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Married daughter can be given father's property over son and wife: SC

  • In a landmark judgment affecting a multitude of people around the country, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the father can leave his co-operative society flat in the name of his married daughter, even if his wife and son are still alive.

    The West Bengal Cooperative Societies Rules, 1987, stipulate that the owner of a flat in a cooperative society can nominate his house in favor of a person "belonging to his family".

    Taking this rule as their defence, along with other provisions of the WB Cooperative Societies Act, 1983, Biswa Ranjan Sengupta's wife and son challenged the decision of the managing committee of Purbanchal Housing Estate, Salt Lake City, Kolkata, to transfer ownership of a flat to Indrani Wahi, Sengupta's married daughter.

    The flat was originally allotted to Sengupta. He was living with his married daughter, Indrani, after he complained of being ill-treated by his son and wife. But based on the objection, the deputy registrar of Cooperative Societies declined to record Indrani's name as the successor of the flat.

    Indrani's appeal was allowed by a single judge of the high court, which directed the flat to be registered in her name. But a division bench of the HC ruled in the opposite direction. According to their ruling, Indrani was a part shareholder of the property along with Sengupta's wife and son and that she could dispose of the property only with the express consent of other shareholders. Indrani appealed against this judgment in the apex court.

    A bench of justices JS Khehar and C Nagappan reviewed the topic at hand and had the following to say - "There can be no doubt that where a member of a cooperative society nominates a person in consonance with provisions of the rules, on the death of such member, the cooperative society is mandated to transfer all the share or interest of such member in the name of the nominee. The rights of others on account of inheritance or succession is a subservient right. Only if a member had not exercised the right of nomination under Section 79 of the Act, then and then alone, the existing share or interest of the member would devolve by way of succession or inheritance."

    Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Khehar said: "It is not necessary for us to deal with the issue whether Indrani Wahi, being a married daughter of the original member, Biswa Ranjan Sengupta, could be treated as a member of the family of the deceased because the single judge, as also the division bench of the HC, have concluded that she was a member of the family."

     

    OUR TAKE

    The decision has been a just and righteous one. But did it need the Supreme Court's verdict? The fact that the person in whose name the flat was registered, Mr.Sengupta, was ill-treated by his son and wife should have been reason enough for the lower courts to dismiss this case as one of harassment on the part of the son and wife. The Court's concurrent findings were also not contested by the son. The SC said the son can pursue his inheritance case in other forums. But will he? We do not think so. The matter should be put to rest now. 


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