In an appeal filed against the judgment of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the apex court said that the preferential rights of the heir of Hindu under Section 22 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 are applicable in case property in dispute is agricultural land.
The facts of the case are like two brothers inherited agricultural lands after the death of their father. One of the brothers claimed that they both had agreed to enjoy certain specified pieces of land.
The second brother was not willing to continue with the said arrangement and sent a legal notice to his brother and registered a sale deed of his interest of lands in the name of Babu Ram.
A Civil suit was filed in the Court of Senior Sub Judge by the first brother (the Plaintiff) praying for permanent injunction and declaration, but the trial court dismissed the suit in 1994.
Aggrieved, the Plaintiff filed an appeal in the Court of District Judge where the appeal was partly allowed.
The Appellate Court held that the Plaintiff had a preferential right under Section 22 of the Hindu Succession Act to acquire half of the suit land. It, therefore, set aside the transfer of suit land in the name of Babu Ram by the second brother. Further, this led the appeal in the Supreme Court.
The apex court stated that in case of ‘transfer and alienation of agricultural land’ the competence under Entry 18 List II is with State Legislature, however, in case of “intestacy and succession” which are essentially transfers of operations as per law applicable to the person upon whose death the succession is to open. In addition, the court said that this matter will be dealt as per the principle of Article 254 which deals with inconsistency between laws made by Parliament and laws made by the Legislatures.
The Apex Court held that the preferential right given to heir of a Hindu under Section 22 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is applicable even if the property in dispute is agricultural land. Further, the court held that all High Court Judgements which are in contravention to the law stand overruled.