Supreme Court: A brother is not entitled to stake claim over the property inherited by sister from her spouse

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A division bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi of the apex court held that a brother is not legally entitled to stake a claim over the property inherited by his sister from her spouse. The issue before the court was whether the plaintiff i.e. Durga Prasad (Brother of the deceased), was entitled to claim ‘tenancy rights’ over the disputed premises that was inherited by his deceased sister from her spouse. The plaintiff in his petition, claimed that apart from residing with his sister in the disputed premises  the siblings were also carrying out their joint medico business together, thus making him eligible for staking claim over the tenancy rights of his demised sisters premises.

The court examined the definition of ‘family’ under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 to ascertain whether the plaintiff was covered under the ambit of ‘family’. The court observed that since the plaintiff was not included within the definition of ‘family’, thus he was not entitled to make a claim over the tenancy rights as his sister’s legal heir. On perusal of section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, the court  observed that the assets that a women inherits on the demise of her spouse and father in law would pass on to the legal heirs of her spouse and father in law from whom she has acquired that property on her death. Since the plaintiff was not the legal heir to his brother in law’s property, thus no tenancy rights would accrue to him.

 The court after having dismissed the plea raised by Durga Prasad observed that "He being the brother of deceased Lalita had no reason to normally reside with his married sister. Be it noted, in her written statement filed in the release application, Lalita had not averred that her brother Durga Prasad was living with her and that he was taking care of her". The court dismissed the petition of the plaintiff i.e. Durga Prasad and ordered him to move out of the premises of deceased sister in Dehradun within a time period of 4 weeks failure to comply with the court order would result in initiation of contempt proceedings against the petitioner.

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