14 February 2021

Plaint should contain exact details of the specific date, month, year, etc.of creation of the HUF for the first time; mere statement that HUF exists and property belongs to HUF is not sufficient

Reference may again be had to the judgment of a Coordinate Bench of this court in the case of Promod Kumar J ain & Ors. vs. Ram Kali J ain & Ors., (supra) where the court held as follows:-
"13. Reference on the aspect of HUF can be made to:
(i) Neelam Vs. Sada Ram MANU/DE/0322/2013, holding (i) that the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 did away with the concept of ancestral properties as existed prior thereto; after coming into force thereof, the property inherited by a male from his father is held as self-acquired property in which children of such male do not acquire any right by birth; (ii) that the plea of property being a joint family property owing to being jointly owned by members of a family, is not the plea of existence of a coparcenary or HUF; (iii) that HUF and coparcenary are not one and the same under the Hindu law though for the purposes of taxation under the taxation laws are treated as one and the same; (iv) that the law of succession, after coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act is governed thereby only; of course Section 6 thereof carves out an exception qua interest held by the deceased in a Mitakshara coparcenary property and provides that such interest shall devolve by survivorship upon the surviving members of the coparcenary and not in accordance with the Act; (v) however in the absence of any plea of existence of any coparcenary, merely on the plea of the property being of the joint family, no inference of a coparcenary arises; (vi) for a case for claiming a share in the property otherwise than under the Hindu Succession Act, it has to be pleaded that there existed a HUF since prior to the coming into force of the Succession Act and which HUF, by virtue of Section 6 of the Act has been permitted to be continued.

(ii) Surender Kumar Vs. Dhani Ram MANU/DE/0126/2016 : AIR 2016 Del 120 holding as under:

"5. The Supreme Court around 30 years back in the judgment in the case of Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Kanpur v. Chander Sen, MANU/SC/0265/1986 : (1986) 3 SCC 567, held that after passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 the traditional view that on inheritance of an immovable property from paternal ancestors up to three degrees, automatically an HUF came into existence, no longer remained the legal position in view of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. This judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Chander Sen (supra) was thereafter followed by the Supreme Court in the case of Yudhishter v. Ashok Kumar, MANU/SC/0525/1986 : (1987) 1 SCC 204 wherein the Supreme Court reiterated the legal position that after coming into force of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, inheritance of ancestral property after 1956 does not create an HUF property and inheritance of ancestral property after 1956 therefore does not result in creation of an HUF property.

6. In view of the ratios of the judgments in the cases of Chander Sen (supra) and Yudhishter (supra), in law ancestral property can only become an HUF property if inheritance is before 1956, and such HUF property therefore which came into existence before 1956 continues as such even after 1956. In such a case, since an HUF already existed prior to 1956, thereafter, since the same HUF with its properties continues, the status of joint Hindu family/HUF properties continues, and only in such a case, members of such joint Hindu family are coparceners entitling them to a share in the HUF properties.

7. On the legal position which emerges pre 1956 i.e. before passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and post 1956 i.e. after passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the same has been considered by me recently in the judgment in the case of Sunny (Minor) v. Sh. Raj Singh, CS(OS) No. 431/2006 decided on 17.11.2015. In this judgment, I have referred to and relied upon the ratio of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Yudhishter (supra) and have essentially arrived at the following conclusions:-

(i) If a person dies after passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and there is no HUF existing at the time of the death of such a person, inheritance of an immovable property of such a person by his successors-in-interest is no doubt inheritance of an 'ancestral' property but the inheritance is as a self-acquired property in the hands of the successor and not as an HUF property although the successor(s) indeed inherits 'ancestral' property i.e. a property belonging to his paternal ancestor.

(ii) The only way in which a Hindu Undivided Family/joint Hindu family can come into existence after 1956 (and when a joint Hindu family did not exist prior to 1956) is if an individual's property is thrown into a common hotchpotch. Also, once a property is thrown into a common hotchpotch, it is necessary that the exact details of the specific date/month/year etc. of creation of an HUF for the first time by throwing a property into a common hotchpotch have to be clearly pleaded and mentioned and which requirement is a legal requirement because of Order VI Rule 4 CPC which provides
Plaint should contain exact details of the specific date, month, year, etc.of creation of the HUF for the first time; mere statement that HUF exists and property belongs to HUF is not sufficient
that all necessary factual details of the cause of action must be clearly stated.
(iii) An HUF can also exist if paternal ancestral properties are inherited prior to 1956, and such status of parties qua the properties has continued after 1956 with respect to properties inherited prior to 1956 from paternal ancestors. Once that status and position continues even after 1956; of the HUF and of its properties existing; a coparcener etc. will have a right to seek partition of the properties.

(iv) Even before 1956, an HUF can come into existence even without inheritance of ancestral property from paternal ancestors, as HUF could have been created prior to 1956 by throwing of individual property into a common hotchpotch. If such an HUF continues even after 1956, then in such a case a coparcener etc. of an HUF was entitled to partition of the HUF property.

9. I would like to further note that it is not enough to aver a mantra, so to say, in the plaint simply that a joint Hindu family or HUF exists. Detailed facts as required by Order VI Rule 4 CPC as to when and how the HUF properties have become HUF properties must be clearly and categorically averred. Such averments have to be made by factual references qua each property claimed to be an HUF property as to how the same is an HUF property, and, in law generally bringing in any and every property as HUF property is incorrect as there is known tendency of litigants to include unnecessarily many properties as HUF properties, and which is done for less than honest motives. Whereas prior to passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 there was a presumption as to the existence of an HUF and its properties, but after passing of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 in view of the ratios of the judgments of the Supreme Court in the cases of Chander Sen (supra) and Yudhishter (supra) there is no such presumption that inheritance of ancestral property creates an HUF, and therefore, in such a post 1956 scenario a mere ipse dixit statement in the plaint that an HUF and its properties exist is not a sufficient compliance of the legal requirement of creation or existence of HUF properties inasmuch as it is necessary for existence of an HUF and its properties that it must be specifically stated that as to whether the HUF came into existence before 1956 or after 1956 and if so how and in what manner giving all requisite factual details. It is only in such circumstances where specific facts are mentioned to clearly plead a cause of action of existence of an HUF and its properties, can a suit then be filed and maintained by a person claiming to be a coparcener for partition of the HUF properties.

11. I may note that the requirement of pleading in a clear cut manner as to how the HUF and its properties exist i.e. whether because of pre 1956 position or because of the post 1956 position on account of throwing of properties into a common hotchpotch, needs to be now mentioned especially after passing of the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Benami Act') and which Act states that property in the name of an individual has to be taken as owned by that individual and no claim to such property is maintainable as per Section 4(1) of the Benami Act on the ground that monies have come from the person who claims right in the property though title deeds of the property are not in the name of such person. An exception is created with respect to provision of Section 4 of the Benami Act by its sub-Section (3) which allows existence of the concept of HUF. Once existence of the concept of HUF is an exception to the main provision contained in sub-Sections (1) and (2) of Section 4 of the Benami Act, then, to take the case outside sub-Sections (1) and (2) of Section 4 of the Benami Act it has to be specifically pleaded as to how and in what manner an HUF and each specific property claimed as being an HUF property has come into existence as an HUF property. If such specific facts are not pleaded, this Court in fact would be negating the mandate of the language contained in sub-Sections (1) and (2) of Section 4 of the Benami Act.

12. This Court is flooded with litigations where only self- serving averments are made in the plaint of existence of HUF and a person being a coparcener without in any manner pleading therein the requisite legally required factual details as to how HUF came into existence. It is a sine qua non that pleadings must contain all the requisite factual ingredients of a cause of action, and once the ratios of the judgments of the Supreme Court in the cases of Chander Sen (supra) and Yudhishter (supra) come in, the pre 1956 position and the post 1956 position has to be made clear, and also as to how HUF and its properties came into existence whether before 1956 or after 1956. It is no longer enough to simply state in the plaint after passing of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, that there is a joint Hindu family or an HUF and a person is a coparcener in such an HUF/joint Hindu family for such person to claim rights in the properties as a coparcener unless the entire factual details of the cause of action of an HUF and each property as an HUF is pleaded.

13. In view of the above, actually the application filed under Order VII Rule 11 CPC in fact is treated as an application under Order XII Rule 6 CPC, inasmuch as, it is observed on the admitted facts as pleaded in the plaint that no HUF and its properties are found to exist. There is no averment in the plaint that late Sh. Jage Ram inherited property(s) from his paternal ancestors prior to 1956. In such a situation, therefore, the properties in the hands of late Sh. Jage Ram cannot be HUF properties in his hands because there is no averment of late Sh. Jage Ram inheriting ancestral property(s) from his paternal ancestors prior to 1956. There is no averment in the plaint also of late Sh. Jage Ram's properties being HUF properties because HUF was created after 1956 by late Sh. Jage Ram by throwing properties into a common hotchpotch. I have already elaborated in detail above as to how an HUF has to be pleaded to exist in the pre 1956 and the post 1956 positions and the necessary averments which had to be made in the present plaint. The suit plaint however grossly lacks the necessary averments as required in law to be made for a complete cause of action to be pleaded for existence of an HUF and its properties."[Para No.17]

............


    The legal position as noted above is quite clear. Under Order 6 Rule 4 CPC, there is a legal requirement to provide all necessary factual details of the cause of action which must be clearly stated. Once it is claimed that the property was thrown into a common hotch-potch, it is necessary that the exact details of the specific date, month, year, etc. of creation of the HUF for the first time by throwing the property into a hotch-potch must be clearly pleaded. Averments have also to be made by factual reference to each property claimed to be an HUF property as to how the same is an HUF property. As noted above by a Coordinate bench of this court in the case of Promod Kumar J ain & Ors. vs. Ram Kali J ain & Ors.(supra), there is a known tendency of litigants to include unnecessarily many properties as HUF properties, which is done for less than an honest motive. Hence, a mere ipse dixit statement in the plaint that an HUF exists and the properties are part of the HUF is not a sufficient compliance of the legal requirements of creation or existence of HUF properties.[Para No.21]




Delhi High Court

Master Ansh Kapoor
Vs.
K.B Kapur

Decided on 12/02/2021

13 February 2021

Agreement of sale signed only by the vendor is valid and enforceable by the purchaser

We find that neither of the two decisions have addressed the real issue and cannot be said to be laying down the correct law. The observation in Md. Mohar Ali (supra) stating that an agreement of sale is an unilateral contract is not correct. An unilateral contract refers to a gratuitous promise where only party makes a promise without a return promise. Unilateral contract is explained thus by John D. Calamari & Joseph M. Perillo in The Law of Contracts (4th Edition Para 2-10(a) at pages 64-65):
If A says to B, 'If you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge I will pay you $ 100,' A has made a promise but has not asked. B for a return promise. A has asked B to perform, not a commitment to perform. A has thus made an offer looking to a unilateral contract. B cannot accept this offer by promising to walk the bridge. B must accept, if at all, by performing the act. Because no return promise is requested, at no point is B bound to perform. If B does perform, a contract involving two parties is created, but the contract is classified as unilateral because only one party is ever under an obligation. All agreements of sale are bilateral contracts as promises are made by both -the vendor agreeing to sell and the purchaser agreeing to purchase. On the other hand, the observation in S.M. Gopal Chetty (supra) that unless agreement is signed both by the vendor and purchaser, it is not a valid contract is also not sound. An agreement of sale comes into existence when the vendor agrees to sell and the purchaser agrees to purchase, for an agreed consideration on agreed terms. It can be oral. It can be by exchange of communications which may or may not be signed. It may be by a single document signed by both parties. It can also be by a document in two parts, each party signing one copy and then exchanging the signed copy as a consequence of which the purchaser has the copy signed by the vendor and a vendor has a copy signed by the purchaser. Or it can be by the vendor executing the document and delivering it to the purchaser who accepts it. Section 10 of the Act provides all agreements are contracts if they are made by the free consent by the parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object, and are not expressly declared to be void under the provisions . of the Contract Act. The proviso to Section 10 of the Act makes it clear that the section will not apply to contracts which are required to be made in writing or in the presence of witnesses or any law relating to registration of documents. Our attention has not been drawn to any law applicable in Bihar at the relevant time, which requires an agreement of sale to be made in writing or in the presence of witnesses or to be registered. Therefore, even an oral agreement to sell is valid. If so, a written agreement signed by one of the parties, if it evidences such an oral agreement will also be valid. In any agreement of sale, the terms are always negotiated and thereafter reduced in the form of an agreement of sale and signed by both parties or the vendor alone (unless it is by a series of offers and counter-offers by letters or other modes of recognized communication). In India, an agreement of sale signed by the vendor alone and delivered to the purchaser, and accepted by the purchaser, has always been considered to be a valid contract. In the event of breach by the vendor, it can be specifically enforced by the purchaser. There is, however, no practice of purchaser alone signing an agreement of sale.[Para No.7]


    The defendant next contended that the agreement of sale in this case (Ex.2) was clearly in a form which required signatures of both vendor and purchaser. It is pointed out that the agreement begins as: "Agreement for sale between Kanika Bose and Parmatma Devi" and not an "Agreement of sale executed by Kanika Bose in favour of Parmatma Devi". Our attention is also drawn to the testimonium clause (the provision at the end of the instrument stating when and by whom it was signed) of the agreement, which reads thus: "In witnesses whereof, the parties hereto have hereunto set and subscribed their respective hands and seals on these presents." It is therefore contended that the agreement specifically contemplated execution by both parties; and as it was not so executed, it was incomplete and unenforceable. We have carefully examined the agreement (Ex.2), a photocopy of which is produced. The testimonium portion in the agreement is in an archaic form which has lost its meaning. Parties no longer 'subscribe their respective hands and seals'. It is true that the format obviously contemplates signature by both parties. But it is clear that the intention 
Agreement of sale signed only by the vendor was valid and enforceable by the purchaser
of the parties was that it should be complete on signature by only the vendor. This is evident from the fact that the document is signed by the vendor and duly witnessed by four witnesses and was delivered to the purchaser. Apart from a separate endorsement made on the date of the agreement itself (7.9.1979) by the vendor acknowledging the receipt of Rs. 2001 as advance, it also contains a second endorsement (which is also duly witnessed) made on 10.10.1979 by the vendor, acknowledging the receipt of a further sum of Rs. 2000 and confirming that the total earnest money received was Rs. 4001. This shows that the purchaser accepted and acted in terms of the agreement which was signed, witnessed and delivered to her as a complete instrument and that she then obtained an endorsement thereon by the vendor, in regard to second payment. If the agreement was not complete, the vendor would not have received a further amount and endorsed an acknowledgement thereon on 10.10.1979. Apart from the above, the evidence of the witnesses also shows that there was a concluded contract. Therefore, even though the draftsman who prepared the agreement might have used a format intended for execution by both vendor and purchaser, the manner in which the parties had proceeded, clearly demonstrated that it was intended to be executed only by the vendor alone. Thus we hold that the agreement of sale (Ext. 2) signed only by the vendor was valid and enforceable by the purchaser.[Para No.8]
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