Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Agricultural land cannot be held by a proprietary firm

If the proprietor holds agricultural land, it would be held in the name of the proprietor (individual) and not the proprietary firm

Can you please tell me about laws that impact ownership of agricultural land by NRIs?

—Ridhi D’Cruz

If it’s an inheritance: An NRI can inherit immovable property in India, including agricultural land, from (i) a person resident in India (parents) or (ii) from a person resident outside India (parents), the same should have been acquired by such person resident outside India in accordance with the foreign exchange regulations as may be applicable at that time.

If it’s under the name of a company who’s sole proprietor is an NRI: Based on the query, we assume that the entity is a sole proprietary concern and not a company. Therefore, the general rule of assumption is that a sole proprietor and the proprietary firm are one and the same, except that the proprietary firm is the name given for the purpose of carrying on the business of the proprietor. If the proprietor holds agricultural land, it would be held in the name of the proprietor (individual) and not the proprietary firm.

Upon the demise of the proprietor, inheritance would follow as per the laws of succession as applicable to the deceased at the time of demise. The specific requisites and requirements for such inheritance/succession can only be determined upon understanding the specific details entailing the specific situation or instance.

My grandfather (paternal) adopted me in 1952. While the physical giving and receiving was done, a registration was not done. In 1975, the land ceiling Act came into force in Andhra Pradesh. At that time my grandfather filed an application before Tahsildar, stating that he had adopted me, so I am also eligible for half of the land. In the judgement, the Tahsildar stated that, in this case the applicant declared that he took adoption of grandson. So no registration was done. The Hon’ble Tahsildar gave judgement that on enquiry it is found that adoption is correct, so he is entitled for half share in property. Is this legally valid?

—Mohanreddy Nalla

The law on adoption as applicable to Hindus was codified in the year 1956; however several customs and practices were prevalent prior to such codification. In the instant case, as the adoption took place prior to the codification adoption laws, the prevailing custom and practice may have been considered by Tahsildar for legal validity of such adoption. Further, as stated by you, the Tahsildar has acknowledged the adoption to be valid and passed necessary orders for the right to a share in the property, the reasoning and appreciation of evidence presented before the Tahsildar would have to be understood and appreciated to address the query. In this matter, we recommend that it would be best to seek the advice of a local lawyer to fully understand the strength and operation of the Tahsildar’s order in your favour for the entitlement of a share in the property.

Amit Kolekar is Associate Partner, Rajani Associates.

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