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  • Brother has no claim over assets inherited by sister from husband: SC

    February 10, 2017

    The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman's brother could neither be part of his sister's matrimonial family nor claim right over property inherited by his sister from her husband.

    The SC bench ordered the petitioner, Durga Prasad, who had claimed to be part of the family of his widowed sister to inherit tenancy rights over a prime property in Dehradun, to vacate the premises within four weeks or face contempt of court.

    In the present matter, the disputed property was rented out to Hem Ram Sharma in 1940. After Sharma's death, his son Baldev inherited the tenancy rights. On Baldev's death, his wife Lalita became the tenant. Lalita died in 2013. The deceased had no children and died without making a will. Her brother, Durga Prasad claimed tenancy rights on the ground, that he was part of the family and also a legal heir as he had been living with his sister in the rented premises and running a medical business with her.

    The SC bench looked into the UP Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 to understand whether the deceased woman's brother could qualify either as a member of her family or her legal heir. Further, the court stated that Durga Prasad is neither an heir nor falls under the definition of “family” as per Section 3 of the UP law.

    On further observance the court was of the view that, since the deceased was a Hindu woman, the provisions of Hindu Succession Act shall also be looked into. According to Section 15 of the Act, a property inherited by a wife from the husband and father-in-law would devolve upon the heirs of husband/father-in-law from whom she inherited the property. Thus, since Durga Prasad does not fall in the category of heir of Lalita’s husband the tenancy of the suit premises will not devolve on him.

    Rejecting Prasad's argument that he had been living with his sister for a long period to lay claim to the rented property, the SC said, "He being the brother of deceased Lalita had no reason to normally reside with his married sister. Be it noted, in her written statement filed in the release application, Lalita had not averred that her brother Durga Prasad was living with her and that he was taking care of her."

     
    OUR TAKE

    The decision has been taken by the SC bench after duly examining all the provisions related to property and its decision. Thus, there is no doubt about the fact that, a woman’s brother has no right in the property that she inherits from her husband.


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