The Supreme Court observed on Tuesday that a Hindu father or any other managing member of a Hindu undivided family (HUF) has the power to make a gift of ancestral property only for a ‘pious purpose’ and what is understood by the term ‘pious purpose’ is a gift for charitable or religious purpose.
A bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari said: “It is well settled that a Hindu father or any other managing member of a HUF has the power to make a gift of ancestral property only for a ‘pious purpose’ and what is understood by the term ‘pious purpose’ is a gift for charitable and/or religious purpose.”
The bench added that a deed of gift with regard to the ancestral property executed ‘out of love and affection’ does not come within the scope of the term ‘pious purpose’.
“It is irrelevant if such a gift or settlement was made by a donor, i.e., the first defendant, in favour of a donee who was raised by the donor without any relationship, i.e., the second defendant. The gift deed in the instant case is not for any charitable or religious purpose,” the bench noted.
The bench added that it is trite of law that the manager of a joint family property may alienate the property only in three situations, namely, (i) legal necessity (ii) for the benefit of the estate, and (iii) with the consent of all the coparceners of the family.
“In the instant case, the alienation of the joint family property was not with the consent of all the coparceners. It is a settled law that where an alienation is not made with the consent of all the coparceners, it is voidable at the instance of the coparceners whose consent has not been obtained,” said the bench.
In the present matter, K.C. Chandrappa Gowda (plaintiff) had filed a suit against his father K.S. Chinne Gowda and a person named K.C. Laxmana for partition and separate possession of his one-third share in the suit schedule property and for a declaration that the gift or settlement executed by Gowda in favour of Laxmana as null and void.
The property in question belongs to the joint family consisting of the plaintiff, the first defendant and a person named K.C. Subraya Gowda.
It was further contended that the first defendant had no right to transfer the property in favour of the second defendant as he is not a coparcener or a member of their family.
It was contended that the second defendant was brought up by the first defendant and out of love and affection, he settled the suit property in favour of the second defendant.
The trial court had dismissed the suit, but the appellate court reversed it and decreed the suit. The Karnataka High Court upheld the appellate court judgment and dismissed the second appeal filed by the defendants. Laxmana then moved the top court challenging the high court order.
Dismissing the appeal, the bench said: “We are of the view that the settlement deed/gift deed executed by the first defendant in favour of the second defendant was rightly declared as null and void by the first appellate court and the high court.”