Home / Money / Personal Finance /  NRIs can gift agricultural land only to Indian citizens residing here

My brother wants to transfer a part of his property to me, which is registered in his name, through a gift deed. Can gift deeds be challenged in a court?

—Name withheld on request

We assume that your family is governed by Hindu personal laws and that your brother is the absolute owner. Your brother can certainly execute a gift deed in your favour. This gift deed will need to be duly stamped in terms of the applicable stamp duty where the subject property is situated and registered before the office of the concerned sub- registrar of assurances.

Such a gift deed can be challenged in a court, if it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the gift was executed by your brother by exerting pressure or coercion or misrepresentation or fraud, by virtue of which any contract becomes void. Since your brother is willingly giving you the gift, the challenge will not sustain and will be dismissed by the court in terms of the applicable laws.

I have been living in the UK for 15 years. I inherited agricultural land worth 9 crore in India. Can I own this land as an NRI? If yes, can I give it to my son?

—Name withheld on request

We assume that your father was the absolute owner of the land and further assume that he has died intestate or without leaving a Will and you have absolutely inherited the land.

Under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, there is no restriction on an NRI inheriting an agricultural land. Therefore, you may own this agricultural land, provided that you have completed all the formalities as per the prevalent state laws where the land is situated, to have the land transferred in your name.

In respect of giving the land to your son, who we assume to be an NRI too, you may note that an NRI can gift residential and commercial property to another NRI. However, if the property is an agricultural land, plantation property or a farmhouse, it can only be gifted to a citizen of India residing in India.

Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates. Queries and views at mintmoney@livemint.com

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