The Supreme Court while dealing with a case relating to the property dispute between the heirs of the property observed that the transfer by the heir apparent being mere spes successionis is ineffective to convey any right over the property i.e., the chance of succession does not give a valid right.

The appellants in this dispute challenged the validity of a Release Deed executed by their father.

A two-Judge Bench comprising Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy said, “Transfer by an heir apparent being mere spes successonis is ineffective to convey any right. By the mere execution of Release Deed, in other words, in the facts of this case, no transfer took place. This is for the simple reason that the transferor, namely, the father of the appellants did not have any right at all which he could transfer or relinquish.”

The Bench disagreed with the contention of the appellants that there is no evidence that the grandfather of the appellant acted on the Release Deed and did not execute any deed based on the Deed.

Advocate Sidharth Iyer appeared for the appellants while Advocate Umashankar appeared for the respondents.

Brief Facts –

The property in dispute was the self-acquired property of the father of the appellants. The appellants being the sons and the two children out of six born from the second marriage filed a suit for the partition of the property.

The Trial Court found that the Release Deed was void because it was executed while the grandfather of the appellants was still alive and as a result, the appellants were decreed to have a right for 2/7 of the property. The High Court thereafter allowed the appeal of the respondents stating that the appellants were not entitled to a share in the property.

The Supreme Court after considering the issues of the case asserted, “The powers of a natural guardian, in other words, relate either to the person or to the minor’s property or both. Section 8 purports to, inter alia, provide that the natural guardian would have the power to do all acts, which are necessary or reasonable and proper for the benefit of the minor or realisation, protection or benefit of the minor’s estate.”

The Court further noted that it is unable to discard the deed of release executed by the father of the appellants in the year 1975 as a covenant within the meaning of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

“… the right under Section 8(a) of the Hindus Succession Act, purports to vest the right in the appellants. … appellants would also not be in a position to claim immunity from the operation of the Principle of Estoppel on the basis of Section 8(a) of the Hindu Succession Act”, the Court noted.

The Court also said that the effect of the estoppel cannot be warded off by persons claiming through the person whose conduct has generated the estoppel and that there is no merit in the attempt at drawing a distinction based on religion and therefore, the principle of estoppel applies without such distinction.

“Having received valuable consideration and allowed his father Shri Sengalani Chettair to proceed on the basis that he was free to deal with the property without the prospect of being haunted by any claim whatsoever as regards the property by Shri Chandran, a clear estoppel sprang into existence following the receipt of consideration by Shri Chandran. Estoppel would shut out in equity any claim otherwise either by Shri Chandran or his children, viz., the appellants”, the Court further said.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeals.

Cause Title- Elumalai @ Venkatesan & Anr v. M. Kamala And Ors. & Etc.

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