Can’t ask son’s widow to return gift given to him by parents: Bombay high court | India News – Times of India | IIT EXPERT

MUMBAI: Bombay high court has set aside an order of a senior citizens tribunal that revoked two gift deeds made by a couple in favour of their son before his death in proceedings filed against their daughter-in-law.
“The real dispute which senior citizens raised was not about their maintenance and care but claim to assets of partnership firm… Merely because senior citizens happen to be partners of a firm, the same does not bestow jurisdiction on the maintenance tribunal to decide their entitlement to assets acquired through income of partnership firm,” said Justice Sandeep Marne on Friday.
In 1996, the couple included their elder son as a partner in their firm. After his marriage, the son and his wife set up two companies. The son bought 18 properties from the partnership firm’s income, and mortgaged them to get credit from a bank. In 2013-14, his parents gifted him a flat in Chembur and a gala in Byculla. In July 2015, he died. After the son’s wife “denied” them shares in the properties, his parents moved the tribunal. In March 2018, the tribunal cancelled the gift deeds and directed the wife to give them possession of the properties. It also directed her to pay them monthly maintenance of Rs 10,000 from Dec 2016, the date of the complaint.
Justice Marne agreed with advocates Sanjiv Sawant and Heramb Kadam that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in deciding entitlement of a partner. He also agreed that maintenance cannot be sought from a daughter-in-law as she is not included in the definition of ‘children” under Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. “…but she would still be obliged to look after them under Section 4 (4) (as a relative and having sufficient means) if it is proved that the daughter-in-law is in possession of the property of senior citizens”, he said. He noted that the tribunal’s order incorporated a list of properties, but it did not institute a finding whether the son’s parents “actually own those properties in their individual capacities”.
He said the basic condition under Section 23 to treat the gift deeds void due to failure or refusal of the transferee to provide basic amenities and physical needs to the senior citizen was not met. The son (transferee) was dead before the parents moved the tribunal. Besides, his wife is under no such legal obligation, HC said.The parents’ advocate, Trupti Bharadi, said their properties cannot be utilised to repay debts they never incurred.
Justice Marne said, “The proper way for them is to file a suit for dissolution of the partnership” and “assets of the firm cannot be directed to be handed over by passing a vague order under the Act”.
Bharadi said the mother-in-law has no place to reside and is at mercy of her other child. Till Jan, Rs 9.5 crore was due to a bank. At HC’s request, the son’s wife agreed to pay her mother-in-law (the father-in-law died last year) maintenance during her lifetime.

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