(i) whether the suit property was coparcenary property or selfacquired property of Dharam Singh?
With respect to the first issue, it is the admitted position that Inder Singh had inherited the entire suit property from his father Lal Singh upon his death. As per the Mutation Entry dated 16.01.1956 produced by Respondent No. 1, Lal Singh’s death took place in 1951.
Therefore, the succession in this case opened in 1951 prior to the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 when Inder Singh succeeded to his father Lal’s Singh’s property in accordance with the old Hindu Mitakshara law.
Mulla in his commentary on Hindu Law (22nd Edition) has stated the position with respect to succession under Mitakshara law as follows: Page 129 “A son, a grandson whose father is dead, and a greatgrandson whose father and grandfather are both dead, succeed simultaneously as single heir to the separate or selfacquired property of the deceased with rights of survivorship.” Page 327 “All property inherited by a male Hindu from his father, father’s father or father’s father’s father, is ancestral property. The essential feature of ancestral property according to Mitakshara law is that the sons, grandsons and greatgrandsons of the person who inherits it, acquire an interest, and the rights attached to such property at the moment of their birth. A person inheriting property from his three immediate paternal ancestors holds it, and must hold it, in coparcenary with his sons, son’s sons, and son’s son’s sons, but as regards other relations, he holds it, and is entitled to hold it as his absolute property.” (emphasis supplied) 7.2. In Shyam Narayan Prasad v. Krisha Prasad & Ors., 2 this Court has recently held that : “12. It is settled that the property inherited by a male Hindu from his father, father’s father or father’s father’s father is an ancestral property. The essential feature of ancestral property, 2 (2018) 7 SCC 646. 14 according to Mitakshara Law, is that the sons, grandsons, and great grandsons of the person who inherits it, acquire an interest and the rights attached to such property at the moment of their birth. The share which a coparcener obtains on partition of ancestral property is ancestral property as regards his male issue. After partition, the property in the hands of the son will continue to be the ancestral property and the natural or adopted son of that son will take interest in it and is entitled to it by survivorship.” (emphasis supplied) 7.3. Under Mitakshara law, whenever a male ancestor inherits any property from any of his paternal ancestors upto three degrees above him, then his male legal heirs upto three degrees below him, would get an equal right as coparceners in that property. 7.4. In Yudhishter v. Ashok Kumar, 3 this Court held that : “11. This question has been considered by this Court in Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Kanpur and Ors. v. Chander Sen and Ors.  161 ITR 370 (SC) where one of us (Sabyasachi Mukharji, J) observed that under the Hindu Law, the moment a son is born, he gets a share in father’s property and become part of the coparcenary. His right accrues to him not on the death of the father or inheritance from the father but with the very fact of his birth. Normally, therefore whenever the father gets a property from whatever source, from the grandfather or 3 (1987) 1 SCC 204. 15 from any other source, be it separated property or not, his son should have a share in that and it will become part of the joint Hindu family of his son and grandson and other members who form joint Hindu family with him. This Court observed that this position has been affected by Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and, therefore, after the Act, when the son inherited the property in the situation contemplated by Section 8, he does not take it as Kar of his own undivided family but takes it in his individual capacity.” (emphasis supplied) 7.5. After the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 came into force, this position has undergone a change. Post – 1956, if a person inherits a selfacquired property from his paternal ancestors, the said property becomes his selfacquired property, and does not remain coparcenary property. 7.6. If succession opened under the old Hindu law, i.e. prior to the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the parties would be governed by Mitakshara law. The property inherited by a male Hindu from his paternal male ancestor shall be coparcenary property in 16 his hands visàvis his male descendants upto three degrees below him. The nature of property will remain as coparcenary property even after the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. 7.7. In the present case, the succession opened in 1951 on the death of Lal Singh. The nature of the property inherited by his son Inder Singh was coparcenary in nature. Even though Inder Singh had effected a partition of the coparcenary property amongst his sons in 1964, the nature of the property inherited by Inder Singh’s sons would remain as coparcenary property qua their male descendants upto three degrees below them. 7.8. The judgment in Uttam v. Saubhag Singh (supra) relied upon by the Respondents is not applicable to the facts of the present case. In Uttam, the appellant therein was claiming a share in the coparcenary property of his grandfather, who had died in 1973 before the appellant 17 was born. The succession opened in 1973 after the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 came into force. The Court was concerned with the share of the appellant’s grandfather in the ancestral property, and the impact of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. In light of these facts, this Court held that after property is distributed in accordance with Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, such property ceases to be joint family property in the hands of the various persons who have succeeded to it. It was therefore held that the appellant was not a coparcener visàvis the share of his grandfather. 7.9. In the present case, the entire property of Lal Singh was inherited by his son Inder Singh as coparcenary property prior to 1956. This coparcenary property was partitioned between the three sons of Inder Singh by the court vide a decree of partition dated 04.11.1964. The shares allotted in partition to the coparceners, 18 continued to remain coparcenary property in their hands qua their male descendants. As a consequence, the property allotted to Dharam Singh in partition continued to remain coparcenary property qua the Appellant.
7.10. With respect to the devolution of a share acquired on partition, Mulla on Hindu Law (22nd Edition) states the following: “§ 339. Devolution of share acquired on partition. – The effect of a partition is to dissolve the coparcenary, with the result, that the separating members thenceforth hold their respective shares as their separate property, and the share of each member will pass on his death to his heirs. However, if a member while separating from his other coparceners continues joint with his own male issue, the share allotted to him on partition, will in his hands, retain the character of a coparcenary property as regards the male issue [§ 221, sub§ (4)].” (emphasis supplied) 7.11. This Court in Valliammai Achi v. Nagappa Chettiar and Ors., 4 held that: “10. … It is well settled that the share which a cosharer obtains on partition of ancestral 4 AIR 1967 SC 1153. 19 property is ancestral property as regards his male issues. They take an interest in it by birth whether they are in existence at the time of partition or are born subsequently: [see Hindu Law by Mulla, Thirteenth Edition p. 249, para 223 (2)(4)]. If that is so and the character of the ancestral property does not change so far as sons are concerned even after partition, we fail to see how that character can change merely because the father makes a will by which he gives the residue of the joint family property (after making certain bequests) to the son.” (emphasis supplied) 7.12. The suit property which came to the share of late Dharam Singh through partition, remained coparcenary property qua his son – the Appellant herein, who became a coparcener in the suit property on his birth i.e. on 22.08.1985.
(ii) the validity of the Sale Deeds executed on 01.09.1999 by Dharam Singh in favour of Respondent No. 1, and the subsequent Sale Deed dated 30.10.2007 executed by Respondent No. 1 in favour of Respondent Nos. 2 & 3.
Dharam Singh purportedly executed the two Sale Deeds on 01.09.1999 in favour of Respondent No. 1 after the Appellant became a coparcener in the suit property. 8. The second issue which has arisen for consideration is whether the two Sale Deeds dated 01.09.1999 executed by 20 Dharam Singh in favour of Respondent No. 1, were valid or not. 8.1. It is settled law that the power of a Karta to sell coparcenary property is subject to certain restrictions viz. the sale should be for legal necessity or for the benefit of the estate.5 The onus for establishing the existence of legal necessity is on the alienee. In Rani & Anr. v. Santa Bala Debnath & Ors., 6 this Court held that : “10. Legal necessity to support the sale must however be established by the alienees. Sarala owned the land in dispute as a limited owner. She was competent to dispose of the whole estate in the property for legal necessity or benefit to the estate. In adjusting whether the sale conveys the whole estate, the actual pressure on the estate, the danger to be averted, and the benefit to be conferred upon the estate in the particular instance must be considered. Legal necessity does not mean actual compulsion: it means pressure upon the estate which in law may be regarded as serious and sufficient. The onus of providing legal necessity may be discharged by the alienee by proof of actual necessity or by proof that he made proper and bona fide enquires about the existence of the necessity and that he did all that was 5 Vijay A. Mittal & Ors. v. Kulwant Rai (Dead) through LRs & Ors., (2019) 3 SCC 520; Mulla on Hindu Law (22nd Edition), Pg. 372. 6 (1970) 3 SCC 722. 21 reasonable to satisfy himself as to the existence of the necessity.” (emphasis supplied) 8.2. In the present case, the onus was on the alienee i.e. Respondent No. 1 to prove that there was a legal necessity, or benefit to the estate, or that she had made bona fide enquiries on the existence of the same. 8.3. Respondent No. 1 has completely failed to discharge the burden of proving that Dharam Singh had executed the two Sale Deeds dated 01.09.1999 in her favour out of legal necessity or for the benefit of the estate. In fact, it has come on record that the Sale Deeds were without any consideration whatsoever.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.5124 OF 2019 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 6788 of 2019) Arshnoor Singh …Appellant versus Harpal Kaur & Ors. …Respondents