Friday, 9 April 2021

Whether court can treat the tenanted property as joint family property if Karta is the tenant of said property?

 A perusal of the facts on record would show that it was a contract of tenancy entered upon by great grandfather of the plaintiff. Even if the great grandfather was maintaining the family out of the income generated from the hotel business, that itself would not make the other family members as coparceners in the hotel business. It was the contract of tenancy which was inherited by the grandfather of the plaintiff who later surrendered it in favour of the Wakf Board. The tenancy was an individual right vested with the grandfather of the plaintiff who was competent to surrender it to the landlord. The High Court has clearly erred in law by holding that since the grandfather was a tenant, the tenancy is a joint family asset. The contract of tenancy is an independent contract than the joint Hindu family business.{Para 32}

 REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6149 OF 2015

KIRAN DEVI  Vs THE BIHAR STATE SUNNI WAKF BOARD

& ORS.

Author: HEMANT GUPTA, J.

1. The challenge in the present appeal is to an order passed by the

High Court of Judicature at Patna dated 6.2.2013 whereby a writ

petition filed by respondent No. 4( Hereinafter referred to as the ‘plaintiff’) herein was allowed, holding

that the tenant in the premises in question was representing a

joint Hindu family and that the Karta was not competent to

surrender the tenancy rights in favour of respondent No. 1-The

Bihar State Sunni Wakf Board2 and consequently the induction of

the appellant as a tenant by the Wakf Board was illegal.

Accordingly, a direction was issued to dispossess the appellant

from the suit premises and to handover the vacant possession to

the plaintiff.

2. The plaintiff had filed a suit for declaration before the competent

civil court stating that he is a tenant in the suit premises and is

entitled to continue in the suit premises as a tenant on payment of

monthly rent. The basis of such declaration was that Ram Sharan

Ram, the great grandfather of the plaintiff, predeceased his

brother Ram Sewak Ram who died issueless and his widow

predeceased him. Ram Sewak Ram was carrying out joint family

business of hotel in the premises of the Wakf Board. Due to

advanced age, he handed over the possession of the hotel

business to his nephew Devendra Prasad Sinha, the grandfather of

the plaintiff. The grandfather of the plaintiff succeeded to the

tenancy as member of the joint Hindu family. After his death,

defendant Nos. 1 to 3 succeeded to tenancy as members of the

Joint Hindu Family. The shop was being run by Surendra Kumar,

son of Devendra Prasad Sinha, when the grandfather of the

plaintiff fell ill. Surendra Kumar, the father of the plaintiff started

2 Hereinafter referred to as the ‘Wakf Board’

paying rent to the Wakf Board. However, Surendra Kumar later

joined service and the hotel was being run through the servants.

The plaintiff had started running the hotel since 1988. On account

of disputes over the management, the hotel was closed and it

remain closed for several years. It is the plaintiff who wanted to

resume the hotel business in the premises in question and thus

communicated with the Wakf Board to continue the hereditary

tenancy of the shop as Karta in his name.

3. The cause of action was stated to arise on 21.3.1996, when the

plaintiff’s grandfather along with others broke the lock of the suit

premises and removed the belongings available in the shop. The

father of the plaintiff went to the Police for lodging of the report

but they refused to register the case. A complaint was

subsequently filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Patna,

which is stated to be pending. Later, the plaint was amended and

the present appellant was impleaded as defendant No. 5 alleging

that the lease in her favour by the Wakf Board is forged,

fabricated, anti-dated and collusive paper.

4. The Wakf Board in its written statement asserted that Md.

Salimuddin was the duly appointed Mutawalli of the Janki Bibi Wakf

Estate No. 465B and the appellant is a tenant duly inducted by the

Management Committee. It was also pleaded that the defendants

had no knowledge that Ram Sewak Ram was carrying any

business of hotel but that Devendra Prasad Sinha was a tenant in

the suit premises who had surrendered his tenancy rights in favour

of Md. Salimuddin through a written letter dated 31.5.1996 and

thereafter handed over vacant possession of the premises.

Subsequently, the appellant had been inducted as a tenant on a

monthly rent of Rs.600/- on 5.6.1996. This was also indicated in

the written statement filed by the appellant herein. In a separate

written statement filed on behalf of defendant Nos. 1 and 2, it was

asserted that defendant No. 1 was making payment of rent to the

landlord i.e. Mutawalli of the Wakf and that he had surrendered the

shop premises on 31.5.1996 to the landlord/Mutawalli of the Wakf

as he was unable to continue the business due to old age. It was

denied that the plaintiff and his father went to lodge FIR on

account of opening of the locks by defendant No. 1. It was

asserted that the plaintiff had no occasion of claiming the shop on

21.3.1996 as the said shop was never in his possession nor under

his lock and key.

5. The appellant and the Wakf Board filed applications before the

Civil Court for transfer of the suit for adjudication by the Wakf

Tribunal in terms of provisions of Section 85 and 85A of the Wakf

Act, 19953. The suit was thus transferred by the learned Munsif on

4.2.2009. Such order of transfer of the suit to the Tribunal was

challenged by the plaintiff by way of a revision petition before the

3 For short, the ‘Act’

Patna High Court. Such revision was found to be frivolous and

dismissed on 19.5.1999 with cost of Rs.3,000/-.

6. The parties went to trial on the following issues before the Wakf

Tribunal:

“(i) Whether Devendra Prasad was running a joint family

business?

(ii) Whether Devendra Prasad as Karta of joint family

business has got authority to surrender the joint family

business?

(iii) Whether Devendra Prasad surrendered joint family

business or premises of joint family business?

(iv) Whether the plaintiff is entitled to any other relief?”

7. Devendra Prasad Sinha (defendant No. 1) appeared as DW-5

whereas Dilip Kumar (defendant No. 2) appeared as DW-14 before

the Wakf Tribunal. The said witnesses supported their stand that

the tenancy was surrendered on 31.5.1996. The learned Tribunal

held that defendant No. 1 was running a hotel business and had

later surrendered the shop to Mutawalli. The writing on paper to

surrender the possession was admitted by the witness. It was also

observed that there was no oral or documentary evidence that

Devendra Prasad Sinha had surrendered the premises where he

was running joint family business. The Tribunal noted that the

plaintiff did not even suggest that Devendra Prasad was managing

a joint family business and thus in the absence of such suggestion

it was difficult or rather impossible to believe that Devendra

Prasad was managing a joint family business. Consequently, the

suit was dismissed.

8. The High Court in a writ petition against the said order held that

the suit premises were let out to Ram Sewak Ram who carried out

joint family hotel business in the said premises until his death in

January, 1960. Thereafter, defendant No. 1 became the Karta and

succeeded to joint family business including the suit premises. It

was observed that he could not have surrendered the tenancy in

favour of Mutawalli on 31.5.1996 without the consent of other

members of the joint family. Consequently, the judgment of the

Tribunal was set aside and also a direction was issued to

dispossess the appellant from the suit premises and to handover

the vacant possession of the suit premises to the plaintiff.

9. Learned counsel for the appellant has raised the following

arguments:

(1) That the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit

filed by the plaintiff in view of the judgment of this Court in

Ramesh Gobindram (Dead) through LRs. v. Sugra

Humayun Mirza Wakf4. After the aforesaid Judgment, the

Wakf Act was amended by Central Act No. 27 of 2013. This

Court recently in Punjab Wakf Board v. Sham Singh

4 (2010) 8 SCC 726


Harike5 has considered the amendment in the Act, wherein,

the proceedings instituted prior to the amendment were to

continue as per the unamended provisions of the Act.

Therefore, a suit for declaration of the plaintiff as a tenant

was not maintainable before the Wakf Tribunal as there was

no estoppel against the statute and that the consent would

not confer jurisdiction on the Wakf Tribunal, which it did not

have in view of the judgments referred.

(2) The order of the Wakf Tribunal could not be challenged by

way of writ petition before the High Court under Article 226

of the Constitution of India as only a revision in terms of

proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act could be

preferred. Learned counsel for the appellant relies on

judgment reported as Sadhana Lodh v. National

Insurance Co. Ltd. & Anr.6 and of Patna High Court in

Md. Wasiur Rahman & Anr v. The State of Bihar &

Ors.7.

(3) The High Court could not have reappreciated facts in a

petition under Article 227 of the Constitution. The High Court

has illegally set aside findings of fact recorded by the Wakf

Tribunal. The reliance was placed on Chandavarkar Sita

Ratna Rao v. Ashalata S. Guram8. It was also argued that

5 (2019) 4 SCC 698

6 (2003) 3 SCC 524

7 CWJC No. 14622 of 2017 dt. 25.04.2018

8 (1986) 4 SCC 447


in petition under Article 226 or 227 of the Constitution, no

interference is permitted in tenancy matter. Reference was

made to Ganpat Ladha v. Sashikant Vishnu Shinde9 to

support the said contention.

(4) The surrender of possession of the tenanted premises by

defendant No. 1 was not of a business of joint Hindu family

but of the tenancy which was not been carried out for large

number of years even as admitted by the plaintiff.

(5) Even if it was assumed that defendant No. 1 was a Karta of

the joint Hindu family, he had the right to surrender the

tenancy without the consent of the other coparceners as

such surrender was for the benefit of the family inter-alia for

the reason that no business was carried out for the last

many years.

10. On the other hand, Mr. Sanyal, learned counsel for the plaintiff argued

that the nomenclature as to whether the jurisdiction of the

High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is invoked

or the jurisdiction in terms of the proviso to sub-section (9) of Section

83 of the Act is invoked, is immaterial as the jurisdiction in either

case is that of the High Court. The nomenclature in exercise

of the jurisdiction does not render the order passed by the High

Court to be illegal or unwarranted or beyond jurisdiction. Refer-

9 (1978) 2 SCC 573


ence was made to Pepsi Foods Ltd. & Anr. v. Special Judicial

Magistrate & Ors.10.

11. It was further argued that Ram Sewak Ram was inducted as a tenant and therefore, the plaintiff has a right by birth in the tenancy

which could not be surrendered by the then Karta, defendant No. 1

without the consent of the other coparceners. Since the possession

was delivered to the appellant as a consequence of illegal surrender

of tenancy rights, therefore, the order of the High Court is

just and proper.

12. Mr. Sanyal referred to Full Bench judgment of the Allahabad High

Court reported as Ram Awalamb & Ors. v. Jata Shankar &

Ors.11 to contend that the personal law of Hindus regarding the

devolution of joint Hindu family property is applicable to tenanted

property also. Reference was also made to a judgment of this

Court reported as Commissioner of Income Tax, Madhya

Pradesh v. Sir Hukamchand Mannalal & Co.12 that members of

Hindu Undivided Family can enter into contract with a stranger.

13. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and find that it is

not open to the appellant at this stage to dispute the question that

the suit filed before the learned Munsif could not have been

transferred to the Wakf Tribunal. The plaintiff had invoked the

jurisdiction of the Civil Court in the year 1996. It is the Wakf Board

10 (1998) 5 SCC 749

11 AIR 1969 All. 526

12 (1970) 2 SCC 352

and the appellant who then filed an application for transfer of the

suit to the Wakf Tribunal. Though, in terms of Ramesh

Gobindram, the Wakf Tribunal could not grant declaration as

claimed by the plaintiff, but such objection cannot be permitted to

be raised either by the Wakf Board or by the appellant as the order

was passed by the Civil Court at their instance and was also

upheld by the High Court. Such order has thus attained finality

inter- parties. The parties cannot be permitted to approbate and

reprobate in the same breath. The order that the Wakf Tribunal

has the jurisdiction cannot be permitted to be disputed as the

parties had accepted the order of the civil court and went to trial

before the Tribunal. It is not a situation where plaintiff has invoked

the jurisdiction of the Wakf Tribunal.

14. The argument raised by the learned counsel for the appellant that

there was no estoppel against the statute as consent could not

confer jurisdiction upon the Authority which did not originally have

jurisdiction. Hence, it was submitted that the decision of the

Tribunal was without jurisdiction. It is to be noted that the plaintiff

had filed proceedings before the Civil Court itself but the same

was objected to by the appellant as well as by the Waqf Board.

Thus, it is not conferment of jurisdiction by the plaintiff voluntarily

but by virtue of a judicial order which has now attained finality

between parties. The suit was accordingly decided by the Waqf

Tribunal. We do not find that it is open to the appellant to raise the

objection that the Waqf Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain

the suit in the facts of the present case. Therefore, we do not find

any merit in the first argument raised by the learned counsel for

the appellant.

15. To appreciate the second argument, the relevant provisions of

Section 83 and sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act are

extracted below:

“83. Constitution of Tribunals, etc. – (1) The State

Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette,

constitute as many Tribunals as it may think fit, for the

determination of any dispute, question or other matter

relating to a waqf or waqf property, eviction of a tenant or

determination of rights and obligations of the lessor and the

lessee of such property, under this Act and define the local

limits and jurisdiction of such Tribunals.

xx xx xx

(9) No appeal shall lie against any decision or order

whether interim or otherwise, given or made by the

Tribunal:

Provided that a High Court may, on its own motion or

on the application of the Board or any person aggrieved,

call for and examine the records relating to any dispute,

question or other matter which has been determined by the

Tribunal for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the

correctness, legality or propriety of such determination and

may confirm, reverse or modify such determination or pass

such other order as it may think fit.”

16. The judgments referred to by the appellant in Sadhana Lodh and

of Patna High Court in Md. Wasiur Rahman are not applicable to

the facts of the present appeal. Sadhana Lodh is a judgment

wherein an award of the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal was

challenged by way of a Writ Petition. This Court held that the Writ

Petition was not maintainable when an alternative remedy is

provided under a statute. Therefore, the said judgment deals with

availability of the writ jurisdiction in view of the remedy of appeal

provided. In the present case, the statute provides for a remedy

under proviso of sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act against an

order passed by the Wakf Tribunal. Such remedy is before the

High Court alone.

17. The judgment in Md. Wasiur Rahman arises out of the fact

where the order of the Waqf Tribunal was challenged by way of a

Writ Petition. An objection was raised before the writ court that

there was an alternative statutory remedy available, therefore, the

Writ Petition was not maintainable. The learned Single Judge held

that a petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India

was not maintainable but liberty was given to the petitioners to

invoke the jurisdiction in terms of proviso to sub-section (9) of

Section 83 of the Act. The said judgment does not show that any

argument was raised that a petition under Article 226/227 of the

Constitution of India could be treated as a petition in terms of

proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act. Therefore, such

judgment is also not relevant for the question arising for

consideration in the present appeal.

18. A perusal of the proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act

shows that it confers power on the High Court to call for and examine

the records relating to any dispute, question or other matter

which has been determined by the Tribunal for the purpose of

satisfying itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of such

determination. In fact, the statutory provision is acceptance of

the principle that the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article

226 or 227 of the Constitution of India cannot be curtailed in

terms of L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India & Ors.13. The relevant

extract reads thus:

“90. We may first address the issue of exclusion of the

power of judicial review of the High Courts. We have already

held that in respect of the power of judicial review, the

jurisdiction of the High Courts under Articles 226/227

cannot wholly be excluded. …. On the other hand, to hold

that all such decisions will be subject to the jurisdiction of

the High Courts under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution

before a Division Bench of the High Court within whose

territorial jurisdiction the Tribunal concerned falls will serve

two purposes. While saving the power of judicial review of

legislative action vested in the High Courts under Articles

226/227 of the Constitution, it will ensure that frivolous

claims are filtered out through the process of adjudication in

the Tribunal. The High Court will also have the benefit of a

reasoned decision on merits which will be of use to it in

finally deciding the matter.

91. …We have already emphasised the necessity for

ensuring that the High Courts are able to exercise judicial

superintendence over the decisions of the Tribunals under

Article 227 of the Constitution. In R.K. Jain case [(1993) 4

SCC 119 : 1993 SCC (L&S) 1128 : (1993) 25 ATC 464] , after

13 (1997) 3 SCC 261

taking note of these facts, it was suggested that the

possibility of an appeal from the Tribunal on questions of

law to a Division Bench of a High Court within whose

territorial jurisdiction the Tribunal falls, be pursued. It

appears that no follow-up action has been taken pursuant to

the suggestion. Such a measure would have improved

matters considerably. Having regard to both the aforestated

contentions, we hold that all decisions of Tribunals, whether

created pursuant to Article 323-A or Article 323-B of the

Constitution, will be subject to the High Court's writ

jurisdiction under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution,

before a Division Bench of the High Court within whose

territorial jurisdiction the particular Tribunal falls.”

19. A three Judge Bench in a judgment reported as Radhey Shyam &

Anr. v. Chhabi Nath & Ors.14 held that the observations in para

25 of the judgment in Surya Dev Rai v. Ram Chander Rai &

Ors.15 to be not good law. In Surya Dev Rai, it was held that the

order of Civil Court could be challenged in a petition under Article

226 and that the distinction between Articles 226 and 227 of the

Constitution of India stood almost obliterated. This Court in

Radhey Shyam held:

“27. … we are of the view that judicial orders of civil courts

are not amenable to a writ of certiorari under Article 226.

We are also in agreement with the view [Radhey

Shyam v. Chhabi Nath, (2009) 5 SCC 616] of the referring

Bench that a writ of mandamus does not lie against a

private person not discharging any public duty. Scope of

Article 227 is different from Article 226.

xxx xxx xxx

29. Accordingly, we answer the question referred as

14 (2015) 5 SCC 423

15 (2003) 6 SCC 675

follows:

29.1. Judicial orders of the civil court are not amenable to

writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

29.2. Jurisdiction under Article 227 is distinct from

jurisdiction under Article 226.

29.3. Contrary view in Surya Dev Rai [Surya Dev Rai v. Ram

Chander Rai , (2003) 6 SCC 675] is overruled.”

20. Therefore, when a petition is filed against an order of the Wakf Tribunal

before the High Court, the High Court exercises the jurisdiction

under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it is

wholly immaterial that the petition was titled as a writ petition. It

may be noticed that in certain High Courts, petition under Article

227 is titled as writ petition, in certain other High Courts as revision

petition and in certain others as a miscellaneous petition.

However, keeping in view the nature of the order passed, more

particularly in the light of proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83

of the Act, the High Court exercised jurisdiction only under the Act.

The jurisdiction of the High Court is restricted to only examine the

correctness, legality or propriety of the findings recorded by the

Wakf Tribunal. The High Court in exercise of the jurisdiction conferred

under proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act

does not act as the appellate court.

21. We find merit in the argument raised by Mr. Sanyal that the

nomenclature of the title of the petition filed before the High Court

is immaterial. In Municipal Corporation of the City of

Ahmedabad v. Ben Hiraben Manilal16, this Court held that

wrong reference to the power under which an action was taken by

the Government would not per se vitiate the action, if the same

could be justified under some other power whereby the

Government could lawfully do that act. The Court held as under:

“5. ….It is well settled that the exercise of a power, if there

is indeed a power, will be referable to a jurisdiction, when

the validity of the exercise of that power is in issue, which

confers validity upon it and not to a jurisdiction under which

it would be nugatory, though the section was not referred,

and a different or a wrong section of different provisions

was mentioned. See in this connection the observations

in Pitamber Vajirshet v. Dhondu Navlapa [ILR (1888) 12 Bom

486, 489] . See in this connection also the observations of

this Court in the case of L. Hazari Mal Kuthiala v. ITO,

Special Circle, Ambala Cantt . [AIR 1961 SC 200 : (1961) 1

SCR 892 : (1961) 41 ITR 12, 16 : (1961) 1 SCJ 617] This

point has again been reiterated by this Court in the case

of Hukumchand Mills Ltd. v. State of M.P. [AIR 1964 SC

1329 : (1964) 6 SCR 857 : (1964) 52 ITR 583 : (1964) 1 SCJ

561] where it was observed that it was well settled that a

wrong reference to the power under which action was taken

by the Government would not per se vitiate that action if it

could be justified under some other power under which

Government could lawfully do that act. See also the

observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Nani

Gopal Biswas v. Municipality of Howrah [AIR 1958 SC 141 :

1958 SCR 774, 779 : 1958 SCJ 297 : 1958 Cri LJ 271].”

22. Later, in Pepsi Foods Ltd., this Court held that nomenclature

under which the petition is filed is not quite relevant and it does

not debar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction which otherwise

it possesses. If the Court finds that the appellants could not

16 (1983) 2 SCC 422

invoke its jurisdiction under Article 226, the Court can certainly

treat the petition as one under Article 227 or Section 482 of the

Code. This Court held as under:

“26. Nomenclature under which petition is filed is not quite

relevant and that does not debar the court from exercising

its jurisdiction which otherwise it possesses unless there is

special procedure prescribed which procedure is mandatory.

If in a case like the present one the court finds that the

appellants could not invoke its jurisdiction under Article

226, the court can certainly treat the petition as one under

Article 227 or Section 482 of the Code. It may not however,

be lost sight of that provisions exist in the Code of revision

and appeal but some time for immediate relief Section 482

of the Code or Article 227 may have to be resorted to for

correcting some grave errors that might be committed by

the subordinate courts. The present petition though filed in

the High Court as one under Articles 226 and 227 could well

be treated under Article 227 of the Constitution.”

23. Therefore, the petition styled as one under Article 226 would not

bar the High Court to exercise jurisdiction under the Act and/or under

Article 227 of the Constitution. The jurisdiction of the High

Court to examine the correctness, legality and propriety of determination

of any dispute by the Tribunal is reserved with the High

Court. The nomenclature of the proceedings as a petition under

Article 226 or a petition under Article 227 is wholly inconsequential

and immaterial.

24. The judgment referred to by Mr. Sanyal in Sir Hukamchand

Mannalal & Co. that a member of an HUF is competent to enter

into a contract with stranger does not support the argument

raised. It has been held that if a member of the HUF enters into

contract with a stranger, he does so in his individual capacity. It

was held as under:

“5. The Indian Contract Act imposes no disability upon

members of a Hindu undivided family in the matter of

entering into a contract inter se or with a stranger. A

member of a Hindu undivided family has the same liberty of

contract as any other individual: it is restricted only in the

manner and to the extent provided by the Indian Contract

Act. Partnership is under Section 4 of the Partnership Act

the relation between persons who have agreed to share the

profits of a business carried on by all or any of them acting

for all: if such a relation exists, it will not be invalid merely

because two or more of the persons who have so agreed

are members of a Hindu undivided family. …….”

25. This Court has quoted with the approval of the judgment reported

as P.K.P.S. Pichappa Chettiar & Ors. v. Chockalingam Pillai

& Ors. AIR 1934 Privy Council 192wherein it has been held that when a manager of a joint

family enters into a partnership, that would not ipso facto makes

the other member of his family as partners. The Court held as under:

“In their Lordships' opinion, the law in respect of the matter

now under consideration is correctly stated in Mayne's

Hindu Law (9th Edn.) at page 398, as follows:

“Where a managing member of a joint family enters

into a partnership with a stranger the other members

of the family do not ‘ipso facto become partners in

the business so as to clothe them with all the rights

and obligations of a partner as defined by the Indian

Contract Act. In such a case the family as a unit does

not become a partner, but only such of its members

as in fact enter into a contractual relation with the

stranger: the partnership will be governed by the

Act.”

In this passage reference is made to the Indian Contract

Act, which would be applicable to the facts of this case. It is

to be noted that the sections referring to partnership in the

said Act have been repealed and are now embodied in the

Indian Partnership Act, 1932. Even assuming, therefore, that

Virappa was the manager of his joint Hindu family in 1908,

his entering into partnership with the Chetties in that year

would not “ipso facto” make the other members of his

family partners …”

26. The next question is as to whether Shri Devendra Prasad Sinha

was running the joint family business and/or whether the act of

surrender of possession was that of a joint Hindu family business

or only of surrender of tenancy; or that as a Karta, surrender of

tenancy was for the benefit of the joint Hindu family.

27. The plaintiff has pleaded that when father of the plaintiff joined

service, the shop was being run through the servants and that the

plaintiff began to run the hotel since 1988. Thereafter, the disputes

cropped up over the management and accounting of the income

and the hotel was closed for many years. The plaintiff has

pleaded as under:

“4. That when the grandfather of the plaintiff fell ill the

shop was being looked after and began to run by his eldest

son Surendra Kumar and Surendra Kumar began to pay rent

to Waqf Board under receipt granted to him in the name of

Devendra Prasad Sinha, which are all with Surendra Kumar,

later when Surendra Kumar joined the Service the shop is

bring run through the servant but later on the Hotel began

to run by the plaintiff since 1988 and thereafter dispute

cropped up over the management and accounting of

income and as such the Hotel became closed and remained

closed for several years.”

28. The High Court held that the existence of joint family is established

from the Ration Card issued on 2.4.1949 and from the payment

of rent for the period 1947–1955 that the premises were let

out to joint family. The High Court also rejected the surrender of

tenancy on the ground that it was without the consent of other coparceners.

It was held as under:

“37. …After death of Ram Sharan Ram, Ram Sewak Ram

became the Karta of the joint Hindu family of which

defendant No. 1, his three sons Surendra Kumar, father of

the plaintiff, Dilip Kumar, Defendant No. 2, Suresh Kumar,

plaintiff and his three brothers were the members.

Existence of the joint family of which Ram Sewak Ram was

the Karta is established from perusal of the Ration Card

issued under the order of the Government by the Secretary

to the Government, Exhibit-9/A dated 2.12.1949. After

death of Ram Sharan Ram, Ram Sewak Ram having become

Karta of the joint family managed the affairs of the joint

family including the hotel business in the suit premises let

out to the joint family by the Mutawalli of the Wakf Estate

which owned the suit premises as is evident from perusal of

46 rent receipts (Exhibits-8 to 8/45) granted by the Bihar

State Sunni Wakf Board through Mutawalli Md. Suleman for

the period 1947-1955 indicating payment of rent for the suit

premises by the tenant Ram Sewak Ram.

xxx xxx xxx

43. Rent receipts, Water Board receipt and electricity bill

receipt aforesaid obtained by Defendant No. 1 are

subsequent to the death of the original tenant i.e. Karta of

the joint family Ram Sewak Ram from whom Defendant No.

1 succeeded to the tenancy along with the other

coparceners of the joint family. On the basis of the

subsequent receipts it cannot be said that the tenancy is

created only in favour of Defendant No. 1 ignoring the other

descendants/successors of Ram Sewak Ram. Reference in

this connection is also required to be made to the

statement of Defendant No. 4 who examined himself as

D.W. 2 paragraph 24 wherein he has categorically stated

that in the Wakf Board there is no Kirayanama executed in

favour of Devendra Babu, Defendant No. 1.

44. The case set out by the defendants regarding surrender

letter dated 31.5.96 is also fit to be rejected as after the

death of Ram Sewak Ram, the Karta of the Hindu undivided

family, Defendant No. 1 became the Karta of the Hindu

undivided family and as per the tenets of Hindu Law

Defendant No. 1 was not entitled to surrender the tenanted

premises without the consent of the other coparceners of

the Hindu undivided family….

45. In view of my findings above, there is no difficulty in

concluding that the suit premises was let out to Ram Sewak

Ram who carried joint family hotel business in the said

premises until his death i.e. in January, 1960 whereafter

Defendant No. 1 became the Karta of the family and

succeeded to the joint family business including the suit

premises along with his sons and grandsons constituting

the joint family, as such, without the consent of the other

members of the joint family could not have surrendered the

tenancy in favour of Mutawalli of the Wakf Estate through

the so-called surrender letter dated 31.5.1996.”

29. Thus, even if a male member had taken premises on rent, he is

tenant in his individual capacity and not as Karta of Hindu Undivided Family in the absence of any evidence that Karta was doing the business for and on behalf of Joint Hindu Family. The High Court has presumed the existence of the joint family of which Ram Sewak Ram was said to be the Karta from perusal of the Ration

Card issued on 2.12.1949. The Hindu Joint Hindu Family cannot be

presumed to be in existence only on the basis of Ration Card un-

less there is evidence that the funds of joint Hindu Family were invested in the business in the tenanted premises.

30. The Allahabad High Court in Ram Awalamb held that notions of

Hindu law, or Mohamedan law, or any other personal law cannot

be imported into the rights created by the U.P. Zamindari Abolition

and Land Reforms Act. The Court held as under:

“8. Hindu joint families have existed from times

immemorial and they exist even now. However, it is by no

means necessary that every Hindu Joint family should be

possessed of joint family property also. Where any property

is ancestral or it is acquired by all the members of a joint

Hindu family or after having been acquired by one member

of the joint family only it is thrown in the common stock it is

regarded to be joint family property or coparcenary

property. Until partition takes place, or only one member of

the family is left, without having any male issue, the

coparcenary property remains with the family and upon the

death of any one member only his interest devolves on the

surviving coparceners. The Karta or manager of the family

alone has the right to transfer the property either for legal

necessity or for the benefit of the estate.

xx xx xx

45. Our conclusions can, therefore, be briefly summarised

as follows:—

(1) Where members of a joint Hindu family hold bhumidhari

rights in any holding, they hold the same as tenants in

common and not as joint tenants. The notions of Hindu law

cannot be invoked to determine that status.

(2) Where in certain class of tenancies, such as permanent

tenure holders, the interest of a tenant was both heritable

and transferable in a limited sense and such a tenancy

could, prior to the enforcement of the Act, be described as

joint family property or coparcenary property, the position

changed after Act 1 of 1951 came into force. Thereafter the

interest of each bhumidhar, being heritable only according

to the order of succession provided in the Act and

transferable without any restriction other than mentioned in

the Act itself, must be deemed to be a separate unit.

(3) Each member of a joint Hindu family must be considered

to be a separate unit for the exercise of the right of transfer

and also for the purposes of devolution of bhumidhari

interest of the deceased member.

(4) The right of transfer of each member of the joint Hindu

family of his interest in bhumidhari land is controlled only

by Sec. 152 of the Act and by no other restriction. The

provisions of Hindu law relating to restriction on transfer of

coparcenary land, e.g., existence of legal necessity, do not

apply.”

31. We thus find that the High Court has committed a basic error of

law and fact that the payment of rent or the Ration Card proves

that the tenant was carrying business as a Joint Hindu Family Business.

There can be presumption of Hindu joint family property if

the property has been acquired by the male member or if the

same has been treated as joint Hindu family. But no such presumption is attached to a business activity carried out by an individual in a tenanted premise.

32. A perusal of the facts on record would show that it was a contract

of tenancy entered upon by great grandfather of the plaintiff.

Even if the great grandfather was maintaining the family out of

the income generated from the hotel business, that itself would

not make the other family members as coparceners in the hotel

business. It was the contract of tenancy which was inherited by

the grandfather of the plaintiff who later surrendered it in favour

of the Wakf Board. The tenancy was an individual right vested

with the grandfather of the plaintiff who was competent to surrender

it to the landlord. The High Court has clearly erred in law by

holding that since the grandfather was a tenant, the tenancy is a

joint family asset. The contract of tenancy is an independent contract than the joint Hindu family business.

33. In fact, the evidence produced by the plaintiff is payment of rent

by either Ram Sewak Ram or by the grandfather of the plaintiff.

Such payment of rent is not indicative of the fact that the hotel

business was by the joint Hindu family. This Court in a judgment

reported as G. Narayana Raju (Dead) by his Legal

Representative v. G. Chamaraju & Ors. AIR 1968 SC 1276, held that there is no

presumption under Hindu Law that business standing in the name

of any member of the joint family is a joint business even if that

member is the manager of the joint family, unless it could be

shown that the business in the hands of the coparcener grew up

with the assistance of the joint family property or joint family

funds or that the earnings of the business were blended with the

joint family estate. This Court held as under:


“3. … It is well established that there is no presumption

under Hindu Law that business standing in the name of any

member of the joint family is a joint business even if that

member is the manager of the joint family. Unless it could

be shown that the business in the hands of the coparcener

grew up with the assistance of the joint family property or

joint family funds or that the earnings of the business were

blended with the joint family estate, the business remains

free and separate. …….

xxx xxx xxx

6. … It is a well-established doctrine of Hindu Law that

property which was originally self-acquired may become joint

property if it has been voluntarily thrown by the coparcener

into joint stock with the intention of abandoning all separate

claims upon it. The doctrine has been repeatedly recognised

by the Judicial Committee (See Hurpurshad v. Sheo Dayal,

(1876) 3 Ind App 259 (PC) and Lal Bahadur v. Kanhaia Lal,

(1907) 34 Ind App 65 (PC). But the question whether the

coparcener has done so or not is entirely a question of fact to

be decided in the light of all the circumstances of the case. It

must be established that there was a clear intention on the

part of the coparcener to waive his separate rights and such

an intention will not be inferred merely from acts which may

have been done from kindness or affection (See the decision

in Lala Muddun Gopal v. Khikhindu Koer, (1891) 18 Ind App 9

(PC). For instance, in Naina Pillai v. Daivanai Ammal, AIR

1936 Madras 177 where in a series of documents selfacquired

property was described and dealt with as ancestral

joint family property was not sufficient but an intention of the

coparcener must be shown to waive his claims with full

knowledge of his right to it as his separate property. The

important point to keep in mind is that the separate property

of a Hindu coparcener ceases to be his separate property

and acquires the characteristics of his joint family or

ancestral property, not by mere act of physical mixing with

his joint family or ancestral property, but by his own volition

and intention, by his waiving or surrendering his special right

in it as separate property . A man's intention can be

discovered only from his words or from his acts and conduct.

When his intention with regard to his separate property is

not expressed in words, we must seek for it in his acts and

conduct. But it is the intention that we must seek in every

case, the acts and conduct being no more than evidence of

the intention. …” (Emphasis Supplied)

34. This Court in a judgment reported as P.S. Sairam & Anr. v. P.S.

Rama Rao Pissey & Ors. (2004) 11 SCC 320

following the above said judgment

held that so far as immovable property is concerned, there would

be a presumption that the same belongs to joint family, provided

it is proved that the joint family had sufficient nucleus at the time

of its acquisition, but no such presumption can be applied to a

business. It was held as under:

“7. Crucial question in the present appeal is as to whether

business which was conducted by defendant No. 1 was his

separate business or it belonged to joint family, consisting

of himself and his sons. It is well settled that so far as

immovable property is concerned, in case the same stands

in the name of individual member, there would be a

presumption that the same belongs to joint family, provided

it is proved that the joint family had sufficient nucleus at the

time of its acquisition, but no such presumption can be

applied to business……………”

35. Thus, mere payment of rent by great grandfather or by the grandfather of the plaintiff raises no presumption that it was a joint

Hindu family business. The High Court has clearly erred in law to

hold so without any legal or factual basis.

36. Even if Devendra Prasad Sinha is considered to be representing

the joint Hindu family while carrying out hotel business in the tenanted premises, the question as to the act Karta to surrender of

tenancy was for the benefit of the joint Hindu family. The powers

of Karta of a Joint Hindu Family have been described in 22nd Edition of Hindu Law by Mulla (para 240) inter alia to the following effect:

“Alienation by manager of coparcenary property for

legal necessity. – (1) The power of the manager of a joint

Hindu family to alienate the joint family property is

analogous to that of a manager for an infant heir, as

defined by the Judicial Committee.

(2) The manager of a joint Hindu family has the power to

alienate for value, joint family property, so as to bind the

interest of both adult and minor coparceners in the

property, provided that the alienation is made for legal

necessity, or for the benefit of the estate. A manager (not

being the father) can alienate even the share of a minor

coparcener to satisfy an antecedent debt of the minor’s

father (or grandfather) when there is no other reasonable

course open to him (Dharmaraj Singh v. Chandrasekhar

Rao, (1942) Nag 214). It is not necessary to validate the

alienation that the express consent of the adult members

should have been obtained.

In Suraj Bunsi Koer v. Sheo Proshad, (1879) 6 IA 88, p.

101, the Judicial Committee stated that it was not clearly

settled whether where an alienation is made by a manager

for a legal necessity, but without the express consent of the

adult coparceners, the alienation is binding on them.

However, in later decisions of the same tribunal, the view

taken is that if legal necessity is established, the express

consent of the adult coparceners is not necessary (Sahu

Ram v. Bhup Singh, AIR 1917 PC 61). As to alienation by

manager for joint family business.

Where any such transaction has been entered into for

legal necessity by a manager, it would be deemed to be on

behalf of the family and would bind it. The position is not

worsened by the fact that a junior member joins the

transaction and the joining by him is abortive by reason of

his minority (Radha Krishnadas v. Kaluram, AIR 1967 SC

574).”

37. The pleaded stand of the Plaintiff is that the hotel was closed for

several years. Therefore, the liability to pay monthly rent continued

to accrue upon karta - Devendra Prasad Sinha. The question

is as to whether, in these circumstances, on account of cessation

of activities of running of the hotel, the act of the surrender of tenancy

is in fact for the benefit of the joint family. The learned High

Court found that the letter of surrender was not reliable or tenable.

The executor of the surrender letter has admitted such surrender

letter in the written statement and while appearing as a

witness as DW-5. The Mutawalli Md. Salimuddin has also accepted

the surrender letter in the written statement and while appearing

in the witness box as DW-10. Merely for the reason that signatures

in the translated copy do not tally with the Urdu copy is not

sufficient to hold the surrender letter as unreliable as the translation

can be incorrect but the correctness of the document in has

not been disputed by the executor or by the acceptor. The said

document could not have been said to be unreliable on the basis

of the statement of the plaintiff who is not a party to such transaction.

It is one thing to say that the document is unreliable and another

to say that the document does not bind the plaintiff. We

have no hesitation to hold that the document was validly proved

and accepted by the Wakf Board. Therefore, the act of surrender

of tenancy was for the benefit of the Joint Hindu family.


38. We thus hold that the order of the High Court is not sustainable for

the reasons recorded above. Consequently, the present appeal is

allowed. The order of the High Court is set aside and that of the

Wakf Tribunal is restored with no order as to costs.

.............................................J.

(ASHOK BHUSHAN)

.............................................J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

.............................................J.

(HEMANT GUPTA)

NEW DELHI;

APRIL 05, 2021.


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