In India, the concept of self-acquired property refers to any property or assets that an individual acquires through their own efforts, resources, or inheritance, as opposed to inherited or ancestral property. Self-acquired property is considered the exclusive ownership of the individual who acquired it.
In the case of Arunachala Gounder v. Ponnusamy, reported in (2022) 11 SCC 520, the Supreme Court clarified that the self-acquired property of a Hindu male, in the event of intestate succession (without a will), follows the path of inheritance rather than succession. The Court emphasized that in such circumstances, the daughter is entitled to inherit this self-acquired property. Additionally, the Court specified that this inheritance is in addition to any property acquired by the daughter as a coparcener through partition.
The Court further observed that in the event of the intestate demise of a woman, her ancestral property inherited from her father would devolve upon the heirs of her father. Similarly, any property acquired from her husband’s family would be inherited by the heirs of her husband. This ruling provides clarity on the legal framework governing the devolution of self-acquired property in cases of intestacy within the Hindu succession context.
Here are some key points related to self-acquired property in India:
- Ownership: Self-acquired property is owned solely by the individual who acquired it, and they have the right to use, manage, sell, or dispose of it as they see fit, subject to applicable laws and regulations.
- Inheritance: In the case of self-acquired property, the individual has the right to determine the distribution of their property through a will or testamentary document. They can specify the beneficiaries and their respective shares in the property.
- Devolution: If a person dies without leaving a will, the self-acquired property will be distributed among the legal heirs as per the provisions of the personal laws applicable to the individual’s religion. The rules of intestate succession determine the distribution of the property.
- Protection: Self-acquired property is generally protected from claims by other family members, such as ancestral property rights or claims of coparcenary. It is considered separate from any joint family property.
Ownership rights in self-acquired property are generally exclusive to the individual who acquired the property. The individual who acquires the property is the sole owner and has complete control and authority over the property. They have the right to possess, use, manage, sell, transfer, or dispose of the property as per their discretion, subject to applicable laws and any encumbrances on the property.
The owner of self-acquired property has the right to determine the distribution of the property after their demise through a will or testamentary document. They can specify the beneficiaries and the respective shares of the property. In the absence of a valid will, the property will be distributed among legal heirs as per the rules of intestate succession.
Self-acquired property is generally protected from ancestral property claims or claims of coparcenary. Ancestral property refers to property inherited up to four generations, whereas self-acquired property is considered separate from ancestral property.