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Spes Succession Does Not Give A Valid Right Over The Property: Supreme Court

Bidisha Ghoshal ,
  28 January 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court of India.
Brief :

Citation :
Civil Appeal No. 521-522/2023.


Elumalai @ Venkatesan & Anr. v. M. Kamala and Ors. & etc.


25 January 2023.


Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph.


Petitioner: Elumalai @ Venkatesan & Anr.

Respondent: M. Kamala and Ors. & etc.


In the present case, the Court deals with a case that concerns a dispute between two sets of heirs over the property. The appellants were challenging the validity of a Release Deed executed by their father


  • The present case involves a dispute over a property owned by Shri Sengalani Chettiar that resulted from his second marriage to Smt. Kuppammal. 
  • The property in dispute was the self-acquired property of Shri Sengalani Chettiar and Chandran, the father of the appellants, had executed a Release Deed in regard to the said property. 
  • The appellants are the sons of Chandran and the two children out of the six born to Sengelani Chettiar from his second marriage have filed a suit for partition of the A-Schedule property.
  • In this case, Shri Chandran and Sengalani Chettiar both passed away in 1978 and 1988, respectively. 
  • Then, Sengalani Chettiar's second wife, Smt. Kuppammal, passed away in 2005. 
  • Uma Ravi Chandran and Vinayaga Murthy, the children of Sengalani Chettiar from his second marriage, filed a case in 2006. 
  • Defendants 1-3 were the other daughters of Sengalani Chettiar from the second marriage. 
  • The appellants were subsequently impleaded as defendants 4 and 5. 
  • Lastly, defendant 6 was the son of the deceased daughter of Sengalani Chettiar from the second marriage.
  • The plaintiffs were challenging the validity of a Release Deed executed by the father of the appellants. 
  • The trial court found that the deed was void because it was executed while the grandfather of the appellants was still alive. 
  • As a result, the plaintiffs were only given a decree for 2/7 of the property. 
  • The defendants then filed an appeal, which was allowed by the High Court. The court found that the appellants were not entitled to a share in the property due to the Release Deed, and that the first plaintiff and her siblings would be entitled to one-sixth share each in A-Schedule property. 
  • Defendants 4 and 5 are now challenging this decision, as they were denied a share in the property.


  • Whether Shri Chandran's conduct in executing the release deed and receiving consideration for it would create an estoppel?
  • Whether Shri Chandran's actions would result in an estoppel that would prevent him from staking a claim against his father's estate if he had survived him?


  • The learned counsel is arguing that the High Court erred in using a principle found in a case of Mohammadan Law to deny the appellants (the clients of the lawyer) their share as Class-I heirs under Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. 
  • The counsel points out that at the time the Release Deed was executed, the appellants were either not born or three years old, and thus could not be bound by it. 
  • The appellant also argues that their father, Shri Chandran, only had a spes successionis (expectation of succession) at the time, which could not form the subject matter of a legitimate transfer. 
  • Therefore, the learned counsel argues, the Release Deed should be ignored and the appellants should receive their legitimate share of the property according to Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. 
  • The counsel also argues that nothing prevented the grandfather from executing a will or otherwise dealing with the property, and thus the doctrine of feeding the grant (Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act) cannot be applied.
  • Shri Jayanth Muth Raj is a senior counsel who was hired to support the appellants. He initially represented the children of Sengalani Chettiar, who had contested the claim of the appellants. However, there was a subsequent assignment in favour of the clients of Shri Jayanth Muth Raj, which explains the change in stand of his clients. 
  • He argued that the principle of estoppel, which was applied in the case of Gulam Abbas, could not be applied in the instant case, as there was no conduct attributed to the appellants. 
  • He further argued that the grandfather did not deal with the property, which indicated that he wanted the succession to the property to take place in accordance with the mandate of Section 8 of the Succession Act.


  • The respondent counsel is supporting the judgment of the High Court. 
  • They are pointing to the terms of the Release Deed which was executed in order to protect the interest of the son from the second marriage of Sengalani Chettiar. 
  • The counsel is also arguing that since Chandran has received consideration and given up all his rights, it would not be fair for the appellants to stake a claim for succession to the property.


  • In this case, it has been found that the property in question is the separate property of Sengalani Chettiar. He had married twice, and from his first marriage was born Shri Chandran, who pre-deceased his father in 1978. 
  • The Release Deed recites that Shri Chandran has released his share in respect of the property. 
  • Section 6 of the Transfer of Property Act states that a chance of an heir apparent succeeding to an estate, the chance of a relation obtaining a legacy on the death of a kinsman or other mere possibility of a like nature cannot be transferred. 
  • The Court observed that when Sengalani Chettiar was alive, Shri Chandran had at best a spes successonis. 
  • Thus, the Release Deed may not by itself have the effect of a transfer of the rights of Shri Chandran in favour of either his father or the minor son of his father from the second marriage.
  • In this case, the property in question was not the ancestral property of Shri Chandran. The transfer of the property by an heir apparent (Shri Chandran) was ineffective to convey any right since the father of the appellants did not have any right which he could transfer or relinquish. 
  • The Release Deed executed by Shri Chandran was meant to secure the interest of the son from the second marriage. 
  • The intention of Shri Chettiar was to deny any claim to Shri Chandran in regard to the property. 
  • However, if the principle in Gulam Abbas (supra) is applied and Shri Chandran did not pre-decease his father, then the plan of the parties would have gone according to plan.
  • The Court noticed that in this case, Shri Chandran is being estopped from denying his father's succession and inheritance of his estate because he has already accepted consideration for the Release Deed. 
  • This means that Shri Chettiar must have thought that the branch of Shri Chandran was being cut off from inheritance of the property in question, which is why no Release Deed was executed from the children of Shri Chandran.
  • The principle of estoppel is an equitable doctrine which prevents someone from asserting something which is contrary to what was previously indicated by their words or actions. 
  • In this case, the father of the appellants had received valuable consideration from another party and allowed them to proceed on the basis that he was free to deal with the property without the prospect of being haunted by any claim whatsoever as regards the property. This created a clear estoppel which prevented the father and his children from asserting any claim to the property. 
  • The court found that this argument ignored the play of the facts and dismissed the appeals.


This case is an important example of how the principle of estoppel can be used to deny a party their legitimate claim to a property. The court found that the Release Deed executed by the father of the appellants was invalid as he had a spes succession and he did not a valid right to the property. Furthermore, the court found that the Release Deed created an estoppel, which prevented the appellants from asserting any claim on the property. The court upheld the High Court’s decision and dismissed the appeals.

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