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Grandson or granddaughter is excluded from heirs in Class ­I from claiming a share in the ancestral

RADHA BAI.VS. RAM NARAYAN & ORS., CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5889 OF 2009. – 22 NOVEMBER 2019.

The bench encompassing Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari collectively pronounced the judgment on the ancestral property between the great-grandsons and great-granddaughter. The appellant asserted that she was entitled to a share in the suit property. The appellant’s father predeceased his father and grandfather thereby, his daughter claimed a share in the property which is now owned by her paternal uncle’s grandsons.

The appellant after the death of her mother came to village Barra and requested the Patwari of the village to mutate the land in her name. She was told that the land had already been mutated in the name of Ram Narayan, Jaya Narayan and Rohit Kumar ­ three sons of Sonu (paternal uncle, defendants) under the registered sale deed executed in their favor by Janakram on 21st July 1979. The suit property came to the exclusive share of Janakram and he had become the absolute owner after the death of his father (Sukhdeo).

Immediately the Appellant instituted a suit and prayed for the declaration and possession of the ancestral property in the Trial Court. The Trial Court after analyzing the evidence on record proceeded to dismiss the suit preferred by the appellant vide judgment and decree dated 24th November 2000. Being dissatisfied with the Trial Court’s order, the appellant filed an appeal in the Court of Additional District Judge, Shakti, District Bilaspur­Chhattisgarh. The Appellate Court, however, reversed the conclusion reached by the Trial Court and allowed the appeal vide judgment and decree dated 22nd January 2002. The respondents filed a second appeal before the High Court of Chattishgarh where it formulated two substantial questions of law:

  1. “Whether the plaintiff being the female had got the right to partition to the property solely belonged to Sukhdeo and devolved upon Janak Ram by survivorship after the demise of his father Sukhdeo?”Whether the suit land inherited by late Janak Ram from his father Sukhdeo, the sole owner of the same became the ancestral property for the plaintiff on the date of death of Sukhdeo in 1965 and on the date of death of Janak Ram in 1982?”

The High Court, after analyzing the factual matrix and the evidence on record opined that Appellate Court committed a manifest error and misapplied the settled legal position. The appellant assailed the aforesaid decision on the grounds of the decisions taken by this court in Gurupad Khandappa Magdum Vs. Hirabai Khandappa Magdum and Others and Ramesh Verma (Dead) Through Legal Representatives Vs. Lajesh Saxena (Dead) By Legal Representatives and Another.

However, the instant appeal takes exception to the judgment and order dated 12th February 2007 of the High Court of Chhattisgarh. Mr. Sarabjit Dutta, a learned counsel, appeared on behalf of the appellant and Mr. Manoj Prasad, learned Senior Counsel, appeared on behalf of the respondents. According to the appellant, she was claiming right in the entire share of her father since the notional partition of the coparcenary property had taken place before the death of her father and the proviso to Section 6 was also attracted. Resultantly, the interest of deceased Saheblal (appellant’s father) in the Mitakashara coparcenary property stood devolved by succession under the 1956 Act and not by survivorship was her contention. Per contra, the respondents argued that the ancestral property was succeeded by two surviving sons of Sukhdeo ­ Janakram and Pilaram equally–when the succession had opened after the death of Sukhdeo in 1965. The appellant- plaintiff was not an heir in Class – I at the relevant time. Had the appellant been a daughter of predeceased son of Sukhdeo, she may have had some chance of pursuing her claim. However, the appellant being the great­grand daughter of Sukhdeo, had no claim in the suit property in 1965.

This Court relied on the following cases: Chandrakanta and Others Vs. Ashok Kumar and Others; Hardeo Rai Vs. Sakuntala Devi and Others; Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Kanpur and Others Vs. Chander Sen and Others; Yudhishter Vs. Ashok Kumar6; Smt. Raj Rani Vs. Chief Settlement Commissioner, Delhi and Others; and State Bank of India Vs. Ghamandi Ram (Dead).

Thereupon, it concluded by stating,

“The consistent view of this Court, including three-Judge Bench, is that the grandson or granddaughter is excluded from heirs in Class­I. A priori, we uphold the view taken by the High Court that after the death of Sukhdeo in 1965, the property devolved upon his two sons Janakram and Pilaram. They succeeded in the ancestral property equally. They later affected partition in 1967, as a result of which, the property came to the exclusive share of Janakram. The father of the appellant, Saheblal, had predeceased his father Janakram and even his grandfather Sukhdeo. During the lifetime of Janakram, Saheblal could not have succeeded in the property and for the same reason, the appellant being his daughter cannot be heard to claim any right higher than that of Saheblal. Applying the settled legal position to the present case, the grounds urged by the appellant need to be rejected. Accordingly, this appeal must fail. Hence, the same is dismissed with no order as to costs. All pending applications are also disposed of in the above terms.”

View/Download Judgment: Radha Bai v. Ram Narayan

Jumanah Kader

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