23 Nov 2020 2:20 PM GMT
A full bench of the Kerala High Court has held that even after the dissolution of the marriage, the husband will be deemed to hold in trust the properties entrusted with him by the wife before marriage in the form of dowry.This means that Section 10 of the Limitation Act 1963, which exempts the application of limitation period to suit against trusts and trustees, will continue to apply to...
A full bench of the Kerala High Court has held that even after the dissolution of the marriage, the husband will be deemed to hold in trust the properties entrusted with him by the wife before marriage in the form of dowry.
This means that Section 10 of the Limitation Act 1963, which exempts the application of limitation period to suit against trusts and trustees, will continue to apply to such property even after the dissolution of the marriage. Therefore, limitation period will not start running even after the dissolution of marriage with respect to the claim for return of property entrusted with husband or in-laws.
A 3-judge bench comprising Justices A M Shaffique, Sunil Thomas and P Gopinath was deciding the issue whether trust created by a wife entrusting her property to her husband gets extinguished after the dissolution of marriage and whether she can initiate proceedings invoking section 10 of the Limitation Act, 1963, without any limitation of time.
The issue was referred to the full bench by a division bench which doubted the correctness of the view in Bindu K.P. v. Surendran C.K(2018) wherein it was held that the claim of the wife or ex-wife for a dowry is not barred by any length of time.
The Full Bench observed that it is settled law that when the wife entrusts with the husband any property belonging to her, a trust is created and the husband is bound to return the same to his wife. When S.10 of the Limitation Act indicates that there is no limitation for initiating any such action, in the absence of any other statute providing for a limitation, the trustee cannot take a contention that he shall not return the trust property on account of any period of limitation.
Also,as per S.6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, a statutory trust is created in respect of dowry
The bench further noted that Section 77 of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882, specifies the circumstances under which a trust is extinguished.Therefore, unless any of the eventualities mentioned u/s 77 takes place, the trust continues to operate, even though there is a dissolution of marriage.
"In the case of ornaments which are given in the form of dowry, definitely, a statutory trust is created. Even otherwise, if the ornaments owned by the wife do not form part of the dowry and if there is an entrustment of gold ornaments by the wife to the husband or his parents, a trust gets created, in which event,the trustee or trustees, as the case may be, are liable to return the same and there is no limitation for claiming the same by the wife/divorced wife", the bench observed.
The bench expressed its agreement with the dictum in Bindu K.P. v. Surendran C.K and answered the reference accordingly.
Title : Sheela KK vs N G Suresh (Mat Appeal No.358/209)
Bench : Justices A M Shaffique, Sunil Thomas and P Gopinath
Appearances : Advocate S K Balachandran.
Click here to read/download the order