When in an agreement it is stated that the property cannot be sold without concurrence of the three brothers in writing, there cannot be any doubt about its meaning. It means what it says which is that should a brother want to sell the property, the other two brothers must agree in writing. This clause cannot be described as vague. This is different from the aspect as to whether it is a clog on ownership or whether it is otherwise unenforceable but it cannot be described as being vague. The second contention is that when a decision is taken by the brothers permitting sale by a third brother, then, first preference is to be given to both the other brothers. What is intended is that after the written concurrence is obtained for selling in order that property is not sold to a third party/stranger, the other two brothers are given an opportunity to buy that property. This portion of the clause cannot also be described as vague as such. No doubt, it could be argued that the price at which the offer is to be made is not expressly mentioned. It only contemplates a preferential offer being treated as a condition precedent to a brother affecting a sale outside of a family to a stranger. The price can only be understood as market price which would be the fair price. Tilak Raj Bakshi v. Avinash Chand Sharma, (2020) 15 SCC 605.
Category Archives: Family Law
In Hari Shankar Singhania v. Gaur Hari Singhania, (2006) 4 SCC 658 it was held as under:
“A family settlement is treated differently from any other formal commercial settlement as such settlement in the eye of the law ensures peace and goodwill among the family members. Such family settlements generally meet with approval of the courts. Such settlements are governed by a special equity principle where the terms are fair and bona fide, taking into account the well – being of a family. Technicalities of limitation, etc. should not be put at risk of the implementation of a settlement drawn by a family, which is essential for maintaining peace and harmony in a family.” Tilak Raj Bakshi v. Avinash Chand Sharma, (2020) 15 SCC 605.
As held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Anurag Mittal v. Shaily Mishra Mittal reported in (2018) 9 SCC 691, the object of Section 15 of Hindu Marriage Act is to provide protection to the person who had filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that such appeal was not frustrated. The protection afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person contesting the decree of divorce. It was held as under:—
“It is necessary to state how the question before us has already been settled by the decision in Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258. Even when the words of the proviso were found to be prohibitory in clear negative terms — “it shall not be lawful”, etc., the Hon’ble Court held that the incapacity to marry imposed by the proviso did not lead to an inference of nullity, vide para 9 of Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258. It is all the more difficult to infer nullity when there is no prohibition; where there are no negative words but on the other hand positive words like “it shall be lawful”. Assuming that a marriage contracted before it became lawful to do so was unlawful and the words create a disability, it is not possible to infer a nullity or voidness vide paras 9 and 10 of Lila Gupta case…
“………. What is held in essence is that if a provision of law prescribes an incapacity to marry and yet the person marries while under that incapacity, the marriage would not be void in the absence of an express provision that declares nullity. Quae incapacity imposed by statute, there is no difference between an incapacity imposed by negative language such as “it shall not be lawful” or an incapacity imposed by positive language like “it shall be lawful (in certain conditions, in the absence of which it is impliedly unlawful)”. It would thus appear that the law is already settled by the Court that a marriage contracted during a prescribed period will not be void because it was contracted under an incapacity. Obviously, this would have no bearing on the other conditions of a valid marriage.”
In Leela Gupta v. Laxmi Narain reported in (1978) 3 SCC 258, it was held thus:
“…..the interdict of law is that it shall not be lawful for a certain party to do a certain thing which would mean that if that act is done it would be unlawful. But whenever a statute prohibits a certain thing being done thereby making it unlawful, without providing consequence for the breach, it is not legitimate to say that such a thing when done is void because that would tantamount to saying that every unlawful act is void.”
“….Merely because each one of them is prohibited from contracting a second marriage for a certain period, it could not be said that despite there being a decree of divorce for certain purposes the first marriage subsists or is presumed to subsist…….. An incapacity for second marriage for a certain period does not have effect of treating the former marriage as subsisting…..”
“Thus, examining the matter from all possible angles and keeping in view the fact that the scheme of the Act provides for treating certain marriages void and simultaneously some marriages which are made punishable yet not void and no consequences having been provided for in respect of the marriage in contravention of the proviso to Section 15, it cannot be said that such marriage would be void”
In any case, the bar of Section 15 of Hindu Marriage act is not at all attracted where the appeal from the decree of divorce had been filed almost a year after expiry of the period of limitation for filing an appeal. Section 15 permits a marriage after dissolution of a marriage if there is no right of appeal against the decree, or even if there is such a right to appeal, the time of appealing has expired without an appeal having been presented, or the appeal has been presented but has been dismissed. The bar, if any, under Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act applies only if there is an appeal filed within the period of limitation, and not afterwards upon condonation of delay in filing an appeal unless of course, the decree of divorce is stayed or there is an interim order of Court, restraining the parties or any of them from remarrying during the pendency of the appeal. Krishnaveni Rai v. Pankaj Rai, Cr. Appeal No. 321 of 2020 (Arising Out of SLP (Cri) No. 7903 of 2019).
Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Kale v. DDC, 1976 RD 355 (SC), has observed that family settlements or arrangements are governed by a special equity and should be enforced if they are honestly made. It has further been observed that ordinarily the courts would lean in favour of family arrangements and technical or trivial grounds are to be overlooked and further that Rule of estoppel is to be pressed into service to prevent unsettling of a settled dispute. The said observations have been made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court by recognizing the virtue of family settlement amongst members of a family descending from a common ancestor as such members by entering into family settlement make an attempt to bury their differences and resolve the conflicts or claims or disputes in titles once for all in order to buy peace of mind and to bring harmony and goodwill in the family. In Bhagwan Krishan Gupta (2) v. Prabha Gupta, 2009 (107) RD 66, wherein it has been held that when there is a family settlement, evidently, technicalities in the matter of construction should not be insisted upon. Ram Asrey v. DDC, 2020 (146) RD 32.
The law relating to a Joint Hindu Family governed by the Mitakshara law has undergone unprecedented changes. The said changes have been brought forward to address the growing need to merit equal treatment to the nearest female relatives, namely, daughters of a coparcener. The section stipulates that a daughter would be a coparcener from her birth, and would have the same rights and liabilities as that of a son. The daughter would hold property to which she is entitled as a coparcenary property, which would be construed as property being capable of being disposed of by her either by a will or any other testamentary disposition. These changes have been sought to be made on the touchstone of equality, thus seeking to remove the perceived disability and prejudice to which a daughter was subjected. The fundamental changes brought forward about in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by amending it in 2005, are perhaps a realisation of the immortal words of Roscoe Pound as appearing in his celebrated treaties, The Ideal Element in Law, that “the law must be stable and yet it cannot stand still. Hence all thinking about law has struggled to reconcile the conflicting demands of the need of stability and the need of change”.
Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, as amended, stipulates that on and from the commencement of the amended Act, 2005, the daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son. It is apparent that the status conferred upon sons under the old section and the old Hindu Law was to treat them as coparceners since birth. The amended provision now statutorily recognises the rights of coparceners of daughters as well since birth. The section uses the words in the same manner as the son. It should therefore be apparent that both the sons and the daughters of a coparcener have been conferred the right of becoming coparceners by birth. It is the very factum of birth in a coparcenary that creates the coparcenary, therefore the sons and daughters of a coparcener become coparceners by virtue of birth. Devolution of coparcenary property is the later stage of and a consequence of death of a coparcener. The first stage of a coparcenary is obviously its creation and is well recognised. One of the incidents of coparcenary is the right of a coparcener to seek a severance of status. Hence, the rights of coparceners emanate and flow from birth (now including daughters) as is evident from sub-sections (1)(a) and (b). Danamma v. Amar, (2018) 3 SCC 343
The intention of the legislation is at least to consider the rival contentions of the parties to matrimony and when there is sufficient material on record to show that the ingredients under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act are made out, and under the given circumstances there is cruelty, the Court should either make effort to settle the dispute or relationship has to be brought to a complete end. One party to the proceeding cannot be permitted to take advantage and cannot be permitted to abuse the process of law court and on the other hand simultaneously resorting to all the process of misbehaving with the husband and harassing him. Such type of attitude by the respondent (wife) cannot be permitted coupled with the fact that the order happens to be an ex parte order because the wife has deliberately avoided participating in the proceedings, despite the notice being served by the publication which would deemed to be served under law. Anirudh Guru Pratap Singh v. Harmit Kaur, 2017 (125) ALR 358.
It is settled that the property inherited by a male Hindu from his father, father’s father or father’s father’s father is an ancestral property. The essential feature of ancestral property, according to Mitakshara Law, is that the sons, grandsons, and great grandsons of the person who inherits it, acquire an interest and the rights attached to such property at the moment of their birth. The share which a coparcener obtains on partition of ancestral property is ancestral property as regards his male issue. After partition, the property in the hands of the son will continue to be the ancestral property and the natural or adopted son of that son will take interest in it and is entitled to it by survivorship. Shyam Narayan Prasad v. Krishna Prasad¸ (2018) 7 SCC 646.
In Kale v. Director of Consolidation, (1976) 3 SCC 119, it was held as under:
“By virtue of a family settlement or arrangement members of a family descending from a common ancestor or a near relation seek to sink their differences and disputes, settle and resolve their conflicting claims or disputed titles once for all in order to buy peace of mind and bring about complete harmony and goodwill in the family. The family arrangements are governed by a special equity peculiar to themselves and would be enforced if honestly made.
The object of the arrangement is to protect the family from long drawn litigation or perpetual strifes which mar the unity and solidarity of the family and create hatred and bad blood between the various members of the family. A family arrangement by which the property is equitably divided between the various contenders so as to achieve an equal distribution of wealth instead of concentrating the same in the hands of a few is undoubtedly a milestone in the administration of social justice. That is why the term ‘family’ has to be understood in a wider sense so as to include within its fold not only close relations or legal heirs but even those persons who may have some sort of antecedent title, a semblance of a claim or even if they have spes successionis so that future disputes are sealed forever and the family instead of fighting claims inter se and wasting time, money and energy on such fruitless or futile litigation is able to devote its attention to more constructive work in the larger interest of the country. Rajni Sanghi v. Western India State Motors Ltd., (2015) 16 SCC 631.