Case Analysis: Prasanta Kumarsahoo & Ors. v. Charulata Sahu & Ors., (2023)
The Case Analysis ‘Prasanta Kumarsahoo & Ors. v. Charulata Sahu & Ors., (2023)’ elaborates upon the statement that during the pendency of a partition suit and if no final decree has been passed, the parties can seek the benefit of the amended law and request Trial Court to decide. The Judgment highlighted the enforceability of the amended laws as it was laid down that the same can be enforced during the pendency of a partition suit. The Supreme Court bench upheld the decision of the High Court and concluded by referring to various legal provisions and statutes such as Hindu Succession Act, The Registration Act etc.
Case Title: Prasanta Kumarsahoo & Ors. v. Charulata Sahu & Ors.
Court: Supreme Court of India
Citation: 2023 SC 262
Date of Judgment: 29th March 2023
Bench: Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice J.B. Pardiwala
Facts of the Case
In 1969, Kumar Sahoo died and was survived by three children: Mrs Charulata (daughter), Mrs Santilata (daughter) and Mr Prafull. On 03.12.1980, Mrs Charulata filed an application for partition in the District Court claiming 1/3rd of the property acquired by her late father, Mr Sahoo, his ancestors and herself.
The District Court passed a preliminary order dated 30th December 1986 and held that Mrs Charulata and Mrs Santilata are entitled to 1/6th share of the assets acquired by the late Kumar Sahoo and 1/3rd share. The district court also ruled that the daughters have the right to the benefits. But as far as Mr Prafulla (son) is concerned, he was entitled to 4/6th of Mr Sahoo’s self-acquired properties, including mesne profits.
Mr Prafulla filed the first appeal in the High Court, claiming that all of Mr Sahoo’s assets are ancestral. During the Pendency of the appeal, Santilata and Prafulla entered into an agreement dated March 28, 1991, whereby Santilata relinquished his share in favour of Prafulla for Rs. 50,000/-. Mr Prafulla continued to argue in the High Court whether certain disputed properties were acquired by his ancestors or by his father. In the appeal presented in parallel, Charulata challenged the validity of the Settlement deed dated 28.03.1991, entered between her sister and brother. On 5 May 2011, the High Court Division dismissed Prafulla’s appeal and set aside the settlement between Prafulla and Santila. Prafulla appealed to the Supreme Court against the order of May 5, 2011.
- Is the suit property liable for partition among the parties?
- Are the alienations made by different parties out of the suit property at different points in time to be adjusted to their respective shares?
- Is the suit maintainable in law?
- To what relief are the properties entitled?
- Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956
- The Registration Act of 1908
- The Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005
- The Insurance Amendment Act, 2002
- Code of Civil Procedure
To adjudicate the said case, the Supreme Court referred to the above-mentioned laws.
Hindu Succession Act 1956 – The filing of a suit for partition by a member of a divided family is a clear indication of his intention to separate and the consequent separation of joint status – if during or during the pendency of a suit for partition, the time for passing preliminary decree and final decree in a suit for partition, amendment of the law or subsequent event resulting in the increase or decrease of the shares of the parties or their rights change, whether it is a change in law or a subsequent event, may be considered and applied in the final decision of the partition – even if the presentation of the partition results in the termination of the contract, such change in law or subsequent event must be considered and given provisional effect during final adjudication of a partition suit – This is because a partition suit can be considered fully and completely adjudicated only when a final decree is passed.
Partition suit – Hindu Succession Act 1956 – Effect of 2005 amendment in pending partition suit -. Since the law affecting the parties was changed before the end of the final adjudication procedure, the party benefiting from the change (for example, the two daughters in this case) can submit a request to the district court for notification of the changes and apply the same.
Code of Civil Procedure – Order XXII Rule 3 – if the claim is adjusted in whole or in part by a legal agreement or compromise, the agreement must be in writing and signed by the parties and must be a complete agreement between them. In action for the division of joint property, a decision made only with the consent of some parties cannot be changed.
While the trial is pending, and a final decision has not been made, the parties can request that the law be changed and ask the district court to decide the case accordingly. The court referred to the judgment of Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma and Ors., (2020) 9 SCC 1, wherein it was held that Section 6 of the Indian Succession Act, 1956 (as amended) confers conjugal rights on daughters w.e.f. 09.09.2005 would also apply in cases where the male party dies before the amendment of 2005.
It was further held that during the pendency of a partition action or between the granting of a preliminary injunction and the final determination of a partition action, legislative changes or subsequent events leading to the extension, reduction or modification of the part/rights of the parties may be considered for making the final judgment. The court found that if the district court had divided the father’s property equally (1/3 each) between the son and the daughters, it would not have been by the law in force in 1986. The distribution of equal shares to daughters in all the assets of the father would be legal while passing the final judgment given in Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma and Ors., (2020) 9 SCC 1, judgment.
The Hon’ble Apex Court said,
“At the cost of repetition, we state that by the preliminary decree passed by the Trial Court, which was confirmed by the Division Bench of the High Court, the issues decided therein will be deemed to have become final but as the partition suit is required to be decided in stages the same can be regarded as fully and completely decided only when the final decree is passed.”
As the law governing the parties has been amended before the conclusion of the final decree proceedings, the party benefitted by such amendment (like the two daughters in the case on hand) can request the Trial Court to take cognizance of the Amendment and give effect to the same.
It was considered that the preliminary decision in the partition case could be changed in the final decision procedure if the law regarding the relevant parties has been changed.
The Settlement Deed in a partition suit must include written consent and the signature of ‘ALL’ parties.
It has been observed that under Rule XXIII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, where any legal agreement or settlement wholly or partly adapts a claim, the settlement must be in writing and signed by the parties. Since Ms Charulata did not sign the settlement deed, hence the agreement is illegal because it was made without the written consent of “all” parties.
An order made with the consent of only a few parties cannot be supported in action for the partition of joint property. The court confirmed the portion made by the municipal court and the Supreme Court and re-determined the parts of the parties. The district court’s previous decision was changed in that the daughters own 1/3 of the entire estate of the late Kumar Sahoo, i.e. the characteristics acquired by their ancestors and themselves.
The contract was invalidated, and Prafulla cannot claim Santila’s share.
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