Sunday, January 22, 2012

No absolute property right for Hindu woman in restricted will: SC

A Hindu woman who gets property from her husband through a will cannot have absolute right over it unlike property inherited by her through succession, the Supreme Court has ruled.
In other words, though the Hindu Marriages Act provides absolute right to a woman on the property inherited through succession from her husband, she cannot have the same privilege if the property devolves on her through a “will” with restricted clauses.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and H L Gokhale passed the ruling while upholding an appeal filed by a land owner Jagan Singh challenging the right of his widowed sisterin-law Dhanwanti to sell her plot, which was gifted through a will by her husband Umrao
Singh.
In his will, Umrao Singh had stated that his wife Dhanwanti will be the owner his plot, but would not have any right to dispose off the property. However, after the death of her husband, Dhanwanti attempted to sell the plot, which was challenged by Jagan Singh
Both the trial court and the Allahabad High Court rejected Jagan Singh’s plea on the ground that Dhanwanti enjoyed the protection of the Hindu Marriages Act, under which she had absolute right to enjoy, dispose or gift the property to any person. However, upholding his appeal, the apex court said, “Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, undoubtedly declares in sub-section (1) thereof that a property of a female Hindu is her absolute property, but it creates an exception in sub-section (2) which provides that sub-section (1) will not apply to any property which is given away by instruments such as by way of a gift or under a will.

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