A Supreme Court Bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Krishna Murari upheld a judgment passed by the Karnataka High Court regarding a gift/settlement deed.

Senior Counsel Mr. Arvind Varma appeared on behalf of the Respondent and Mr. Anand Sanjay M. Nulli appeared as the Counsel for the Appellant.

The Petitioner had filed a suit against Defendant 1 (his father) and Defendant 2, for partition and separate possession of his one-third share in the suit-scheduled property and for the nullification of the gift/settlement deed between the two Defendants.

The Petitioner's contention was that the scheduled property belonged to his joint family, and Defendant 1 had no right to transfer the scheduled property in favor of Defendant 2, as Defendant 2 is not a coparcener or a member of the joint family.

Defendant 1 contended that Defendant 2 was brought up by him out of love and affection, which is why he settled the suit property in favor of Defendant 2. He further contended that the joint family property was already partitioned between himself, the Petitioner, and his other son. He argued that Petitioner had taken his share without any objection and therefore was not entitled to maintain the suit. It was also contended that the suit was barred by limitation.

The Trial Court dismissed the suit on appreciation of the materials on record. The Appellant filed a first appeal, and the Appellate Court set aside the judgment of the Trial Court. It held that the Settlement Deed is a void document and thereby, the Petitioner was granted one-third share in the suit property.

Defendant 2 challenged this judgment of the Appellate Court before the High Court. The High Court dismissed the appeal. Defendant 2 proceeded to approach the Supreme Court.

The Counsel for Defendant 2 first contended that the High Court was not justified in holding that the suit was not barred by limitation. He insisted that Article 58 of the Limitation Act would be applicable. Secondly, he contended that the transfer of property was for a pious purpose, which is permissible by law.

The Counsel for the Plaintiff contended that the judgment of the High Court was right in holding that the alienation by way of gift of joint family property made by Defendant 1 was void. He further argued that the period of limitation for challenging such alienation is 12 years, under Article 109 of the Second Schedule to the Limitation Act, and therefore the suit was not barred by time.

The Supreme Court found that Article 58 had no application to the case, as it is a residuary article that governs those suits which are not specifically governed by the Limitation Act. On analyzing the application of Article 109, the Supreme Court found that the suit was not barred by time.

Further, regarding the validity of the alienation, the Supreme Court said that "It is trite law that Karta/Manager of a joint family property may alienate joint family property only in three situations, namely, (i) legal necessity (ii) for the benefit of the estate and (iii) with the consent of all the coparceners of the family. In the instant case, the alienation of the joint family property under Ex.P­1 was not with the consent of all the coparceners. It is settled law that where an alienation is not made with the consent of all the coparceners, it is voidable at the instance of the coparceners whose consent has not been obtained. Therefore, the alienation of the joint family property in favour of the second defendant was voidable at the instance of the plaintiff whose consent had not been obtained as a coparcener before the said alienation."

The Court proceeded to opine that a deed of a gift in regard to ancestral property executed out of "love and affection" does not come within the scope of the term "pious purpose". It held that since the gift deed was not executed for a charitable or religious purpose, it would not account to be a "pious purpose".

Therefore, the Supreme Court upheld the first Appellate Court and the High Court's decision of declaring the settlement deed/gift deed as null and void and dismissed the appeal.

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