My grandfather died in 1945, my aunt died in 1970, my mother died in 2015 and my father died in 2017. Now the legal heirs of my father’s sister (my aunt) have filed a suit in the civil court asking for their share in my grandfather’s assets. I want to know if they have any legal share in the ancestral assets?
It is assumed that the Hindu personal laws are applicable to your family. As per the Hindu Succession Act, prevailing prior to the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (effective from 5 September 2005), married daughters were not considered as members of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) and consequently excluded from claiming any share in the ancestral or coparcenary property of the family. Since your grandfather died prior to September 2005 and your aunt passed away in 1970, which is much prior to the 2005 amendment, the daughter, i.e., your aunt was not entitled to a share in her father’s property at the time of their death and consequently her legal heirs are not entitled to the same.
I have two sisters and one brother. I got my sisters married in the ’90s as per norm and she was also given physical gold as per our customs. My mother in 2001 gave my brother and I the ancestral property and it was divided equally between the two of us. One of my sister’s husband is now demanding a share as the sisters were excluded from ancestral property. Is this claim legally valid as the property was transferred to us when my mother was alive?
We are assuming that your mother was the only living heir, among other heirs, who became entitled to a share in the ancestral property and that she had the absolute rights, title and interest in the property. We have further assumed that the ancestral property was transferred by your mother, to you and your brother, through a valid registered document; if that is the case, then the transfer made would be valid and binding on all the parties, including your sisters. However, if the property was not transferred, as per the applicable laws and/or the transfer document was not registered, then your sister may become entitled to raise a claim in the ancestral property. However, we are unable to understand the claim of your sister’s husband unless your sister has expired and your sister’s husband is claiming through your sister.
Also, note that the transfer in your and your brother’s favour happened in 2001, and assuming that your sister was an adult of 18 years and above, then in any case, your sister had the right to challenge the transfer within a reasonable period as provided under the general laws of limitation unless the entire transfer is vitiated by fraud.
Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates. Queries and views at firstname.lastname@example.org