Legal Advice

Can father gift ancestral property to daughter in law

Question: My father wants to gift ancestral property to his daughter in law. We have two brothers only and my younger brother is living abroad. My younger brother does not want to settle in India and probably he will renounce Indian citizenship. Can my father gift ancestral property to his daughter in law?

Advise

Your father is not an absolute owner of that ancestral property. All lineal descendents of three generations have interest in the ancestral property. The counting starts after excluding the first generation. Hence, your father, his son, grandson and great grandson have right in the ancestral property. 

In the case of K.C. Laxmana v. K.C. Chandrappa Gowda, reported in 2022 SCC OnLine SC 471, the Supreme Court clarified that a Hindu father or any other managing member of a Hindu Undivided Family possesses the authority to make a gift of ancestral property exclusively for a ‘pious purpose.’ The term ‘pious purpose,’ as construed by the Court, encompasses gifts made for charitable and/or religious objectives.

Consequently, a deed of gift related to ancestral property, executed merely ‘out of love and affection,’ does not fall within the ambit of the term ‘pious purpose.’ This ruling provides clarity on the permissible grounds for making gifts of ancestral property within the framework of Hindu family law.

Get partition of ancestral property

Your father should file a partition suit for dividing the property among the legal heirs. The nature of ancestral property changes after the partition. Each legal heir, after the partition, becomes the absolute owner of his share. Thereafter, he can alienate that portion of property. He can sell, mortgage, lease or gift that property to any person. 

After the partition your father can make a gift deed and gift his share to his daughter in law. If he wants to gift all ancestral property to his daughter in law then his legal heirs should relinquish their share in his favour. All the legal heir should execute a relinquishment deed and give up their right in the ancestral property. Thereafter, your father will become the absolute owner and gift ancestral property to his daughter in law. 

Relinquishment deed

All the lineal descendents are co-owner of the ancestral property. They get right in the ancestral property by birth. When a co-owner wants to give up his right he executes a relinquishment deed. Thereafter, the ancestral property does not devolve upon him. He excludes himself from the list of legal heirs in respect of ancestral property. Relinquishment deed is a medium of transfer of share. Hence, according to section 17 of the Registration Act, it must be registered. An unregistered relinquishment deed is not admissible in evidence.

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow