Danamma @ Suman Surpur & Anr. v. Amar & Ors.

Citation – Civil appeal nos. 188-189 of 2018

Bench – A. Bhushan and A.K Sikri

Date – 1st February 2018

Facts of the Case

The issue at hand is an appeal from a decision by the high court, which supported the trial court’s ruling and refused to grant the appellants coparcenary rights because they were born before the act’s introduction.

Mr. Gurulingappa Savadi, the propositus of a hindu undivided family, died in 2001, leaving behind his widow and four children, according to the circumstances of the case. Vijay and Arunkumar are two sons, and Danamma and Mahananda are two daughters. Amar, Arun Kumar’s son, applied for a partition deed and separate ownership of the joint family property in 2002. However, he refused to give the daughters any share because they were born before the act was passed, and they had received dowry at the time of their marriages, thus they had surrendered any claim to the property.

Daughters are not coparceners in this case because they were born before the Hindu succession legislation was enacted, and the trial court also rejected the notion that they received their part as dowry at the time of marriage because they had no share in the property. The same was upheld by the high court. The trial court issued its decision in 2007, and during the course of the case, a 2005 amendment to Section 6 of the HS Act was implemented, establishing the right of daughters as coparceners. However, neither the trial court nor the high court, which issued its decision in 2012, took into account the appellants’ argument.

Issues

  1. Whether, the appellants, daughters of Gurulingappa Savadi, could be denied their share on the ground that they were born prior to the enactment of the Act and, therefore, cannot be treated as coparceners?
  2. Whether, with the passing of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the appellants’ become coparcener like sons, therefore entitled to equal share as that of a son?

Arguments For The Appellants

The appellant maintained that they had a right to their part of the land as well. The trial court, in its judgement and decree of August 09, 2007, found that the suit schedule properties, with the exception of CTS No. 774, were joint family properties after formulating the issues and recording the evidence (one of the house properties in plaint C schedule).

Arguments For The Respondents

The respondent claimed that the joint family’s residential properties were included in the plaint schedule C. The joint family’s retail properties were included in the plaint schedule D. The joint family’s machineries and movables were included in the plaint schedule E. The respondent claimed that the suit schedule properties belonged to the joint family and that defendant no. 1, the respondent’s father, was ignoring the respondent and his siblings, so he sought division of the suit schedule properties. The respondent claimed that all of the properties listed on the suit schedule belonged to the plaintiff’s family.

In paragraph 5 of the plaint, the respondent claimed that the propositus, Guralingappa, died one year before the complaint was filed. The plaintiff claimed in paragraph 7 of the plaint that defendant no. 1 owned 1/3rd of the suit schedule properties, while defendants 5 and 8 each owned 1/3rd. The respondent further claimed that defendants 6 and 7 had no interest in the properties listed in the suit schedule.

Judgement

With respect to issue 1 in its decision, the Hon’ble court construed section 6 by considering the purpose of the statute’s alteration and the legislature’s objective, which was to make the act more fair and equal, as required by the Indian constitution’s article. As a result, it was declared that this amendment act will apply to all daughters, whether born before or after the Act’s enactment, as long as they are alive on the day the modified act 2005 is enacted. This decision clarified the interpretation of Section 6 of the HS Act, preventing an entire generation of women from losing their coparcenary rights.

The Hon’ble court applied a literal interpretation, stating that both the father and the daughter must have been alive on the day of the amendment act’s implementation in 2005. This case, on the other hand, shed some light on the statute’s implications. However, when interpreting the law, it did not inquire into the legislature’s intent. The amendment act’s legislative intent was to preserve female heirs’ coparcenary rights, and this ruling does not help them. The amendment legislation of 2005 was enacted during the pendency of the current action. The Ganduri Koteshwaramma v. Chakiri Yanadi ratio was applied, and the right of daughters did not lapse just because the court issued a preliminary decree. As a result, since the finality of the partition deed is determined by the court’s final order, the amendment legislation of 2005 applies. In 2007, it was granted.

Finally, upholding the Supreme Court’s authoritative precedent set in the Prakash v. Phulavati case, the court ruled that daughters will be allocated their portion of property if they were living when the amendment act of 2005 was enacted.

The second question raised by this decision was resolved by applying literal interpretation to the plain meaning of the clause. Which stipulates that a coparcener’s daughter becomes a coparcener in her own right upon birth, just as sons do. In the Hindu mitakshara law, this revised rule attempted to provide female heirs the same rights as sons.

As can be seen, Hindu mitakshara law is patriarchal and patrilineal. As a result, India’s 174th law commission addressed the issue and made recommendations. The Hindu Succession Act has several problematic aspects, according to the law commission’s assessment.

The report’s major goal was to eradicate girls’ current unequal status under Hindu Mitakshara law and promote the right to equality guaranteed by Article 14 of the constitution. As a result, it was suggested that the daughter be given coparcenary status at birth. Thus, the Hon’ble court made it very apparent that coparcenary is by birth by citing incidences of coparceneryship from SBI v. Ghamandi Ram. As a result, since the daughters have attained the status of coparcener, they are coparcener by birth in the same way as sons are.

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