Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Bibek Chaudhuri J. allowed an appeal challenging the judgment whereby a gift deed was held as void and donee of the deed were restrained from claiming the title in the gifted property.

Respondents herein were the plaintiffs in a suit filed for setting aside of a gift deed vide which the suit property had allegedly been transferred to the petitioners herein (defendants in suit). Respondents also sought a permanent injunction restraining petitioners from claiming title over the suit property. The trial court ruled in favor of the petitioner-defendants and dismissed the suit. However, the appeal filed against the said judgment was allowed and the suit was decreed in favour of respondent-plaintiffs.  Aggrieved thereby, this second appeal was filed.

Counsels for the appellant Bholanath Mukherjee and Mukteswar Maity submitted that though the plaintiff’s had originally contended that the donor (mother) of the deed was not in full sense while executing the deed. However, a prosecution witness in cross-examination stated that her mother was under the care of the defendants and that she did not know if the gift deed passed by her mother was unintentional. Further, she also admitted to the execution of the deed of gift in favor of the defendants thus demolished all chances of a fake deed. It was further contended that the plaintiff failed to provide any evidence to support their charge, and according to Section 102 of the Evidence Act, 1872 the burden of proof in a suit or proceeding lies on the person who would fail if no evidence at all were given on either side. He further contended that since the respondents had imposed the allegations of fraud against the appellants, the burden of proof was on them to prove the negative.

Counsels for the respondent Ashish Sanyal and Pratip Kumar Chatterjee contended that since the mother used to live with the appellants they were in a position to dominate, and the onus of proof may be reversed in a case of undue influence and misrepresentation. He further submitted that the acceptance to a deed of a gift must be made by the donee while the donor is still alive. Respondents raised serious doubt over the authenticity of the gift deed because of the fact that it was registered after the death of the donor.

The Court opined that it is not necessary for the validity of a gift deed that it should be registered by the donor himself, and subsequent registration of a deed of gift after the death of the donor at the instance of the donee does not offend Section 123 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. It was observed that the burden of proof may be reversed if the transaction appears to be unconscionable, but the same could not be proved in the present case. Thus, the appeal was allowed and the decision of the trial court was restored.[Dinabandhu Mondal v. Laxmi Rani Mondal, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 1118, decided on 17-06-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee, JJ. allowed an appeal while setting aside the judgment and order of the Kerala High Court concerning a ‘gift deed’.

In the present case, the facts of the case are that the appellant executed a purported gift deed in favour of the respondent with the expectation that the respondent will look after the appellant and her husband. The said deed was to come into effect only after the death of the appellant and her husband. On 02-06-1999, the appellant executed the deed of cancellation and after a period of 8 months, respondent filed a suit for declaration that the cancellation deed executed by the appellant is null and void. Appellant filed original suit for permanent injunction restraining the respondent or his men from trespassing or committing waste or mischief in suit property.

The Original Suit was challenged before the Munsif, however, it was decreed. The district court upheld the decree, but the High Court set aside the concurrent findings and dismissed the suit.

The Supreme Court on placing the analysis of provisions of Transfer of Property Act along with the decisions pertaining to the same subject matter stated that:

“A conditional gift with no recital of acceptance and no evidence in proof of acceptance, where possession remains with the donor as long as he is alive, does not become complete during lifetime of the donor. When a gift is incomplete and title remains with the donor the deed of gift might be cancelled.”

On placing reliance on Reninkuntla Rajamma v. K. Sarwanamma, (2014) 9 SCC 445, in which it was stated that “there is no provision in law that ownership in property cannot be gifted without transfer of possession of such property”, the Court stated that the deed of transfer was executed for consideration and was, in any case, conditional subject to the condition that the donee would look after the petitioner and her husband and subject to the condition that the gift would take effect after the death of the donor. Therefore, the Court held that there was no completed gift of the property and the appellant was within her right in cancelling the deed.

The appeal was allowed and judgment and order under appeal were set aside. [S. Sarojini Amma v. Velayudhan Pillai Sreekumar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2200, decided on 26-10-2018]