Etc. Vs. G. Nagarathnamma & Ors. Etc.  INSC 1138 (6 July 2009)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.4126-4127
OF 2009 (@ SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO.23606-23607 OF 2007) Gangamma etc.
.....Appellant(s) - Versus - G. Nagarathnamma & Ors.
The subject matter of challenge before this Court is the judgment
and order dated 1st December, 2006 passed by a Learned Single Judge of the High
Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Regular First Appeal 617/2004 and in the
cross objection 47/2006 filed under order 41, rule 22 against the judgment and
decree dated 28.01.04 1 passed in Original Suit No.6169/92 by the XX Additional
City Civil Judge, Bangalore City.
The dispute arose out of a partition suit filed by i) Smt.
Nagarathnamma wife of late G. Srinivas and ii) by G. Hemlata who was a minor at
the time of filing of the suit in 1992. Plaintiff was the only child of the
plaintiff No.1, who was her mother and natural guardian and she represented the
plaintiff No.2. The plaintiffs are respondent Nos. 1 & 2 before this Court.
This suit was filed for partition claiming 1/3rd share in suit
properties and also claiming separate possession by metes and bounds and for
mesne profits and other incidental reliefs.
The first defendant in the suit is the mother- in-law of the
plaintiff No.1 and the defendants 2, 3 & 4 are the daughters of the
defendant No.1 and the defendant No.5 is the son of the defendant No.1.
Defendants 6 to 14 are tenants in the suit properties.
The plaint case is Sri. Ganganna, the father-in- law of the
plaintiff No.1, expired in 1973 leaving behind his wife, three daughters and
two sons. The genological table of the family is as under:- Ganganna (Died in
1973) ! Gangamma (Pet. 1) ____________________________________________________
! ! ! ! ! Srinivas Yashoda Padma Manju Kumar S. Moorthy (son)(Died (Daughter)
(Daughter) (Daughter) (Son) in 1984) (D-2) (R-3) (D-3)(P-2) (D-4 (P-3) D-5
(P-4) ! Nagarathna (wife) (Plf. No.1) (R-1) ! Hemalatha (daughter) (Plf. No.2)
The suit properties consist of both agricultural lands and urban
properties and the plaint case is they are ancestral properties belonging to
the joint family.
further plaint case is though some of the properties stand in the name of first
defendant, they were bought benami in her name by the late Ganganna out of the
income from agricultural lands and the income of the first plaintiff's husband
who was working as an accountant in a private firm and drawing salary. He also
had a leather 3 business and had earning from running a taxi. Thus he was
contributing seven to eight thousand every month to the family and out of such
income the suit properties were purchased. The first defendant being a
housewife had no income to purchase properties. However, latter on relationship
between the plaintiff No.1 and her husband and defendant No.1 became strained
and the plaintiff No.1 and her husband had to leave the ancestral house. The
plaint case is that out of the properties those at item Nos. 1 to 4 are the
joint family properties.
In the written statement filed by the first defendant, the plaint
case was denied excepting the relationship between the parties. The other
defendants adopted the stand of the first defendant.
The Trial Court however decreed the suit for partition in part and
held that the plaintiffs are entitled to 1/6th share in the schedule property
and to separate possession by metes and bounds. They are also 4 entitled to an
enquiry into mesne profits under order 20, rule 12 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Challenging the said judgment, the present appellants filed a
Regular First Appeal being RFA 617/2004 and the plaintiff - respondent filed a
cross objection, as mentioned above.
In the First Appeal the High Court found that no evidence was
adduced by the appellant to show that she had any independent sources of
income. It has also come in evidence that at the time of death of the husband
of the appellant only G. Srinivasan was 16 years old and the other children of
the appellant herein were minors and they had no income.
The High Court found that evidence was adduced to show that the
husband of the plaintiff had substantial income and he owned an ambassador car.
In view of this evidence, High Court held that properties at items 1 & 2
are joint family properties.
The learned counsel for the appellant contended that without any
evidence the High Court came to a finding that the husband of the plaintiff
No.1 had substantial income. From the list of the documentary evidence produced
before the Trial Court nothing appears on record to indicate that there was any
document evidencing the income of the husband of the plaintiff No.1. Therefore
the High Court fell into an error by holding that though the properties at item
Nos.1 & 2 are recorded in the name of the appellants, they are joint family
Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act (hereinafter referred to
as the Act) has a bearing on the issue. As the properties at item Nos. 1 &
2 are recorded in the name of the appellant, in the absence of any evidence to
the contrary in this case, the appellant by operation of Section 14(1) of the
said Act is the full owner of those properties. In the facts of this case
discussed above it has to be accepted that those 6 properties are not joint
properties but the appellant is the sole owner of those properties.
The principle laid down in Section 14(1) of the said Act has been
read by courts in a very comprehensive manner since the said Act overrides the
old law on Stri Dhana in respect of properties possessed by female Hindu.
Justice Ramaswami speaking for the Court held that Section 14(1)
of the Act contemplates that a female Hindu, who in the absence of the said
provision would have been a limited owner of the property, will now become full
owner by virtue of the said section. Such female Hindu will have all powers of
disposition to make the estate heritable by their own heirs and not revertible
to the heirs of the last male holder.
Minor Ramalingam and another - AIR 1970 SC 1730, a three- Judge
Bench of this Court reiterated the position that the said Act has overriding
effect and confers full ownership on Hindu female and made it very clear that 7
rights conferred under Section 14(1) to a Hindu female are not restricted or
limited by any rule of Hindu law.
opinion of the Court in Punithavalli (supra) the said section makes a clear
departure from all texts of Hindu laws and rules and those texts and rules
cannot be used for circumventing the plain meaning of Section 14(1) of the said
the learned Judges held that the word 'acquired' in sub-Section (1) of Section
14 of the said Act has to be given the widest possible meaning (See paras 6
Vaddeboyina Sesha Reddi (dead) by L.Rs. - AIR 1977 SC 1944,
Justice Bhagwati speaking for the Court held that sub-Section (1) of Section 14
is very large in its amplitude and covers every kind of acquisition of property
by a female Hindu. Regardless of whether such property was possessed by a
female Hindu on the date of commencement of the Act or was subsequently
acquired or possessed, she would be the full owner of the property.
In view of such consistent views taken by this Court on the
interpretation of Section 14, we hold that Section 14(1) of the said Act would
apply in respect of the properties which stand in the name of the appellant and
the appellant would be the full owner of those properties.
Therefore the order of the High Court cannot be upheld and is set
aside. The order of the Learned Trial Judge is affirmed. The appeal is allowed
to the extent indicated above. There is no order as to costs.
..................J. (S.B. SINHA)