Supreme Court on Power of Natural Guardian to Alienate Minor’s Property

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February 27, 2019

In this recent case, the Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court has elucidated on the law pertaining to the power of natural guardian to alienate minor’s immovable property and if there is a sale of the property then who is entitled to avoid it.

Case name: Murugan & Ors. v. Kesava Gounder (Dead) Thr. Lrs. and Ors.

The plaintiffs who are relatives of the defendants have alleged that defendant had no authority to execute Sale Deed on behalf of his minor son and thus the Sale Deeds executed by the defendant was void. It would be relevant to mention here that the plaintiffs were the cousins of the minor and the said minor had died while he was still a minor. Hence, in appeal it was prayed that the plaintiffs were entitled for declaration and possession of the properties from the defendants.

One of the issue that fell for consideration before the Supreme Court was whether a transferee from a minor after he attained majority, can file a suit to set aside the alienation made by the minor’s guardian or the said right is one to be exercised only by the minor?

Law relevant to the case- The law as stipulated under Section 8(3) of Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 is relevant statutory provision and deals with the power of natural guardian to alienate minor’s immovable property.

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case and law prevailing on the subject dismissed the appeal and made the following observations in the case:

Who can avoid sale of minor’s immovable property? A person entitled to avoid such a sale is either the minor or any person claiming under him. This Court held that either the minor, or his legal representative in the event of his death, or his successor-in-interest claiming under him by reason of transfer inter vivos must bring action within the period prescribed for such a suit, i.e. three years as stipulated under Article 60 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

While elucidating on the Law of Limitation, the Apex Court observed that Article 60 of the Limitation Act, 1963 which provides for limitation “suits relating to decrees and instruments”. The Limitation Act contemplates suit to set aside a transfer of property made by the guardian of a ward for which limitation is contemplated as three years.

That Article 60 of the Limitation Act although provides for a limitation of a suit but also clearly indicates that to set aside a transfer of property made by the guardian of a ward a suit is contemplated.

In context of the facts of the present case, the Supreme Court thus opined that it was necessary for the person claiming through minor to bring an action within a period of three years from the date of the death of the minor to get sale deed executed by the defendant set aside.

The entire case can be accessed here.