Analysis of a Property Dispute Case: Joint Family and Ancestral Properties  

Smt. Puttamma vs Smt. S.G. Jayanthi

 26 May, 2023

Bench: Hon’ble  H.P.Sandesh



In this case, the respondent No.1/plaintiff filed a suit before the Trial Court claiming her share in the joint family and ancestral properties. The plaintiff asserted that she, along with her brothers and sisters, constituted a Hindu undivided joint family and that the suit properties, listed in schedules ‘A’ and ‘B’, were part of the joint family estate. The plaintiff further alleged that defendant Nos. 2 and 3, her brothers, were mismanaging the properties and attempting to alienate the ancestral property listed in ‘B’ schedule. The plaintiff demanded a partition and separate possession of her rightful share.

Defendants’ Counter Arguments:

The defendants, in their written statement, admitted the relationship between the parties but disputed the plaintiff’s claims. They contended that the ‘B’ schedule property was purchased by the plaintiff’s grandmother as the guardian of the plaintiff’s father. They argued that the properties listed in ‘A’ schedule were cultivated by defendant Nos. 2 and 3 as tenants and that their father, S G Govindappa, was not a tenant as claimed by the plaintiff. The defendants further asserted that the suit properties were not joint family properties and that they had individually developed and cultivated the land. They also claimed to have provided financial assistance to the plaintiff on several occasions.

Trial Court Proceedings and Judgment:

After examining the evidence presented by both parties, the Trial Court framed the relevant issues and answered them in favor of the plaintiff for item Nos. 2 and 3 of ‘A’ schedule property and ‘B’ schedule property. The Court granted a decree for the partition and separate possession of a 1/6th share in these properties.

First Appellate Court Proceedings and Judgment:

Both parties appealed the Trial Court’s judgment. The First Appellate Court reevaluated the evidence and addressed the issues raised. It concluded that the Trial Court’s decision did not require interference regarding item Nos. 2 and 3 of ‘A’ schedule property, as well as ‘B’ schedule property. The Court also found in favor of the plaintiff’s cross-objection/appeal, granting relief in respect of item Nos. 1 and 4 of ‘A’ schedule property. It decreed the suit in its entirety, granting the plaintiff a 1/6th share in all the properties.

 Grounds of Appeal:

The appellants, being dissatisfied with the judgment, filed a second appeal. They argued that the First Appellate Court erred in not considering a registered partition deed dated 19.02.1997, which allegedly divided the ‘A’ schedule properties between defendant Nos. 1 to 3. They contended that the amendment to Section 6A of the Hindu Succession Act should have been considered, limiting the plaintiff’s entitlement to a notional partition. The appellants further asserted that the plaintiff had received substantial amounts of money and, therefore, was not entitled to an equal share in the properties.

Substantial Questions of Law: Based on the grounds of appeal, the second appellate court framed the following substantial questions of law:

  1. Whether the findings of the First Appellate Court regarding item Nos. 1 and 4 of ‘A’ schedule property being joint family/ancestral properties are supported by the evidence on record.
  2. Whether the partition deed executed and registered prior to the amendment to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, dated 19.02.1997, is saved by the amendment and if this aspect was overlooked by the lower courts.

The learned counsel appearing for the appellants argues that the original propositor, S G Govindappa, passed away, leaving behind his wife Puttamma, two sons, and three daughters. They contend that the suit schedule properties are ancestral and joint family properties, and there was a partition in 1992, which was registered in 1997. The defendants have filed a counterclaim, and the counsel argues that the plaintiff is entitled only to a 1/5th share out of her father’s 1/4th share.

Defendants’ Claims:

The counsel further contends that the suit ‘B’ schedule property is a dwelling house and the plaintiff is not entitled to a share in that property as per Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act. They argue that the Trial Court and First Appellate Court made errors in not considering certain documents and the cultivation of the land by the defendants. They also claim that there was already a partition, which is binding on the co-parceners.

Counter claims:

In response, the learned counsel for the respondent/plaintiff argues that the Trial Court rightly decreed the suit in respect of some properties and erred in dismissing it for others. They argue that item Nos.1 and 4 of the ‘A’ schedule property are not self-acquired and that the plaintiff is entitled to a share in them. They also argue that the ‘B’ schedule property was acquired through a will executed by the plaintiff’s mother and that the plaintiff has not relinquished her right to a share.

The counsel for the appellants replies to these arguments, stating that only a portion of the ‘B’ schedule property was sold, and the sale is not binding on the property as a whole.

After hearing the arguments, the court notes that there is a divergence in the findings of the lower courts regarding the entitlement to shares in certain properties. The court determines that the main issue to be considered is whether the partition deed executed in 1997, prior to the amendment to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act in 2005, is saved by the amendment.

Court’s analysis

Upon analyzing the material available on record, the court observes that the amendment operates prospectively and does not apply to successions that had already taken place. The court refers to previous judgments, including the Supreme Court’s decision in G. Sekar v. Geetha and Others, and a judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Rajendra S/o Kashidas Sawkar v. Venkatesh S/o Kashidas Sawkar and Others, to support its conclusion.

The court notes that there is no dispute regarding the relationship between the parties, and the main issue is the entitlement to shares. After reviewing the material on record, including documents such as the partition deed and other relevant evidence, the court finds that the Trial Court and the First Appellate Court erred in their findings.


The court concludes that the plaintiff is entitled to a 1/5th share out of her father’s 1/4th share in the suit schedule properties. It also notes that the sale of a portion of the ‘B’ schedule property during the pendency of the appeal is not binding on the plaintiff’s share.

In light of these findings, the court decides to re-analyze the material available on record and reconsiders the appeal. It sets aside the findings of the lower courts and determines the plaintiff’s entitlement to shares in the suit schedule properties based on the evidence presented.

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