Hindu Succession; Ranvir Dewan Vs. Rashmi Khanna [Supreme Court of India, 12-12-2017]

Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Section 14 (1) & (2) – the ambit of Section 14(2) of the Act must be confined to cases where property is acquired by a female Hindu for the first time as a grant without any pre-existing right, under a gift, will, instrument, decree, order or award, the terms of which prescribe a “restricted estate” in the property. Where, however, property is acquired by a Hindu female at a partition or in lieu of right of maintenance, it is in virtue of a pre-existing right and such an acquisition would not be within the scope and ambit of Section 14(2) of the Act, even if the instrument, decree, order or award allotting the property prescribes a “restricted estate” in the property.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

[R.K. AGRAWAL] AND [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE] JJ.

December 12, 2017

CIVIL APPEAL No. 21784 OF 2017

(ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.32044/2016)

Mr. Ranvir Dewan …Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Mrs. Rashmi Khanna & Anr. ….Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal is filed by plaintiff No.1 against the final judgment and order dated 13.07.2016 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi in R.F.A.(OS) No.147 of 2013 whereby the High Court dismissed the appeal filed by Plaintiff No.2 (since dead) and the appellant (plaintiff No.1) herein and confirmed the judgment and order dated 11.10.2013 of the Single Judge of the High Court in C.S.(O.S.) No.1502 of 2010.

3. In order to appreciate the controversy involved in the appeal, it is necessary to set out the facts of the case.

4. The appellant is plaintiff No.1 whereas the respondents are the defendants in a suit out of which this appeal arises. The appellant is the brother whereas respondent No.1 is the appellant’s sister.

5. The dispute in this appeal is essentially between the mother, brother(son) and the sister(daughter). It relates to a residential house consists of basement and two floors situated at D- 246, Defense Colony, New Delhi (hereinafter referred to as the “suit house”).

6. Mr. B.R. Dewan was the sole owner of the suit house. He had two wives-Mrs. Kamla Devi and second – Mrs. Pritam. Out of wedlock with first wife – Mrs. Kamla Devi, a son – Ashok was born whereas out of wedlock with second wife -Mrs. Pritam, a son- Ranvir-appellant and a daughter-Rashmirespondent No.1 were born. Mr. Dewan owned moveable and immovable properties,

7. On 24.06.1984, Mr. Dewan executed a Will of his properties (movables and immoveable). So far as the suit house with which we are concerned in this appeal, Mr. Dewan gave its ground floor to his son-Ranvir Dewan exclusively whereas the first floor, he gave exclusively to his daughter-Rashmi Khanna.

8. So far as wife-Pritam was concerned, he gave to her a “life interest” to reside in the suit house till her death and also to recover the rent and utilize the income earned by way of rent to maintain herself and the suit house. He also gave her a right to evict the tenants and induct the new ones.

9. The Will, in clear terms, recited that the wife – Mrs. Pritam is given “life interest” in the suit house and she will act as a trustee of its legal owners (son and daughter) and utilize the income earned out of it and on her death, by his son and daughter to whom the suit house was given exclusively.

10. The Will also recited that Ranvir and Rashmi would be free to get themselves assessed as owners of their respective shares in the suit house in their wealth tax assessment cases on the death of Mr. Dewan.

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