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Son-In-Law Has No Legal Right In Father-In-Law's Property: Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
4 Oct 2021 8:25 AM GMT
Son-In-Law Has No Legal Right In Father-In-Laws Property: Kerala High Court
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The Kerala High Court recently held that a son in law cannot have any legal right in his father in law's property and building, even if he has spent an amount for the construction of the building.

Justice N. Anil Kumar while dismissing a second appeal with costs, remarked as such:

"When the plaintiff is in possession of the property, defendant, son in law cannot plead that he had been adopted as a member of the family, subsequent to the marriage with plaintiff's daughter and has right in the property...Residence of son in law, if any, in the plaint schedule building is only permissive in nature. Hence, son in law cannot have any legal right to his father in law's property and building, even if he has spent an amount on the construction of the building."

Factual Background:

The plaintiff (respondent herein) filed an original suit before the trial court claiming for permanent injunction interdicting the defendant (his son-in-law) from trespassing into the plaint schedule property or interfering with his peaceful possession and enjoyment of the said property, which belongs to the plaintiff by virtue of a gift deed.

The plaintiff's wife and daughter had also filed for a protection order against the defendant. Although the cases were settled, the behaviour of the defendant became intolerable, which forced the plaintiff to seek a permanent prohibitory injunction restraining his entry.

It was contended that the defendant has no manner of right over the property.

The defendant (appellant herein) on the other hand contended that he had married the only daughter of the plaintiff and had been thereby practically adopted as a member of the family subsequent to the marriage. On these grounds, he maintained that he has a right to reside in the house.

The trial court however held that the plaintiff is the owner in possession of the plaint schedule property and the son-in-law has no manner of right in interfering with the possession of the plaint schedule building.

Although an appeal was moved, the first appellate court also came to the conclusion that the defendant has no manner of right to disturb the peaceful possession of the plaintiff over the plaint schedule building. The appeal was dismissed, accordingly.

Aggrieved by this, the defendant sought a regular second appeal before the High Court.

Findings:

The primary question for consideration before the Court was whether a son in law can claim any legal right in his father in law's property and building.

The Court noted that the plaintiff was paying tax to the property and to the building. He had also been residing in the plaint schedule building. It was also found to be difficult to hold that the defendant is a member of the family. The family of the plaintiff consists of his wife and daughter, the Court said.

"The defendant is the son-in-law of the plaintiff. It is rather shameful for him to plead that he had been adopted as a member of the family, subsequent to the marriage with the plaintiff's daughter."

Therefore, it was held that when the plaintiff is in possession of the property, the son in law cannot plead that he had been adopted as a member of the family, subsequent to the marriage with the plaintiff's daughter and has right to the property.

It was reiterated that the residence of son-in-law, if any, in the plaint schedule building is only permissive in nature. Hence, the Court ruled that a son-in-law cannot have any legal right in his father in law's property and building, even if he has spent an amount for construction of the building.

Upholding the decisions of the trial court and the first appellate court, the High Court observed:

"This Court does not find any error in the judgment of the first appellate court confirming the judgment and decree of the trial court by decreeing the suit for injunction simpliciter. Thus, this RSA is dismissed with costs."

Advocate Blaze K Jose appeared for the appellant and Advocate V.T Madhavan Unni represented the respondent in the matter.

Case Title: Davis Raphel v. Hendry Thomas

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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