to claim a share in the joint Hindu family estate cannot seek injunction against the Karta restraining him from dealing with or entering into a transaction from sale of the joint Hindu family property, albeit post alienation has a right to challenge the alienation if the same is not for legal necessity or for betterment of the estate. Where a Karta has alienated a joint Hindu family property for value either for legal necessity or benefit of the estate it would bind the interest of all undivided members of the family even when they are minors or widows. There are no specific grounds that establish the existence of legal necessity and the existence of legal necessity depends upon facts of each case. The Karta enjoys wide discretion in his decision over existence of legal necessity and as to in what way such necessity can be fulfilled. The exercise of powers given the rights of the Karta on fulfilling the requirement of legal necessity or betterment of the estate is valid and binding on other coparceners.
Kehar Singh (D) v. Nachittar Kaur, (2018) 14 SCC 445
Once the factum of existence of legal necessity stood proved, then, in our view, no co-coparcener (son) has a right to challenge the sale made by the karta of his family. The plaintiff being a son was one of the co-coparceners along with his father Pritam Singh. He had no right to challenge such sale in the light of findings of legal necessity being recorded against him. It was more so when the plaintiff failed to prove by any evidence that there was no legal necessity for sale of the suit land or that the evidence adduced by the defendants to prove the factum of existence of legal necessity was either insufficient or irrelevant or no evidence at all.
Ruling on facts
Considering the settled legal position, the Court held that signatures of V. Manjunath, son of Karta – K. Veluswamy, on the agreement to sell were not required. K. Veluswamy being the Karta was entitled to execute the agreement to sell and even alienate the suit property. Absence of signatures of V. Manjunath would not matter and is inconsequential.
[Beereddy Dasaratharami Reddy v. V. Manjunath, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1236, decided on 13.12.2021]
*Judgment by: Justice Sanjiv Khanna