SC and HC Judgments Online at MyNation

Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Shri Kamal Parti vs Smt Raj Kumar Parti & Anr on 23 April, 2020

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

% Date of decision: 23rd April, 2020.

+ CS(OS) 191/2016 IAs No.5040/2016 (u/O XXXIX R-12
CPC), 12979/2016 (u/S 151 CPC) 3048/2018 (u/O VIII R-1A
CPC)

KAMAL PARTI ….. Plaintiff
Through: Mr. Vishesh Issar, Adv.

Versus

SMT. RAJ KUMAR PARTI ANR ….. Defendants
Through: Ms. Neelima Tripathi and Mr.
Gunjan Singh, Advs.
CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE RAJIV SAHAI ENDLAW
1.

The plaintiff Kamal Parti has instituted this suit, for declaration and
permanent and mandatory injunctions against his mother Smt. Raj Kumar
Parti and his brother Deepak Parti, pleading that (i) Om Parkash Parti,
being the father of the plaintiff and defendant no.2 and husband of
defendant no.1, was allotted by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) a
plot of land ad-measuring 200.13 sq. yds. bearing No.B-2/84, Safdarjung
Enclave, New Delhi and constructed a two and a half storey house thereon;
the leasehold rights in the land underneath the property (subject property)
were also got converted into freehold by the said Om Parkash Parti in his
name; (ii) the said Om Parkash Parti died on 23rd July, 2008 leaving besides
his wife defendant no.1, the plaintiff, defendant no.2 and Arun Parti as his
sons; (iii) Om Parkash Parti left a registered Will dated 13th April, 2002

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 1 of 29
whereunder he has bequeathed absolute rights in various other properties
and lifetime rights in the subject property to his wife defendant no.1, with
the condition that the defendant no.1 cannot transfer any right in the subject
property without the written consent from her three sons namely plaintiff,
defendant no.2 and Arun Parti; (iv) the defendant no.1, without obtaining
prior written consent of the plaintiff and Arun Parti, has transferred the
second floor portion with roof rights of the subject property, to defendant
no.2, by way of Gift Deed dated 12th November, 2015 affecting the rights
of the plaintiff in the property; and, (v) the defendant no.2 is intending to
transfer the rights in his favour to outsiders. The plaintiff thus seeks (a)
declaration as null and void of the Gift Deed dated 12 th November, 2015;

(b) permanent injunction restraining the defendants from creating any third
party rights in the property or any part thereof and/or from interfering in the
plaintiff’s use and occupation of the property; and, (c) mandatory
injunction directing the defendants to allow the plaintiff use of indivisible
rights in the property.

2. The suit came up first before this Court on 26th April, 2016 when the
counsel for the defendants being on caveat appeared and summons of the
suit and notice of the application for interim relief were issued and the
defendants restrained from selling or encumbering the property till further
orders; the defendant no.1 was however permitted to let out the property
and receive rents thereof.

3. The defendants have filed a joint written statement pleading that, (i)
under the Will dated 13th April, 2002, the property has been bequeathed
solely in favour of the defendant no.1; (ii) the Will places limited condition

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 2 of 29
upon the defendant no.1, of not selling the property except with the consent
of the plaintiff, defendant no.2 and Arun Parti; (iii) the said Will has been
accepted and duly acted upon by all the family members of late Om
Parkash Parti; (iv) at the time of construction of the property by Om
Parkash Parti, he with his family was residing in another property; (v) only
in the year 1984, Om Parkash Parti along with the defendants started
residing on the first floor and subsequently in the year 1990 also occupied
the second floor of the property; (vi) the plaintiff has never lived in the
property; (vii) the defendant no.2 shifted to USA in the year 2003 and the
second floor was again let out by Om Parkash Parti who continued to reside
with the defendant no.1 on the first floor of the property; (viii) the rental
income derived from the property was to provide living and maintenance of
the defendant no.1; (ix) the defendant no.1, after the death of Om Parkash
Parti, has been letting out the property to tenants from time to time and the
property was her only source of maintenance; (x) even if the property were
to be sold by the defendant no.1 after obtaining written consent of her three
sons, the entire sale consideration was to belong to the defendant no.1 only;

(xi) under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, sale is distinct from a gift;

(xii) the defendant no.1 is the sole owner of the property after the demise of
Om Parkash Parti and is thus fully entitled to execute gift thereof or of any
portion thereof; (xiii) the condition of not selling the property without the
consent of the sons does not in any way take away the ownership rights of
the property; (xiv) the defendant no.1 is also the absolute owner of the
property under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956; and, (xv) the
defendant no.1, out of her natural love and affection for defendant no.2, has

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 3 of 29
executed the gift deed in favour of defendant no.2 and the suit is
misconceived.

4. Though the plaintiff has filed a replication but need to refer thereto is
not felt.

5. Before proceeding further, it is deemed apposite to reproduce in toto
the undisputed Will of Om Parkash Parti. The same is as under:-

I, Om Parkash Parti, S/o Late Shri Khidmat Rai
Parti, R/o B-2/84, Safdarjang Enclave, New
Delhi, do hereby execute my WILL on this 13 th
day of April 2002 at New Delhi – 110029.

I Om Parkash Parti in my full senses and
disposing mind fully understand what is right and
what is wrong. I of my own free will, without any
pressure force, coercion, compulsion and/or
influence of any kind from any quarter, pass on,
give and bequeath all my movable and immovable
assets of all kinds to my legally wedded wife Smt.
Raj Kumari Parti D/o Late Shri Rala Ram Gaind
and Late Smt. Lajwanti Gaind, R/o 38 Hanuman
Road, New Delhi-110001.

WHEREAS I am blessed with four sons Kamal
Parti, Arun Parti, Deepak Parti and Sanjeev
Parti. My youngest son Sanjeev Parti was legally
adopted in his infancy by me wife’s sister Smt.
Viran Mehta and her husband Shri Bal Kishan
Mehta S/o Late Shri Ferozi Lal Mehta, R/o C-12
Nizammudin (East), New Delhi and rechristened
from Sanjeev Parti to Sanjeev Mehta and declare
that no part of my assets movable or immovable
whatever shall devolve upon him.

All my self acquired assets such as two and half
storeyed house built on plot No.84 in Block B-2,
Safdarjang Enclave, New Delhi, my ½ (half)

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 4 of 29
share in the commercial flat of 525 Sq. ft. booked
in the Skipper’s, Jhandewalan Tower, New Delhi,
its interest, compensation etc. and other assets
such as FDRs in the Banks and all the cash
balances lying to my credit in the various banks
namely Standard Chartered Bank, 17 Parliament
Street, New Delhi-I. Standard Chartered and
Grindlays ‘E’ Block, Connaught Place, New
Delhi, Bank of India, Indira Place, Connaught
Circus, New Delhi, Hong Kong Shanghai
Banking Corporation, E.C. House, Kasturba
Gandhi Marg, Indian Overseas Bank, B-2 Market,
Safdarjang Enclave, New Delhi etc. whether
Jointly or singly, title and proceeds of all shares,
Hundies, Debentures, Investment in UTI in
various UTI Schemes and also income from any
other investment elsewhere, all liquid cash, in
short all above assets and any other assets that
belongs to me will go to my wife Smt. Raj Kumari
Parti.

My wife Smt. Raj Kumari Patri during her life
time can enjoy all the assets bequeathed by me in
any manner she desires excepting the property
B2/84, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi, which she
can only sell with the written consent of my three
sons Kamal Parti, Arun Parti and Deepak Parti.
My share in the ancestral moveable and
immovable property and agricultural land in our
village Sham Chaurasi District Hoshiarpur,
Khurampur and Birmiani in District Phagwara
and Village Bhatte in Tehsil Kartarpur District
Jallandhar and Pucca 1-1/2 Storeyed house in
Mohalla Partian in Sham Chaurasi, Distt.

Hoshiarpur, is also bequeathed in favour of my
wife Mrs. Raj Kumari Parti.

In case, however my wife predeceases me then
after my death the entire assets will be equally

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 5 of 29
shared by my three sons Kamal Parti, Arun Parti
and Deepak Parti.

This is my last WILL and testament which hereby
supersedes any wills or codicils that I may have
made in the past and as such stand revoked.”

(emphasis added)

6. The suit, ripe for framing of issues, came up before the undersigned
on 24th January, 2018 when, on the counsels informing that the Will of Om
Parkash Parti was not in dispute, it was enquired from the counsels, what
purpose recording of evidence in the suit will serve inasmuch as the only
question for adjudication was the interpretation of the Will and the
applicability of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act. It was also
observed that the other factual disputes raised in the pleadings were not
germane to adjudication of the controversy in issue. The suit was
accordingly adjourned for hearing the counsels on the said aspect and to
obviate any further adjournment, the counsels were asked to address on:-

“(I) the Will having not provided as to whom
the property, after the lifetime of the
defendant No.1 will go, and having made a
provision only for the eventuality of
defendant No.1 pre-deceasing the testator,
whether the interest bequeathed to the
defendant No.1 qualifies as a life interest;
(II) qua my judgment in Mahima Vs. DDA
2014 SCC OnLine Del 3661 and against
which an appeal was learnt to have been
preferred;

(III) Whether Section 14(1) of the Act applies to
Wills executed after the enactment of the
Hindu Succession Act, 1956;

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 6 of 29

(IV) Whether the property aforesaid is also
covered by the clause immediately
preceding the latter of the clauses
hereinabove reproduced in the Will and if
so, to what effect.”

7. It is also deemed appropriate to reproduce herein below the statutory
provisions with respect to which queries were raised on 24th January, 2018.

Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act is as under:-

“14. Property of a female Hindu to be her absolute
property- (1) Any property possessed by a female
Hindu, whether acquired before or after the
commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as
full owner thereof and not as a limited owner.
Explanation:-In this sub-section, “property”
includes both movable and immovable property
acquired by a female Hindu by inheritance or
devise, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance or
arrears of maintenance, or by gift from any person,
whether a relative or not, before, at or after her
marriage, or by her own skill or exertion, or by
purchase or by prescription, or in any other manner
whatsoever, and also any such property held by her
as stridhana immediately before the commencement
of this Act.

(2) Nothing contained in sub-section (1) shall apply
to any property acquired by way of gift or under a
will or any other instrument or under a decree or
order of a civil court or under an award where the
terms of the gift, will or other instrument or the
decree, order or award prescribe a restricted estate
in such property.”

8. The counsels were heard on 4th May, 2018, 22nd October, 2018 and
29th March, 2019 and orders reserved.

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 7 of 29

9. The counsel for the plaintiff, on 4th May, 2018 having contended that
Mahima supra supports the plaintiff and the counsel for the defendants also
agreeing therewith but with some reservation, the counsel for the
defendants was asked to commence arguments.

10. The counsel for the defendants argued that:

(i) the condition imposed in the Will aforesaid, of the defendant
no.1 obtaining the consent of the sons, is only qua sale and not
qua gift;

(ii) the Will does not bequeath the property ultimately to the
plaintiff and does not say that after the defendant no.1, the
property will be inherited by the plaintiff, defendant no.2 and
Arun Parti, being the three sons of Om Parkash Parti; thus,
Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act is not attracted;

(iii) there can be no enlargement of the restriction placed in the
Will on the rights of the defendant no.1 to the property
bequeathed;

(iv) reliance was placed on K.S. Palanisami Vs. Hindu
Community in General and Citizens of Gobichettipalayam
(2017) 13 SCC 15 laying down:-

(a) that the cardinal maxim to be observed in construing a
Will is, to endeavour to ascertain the intention of the
testator and this intention has to be gathered primarily
from the language of the document which is to be read
as a whole, without indulging in any conjecture or

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 8 of 29
speculation as to what the testator would have done if he
had been better informed or better advised;

(b) that the Court is not entitled to ignore clear words or
add something of its own or dilute the meaning of any
clear word used in the Will; in the absence of any words
indicating intention to give life estate, the intention was
to give absolute rights in the property; and,

(c) that the fact that the words “without right of alienation”

were used in one part of the Will and not in the other
part was of relevance;

(v) reliance was placed on Brahma Vart Sanatan Dharm
Mahamandal Vs. Kanhaiya Lal Bagla (2001) 9 SCC 562
where, from use of the words “will vest absolutely in my wife”
it was held that absolute ownership was bequeathed and it was
further held that merely because it was also provided in the
Will that the widow may adopt a son would not make the
absolute bequest a bequest for lifetime;

(vi) reliance was placed on Sonia Bhatia Vs. State of U.P. (1981)
2 SCC 585, holding that the concept of a gift is diametrically
opposed to the presence of any consideration or compensation
and the motive or the purpose of making a gift should not be
confused with the subject matter of a gift;

(vii) reliance was placed on Shakuntala Vs. State of Haryana
(1979) 3 SCC 226 to contend that while the word ‘transfer’
covers both sale and gift, the word ‘sale’ does not cover gift;

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 9 of 29

(viii) reliance was placed on Gopala Menon Vs. Sivaraman Nair
(1981) 3 SCC 586, negating the argument that though absolute
estate had been bequeathed but the widow was not entitled to
dispose of the property by a Will by holding that absolute and
unrestricted power to dispose of property is a necessary
incident of an absolute estate and if an absolute grant is
burdened with a restraint on alienation, the grant is good and
the condition void;

(ix) as per the aforesaid Will, only in the event of defendant no.1
predeceasing Om Parkash Parti, was the property to go to the
sons but not otherwise; and,

(x) the restriction on the power of the defendant no.1, as absolute
owner, of sale, does not dilute the ownership of the defendant
no.1 and the restriction cannot be enlarged.

11. I had during the hearing enquired from the counsel for the
defendants, whether not the restriction on sale, shows the intent of Om
Parkash Parti that the property should not go out of the family.

12. The counsel for the defendants though not agreeing therewith
contended that even if it be so, by execution of a gift in favour of the
defendant no.2, the property has not gone out of the family.

13. Though it was the contention of the counsel for the defendants that
Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act has no applicability to the present
controversy but on enquiry, drew attention to the replication of the plaintiff
where the plaintiff has pleaded that the rental income from the ground and
second floor of the property at the time of death of Om Parkash Parti was

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 10 of 29
Rs.51,000/- per month and the said rental income was to provide for the
living and maintenance of the defendant no.1.

14. With respect to Mahima supra, it was contended by the counsel for
the defendants that therein, there was a break down of matrimonial relation
between the deceased and his widow and it is for this reason that V.
Tulasamma Vs. Sesha Reddy (1977) 3 SCC 99, wherein the matrimonial
relationship had continued, was held to be not applicable. It was further
informed that Sadhu Singh Vs. Gurdwara Sahib Narike (2006) 8 SCC 75
relies on Karmi Vs. Amru (1972) 4 SCC 86 but which in Shakuntala Devi
Vs. Kamla (2005) 5 SCC 390 has been held to be not good law. It was
further contended that in Thota Sesharathamma Vs. Thota Manikyamma
(1991) 4 SCC 312 also, Karmi supra has been held to be per incuriam. It is
yet further informed that Sadhu Singh supra does not notice Thota
Sesharathamma supra. In the context of Section 14 only, it was also
contended that Jupudy Pardha Sarathy Vs. Pentapati Rama Krishna
(2016) 2 SCC 56 as well as judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in
Vipin Kumar Jain Vs. Ram Babu Jain 2017 SCC OnLine Del 9667
support the defendants. It was also added that Ranvir Dewan Vs. Rashmi
Khanna 2018 (12) SCC 1, in the compilation of judgments of the counsel
for the plaintiff, is also not applicable because in that case finally bequest
was made in favour of the children.

15. The counsel for the plaintiff, per contra has argued that, (i) the Will
makes a distinction between two sets of properties; while one set of
properties has been bequeathed absolutely to the defendant no.1, without
any restrain, with respect to the second set i.e. to the subject property,

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 11 of 29
restriction has been placed on the right of the defendant no.1 to sell; (ii) all
the judgments are with respect to only one property in which the restricted
estate was given; however in the present case the Will clearly makes out a
distinction between two sets of properties; (iii) attention was invited to
Section 139 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 providing that “where a
testator absolutely bequeaths a fund, so as to sever it from his own estate,
but directs that the mode of enjoyment of it by the legatee shall be
restricted so as to secure a specified benefit for the legatee; if that benefit
cannot be obtained for the legatee, the fund belongs to him as if the will
had contained no such direction” and it was contended that here there is no
legatee; (iv) the present case is covered by Section 14(2) of the Hindu
Succession Act, since the property has not been given in lieu of
maintenance and only where the property has been given in lieu of
maintenance, will Section 14(1) of the Act apply; (v) in Brahma Vart
Sanatan Dharm Mahamandal supra and Gopala Menon supra, the
bequest was absolute; here there is no absolute bequest; (vi) the rule of
interpretation of Wills, is that effect has to be given to every statement and
word; (vii) the use of the word ‘excepting’ in the Will shows intent of Om
Parkash Parti that the property is for the benefit of his three sons, as is also
provided in the event of the defendant no.1 predeceasing her husband; (viii)
attention was invited to Sharad Subramanyan Vs. Soumi Mazumdar
(2006) 8 SCC 91 followed in G. Rama Vs. T.G. Seshagiri Rao (2008) 12
SCC 392 to contend that in the absence of any indication, either in the Will
or externally, to indicate that the property had been given to the female
Hindu in recognition of or in lieu of her right to maintenance, the situation
falls within the ambit of Section 14(2) of the Act and the restricted life

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 12 of 29
estate granted to the female Hindu could not be enlarged into an absolute
estate; and, (ix) on the aspect of statutory interpretation of the Will,
reliance was placed on Sadaram Suryanarayana Vs. Kalla Surya
Kantham (2010) 13 SCC 147, referring to Sections 84 to 87 of the Indian
Succession Act, Narendra Gopal Vidyarthi Vs. Rajat Vidyarthi (2009) 3
SCC 287 and Uma Devi Nambiar Vs. T.C. Sidhan (2004) 2 SCC 321,
reiterating the armchair principle.

16. I have considered the rival contentions.

17. I will first take up the aspect of interpretation of the Will, de hors
Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act.

18. A reading of the Will shows that the deceased Om Parkash Parti,
under the first operative clause of the Will, bequeathed his entire self
acquired assets comprising of movable and immovable properties to the
defendant no.1. However the deceased Om Parkash Parti, in the subsequent
paragraph, while providing that the defendant no.1 in her lifetime can enjoy
all assets bequeathed by him in any manner she desired, carved out an
exception with respect to the subject property to the effect that the
defendant no.1 can sell the property only with the consent of her three sons
mentioned therein. In the third operative paragraph of the Will, the
deceased Om Parkash Parti bequeathed his share in the ancestral movable
and immovable properties also to the defendant no.1. In the last operative
paragraph of the Will, the deceased Om Parkash Parti provided for the
eventuality of the defendant no.1 predeceasing him and in which case he
bequeathed his entire estate equally to his three named sons.

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 13 of 29

19. It is quite evident that the estate bequeathed to the defendant no.1 in
the subject property was treated differently by the deceased from the estate
being bequeathed by him to defendant no.1 in the remaining properties.
However, the only restriction placed is with respect to sale and as per the
Will the same could be only with the written consent of the three sons.

20. The reason why such a distinction was made is not hard to decipher.
The ‘other estate’ of the deceased comprised of (i) half share in a
commercial flat booked with the builder and whose possession had not
been delivered; (ii) monies in banks; (iii) investments in shares, debentures
etc; and, (iv) share in ancestral properties. On the contrary, the deceased, in
the Will has described himself as a resident of the subject property and has
described the said property as his residence. Thus, while the ‘other estate’
of the deceased comprised of movable assets (even though the ancestral
properties included immovable properties but the deceased was only having
a share i.e. money equivalent therein), the subject property was the only
immovable/fixed asset of the deceased. The deceased, under his Will
bequeathed to defendant No.1, right of enjoyment of movable assets, in any
manner she desired, but not so with respect to the only immovable/fixed
asset. The deceased did not want his wife to sell the subject property
without the written consent of his three sons, as is evident/clear from use of
the words “which she can only sell…”. It is further clear therefrom, that
the deceased Om Parkash Parti did not desire to empower his wife, the
defendant No.1 herein, to, “…during her lifetime…” deal with his only
immovable property bequeathed to her “…in any manner she desires…”
(as she had been empowered with respect to movable assets bequeathed to
her), resulting in the said only immovable asset/residence being no longer

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 14 of 29
available for his sons i.e. plaintiff, defendant No.2 and Arun Parti. This
intention is also fortified from the bequeath in their joint favour, of the
entire estate in the event of defendant No.1 predeceasing the deceased Om
Parkash Parti.

21. Applying the armchair principle, the reason why such a restriction on
enjoyment of the subject property only by his wife, would be incorporated
by the deceased in the Will is, that the deceased did not want his only fixed
asset dissipated without the consent of all his natural heirs who, in the
absence of the Will, would inherit a share in the said fixed asset.

22. Seen in this light, the deceased Om Parkash Parti has not made any
distinction between his three sons, neither in bequeathing the property
equally to them in the event of the defendant no.1 predeceasing him nor in
the matter of consent to sale of subject property, nor mentioned any reasons
for the three sons i.e. the plaintiff, defendant no.2 and Arun Parti, to be
treated differently. The plea/argument, that while the plaintiff has never
resided in the house, the defendant No.2 has been residing, is thus of no
avail.

23. Undoubtedly, a gift is different from sale and sale does not include a
gift. No judgment is required for the said conclusion. However, what is
being interpreted here is a ‘Will’, after the author thereof is no more
available. The task has been held to be a solemn one, since it involves
giving effect to the want/wish of a dead person i.e. an obligation of the
living to the dead. Such interpretation cannot be the same as of a
commercial contract/agreement.

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 15 of 29

24. The intent of the deceased Om Parkash Parti, of the subject property
being sold by the defendant no.1 with the written consent of his three sons,
in my interpretation thereof, cannot be permitted to be defeated by applying
the technicalities of law, of a gift being different from a sale and the
requirement of consent being only for sale and not qua gift or transfer by
any other mode.

25. The counsel for the defendants has also been unable to give any
reason for the restriction on sale and which would not apply in the case of a
gift, even if to one of the three sons, amounting to unequal instead of equal
treatment of the three sons which the deceased intended.

26. The only purpose in providing for the sale by the defendant no.1 to
be with the written consent of the three sons, as aforesaid, could be, the
special place which a residential house enjoys in one’s belongings, with a
sense of permanence and ‘for generations’ attached thereto and the desire
of the deceased of the same being divested with knowledge of all who
would have a share therein but for the Will. This restriction on sale, read
with bequeath to all three sons equally in the event of defendant no.1
predeceasing the testator, discloses the intention of the testator that the said
residential house, unless sold by consent of all, after the lifetime of
defendant no.1, being inherited equally by plaintiff, defendant no.2 and
Arun Parti.

27. In this context, it is also worth mentioning that the Will, though
registered, does not bear signatures of any advocate, neither as draftsman
thereof or as witness thereto. Generally, it is the advocate practicing at the
Sub-Registrar’s Office who drafts the Will and/or is an attesting witness to

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 16 of 29
the Will. Both attesting witnesses to the subject Will, are neighbours of the
deceased. The Will appears to have been drafted by the deceased himself.
The language of the Will also, is not such as is generally used by
advocates. This also, in my view, is relevant in the matter of interpretation
of a Will.

28. Supreme Court, in Uma Devi Nambiar supra summed up the law
relating to interpretation of a Will as, that the fundamental rule is to
ascertain the intention from the words used; the surrounding circumstances,
the position of the testator, his family relationship, the probability that he
would use words in a particular sense, are all to be considered, as an aid to
ascertain the meaning of its language. It was held, that the intention of the
testator has to be gathered not by attaching importance to isolated
expressions but by reading the Will as a whole with all its provisions and
ignoring none of them as redundant or contradictory.

29. The Indian Succession Act, 1925, consolidating the law applicable to
intestate and testamentary succession also, under Part VI titled
‘Testamentary Succession’, in Chapter VI titled ‘Of the Construction of
Wills’, vide (a) Section 74 prescribes that it is not necessary that any
technical words or terms of art be used in a Will, but the wording should be
such that the intentions of the testator can be known therefrom; (b) Section
82 prescribes that the meaning of any clause in a Will is to be collected
from entire instrument, and all its parts are to be construed with reference
to each other; (c) Section 83 permits words to be understood in a wider
sense than that which they usually bear, where it may be collected from
other words of the Will which the testator meant to use them in such wider

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 17 of 29
sense; (d) Section 87 requires the testator’s intention to be effectuated as
far as possible; (e) Section 88 lays down that where two clauses of gifts in a
Will are irreconcilable, the last shall prevail; and, (f) Section 122 provides
that where a bequest imposes an obligation on a legatee, he can take
nothing by it unless he accepts it fully. My interpretation hereinabove,
with respect to interpretation of the word ‘Sale’ and of the intention of the
deceased Om Parkash Parti, is also in terms of said statutory provisions.
The defendant No.1, once has accepted the Will, is bound by the
condition/obligation therein, of not disposing off the subject property
without consent of her three sons and which admittedly was not taken
before executing the Gift Deed. I may also highlight, that in the Will of
deceased Om Parkash Parti, there is no provision mandating the defendant
No.1 to let out the subject property or any part thereof and to maintain
herself from the rent realised. The fact that defendant No.1, after demise of
her husband so let out the property, is irrelevant. Thus, the whole
argument, of the subject property being for maintenance, is misconceived.
The argument, that the sale proceeds also were to be of defendant No.1
only, is equally misconceived. Once the defendant No.1 could not sell
without written consent of her sons, it was open to the sons including the
plaintiff, to, even if so consenting, impose condition, including of share in
the sale proceeds.

30. On such interpretation, the defendant no.1 was/is not entitled to deal
with the property, whether by way of sale or gift or in any other manner
totally divesting herself of the property, without the consent of the plaintiff,
defendant No.2 and Arun Parti and any such dealing would be void.

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 18 of 29

31. From the Will, not making any provision with respect to the subject
property (which the defendant no.1 could not sell, save with the consent of
all her three sons) after the lifetime of the defendant no.1, as is normally
found in the Wills bequeathing a restricted estate, also it follows that the
deceased Om Parkash Parti did not envisage his wife defendant no.1
discriminating between the three sons in any manner whatsoever including
in the matter of making a Will. The deceased Om Parkash Parti proceeded
on the premise, that if the subject property was not sold by the defendant
no.1 with the consent of all his three sons, the same, after the lifetime of
defendant no.1, would be inherited by his three sons, just like it would have
been had the defendant no.1 predeceased him. The prohibition in the Will,
on disposition of the property by the defendant no.1 save with the consent
of his three sons, was with the intent of property, if not so sold, ultimately
after the lifetime of defendant no.1, belonging to the three sons.

32. Thus, on an interpretation of the undisputed Will, I find in favour of
the plaintiff and against the defendants.

33. Though the hearing was commenced, besides on the aspect of
interpretation, also qua Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, but the
counsel for the defendants having categorically stated that according to the
defendants, Section 14 has no application, it follows that the defendant no.1
is not claiming the unrestricted estate in the subject property under Sub-
section (1) of Section 14.

34. Mulla’s treaties on Hindu Law, 23rd (2018) Edition sums up the
position with respect to Section 14, as (a) a most expansive interpretation to
the general rule enacted in sub-section (1) has been given; (b) sub-section

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 19 of 29
(2) must be read only as a proviso or exception to sub-section (1) and its
operation must be confined to cases where property is acquired for the first
time as a grant, without any pre-existing right, under a Will, the terms of
which prescribe a restricted estate in the property; (c) where the property is
acquired by a female Hindu in lieu of maintenance, it is in lieu of a pre-
existing right and such an acquisition would not be within the scope and
ambit of sub-section (2), even if the Will prescribes a restricted estate in the
property; (d) it depends on the facts of each case, whether the same is
covered by the first or the second sub-section; and, (e) sub-section (2) can
come into operation only if acquisition of the property is made without
there being a pre-existing right to the female Hindu who is in possession of
the property.

35. Thus, for the defendant no.1 to claim that notwithstanding the
restricted estate bequeathed to her under the Will of her husband, she is the
absolute owner of the property, it was incumbent on the defendant no.1 to
plea that the subject property was bequeathed to her in lieu of a pre-existing
right. Without the defendant no.1 pleading so, she cannot claim absolute
right to the property under Section 14(1).

36. The defendant no.1 herein having contended that Section 14 has no
application, it is obvious that it is not the case of the defendant no.1 that the
subject property has been bequeathed to her in lieu of any pre-existing
right. Not only has it not been so contended, in the joint written statement
of the defendant no.1 and defendant no.2 also, there is no such plea. All
that has been pleaded in paragraph 5 of the preliminary objections is that
the rental income derived from the subject property was to provide for

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 20 of 29
living and maintenance of defendant no.1 and that the defendant no.1 has
been letting out the property to tenants from time to time and deriving
income for her living and maintenance. No pre-existing right to
maintenance, and which a must for Section 14(1) to apply, has been
pleaded.

37. A pre-existing right is not a question of law alone but is a question of
fact. For the defendant no.1 to, notwithstanding having been bequeathed a
restricted estate, become an absolute owner under Section 14(1), it would
be incumbent upon her to plead that she was dependent upon her husband
i.e. the deceased Om Parkash Parti for maintenance and had no other
source of income or maintenance. The deceased Om Parkash Parti, in the
Will has described his ‘other estate’ as comprising of half share in the
commercial flat/its interest/compensation and the monies lying in bank
accounts either jointly held by him or singly held by him and other
investments, in all of which unrestricted right has been bequeathed to the
defendant no.1. The defendants themselves have produced before this
Court the Health Care Reform Compliance Plan, North Carolina in the
name of defendant no.1. It is also the plea of the plaintiff in the replication
that the defendant no.1 is a Green Card holder of USA and resides there
and in fact has been asking the plaintiff to manage her affairs in India. The
plaintiff has also produced before this Court, documents showing the
monies held by the defendant no.1 in her bank accounts to be in excess of
Rs.45 lacs and in the face of all the documents on record, it was incumbent
on the plaintiff to plead a pre-existing right in lieu of which the Will
bequeathing restricted estate in the subject property was executed. This
coupled with the contention of inapplicability of Section 14 leads to only

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 21 of 29
inference that though lip service is paid to Section 14 in the written
statement, but no pre-existing right is claimed. Supreme Court, recently in
Ajit Kaur Alias Surjit Kaur Vs. Darshan Singh (2019) 13 SCC 70, finding
the widow in that case, to be though in possession but without any ‘pre-
existing right’ to the property, reiterated that she could not claim full
ownership under Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act.

38. Even otherwise, I have in Mahima supra noticed the dichotomy of
views in dicta of the benches of equal strength in Sadhu Singh supra on the
one hand and Jagannathan Pillai Vs. Kunjithapadam Pillai (1987) 2 SCC
572 and Gulwant Kaur Vs. Mohinder Singh (1987) 3 SCC 674 on the
other hand and opted to follow Sadhu Singh supra, holding that:

A. Sadhu Singh, after analysing and interpreting the language of
Section 14(1) as well as the changes in Hindu Law upon the coming
into force of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 holds
Section 14(1) to be applicable only where the Hindu female is in
possession of the property on the date of commencement of the
Hindu Succession Act and not where the Hindu female comes into
possession of the property after the commencement of the said Act.
Per contra, Jagannathan Pillai on which the subsequent judgments
in Gulwant Kaur, Nazar Singh and Santhosh (supra) taking a
different view are based, was a case where the widow though
acquired a limited estate from her husband was not in possession on
the date of coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act and
repossessed the property thereafter. It was in this context that the
Supreme Court held Section 14(1) to be applicable holding that the

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 22 of 29
word “possessed” has to be given a wide meaning. This peculiar fact
of the widow in Jagannathan Pillai having acquired the property
prior to the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act was not
noticed in the subsequent judgments supra holding that possession of
the property under Section 14(1) could be before or after the
commencement of the Act. In none of the said judgments the
provisions of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act and the
changes brought about thereby in the right of Hindu female to
maintenance were also noticed.

B. Section 14(1) carves out a difference between possession of the
property and acquisition of the property. Only the word “acquired” is
qualified with the words “whether before or after the commencement
of this Act”. Had the intention of the legislature been that a property
acquired by a female Hindu, whether before or after the
commencement of the Act, shall be held by her as full owner and not
as a limited owner, there was no need to carve out a distinction
between possession and acquisition of the property. From such
distinction made out and from the intentional omission to qualify the
word “possessed” with the words “whether before or after the
commencement of this Act” the legislative intent of, for applicability
of Section 14(1), possession on the date of commencement of the
Act being essential is quite explicit.

C. All statutes particularly those governing and regulating human
relations are dynamic in nature and their interpretation, inspite of
societal changes, cannot remain static. Law cannot be a fossil. The

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 23 of 29
Supreme Court in Union of India v. Raghubir Singh (1989) 2 SCC
754 emphasized the need for adapting the law to new urges in
society and quoted with approval the Holmesian aphorism that the
“life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience”. It was
further held that in a developing society such as India, law does not
assume its true function when it follows a groove chased amidst a
context which has long since crumbled. Similarly in State of Punjab
v. Devans Modern Breweries Ltd. (2004) 11 SCC 26 it was held that
a decision although neither reversed nor overruled may cease to be
law owing to changed conditions and changed law, as reflected by
the principle “cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex”. In Bhuwalka
Steel Industries Ltd. v. Bombay Iron and Steel Labour Board
(2010) 2 SCC 273 it was reiterated that the trend of judicial opinion
is that stare decisis is not a dogmatic rule allergic to logic and reason;
it is a flexible principle of law operating in the province of
precedents providing room to collaborate with the demands of
changing times dictated by social needs, State policy and judicial
conscience. V. Tulasamma is a judgment of a different era, the
guiding principle whereof was the Shastric Hindu Law and to
convert, the limited ownership rights of women who till then were
clearly discriminated against insofar as ownership of property was
concerned, to absolute right. However with the changing times and
changing relationships particularly between husband and wife it is
felt that to adopt the interpretation of Section 14(1) as in V.
Tulasamma would be to the detriment of wives. If such an
interpretation were to be followed in today’s times, husbands having

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 24 of 29
differences with their wives would hesitate from providing a separate
residence for the wife for the fear of losing all rights thereto and the
said residence after the lifetime of the wife going into the hands of
her heirs. Similarly husbands owning property would fear
bequeathing a life estate therein to their wives.

D. The additional reasoning given in Nazar Singh of acquisition of
the property under a compromise being different from acquisition of
property under a Will owing to the Will being not mentioned in
Section 14(1), as aforesaid does not appear to be correct.

E. The plaintiffs in the Memorandum of Family Settlement expressly
agreed that the plaintiffs no.23 shall cease to have any right of
residence in the flat after their marriage and will not claim any
interest, right or title whatsoever in the flat and that the plaintiff no.1
shall also cease to have any right of residence in the flat if she
remarries or resides at another place and that the right of residence of
the plaintiff no.1 in the said flat was for her life time only. The
plaintiffs further agreed that they shall not claim any right in future
over any property of the defendant no.2. The plaintiffs further agreed
that after the marriage of the plaintiffs no.23 it will be the
defendant no.2 who would be entitled to the rent of the third floor of
the flat. The plaintiffs presented the said Memorandum of Family
Settlement before the Court and before the Court also undertook to
abide by the terms conditions of the Settlement and not to file any
claim, petition, complaint or other proceeding against the defendant
in any Court of law. I have wondered whether not the very institution

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 25 of 29
of the present suit is in violation of the undertaking given by the
plaintiffs to the Court at the time of culmination of the earlier
litigation and whether the plaintiffs are entitled to do so. Though
undoubtedly in some of the judgments cited by the senior counsel for
the plaintiffs also the decrees had been passed in terms of the
agreements entered into (in Santhosh supra it was held that consent
decrees must be construed having regard to the well settled legal
position) but at the same time the Courts have held that such Family
Settlements are to be honoured, upheld and enforced. It is not as if in
the earlier litigation between the plaintiffs and the defendant no.2
any right of maintenance or residence of the plaintiffs against the
defendant no.2 had been established. The matter was still at large. It
is well-nigh possible that ultimately the plaintiffs may not have
succeeded in any claim for maintenance against the defendant no.2.
It would be against equity, in my opinion, to in such circumstances
permit the plaintiffs to act in contravention of the Family Settlement
and the undertaking given by them to the Court in the earlier
proceedings.

39. The counsel for the defendants has contended that Sadhu Singh
supra relies on Karmi supra which has been held to be not good law in
Shakuntala Devi supra. It is also argued that Karmi supra was held to be
per incuriam in Thota Sesharathamma supra.

40. However, Karmi supra is a judgment of a three Judge Bench of the
Supreme Court and V. Tulasamma and Shakuntala Devi supra are also of
the Bench of equal strength.

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 26 of 29

41. I also find that Shivdev Kaur Vs. R.S. Grewal (2013) 4 SCC 636,
though pronounced prior to Mahima, remained to be noticed, also notices
the conflict of opinion prevailing in the Supreme Court and though goes on
to observe that a reference to a five Judge Bench is called for, but does not
make such a reference finding in the facts of that case that there was no
evidence on any pre-existing right. It was held that there was no
presumption that the Hindu woman in that case was a destitute.

42. I also find Karmi supra to have been followed as recently as in
Jagan Singh Vs. Dhanwanti (2012) 2 SCC 628 and in Ramji Gupta Vs.
Gopi Krishan Agarwal (2013) 9 SCC 438. Mention may however be also
made of the fact that the Division Bench of this Court in Vipin Kumar Jain
supra and a co-ordinate Bench in Paramjit Anand Vs. Mohan Lal Anand
2018 SCC OnLine Del 8181 have opted for the other line of judgments.

43. Thus, I do not feel the need to take a different view than that taken
by me in Mahima supra.

44. Axiomatically, it has but to be held that the defendant no.1 was/is not
entitled to deal with the property No.B-2/84, Safdarjung Enclave, New
Delhi in any manner whatsoever without the written consent of her three
sons and the Gift Deed executed by her admittedly without the written
consent of the plaintiff is contrary to the terms on which the property was
held by the defendant no.1 and the defendant no.1 was not entitled to
execute the Gift Deed. Once it is so, the Gift Deed is null and void and is
declared to be so. However, the plaintiff, during the lifetime of defendant
No.1 is not entitled to use of individual rights in the property wherefor

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 27 of 29
mandatory injunction is sought. The plaintiff is thus not entitled to the said
relief.

45. A decree is accordingly passed, in favour of the plaintiff and against
the defendants:-

(i) of declaration that the property No.B-2/84, Safdarjung
Enclave, New Delhi has been bequeathed by the deceased Om
Parkash Parti to the defendant no.1 with restriction that
alienation thereof or any part thereof can be only with the
written consent of her three sons i.e. plaintiff, defendant no.1
and Arun Parti;

(ii) of declaration of the Gift Deed dated 12th November, 2015
registered with the Office of the Sub Registrar, SR VIIA
Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi as document Reg. No.1219 as null
and void and beyond the power of the defendant no.1 with
respect to the property, second floor with terrace rights
whereof has been gifted thereunder.

(iii) the Sub Registrar of documents with whom the aforesaid gift
deed is registered is directed to, on the plaintiff presenting a
certified copy of this judgment and decree, record in his/her
records the cancellation of the document by the said judgment
and decree; and,

(iv) of permanent injunction restraining the defendants from
alienating, encumbering or parting with possession of property
No.B-2/84, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi or any part thereof
save with the written consent of the plaintiff; however the

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 28 of 29
same will not come in the way of the defendant no.1 letting
out the property and realizing rent thereof and dealing with the
tenants as per her absolute discretion.

No costs.

Decree sheet be drawn up.

RAJIV SAHAI ENDLAW, J.

APRIL 23, 2020
‘pp/gsr’

CS(OS) 191/2016 Page 29 of 29

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2021 SC and HC Judgments Online at MyNation
×

Free Legal Help, Just WhatsApp Away

MyNation HELP line

We are Not Lawyers, but No Lawyer will give you Advice like We do

Please read Group Rules – CLICK HERE, If You agree then Please Register CLICK HERE and after registration  JOIN WELCOME GROUP HERE

We handle Women Centric biased laws like False Sectioin 498A IPC, Domestic Violence(DV ACT), Divorce, Maintenance, Alimony, Child Custody, HMA 24, 125 CrPc, 307, 312, 313, 323, 354, 376, 377, 406, 420, 497, 506, 509; TEP, RTI and many more…

MyNation FoundationMyNation FoundationMyNation Foundation