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Teg Singh and ors. Vs. Charan Singh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1977SC1699; (1977)2SCC732; [1977]3SCR365; 1977(9)LC382(SC)
ActsPunjab Customs (Power to Contest) Act, 1920 - Sections 7
AppellantTeg Singh and ors.
RespondentCharan Singh and anr.
Cases ReferredChand Singh v. Ind Kaur
Excerpt:
.....gift deed alienating certain property in favour of appellant - validity of gift challenged as alienation of property is not allowed as per customs - trial court annulled gift deed and high court confirmed decree of trial court - after decisions by respective courts amended act 1973 passed according to which alienation of property was allowed - appeal against order of high court contending that legality of gift deed cannot be challenged as per amendment in act - gift ceased to be operative by reason of decree passed in suit before amendment came into force - declaratory decree already obtained by respondent would continue to be operative as amended act does not render previous decree nullity - held, amendment act is not retrorespective in alienation and is not applicable for gift..........of appellants 1 to 12 a lease in respect of the property which was the subject matter of the gift. mula died on august 28, 1971,3. on december 13, 1971 respondent filed the present suit against the appellants for possession of certain properties including the property which mula had gifted to appellant no, 13. the suit was decreed by the trial court on january 29, 1971 and that decree was confirmed in appeal by the district court and the high court.4. on june 3, 1976 appellants filed a special leave petition in this court challenging the high court judgment. they raised, inter alia, a new contention (ground no. b) that in decreeing the suit, the courts below had over looked the relevant provisions of the punjab customs (power of coatest) amendment act of 1973, by virtue of which.....
Judgment:

Y.V. Chandrachud, J.

1. One Mula executed a registered gift-deed in favour of the appellant No. 13, Bhagwati Devi, on December 3, 1964. On April 29, 1965, appellants 1 to 12 claiming to be potential reversioners filed Suit No. 143 of 1965 against the donor and the donee for declaration that under the Punjab Custom (Power to contest) Act 2 of 1920, the gift-deed was not binding on them. The suit was decreed by the trial court on May 31, 1966 and that decree was confirmed in appeal on October 16, 1967.

2. In between, on July 10, 1966 Mula adopted the respondent. On March 11, 1970, appellant No. 13, executed in favour of appellants 1 to 12 a lease in respect of the property which was the subject matter of the gift. Mula died on August 28, 1971,

3. On December 13, 1971 respondent filed the present suit against the appellants for possession of certain properties including the property which Mula had gifted to appellant No, 13. The suit was decreed by the trial court on January 29, 1971 and that decree was confirmed in appeal by the District Court and the High Court.

4. On June 3, 1976 appellants filed a special leave petition in this Court challenging the High Court judgment. They raised, inter alia, a new contention (ground No. B) that in decreeing the suit, the courts below had over looked the relevant provisions of the Punjab Customs (Power of Coatest) Amendment Act of 1973, by virtue of which the legality of the gift made by Mula in favour of Bhagwati Devi could not be contested, On June 11, 1976 ' this Court granted special leave to the appellants limited to the aforesaid Ground (B) of the special leave petition.

5. We have heard an interesting argument from Mr. Juneja, who appears on behalf of the appellants, as regards the true construction and effect of the Punjab Customs (Power to Contest) Act, 1920, as amended in 1973, but we are of the opinion that the argument lacks basis and cannot, therefore, be accepted. The contention, sought to be raised for the first time by the learned Counsel, is founder on the assumption that by reason of the Amendment Act of 1973, the gift-deed executed by Mula cannot be challenged by the respondent. The assumption on which the argument is founded is fallacious, because the respondent does not seek by his plaint, as indeed he need not have sought, to challenge the gift deed executed by Mula in favour of Bhagwati Devi. That gift was challenged by appellants 1 to 12 in Suit No. 143 of l965, and they succeeded in obtaining a declaration in that suit that the gift was not binding on the reversioners. That decree became final, with the result that as on August 23, 1971 When Mula die, the property which he had sought to gift away to Bhagwati Devi, Was free from the encumbrance of the purported gift. By the present suit, the respondent merely asks for possession of the property in respect of which Mula had executed the deed of gift. The basis on which he has asked for that relief is that upon the death of Mula in 1971, the gift ceased to be operative by reason of the decree passed in Suit No. 143 of 1965. It seems to us plain that he has not and he need not have contested the validity of the gift-deed since that question was decided finally in the aforesaid suit.

7. The decision of this Court in Giani Ram v. Ramji Lal : [1969]3SCR944 . may, with advantage, be referred to on this point. Under the customary law of the Punjab, the wife and daughters of a holder of ancestral property could not sue to obtain a declaration that the alienation of ancestral property will not bind the reversioners after the death of the alienor,. But the reversioner who was entitled to challenge that alienation could obtain a declaratory decree that the alienation will not bind the reversioners after the alienor's death. It was held by this Court that such a declaratory decree. It had the effect of restoring the property alienated to the estate of the alienor and therefore all persons, including the wife and the daughters of the deceased, were entitled to the benefit of that restoration. Since the property alienated had reverted to the estate of the alien or at the point of his death, the widow and daughter's who also became heirs along with the sons under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 were held entitled to obtain possession of the ancestral property. Mr. Juneja attempted to get over the effect of this decision by invoking the provisions of Section 8 of the Punjab Limitation (Custom) Act, 1 of 1920, which provides that when a person obtains a decree declaring that an alienation of ancestral immovable property is not binding on him according to custom, the decree shall enure for the benefit of all persons to impeach the alienation. Counsel argues that since the respondent was not entitled to impeach the gift in favour of Bhagwati Devi, having been adopted after the date of the gift, the decree obtained by appellants 1 to 12 cannot enure for his benefit. The short answer to this contention is that the decree would enure for the benefit of all persons who are entitled to a share in the property of the deceased as it existed at the moment of his death. Since Mula's property stood freed from the encumbrance of the gift at the moment of his death, respondent as the adopted son would be entitled to the possession of the gifted property.

8. Another facts of the same question can be seen in Chand Singh v. Ind Kaur (2). A learned Single Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court held therein that though a suit to contest, under the customary law, alienation immovable property may not lied after the coming into force of the Amending Act of 1973, a declaration decree already obtained by a reversioner would continue to operative as the Amending Act does not render such a decree a nullity.

9. There is thus no substance in the contention raised by the appellants and their appeal must fail. Appellants 1 to 12 shall pay the respondent's costs of the appeal.


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