Citation: 1983 AIR 846

Case Type: Civil Appeal

Case No: 1938 of 1970

Appellants: Smt. Dipo

Respondents: Wassan Singh & Others

Decided On: 05-05-1983

Statues Referred: Hindu Law

Bench: Reddy, O. Chinnappa, Desai, D.A. JJ


The appellant who claimed herself as the nearest heir of the deceased Bua Singh, her brother, sued to recover the possession of properties which belong to her brother.

From the defendant side the sons of Ganda Singh represented before the Court. The contention laid down by the defendants were that Smt6. Dipo wasn’t the closest heir of Bua Singh and even if she was, the defendants had a preferential title in the property due to custom, as the whole of the land was ancestral property in the hands of Bua Siingh.

The Subordinate Judge 1st Class, Amritsar, found that out of all the properties of Bua Singh some were ancestral while some were not. So he held that in accordance with custom, the sister was excluded from the share of ancestral properties but was entitled to succeed to non-ancestral property.

Aggrieved by the Judgement the appellant filed an appeal to the District Judge via forma pauperis, but the appeal was dismissed on the ground that the appellant did not present the appeal in person as required by Order 33 Rule 3.

So a second appeal was made to the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by the plaintiff-appellant. But the second appeal was dismissed as it was barred by limitation. Since the copy of decree was filed past the expiry of time prescribed by limitation.

And so the appeal was filed to the Supreme Court.


Whether the plaintiff had any preferential rights in the ancestral property of Bua Singh.

Obiter Dicta:

“Rules of procedure are meant to advance the cause of justice and not to short circuit decision on merits.”

With regard to the custom prevailing in the Amritsar that the ancestral property gets inherited by the collaterals and not near heir was opined by the Court as not a satisfactory custom. By a general custom an ancestral property gets inherited by the legal and near heir of the deceased to whom the property belonged. But for the purpose of this case the Court however accepted the custom as established.

Ratio Decedendi:

The Court opined that the dismissal of second appeal was unjustifiable by the High Court. Since the defect was technical in nature and that the second appeal itself was filed within time then dismissing it on such minor technical grounds seemed unjustifiable by the Court.

The lag in filing decree copy of the trial court should had been condoned and the High Court should have allowed the second appeal and proceed in disposing it off on merits.

With regard to dismissal of appeal by the District Judge on the ground that the appeal was not filed in person, the Court held that the appeal had been admitted by the District Judge earlier and there was no point in dismissing the appeal later.

But with regard to the ancestral property the Court stated that Bua Singh was the last male holder of the property and had no son neither any other descendant to take over the property. In such a case the property becomes the absolute property of Bia Singh and not ancestral property.

As per the principle of Hindu Law a person inheriting the property from his three immediate paternal ancestors shall hold the property in coparcenary with three immediate male descendants, but if the person does have a son or son’s son or son’s son’s son then he shall hold the property absolutely as his own.

A share in a ancestral property is obtained by a male descendants. They obtain interest in it by birth. But with regard to other relation the property is regarded as separate property and if the coparcenary dies without a son, the property passes to his heirs by succession.


The Apex Court’s bench comprising of Reddy, O. Chinnappa, Desai, D.A. JJ held the following:

The Court upheld the decision of the Trail Court that Smt. Dipo was the sister of Bua Singh.

The decree of the Lower Courts was held as erroneous. The refusal by the Lower Court in issuing a decree in favour of the plaintiff-appellant as regard the ancestral property was a serious lag.

The defendants were the collateral as regards the ancestral property and it was the plaintiff who had preferential rights in the plaints properties.

The judgement and decree of the learned Subordinate Judge, District Judge and High Court were set aside.

The appeal along with cost was allowed and was to be borne by the defendants.


Relying upon the principle laid down in Hindu law about succession held that a property inherited by a son from his immediate three paternal ancestors become a joint family property who holds the property in coparcenary with his son, son’s sons and son’s son’s sons. Thus in the instant case the property after the conveyance of deed executed in 1974 assumed the character of joint family property. Hence it was the ancestral property in the hands of plaintiff.


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