Mitakshara Law is the most prominent law in our country and Hindus are guided by
it all over India except in West Bengal and Assam. The most significant
character of the law is that Father as a Karta has the capacity to gift a share
out of a movable joint family in pursuit of love and affection to anyone he is
in proximate relation with.
The father's right to make a gift or will of his
separate property in favor of anyone can't be questioned. However, the
significant contention is regarding whether a father gives his movable or
immovable property, by gift intervivos or by the will to any one of his sons
excluding others whether the son will take it as ancestral property or separate
property, and what kind of the gifted or willed property it will be in hands of
his son about the male issue. However, difficulty can arise if the intention of
the donor is not to be able to gather from will/gift regarding the nature of the
property highlighted in case - C.N. Arunachala Mudaliar. V C.A. Muruganatha
Facts Of The Case:
Arunachalam had two sons from his first wife that is Muruganatha and his
brother, on the death of his first wife, he married again. The case was filed by
the plaintiff, Muruganatha, where he alleged that he is entitled (Respondent 1)
for his one-third share in the property that belongs to, his father, Defendant
1, and he argued that they were the joint properties of a family consisting of
himself, and his father and his brother, Defendant 2.
The properties which the
plaintiff claims partition included agricultural Land, a house, jewelry and
furniture, etc., and cash in the name of the Father. Defendant 1 (Father) denied
the allegation and contended the presence of any joint family property to which
the plaintiff could ask for ownership. He contended that agricultural land and
house were his father's self-acquired properties that he got under a will
executed by him. The other items of immovable property and cash, furniture, and
utensils were his own; his separate property and jewels belonged exclusively to
his second wife, Defendant 3.
Lower Court Decision
- Does the son have any stake in the property that is self-acquired by the
- In relation to his male issue, should the properties that Arunachala,
Defendant No. 1, obtained under his father's will be regarded as self-acquired
or ancestral property in his possession?
The Lower that is Trial court concluded that the properties ceded to Arunachala
(Defendant 1) by his father are ancestral properties in this context and other
properties attained by Defendant 1 from the income obtained out of the
patriarchal property, have the character of joint property except jewelry
belonging to his second wife. The High Court rejected the appeal then the
respondent applied for special leave under Article 136 .
The case came before Judge Mukherjea. The Apex Court referred to the law laid
down in Mitakshara that points out that "The father has a birthright to the
property in the ancestral estate, and he has independent power to dispose of
effects other than the immovable for necessary duties and for purposes outlined
in legal texts as gifts, etc. However, he is under the control of his sons and
the rest regarding the immovable estate, whether it was purchased by himself or
inherited from ancestors because it is ordained.".
In reference to Grandson's
rights, the Mitakshara holds the view that the grandson cannot claim any
interference because though he has a right by birth on his hereditary property
but about his share in the paternal estate, he depends on his father and his
choice in regard, In Rao Balwant v. Rani Kishori
 case it was held, in the
joint Hindu family, the father has complete and uncontrolled discretion over
disposition of his self-acquired immovable property and there is no right of
male issue to interfere in these unfettered right of his father governed by Mitakshara Law.
According to an early Calcutta High Court judgment, the father's self-acquired
property that the son gets as a gift from him or a bequest in his will shall be
regarded as ancestral property in the hands of his son or his male offspring.
This was rejected by the Madras High Court, which also agreed with the Patna
High Court, which said that the father has complete discretion over whether the
property he has left to his son is ancestral or self-acquired. If, however, the
father fails to make clear his intentions, the son should be allowed to treat
the property as ancestral.
Court opined when the father acquires the grandfather's property via gift or
will, he receives it not because of his position as a son or because of some
statutory right he has on such property but because of his father's choice to
bequest certain property in favor of him, which if his father wants also could
have conferred to someone else too. The grantor's will must govern the interest
he acquires in such property.
The Mitakshara law acknowledged that the Father
has full discretion regarding his self-acquired property, however, it must be in
concurrence with an important condition that the father is competent enough to
explain that the donee would take the property for his own gain or that the gift
acquired by him is for the benefit for the branch of the family.
The provision detailed in the deed of will or gift is expressly or indicated to
effect that the son would take property depending on the terms of the grant,
however in the absence of clear indication regarding the donee's interest then
it's up to the discretion of the court to decide the character of the property
that depends upon on intention of the donor that can be seen from the expression
of the document and the circumstances.
The court concluded that the father's objective regarding the nature of property
as the separate or joint family property is significant and it has to be taken
accordingly by the son in the absence of his intention, the nature of property
is seen in the context of the language of the deed and circumstances.
to the learned judge's interpretation of the will, the testator did not intend
for the property to pass to the sons as ancestral property. The ruling of the
Lower Court is overturned, and the plaintiff's lawsuit is dismissed. This means
that the testator made the choice to give his son complete ownership of the
property reflected in his will.
- C.N. Arunachala Mudaliar v. V C.A. Muruganatha Mudaliar(1953) SC 495
- Constitution Of India, 1950, art 136
- Mitakshara: Placitum 27, Chapter I, Section 1
- Rao Balwant v. Rani Kishori [25 IA 54]
- Sachin Chopda, (Legal Vidhya) 'C.N. Arunachala Mudaliar Vs C.A. Muruganatha Mudaliar'
Accessed on 18 Aug 2023