Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a widow claimed possession of a property mutated in her name on the basis of the oral gift from her husband before the enforcement of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the bench of AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi, JJ said,

“Section 14(1) of the Act, 1956 clearly envisage that the possession of the widow, however, must be under some vestige of a claim, right or title or under any of the devise which has been purported under the law.”

The Court also explained the concept of mutation and said.

“the mutation of a property in the revenue records are fiscal proceedings and does not create or extinguish title nor has it any presumptive value on title. It only enables the person in whose favour mutation has been ordered, to pay the land revenue. At the same time, the effect of a declaratory decree to restore the property alienated to the estate of the alienor and until and unless the alienees are able to convince the court that they have no subsisting interest in the property, the heirs of the alienees would be entitled to the benefits of the property as per the law of succession.”

The Court, hence, held that in the instant case, the widow although was holding possession but not under any of the devise referred to under explanation to Section 14(1) of the Act, 1956 and mere possession would not confer pre­existing right of possession over the subject property to claim full ownership rights after the Act, 1956 came into force by operation of law.

[Ajit Kaur v. Darshan Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 470, decided on 04.04.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Dr. Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, J. heard a petition filed against the husband (respondent) of deceased Sundarabai who died intestate.

The petitioners contended that the suit property was received by the deceased from her parents and that the husband’s children were not her children as they were born to the respondent’s second wife. Therefore, there was no cause of action to the suit for declaration, partition and injunction filed by the respondent (as original plaintiff) since neither the respondent husband nor his children had any shares to the said properties.

The trial court partially allowed the application by rejecting the claims of the children and accepting the husband’s claim. Relying on Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act which states that in cases where a female dies intestate then the property she had inherited from her father or mother does not devolve upon the husband or his issues but upon the heirs of the deceased’s father, the High Court held that the trial court should have rejected the plaint in respect of the husband and not just his children. Further, it was held that the respondent had no cause of action to file the suit for partition of the deceased’s property. [Tarabai Dagdu Nitanware v. Narayan Keru Nitanware, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 91, decided on 15-01-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Bench comprising of Valmiki J. Mehta, J. dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant for revocation of the succession certificate granted to the legal heirs in a case filed by the sister of the deceased.

The appellant was the real sister of the deceased and she challenged the succession certificate granted to the daughter and the husband of the deceased, on the ground that they remained separated from the deceased before 35 years prior to her death, and the appellant is the nominee in the government records.

The Court took recourse to Section 15(1)(a) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, and affirmed the conclusion of the lower court that the respondents being the daughter and husband of the deceased, are her legal heirs, and they are entitled to the succession certificate. The Court followed the Supreme Court judgment in Sarbati Devi v. Usha Devi, (1984) 1 SCC 424 and stated that nomination is not a will in law, thus rejecting the plea of the appellant that there is a nomination in her favour in the government records. The High Court dismissed the appeal by holding that in the absence of any will of the deceased in favour of the appellant, only those persons who are the legal heirs of the deceased under the Hindu Succession Act, can inherit her properties. [Rampali v.  State Govt. of NCT of Delhi , 2017 SCC OnLine Del 7999, decided on 24-04-2017]