NOPANY INVESTMENTS (PVT) LTD V. SANTOKH SINGH, AIR 2008 SC 673

FACTS OF THE CASE

  • On 16th July, 1980, the appellant entered into a lease with Dr. Santokh Singh’s Hindu Undivided Family for a period of 4 years, with respect to the property situated at New Delhi.
  • Accordingly on the expiry of the period of 4 years, a notice of eviction was issued before the Additional Rent Controller by Jasraj Singh, claiming himself to be the Karta of Dr. Santokh Singh’s Hindu Undivided Family.
  • Following the enactment of Section 6A of the Delhi Rent Control Act, Jasraj Singh, in the aforementioned role, sent a notice to the appellant requesting a ten percent increase in rent and the termination of the appellant’s tenancy. In response to this notice, the appellant denied the respondent’s right to increase the rent.
  • A notice was sent by Jasraj Singh asking the appellant to vacate the suit property to which the appellant did not concede and refused to vacate the premises.
  • Finally, Jasraj Singh instituted a suit seeking eviction of the appellant from the suit premises.
  • The trial court decreed in the respondent’s favor. From the first appellate court to High Court the appeal of the appellant was dismissed.

In this case, there was a father who had two sons: S1 and S2. Santokh Singh (S1) is the senior most male member of the family who has been living in the United Kingdom for a long time.

Jasraj Singh (S2) is his younger brother. There was no protest by any member of the Hindu Joint Family to the filing of the suit by Jasraj Singh claiming himself to be the Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family. Moreover, the elder brother has himself executed a power of attorney in favor of Jasraj Singh. 

The information about rest of the family members is not known.

ISSUE

Can a junior member/coparcener act as Karta if the senior member/coparcener has relinquished his right expressly or impliedly or in absence of the Karta under exceptional circumstances?

Observations: The appellant had questioned the maintainability of the suit filed at the instance of Jasraj Singh claiming himself to be the Karta of Santokh Singh Hindu Undivided Family. The appellant strongly argued that it is the settled principle of law that the junior member in the joint family cannot deal with the joint family property as Karta so long as the elder brother is available and, in this case, the respondent Jasraj Singh, who is admittedly a junior member of the family, could not have instituted the eviction suit, claiming himself to be the Karta of the family when an elder member of the Hindu Undivided Family is admittedly alive.

The Supreme Court observed as follows:

  1. “In a Hindu family, the Karta or Manager occupies a unique position. It is not as if anybody could become Manager of a joint Hindu family. As a general rule, the father of a family, if alive, and in his absence the senior member of the family, is alone entitled to manage the joint family property.” [Sunil Kumar v. Ram Prakash, (1988) 2 SCC 77].

2. In Tribhovan Das Haribhai Tamboli Vs. Gujarat Revenue Tribunal and others [(1991) 3 SCC 442] this court held as follows: “The manager ship of the joint family property goes to a person by birth and is regulated by seniority and the Karta or the manager occupies a position superior to that of the other members.”

3. A younger member of the Joint Hindu Family can deal with the joint family property and act as a manager in the following situations: –

  • if the senior member or the Karta is not available;
  • when the Karta relinquishes his right expressly or by necessary implication;
  • in the absence of the manager in exceptional and extra ordinary circumstances such as distress or calamity affecting the whole family and for supporting the family;
  • in the absence of the father: –

a. Whose whereabouts were not known, or

b. Who was away in a remote place due to compelling circumstances and his return within a reasonable time was unlikely or not anticipated?

4. A suit filed by a co-owner is maintainable in law. It is not necessary for the co-owner to show before initiating the eviction proceeding that he had taken consent of the other co-owners. However, if a co-owner objects, this may be an important fact to consider.

Therefore, in Tribhovandas’s case, it has been made clear that under the aforesaid circumstances, a junior member of the Joint Hindu Family can deal with the joint family property as manager or act as the Karta of the same.

JUDGEMENT

Jasraj Singh successfully explained that his eldest brother (supposed to be Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family) has been living in the United Kingdom for a long time. He was not in a position to discharge his duties as Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family, due to his absence from the country.

There was no protest by any member of the Hindu Joint Family to the filing of the suit by Jasraj Singh claiming himself to be the Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family. Moreover, the elder brother has himself executed a power of attorney in favor of Jasraj Singh.  

In view of the principles laid down above and surrounding facts and circumstances, it would not be open to the tenant to raise the question of maintainability of the suit at the instance of Jasraj Singh, claiming himself to be the Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family.

REFERENCES

  1. Delhi Rent Control Act
  2. Sunil Kumar v. Ram Prakash, (1988) 2 SCC 77
  3. Tribhovan Das Haribhai Tamboli Vs. Gujarat Revenue Tribunal and others (1991) 3 SCC 442
  4. Rishabh Kumar, Case study: M/s Nopany Investments (P) Ltd. v. Santokh Singh, Legal Wires, https://legal-wires.com/case-study/case-study-m-s-nopany-investments-p-ltd-v-santokh-singh/

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