The Delhi High Court reiterated the law laid down in the landmark judgment of Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Kanpur and Ors. vs. Chander Sen and Ors. – if a person dies after passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and there is no HUF existing at the time of the death of such a person, inheritance of an immovable property of such a person by his successors-in-interest is no doubt inheritance of an ‘ancestral’ property but the inheritance is as a self acquired property in the hands of the successor and not as an HUF property although the successor(s) indeed inherits ‘ancestral’ property i.e a property belonging to his paternal ancestor.
The said judgment was passed by the Delhi High Court in the matter of Saurabh Sharma vs. Om Wati and Ors., CS (OS) No. 430/2016 & IAs No.10391/2016 & 11079/2016 decided on 25.05.2018.
The Plaintiff had instituted a suit for partition of property claiming to be entitled to a 1/16th share in the HUF property of his paternal grandfather namely Sunder Lal Sharma. As per the Plaintiff, Sunder Lal Sharma inherited the property of his adoptive mother on her demise in the year 1985. The Plaintiff contended that upon the death of Sunder Lal Sharma in the year 1998, his legal heirs constituted an HUF in which the Plaintiff had a share by birth.
The Court was required to decide whether the averments in the plaint constitute a plea of existence of an HUF/coparcenary and / or of the property being of the said HUF and coparcenary and of which the plaintiff claims to be a member and thus entitled to a share in the property and claim partition thereof.
The Court observed that the adoptive mother of Sunder Lal Sharma namely – Basanti Devi died in the year 1985-86 i.e. after coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Under the provisions of Section 15(1)(a) of the said Act, the properties / estate of Basanti Devi would devolve on Sunder Lal Sharma as the personal properties of Sunder Lal Sharma and in which the sons of Sunder Lal Sharma would not have any share or interest.
It was further observed by the Court that it was not the plea of the plaintiff that Sunder Lal Sharma, after demise of Basanti Devi in 1985-86, constituted a HUF with his sons or threw the properties in the HUF hotchpotch. On the contrary, the plaint was premised on Sunder Lal Sharma, having so become the owner of properties and owing to having a common residence with his sons, having constituted a HUF and which very premise of the plaintiff in the plaint has no legs in law to stand on.
Applying the ratio of Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Kanpur and Ors. Vs. Chander Sen and Ors., the Court held that Sunder Lal Sharma, paternal grandfather of the plaintiff, even if inherited the property subject matter of the present suit from Basanti Devi who died after the coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act, inherited the same in his personal individual capacity and not for the benefit of his own progeny. It was further held that Sunder Lal Sharma also died after coming into force of Hindu Succession Act and his estate was also inherited thereunder by his Class I heirs i.e. his wife, sons and daughter and the plaintiff as a grandson of Sunder Lal Sharma did not acquire any interest in the estate of Sunder Lal Sharma.
It was finally held that the plaint, on averments contained therein, did not disclose any cause of action for the relief claimed and therefore the suit was dismissed in exercise of powers under Order XII Rule 6 and Order XV of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.