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NEW DELHI: In a major judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that a father can gift a reasonable portion of his ancestral immovable property to daughters at the time of their marriage or even long after their marriage. The ruling was given by a Bench comprising Justice R C Lahoti and Justice Ashok Bhan while settling a 15-year-old dispute between a father and his daughters in Salem district of Tamil Nadu. The Bench ruled in favour of the daughters by setting aside a trial court order which was upheld by the Madras High Court. Considering several rulings of the apex court, the Bench said: "It can safely be held that a father can make a gift of ancestral immovable property within reasonable limits, keeping in view the total extent of the property held by the family in favour of his daughter at the time of marriage or even long after her marriage." The father, Raja Gounder, had gifted some portion of his ancestral land to his daughters in 1985 but five years later alleged that the daughters, taking advantage of his addiction to alcohol, had fraudulently taken away the ancestral property which he could not have gifted. The trial court and the high court had ruled in favour of the father, saying he had no right to gift away ancestral property except for pious purposes. The Bench said the question as to whether a particular gift was within reasonable limits or not had to be judged according to the status of the family at the time of making a gift, the extent of immovable property owned by the family and the extent of property gifts.
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