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The Status of the Hindu Joint Family Is Not Vitiated Even if Partitioned, Yet a Possibility of Reunion Can Revert the Status: Supreme Court

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Excerpt

The court in this case held that the family was regarded with the status of Joint Hindu Family irrespective of the partition deed because the intentions of the parties weren’t altered and deprecated for the three branches. 

Facts

The partition dated 07.11.1960 was entered by three brothers in the ratio of 1/3rd each. Even after the partition took place, brothers had continued to live under the same roof and likewise carried out their business under the title of being partners. In 1963, they purchased housing and later constructed a house therein. Since 1964 all three brothers cohabited and carried on their different joint businesses. Varied properties were purchased and under the same title in the following years. In Coimbatore, one Vasudeva Industries Ltd., which was in liquidation since 1967 was taken on lease from the official liquidator of Madras HC. Later, the name of the company was switched to Vasudeva Textiles Mills. In the complaint, the plaintiff was seeking 1/6th part of the share from the partition owing to the number of members of the joint family. 

Issue Raised

The issue before the Apex Court in this appeal was whether a particular house property purchased in 1979, was a joint family property or not. 

Arguments by the Petitioner

The appellant’s case was that partition took place on 7.11.1960 with the intention to save the property from the Land Ceiling Act and as presupposed there was no intention of separating each branch and bringing the change in the status of joint family. Fraud was played on them as well as on the court to obtain the compromise decree and thus in terms of fraud, it must be inferred to be unfair. It was contended that there was a reunion between three brothers to revert to Joint Hindu Family status, which could be construed from the act and conduct of the parties subsequent to the partition. 

Arguments by the Respondent

The learned counsels submitted that there was no application of fraud or misrepresentation as the parties were well educated and since it was a compromise decree, it was not open to contend that they signed under fraud. And likewise, the compromise decree was acted upon by the parties and the complete shares of the mill were transferred. The partition was, in fact, eventuated on 8.3.1981 of all immovable properties. Subsequently executed 3 years later, furthermore, the family was joint however the branches were not part of the joint family. 

Court’s Observation

The Plaint to this partition claim was never admitted and thus it was construed that the parties remained joined and similarly the properties attached to names of branches remained joint till the consent decree was passed. The partition as pleaded by the defendant was considered to be erred on part of that all branches were separate and thus this was denied. The court had also observed that an individual member of Joint Family could certainly file his separate Returns under the Income Tax Act as well as Wealth Tax Act. Such filing would stand inconclusive for the determination of the status of the family. 

Court’s Decision

The new house was constructed after purchasing the land in 1963. Subsequently, the families of the three brothers had started living which clearly implied the intention of all brothers to live jointly and continue as a Joint Hindu Family. The three branches continued the joint business by instituting firms that were headed by the joint family in the partnership or private company. In terms of deciding the compromise decree, it was stated to be nothing but the implementation of the agreement and it was inferred that there was a partition of all properties that were standing in the names of three branches and whereof implemented by the consent decree. The property in dispute i.e Tatabad residential property was obtained in the name of a brother, yet all three branches were part of the Joint Hindu Family and the property even if purchased in the name of one member of the Joint Family should render for benefit of all and likewise, all branches would have an equal share in the disputed property. Parties were at liberty to make an application and it would be disposed of by the trial court in accordance with law as a final decree. 

Click here to view full judgment.


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