The Supreme Court said from now on a man cannot claim the property inherited by his sister from her husband or father-in-law as per the Hindu Succession Act. The court said her brother is neither her heir nor her family.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said, “Language used in the section (15) clearly specifies that the property inherited from the husband and father-in-law would devolve upon the heirs of husband/father-in-law from whom she inherited the property.”
The court explained the law is for those who died without making a will.
The move was taken after a man filed a case challenging the order of the Uttarakhand High Court which held him as an unauthorised tenant in a property in Dehradun in which his married sister was a landlady.
The SC said in 1940, the father-in-law of the sister took the property on rent and later the husband became the tenant. When the woman died the property would go to the husband or the father-in-law’s family.
The Bench stated, “The first appellate court and the High Court rightly held that the appellant (Durga Prasad) is neither an ‘heir’ as visualised under section 3(a) of the UP Act XIII of 1972 (the UP Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act), nor ‘family’ within the meaning of section 3(g) of the Act and that the appellant is in unauthorised occupation of suit premises and is liable to be evicted.”
The court added in terms of section 15(2)(b) of the Hindu Succession Act, in the absence of any son or daughter of deceased Lalita (his sister), the tenancy would transfer to the heirs of her husband.
The apex court said, “In the facts of present case, the appellant being the brother of deceased tenant cannot be held to be the ‘family’ as the inclusive list given under the Act clearly omits ‘brother and sister’ and the same cannot be read therein as the list has to be read and interpreted strictly.”