13. This exception in clause (a) of Section 69(3) was made on the principle that while registration of a firm is
designed primarily to protect third parties, the absence of registration does not mean that the partners of an
unregistered firm lose all rights in the said firm or its property and hence cannot sue for accounts or for its
dissolution or for realizing their property in the firm.
14. It may be mentioned that a partnership firm, unlike a company registered under the Indian Companies Act,
is not a distinct legal entity, and is only a compendium of its partners. Even the registration of a firm does not
mean that it becomes a distinct legal entity like a company. Hence the partners of a firm are co-owners of the
property of the firm, unlike shareholders in a company who are not co-owners of the property of the company.
15. Till the Maharashtra Amendment of 1984 came into force on 1.1.1985, a partner in a firm could file a suit
for dissolution of an unregistered partnership firm or for accounts of the dissolved firm or to recover the
properties of the dissolved firm. However, in view of sub- section 2A of Section 69, since 1.1.1985 a partner
in an unregistered 7
partnership firm in the State of Maharashtra cannot file a suit for dissolution or for accounts of a dissolved
firm or realize properties of a dissolved firm, unless the duration of the firm was only six months or it's capital
is upto Rs.2000/-. The question before us is whether sub-section 2A of Section 69 inserted by the Maharashtra
Amendment is constitutionally valid.
16. In our opinion sub-section 2A of Section 69 inserted by the Maharashtra Amendment violates Articles 14,
19(1)(g) and 300A of the Constitution of India.
17. It has already been mentioned above that a partnership firm, whether registered or unregistered, is not a
distinct legal entity, and hence the property of the firm really belongs to the partners of the firm. Sub-section
2A virtually deprives a partner in an unregistered firm from recovery of his share in the property of the firm or
from seeking dissolution of the firm.
18. Article 300A of the Constitution of India states : "No person shall be deprived of his property save by
authority of law."
19. It is by now well settled that a law to be valid has to be non arbitrary vide the 7-Judge Bench decision of
this Court in Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India and another AIR 1978 SC 597.
20. Sub-section 2A virtually deprives a partner of a firm from his share in the property of the firm without any
compensation. Also, it prohibits him from seeking dissolution of the firm although he may want it dissolved.
21. Deprivation of property may take place in various ways, such as `destruction' vide this Court's decision in
Chiranjit Lal Chowdhuri vs. Union of India AIR 1951 SC 41 or `confiscation' vide this Court's decision in
Ananda Behera vs. State of Orissa AIR 1956 SC 17, or revocation of a proprietary right granted by a `private
proprietor' vide this Court's decision in Virendra Singh vs. State of U.P. AIR 1954 SC 447, `seizure of goods'
vide this Court's decision in Wazir Chand vs. State of H.P. AIR 1954 SC 415 or `immovable property' vide
this Court's decision in Virendra Singh vs. State of U.P. (supra) from the possession of an `individual' vide
this Court's decision in Wazir Chand vs. State of H.P. (supra) or `assumption of control of a business' vide this
Court's decision in Virendra Singh vs. State of U.P. (supra) in exercise of the `police power' of a State. Thus, 9
there is a `deprivation' where a municipal authority, under statutory power, pulls down `dangerous premises'
vide decision in Nathubhai Dhulaji vs. Municipal Corporation AIR 1959 Bom. 332 or an insolvent is divested
of his `property' vide decision in Vajrapuri Naidu, N. vs. New Theatres, Carnatic Talkies Ltd. 1959(2) MLJ
V. Subramaniam vs Rajesh Raghuvandra Rao on 20 March, 2009