Read Order: Naveen Kumar v. Ram Rati and Another

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 3, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has opined that Section 23(1) of the Maintenance & Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 makes it is crystal clear that where the transfer of property by a senior citizen is accompanied by a specific condition to provide for the maintenance and needs of such senior citizen, and if the transferee fails to uphold the promise after accepting the said transfer, then such transfer is deemed to have been vitiated by fraud, coercion or undue influence and can be declared as void.

In this case, the first respondent(appellant’s grandmother) issued a release deed in favour of the appellant to transfer a piece of land (that she owned), on the condition that he would maintain her. However, later on, she filed an application under the Act of 2007 seeking cancellation of the said release deed on the ground that she was maltreated and physically tortured by the appellant right after the property was transferred in his favour. An FIR for the physical assault was also lodged. 

The Sub Divisional Magistrate-cum-Chairman, Maintenance Tribunal, Sonepat (Tribunal) passed an order in favour of the first respondent. Thereafter, when the matter reached the Single Judge Bench of the High Court in the writ, the Tribunal’s order was upheld. Hence, the appellant- grandson filed the instant intra- court appeal assailing Single Judge Bench order. 

The appellant’s counsel argued that the appellant and his family did not own any place of residence apart from the house in question and that the appellant and his family were rather made to bear the brunt of the false ego of the first respondent. Further, he argued that the appellant never refused to maintain his grandmother. He also contended that no authority under the Act of 2007 had jurisdiction to pass an order of eviction. He argued that the only power, available with them (authorities) was to grant the maintenance to senior citizens and to set aside the transfer of property in case senior citizen was able to prove that fraud was played by the children when the deed with regard to the transfer of property was executed.

Also, while citing a joint ration card along with the first respondent, the appellant averred that he was living with her for long and was paying all her ration bills and he alleged that the present cancellation of transfer deed was sought at the instigation of her (first respondent’s) another son. 

At the outset, the Division Bench of Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sandeep Moudgil perused the release deed and observed that there was a stipulation in the deed which stated that the transferor could cancel the Transfer Deed if the transferee did not maintain and take proper care of the transferor. Further, the Court noted that the case of the first respondent was that after execution of the transfer deed, the appellant did not maintain and take care of the transferor. 

The Court also asserted that had the appellant been taking care of the first respondent, there would have been no occasion for her to approach the Tribunal at Sonepat seeking cancellation of the transfer deed. 

In this light, while looking into Section 23(1) of the Act of 2007, the Court held that the Legislature very consciously incorporated Section 23(1) to take care of such subsequent change of events which may lead to harassment of senior citizens at the hands of such transferee. 

Therefore, the Court opined that the Single Judge gave cogent reasons for dismissing the Writ Petition. Accordingly, the present Letters Patent Appeal was dismissed without costs.

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