All HUF Assets Should Be Taken As Joint Property Unless Proven Otherwise: SC

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Source: India Today

The Supreme Court recently reiterated the rule that all assets in a Hindu Undivided Family would be presumed to be joint property belonging to all its members and that the burden to show otherwise is on the family member asserting such claim.

“It is a settled rule of Hindu law that there lies a legal assumption that every Hindu family is joint in the food, worship and estate and in the absence of any proof of division, such legal presumption continues to run in the menage. The onus, therefore, lies upon the member who, after admitting the existence of joints in the family properties asserts his claim that some properties out of the entire set of ancestral properties are his self-acquired property,” the Bench comprising Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre observed.

The Court has heard an Appeal challenging an order authorized by the Karnataka High Court in a family dispute pertaining to ownership and partition of agricultural soils. The Apex Court upheld the High Court’s order which had declared the property as joint property of the family.

The Court thought that the Appellants had failed to show that the property was self acquired and noted, “In order to show that the suit properties described in Schedule ‘B’ and ‘C’ where their self-acquired properties, the plaintiffs could have adduced the best grounds in the contour of a sale-deed showing their names as purchasers of the said properties and also could have cited evidence of payment of sale consideration made by them to the Vendee. It was, nevertheless, not executed.

Not just that, the plaintiffs also failed to cite any other sort of documentary evidence to test their self-acquisition of the Schedule ‘B’ and ‘C’ properties nor they were able to examine the origin of its acquisition.”

It, therefore, bore on the judgments given by the lower Courts and took note, “In our studied opinion, it was, therefore, obligatory upon the plaintiffs to have demonstrated that despite the existence of joints in the family, properties reported in Schedule ‘B’ and ‘C’ was not part of ancestral properties but where their self-acquired properties. As held above, the plaintiffs failed to show this material fact for want of any evidence. We accept, therefore, no hesitation in upholding the concurrent findings of the two Courts, which in our view, are founded on a right appreciation of oral evidence.”

By: Manavi Joshi

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