29 Aug 2023 6:11 AM GMT
The Supreme Court has reiterated that for a Hindu female to claim rights under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, she has to be in possession of the property.Section 14 states that property of a female Hindu will be her absolute property. "Any property possessed by a female Hindu, whether acquired before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as...
The Supreme Court has reiterated that for a Hindu female to claim rights under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, she has to be in possession of the property.
Section 14 states that property of a female Hindu will be her absolute property. "Any property possessed by a female Hindu, whether acquired before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as full owner thereof and not as a limited owner", Section 14(1) says.
The instant case was a civil appeal arising out of a suit filed in Kerala. The trial court, appellate court and the High Court had concurrently ruled against the plaintiffs by holding that the woman from whom they seek to derive their rights was never in possession of the property and hence Section 14(1) was not applicable.
"Section 14 sub-Section (1) had no application in this case. The essential ingredient of Section 14 subSection (1) is possession over the property", the bench comprising Justices CT Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia observed.
The bench referred to the decision in Ram Vishal (dead) by lrs. and Ors. v. Jagan Nath & Another. reported in (2004) 9 SCC 302, which held that possession was a prerequisite to sustain a claim under subsection (1) of Section 14 of the 1956 Act. It was stated in the said precedent as follows :
"As has been held by this Court, a preexisting right is a sine qua non for conferment of a full ownership under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act. The Hindu female must not only be possessed of the property but she must have acquired the property. Such acquisition must be either by way of inheritance or devise, or at a partition or “in lieu of maintenance or arrears of maintenance” or by gift or by her own skill or exertion, or by purchase or by prescription…’
On Article 136
The bench also made certain observations regarding the scope of Special Leave jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
"It is true that leave has been granted in this case. Nevertheless, the settled legal position remains that even after leave is granted and appeal is admitted, the appellants must show that exceptional and special circumstances exist to reverse the findings, or grave injustice will be done if the decision under challenge is not interfered with".
The SLP was dismissed confirming the decree of the trial court.
Related reports -Hindu Succession Act - HUF Property Is Presumed For Be For Widow's Maintenance When She Has Its Settled & Exclusive Possession : Supreme Court
Limited Estate Given To Hindu Wife By Way Of Will Can Become Absolute Under Sec14(1) Hindu Succession Act Only If Property Was Given For Her Maintenance: Supreme Court
Case : M Sivadasan (Dead) through LRs v. A.Soudamini (Dead) through LRs and others
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 721; 2023INSC774
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