The Bombay High Court has held that certificate of purchase cannot be conclusive proof of title vis-à-vis joint tenants of a land.
Justice Anuja Prabhudessai held that in case of a joint family property, the certificate of purchase issued in the name of karta or an elder of the family is actually for or on behalf of the joint family.
The court was hearing an appeal against judgment of a Joint District Judge, Thane, dated January 24, 1990, wherein compensation for sale of a land in Thane was directed to be divided equally between descendants of co-tenants Vithu and Gajanan.
The government acquired the said piece of land measuring 1 acre 26 gunthas and 8 annas in 1973 for Rs. 57,000 approximately.
Changa Agaskar was the original tenant of the said land and after his death, his two sons, Vithu and Gajanan, used to cultivate the land together as a joint family property.
Vithu claimed that he had purchased the said land in the proceedings under Section 32(G) of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural land Act. He further claimed that upon paying the purchase price, the certificate of purchase under Section 32 M of the Act was issued in his favour on July 20, 1966. The original claimant, therefore, claimed that being the exclusive owner, he was entitled to receive the entire compensation amount.
However, descendants of Gajanan claimed that the land was never partitioned and that even after the death of Changa and Gajanan, they continued to cultivate the land as a joint family property. The respondents denied that Vithu was the sole tenant/purchaser of the property. They have stated that Vithu had paid the purchase price of the acquired land out of the sale proceeds of the joint family land. The respondents, therefore, claimed that being the co-tenants of the property, they were entitled to 50 percent of the compensation.
After examining the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, the court noted that it is clear that an undivided Hindu family can be a tenant within the meaning of Section 2(18) of the Act. Thereafter, the court looked at the land survey records, mutation entries and said:
“It is thus clear that the original claimant Vithu was not a tenant of the said land in his personal or individual capacity but had only inherited the tenancy rights upon the death of Changa. The original claimant Vithu had therefore failed to prove that he was the sole tenant of the said property. The claimant had also not adduced evidence to prove that the subject property was partitioned during the lifetime of Vithu and Gajanan or that they were cultivating the property or their respective shares separately. The reference court was therefore perfectly justified in holding that the acquired land was a joint family property.”
The land records revealed that the original claimant Vithu had subsequently got his name entered in the survey records, by bracketing the name of Gajanan. He had also purchased the property under Section 32G and a certificate of purchase was issued in his name. It is to be noted that no notice was given to the respondents before deleting/bracketing the name of Gajanan from the survey records, the court said.
Thus, the court rejected the appeal against judgment of the District Judge in Thane and said:
“Under such circumstances, the certificate of purchase issued in the name of Vithu, would be for and on behalf of the joint family. The said certificate would at the most be conclusive proof of purchase against the owner of the land. The tenancy rights of the joint tenants cannot be negated solely on the ground that the certificate of purchase was issued in favour of Karta of a joint family or any elderly person of a joint family. Hence, the certificate of purchase cannot be the conclusive proof of title, vis-a-vis the joint tenants.”