Karnataka HC Rules Tenant Can Bequeath Property Through Will Before Grant of Occupancy Rights

LI Network

Published on: December 20, 2023 at 16:50 IST

The Karnataka High Court has clarified that tenants of suit properties may bequeath the property through a will before the grant of occupancy rights by the Land Tribunal.

The Court emphasized that in such cases, the beneficiary of the will becomes the absolute and exclusive owner of the property.

Justice Hanchate Sanjeevkumar, presiding over a single-judge bench, issued the ruling while allowing an appeal filed by Mutti. Mutti challenged the orders of the trial court and the first appellate court, which decreed a suit filed by petitioner Kucharu seeking partition and the allocation of a 1/6th share in the suit properties.

The Court held, “Before coming into force of the Amendment Act to the K.L.R.Act, 1961, Kanja Meru had bequeathed the entire property exclusively and absolutely to Defendant No.2, such bequeath is not hit by Section 61 of the K.L.R.Act, 1961.”

Section 61 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1961, restricts the transfer of land for which occupancy has been granted.

The Court clarified that the restriction does not apply to property bequeathed through a will. In this case, the tenant Kanja Meru executed a will before the amendment to the Act, bequeathing the property to Defendant No.2.

The court noted that Defendant No.2 became the occupant by successfully prosecuting the application for occupancy rights before the Land Tribunal. The will, executed before the grant of occupancy rights, was found to be valid and not restricted by Section 61 of the K.L.R. Act.

Rejecting the argument that the will was not proved, the court pointed out that the will was executed before the amendment to the Act, and there was no indication that Kanja Meru intended to bequeath only occupancy rights.

The Court concluded that Kanja Meru bequeathed the entire property to Defendant No.2 due to her constrained circumstances.

The court also observed that the plaintiff had consented by acquiescence, remaining silent for more than eight years from the date of the grant of occupancy rights before filing the suit for partition.

As a result, the court allowed the appeal, affirming Defendant No.2’s absolute and exclusive ownership of the suit property based on the valid will executed by Kanja Meru.

Case Title: Gagnesh Thakur Vs Vishal Awasthi

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