The Supreme Court's Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Vikram Nath has upheld the validity of Section 50(a) of the Delhi Land Reforms Act 1954.

Section 50 of the Delhi Land Reforms Act states thus-

"Subject to the provisions of Section 48 and 52, when a Bhumidhar or Asami being a male dies, his interest in his holding shall devolve in accordance with the order of the succession given below:

a) Male lineal descendants in the male line of the descent:

Provided that no member of this class shall inherit if any male descendant between him and the deceased is alive:

Provided further that the son or sons of a predeceased on how low so ever shall inherit the share which would have devolved upon the deceased if he had been then alive:

b) Widow c) Father d) Mother, being a widow; e) Step mother, being a widow; f) Father's father g) Father's mother, being a widow; h) Widow of a male lineal descendant in the male line of descent; i) Brother, being the son of same father as the deceased; j) Unmarried sister; k) Brother's son, the brother having been a son of the same father as the deceased; l) Father's father's son; m)Brother's son's son; n) Father's father's son's son; o) Daughter's son."

Before the Delhi High Court, the validity of Section 50(a) of the 1954 Act was challenged on the ground that it was ultra vires of Articles 13, 14, 19, 21 and 254 of the Constitution.

The Delhi High Court dismissed the petition challenging the validity of said section.

Aggrieved, appellants approached Supreme Court.

Sushil Balwada was the counsel for appellants whereas Amrish Kumar was the counsel for Union of India. Advocate Anand Yadav was appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court.

The counsel for the appellants vehemently urged that the Delhi Land Reforms Act 1954 would be hit by Article 254 of the Constitution for the reason that the Hindu Succession Act 1956 is enacted by the Parliament whereas the 1954 Act is a State Act.

On this, the Court observed thus "The question of repugnancy arises only if both the Parliament and the State legislature have made law with respect to any one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent list (List III). In the present case two enactments of 1956 and 1954 are relatable to Entries in List III and List II respectively."

Another contention of the appellants was that Section 4(2) of the 1956 Act having been deleted, there would be no justification to apply the provisions of succession given in the 1954 Act as the same would now be governed by the 1956 Act.

On this, the Court held that the subsequent deletion would not have any impact on the rights of inheritance, which had already accrued and crystallised, prior to the amendment.

"In the present case, it is to be held that succession has opened prior to 09.09.2005, the rights of the descendants in terms of Section 50 became crystallized on account of the said Section read with Section 4(2) of the 1956 Act. Therefore, the deletion of Section 4(2) cannot have retrospective effect.", the Court observed.

Accordingly, the appeal challenging the validity of Section 50(a) of the 1954 Act was dismissed.

Cause Title- Har Naraini Devi & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors

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