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Gift of ancestral property to daughter-in-law

By: Shivendra Pratap Singh
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My father has transferred the whole ancestral property to his daughter-in-law. He transferred that property by way of the gift deed. He made the gift with an ulterior motive, which I don’t want to discuss here. I want to file suit for cancellation of that gift deed. Is it possible?

The father is a Karta or manager of the family. Therefore, in such a capacity, he has the right to transfer Hindu joint family property. He can make a gift, thus, alienate a piece of property to a person to discharge his religious obligation or purpose.

Such a gift is valid in the eyes of the law, and the donee shall execute it. Any donation of ancestral property for the purpose other than religious is invalid.

The Hindu personal law does not confer upon “Karta” a right to transfer ancestral property to any person on his desire. In such transfer, the coparcener of a Hindu joint family can declare the transfer invalid.

In your case, your father has transferred the whole ancestral property to his daughter-in-law without giving a portion of it to any other member of the joint family. He has moved that property by way of gift and mentioning that he is discharging his religious obligation made by him at the time of her marriage to give some portion of the property including ancestral property to his daughter-in-law.

Your father has no right to enlarge the meaning of religious obligation in such an extent to gift the whole ancestral property to his daughter-in-law. Hindu law on the question of gifts of inherited property is well-settled. A Hindu father or any other managing member has the power to donate ancestral immovable property within reasonable limits for “pious purposes”. Now what is generally understood by “pious purposes” is a gift for charitable and religious purposes.

The Supreme Court [in Kamala Devi v. Bachu Lal Gupta; 1957 SCR 452] has extended the meaning of “pious purposes” to cases where a Hindu father makes a gift within reasonable limits of immovable ancestral property to his daughter in fulfilment of an antenuptial or pre-marriage promise made on the occasion of the settlement of the terms of her marriage, and the same can also be done by the mother in case the father is dead.

So far as movable ancestral property is concerned, a gift out of affection may be made to a wife, to a daughter and even to a son, provided the gift is within reasonable limits. Transfer of whole ancestral property by way of gift to a particular person is void.

He transferred the whole ancestral immovable property in violation of personal law. He cannot alienate entire property in a gift to any person either through natural love and affection or in the discharge of religious purpose. You should challenge the validity of a gift made by your father. This gift is invalid in the eyes of the law therefore it should be rendered invalid by the court.

Kanoonirai has been advising in legal issues since October 2014. You can consult a lawyer through online media, telephonic consultation and video conferencing.