The Supreme Court recently reiterated the principle that all assets in a Hindu Undivided Family would be presumed to be joint property belonging to all its members and that the burden to prove otherwise is on the family member asserting such claim.
“It is a settled principle of Hindu law that there lies a legal presumption that every Hindu family is joint in food, worship and estate and in the absence of any proof of division, such legal presumption continues to operate in the family. The burden, therefore, lies upon the member who after admitting the existence of jointness in the family properties asserts his claim that some properties out of entire lot of ancestral properties are his self-acquired property,” the Bench comprising Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre observed.
The Court was hearing an Appeal challenging an order passed by the Karnataka High Court in a family dispute pertaining to ownership and partition of agricultural lands. The Apex Court upheld the High Court’s order which had declared the property as joint property of the family.
The Court opined that the Appellants had failed to prove that the property was self acquired and observed, “In order to prove that the suit properties described in Schedule ‘B’ and ‘C’ were their self-acquired properties, the plaintiffs could have adduced the best evidence in the form of a sale-deed showing their names as purchasers of the said properties and also could have adduced evidence of payment of sale consideration made by them to the vendee. It was, however, not done.
Not only that, the plaintiffs also failed to adduce any other kind of documentary evidence to prove their self-acquisition of the Schedule ‘B’ and ‘C’ properties nor they were able to prove the source of its acquisition.”
It, therefore, upheld the judgments passed by the lower Courts and observed, “In our considered opinion, it was, therefore, obligatory upon the plaintiffs to have proved that despite existence of jointness in the family, properties described in Schedule ‘B’ and ‘C’ was not part of ancestral properties but were their self-acquired properties. As held above, the plaintiffs failed to prove this material fact for want of any evidence. We have, therefore, no hesitation in upholding the concurrent findings of the two Courts, which in our opinion, are based on proper appreciation of oral evidence.”