Reiterating that the karta of a joint Hindu family cannot sell its ancestral properties, except in case of a legal necessity , the Bombay high court on March 31 struck down the sale of 20.69 acres in Chandrapur district, 66 years after the deal was made in October 1951.
A division bench headed by justice BP Dharmadhikari upheld the decision of a civil court, concluding that the sale of ancestral property by the karta of the joint Hindu family was not for a legal necessity of the family. “When ancestral property has been sold by the karta, otherwise than for a legal necessity, sale cannot be sustained,” said the bench, while upholding a civil court order declaring the sale void.
On October 20, 1951, Trimbakrao Begade, a resident of Nagpur, had sold 20.69 acres of the ancestral properties of the family to Maroti Dhivar for a total consideration of Rs7, 241.50. Twenty years later, all his five sons approached the local civil court seeking a declaration that since the land was part of ancestral property of the joint Hindu family and since it was sold by Trimbakrao without any legal necessity, the sale was void and not binding upon them.
On June 30, 1976, the civil court allowed their suit holding that the sale was void for want of proof of legal necessity of the family. The legal heirs of Maroti Dhivar carried the matter in appeal to the high court, where a single judge, on July 15, 1991, reversed the trial court’s finding and dismissed the suit. The single judge, thus, declared the sale of the lands by Trimbakrao as valid and binding on his sons.
Trimbakrao’s sons had then carried the matter in appeal before the division bench, which restored the trial court verdict. The division bench headed by justice BP Dharmadhikari held that the burden to prove that there was legal necessity for Trimbakrao to sell part of their ancestral family property was on the purchasers and they failed to discharge this burden.
“No special occasion in the family of Trimbakrao necessitating such a sale has been brought on record (by the purchasers),” said the division bench in this regard. The court also discarded the possibility of some other compelling reasons to sell the lands, saying, “The sale is not proved to be of an agricultural land which could not have been cultivated profitably or then to avoid any legislation. In any case, such a sale cannot be construed as one for legal necessity.”