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Inherited Property Of A Female Hindu Dying Intestate And Issueless Goes Back To The Source: SC

  • In the case of Arunachala Gounder vs Ponnusamy the Hon’ble SC has held that any property acquired by a female hindu dying intestate and without any children would go back where it came from, that is, to its source.
  • In the instant case, the devolution of the self acquired property of Late Marappa Gounder was in question. The Court was called upon to adjudicate whether the sole surviving daughter of Marrapa, Kupayee Ammal would inherit the same by inheritance or whether the property would devolve by way of survivorship. Another question that was raised was regarding the order of succession after the death of such a daughter.
  • The Court had delved deep both into the judicial pronouncements as well as ancient Hindu texts, and as a consequence observed that the right of a widow or a daughter to inherit the self acquired property as well as in the shared ancestral property has been long recognised not just under the judicial pronouncements but under the old religious texts as well.
  • The same right was given statutory recognition when the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was enacted by our Legislature. Section 15 of the Act has dealt with the general rules of succession in case of a female Hindu dying intestate. While section 15(1) specifies who will inherit the property of a female hindu dying intestate, section 15(2) deals with the fate of the inherited property when the Hindu woman dies intestate and childless.
  • In case of a woman dying intestate and issueless, according to section 15(2), the property that she inherited would go back to the source. What is meant by this is that the property that the woman inherited from her father or mother, would not go to the heirs enumerated in section 15(1), but upon the heirs of the father.
  • Similarly, the property acquired by the female from her husband would also go back to the heirs of the husband.
  • Thus, the Court observed that the aim of the legislature in enacting the said provision is that the inherited property of a female Hidu would go back where it came from, and not devolve upon those who originally had no rights over it.
  • The Court also referred to the case of State of Punjab vs. Balwant Singh (1992) and Bhagat Singh vs. Teja Singh (2002) wherein the Apex Court held that the source from which the woman inherits the property is always important and that would govern the situation, else the persons who were not even remotely related to the people who owned the property would acquire rights over it. This would completely defeat the intent of the legislature.

Importance Of The Plaintiff’s Conduct In A Suit Of Specific Performance: Know What The SC Has To Say

  • The Hon’ble SC has observed, in the case of Shenbagam vs KK Rathinavel that the conduct of the plaintiff is very important in a suit for specific performance of a contract and the same has to be assessed by the Courts.
  • In the instant case, the appellant and her spouse entered into an agreement with the respondent by which they agreed to sell the suit property for a consideration of 1,25,000/-. The respondent paid a sum of Rs. 25,000 as an advance and agreed to pay the balance in the coming six months and on the full payment, the appellants were to execute the sale deed, free from all encumbrances.
  • It was also agreed that in case of a failure to execute the sale deed, the advance would be forfeited and if the appellants refused to honour the contract and the appellant was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract then he would get the right to institute a suit for the specific performance of the contract.
  • The suit property was also subject to a mortgage in favour of one Janaki Amma. The respondents alleged that the appellant had received the advance to discharge the mortgage while the appellants alleged that the respondent knew of the mortgage and agreed to discharge it from the sale consideration.
  • The appellants rescinded the contract on the ground that the respondent was not ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. The respondent obtained an interim injunction, restraining the appellants from alienating the suit property. The respondent also obtained a decree for the specific performance of the contract from the trial Court. The same was confirmed by the HC.
  • The Supreme Court, in the instant appeal from the order of the HC observed that the trial Court had failed to appreciate the issue as to whether the plaintiff was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract. Instead the trial Court only assessed whether he was entitled to the relief of specific performance.
  • The Court also referred to the case of His Holiness Acharya Swami Ganesh Das Ji vs. Sita Ram Thapar where it was held that the readiness means the capacity of the plaintiff to perform the contract, which refers to the financial condition of the plaintiff, whereas to ascertain the ‘willingness’ of the plaintiff, the conduct of the plaintiff has to be scrutinised.
  • The various precedents set by the Apex Court would suggest that the plaintiff must establish that he was ‘ready and willing’ to perform his part of the contract.
  • Thus, the appeal was allowed and the respondents were directed to return the sum of Rs.35,000 advanced by the plaintiff.

Trademark As Well As Goods/Services Are Identical, Confusion In Public Shall Be Presumed: SC

  • The Hon’ble SC has observed, in Renaissance Hotel Holdings Inc. vs. B. Vijaya Sai, that in an action for the infringement of trade mark, when it is shown that the trade mark of the defendant is identical to that of the plaintiff and the goods or services rendered by them are also identical, the Court shall presume that the public would be confused thereby, and an injunction shall be issued.
  • The appellant had instituted a suit claiming a decree of permanent injunction to prohibit the defendants from using the trademark “Sai Renaissance” or any other name resembling their trademark Renaissance. The trial Court partly decreed the suit in the appellants favour. The HC however, found that there was no infringement of the trademark laws and allowed the appeal against the order of the trial Court. Aggrieved, the plaintiffs approached the SC.
  • The Court observed that the legislative intent is abundantly clear that when the trademarks are identical and the goods and services are ‘similar’ then it might be necessary to establish that the same is likely to cause confusion in the minds of the public. But, if the trademarks are identical and the goods and services offered are also ‘identical’ then the Court shall presume that the same is likely to cause confusion in the minds of the public.
  • Comparing the infringement of a trademark to the English concept of passing off, the Court observed that it has been established that if the essential features of the trademark has been adopted by the defendant, but the packaging, getup and other marks on the product sufficiently distinguish the two products and indicate their separate origins, the same in a defence in an action for passover. But, the aforementioned distinction is not a valid defence when there is a breach of a statutory right that has been conferred on the holder of the trademark.
  • The Court was also of the opinion that the HC had erroneously given the advantage of section 30 of the Trademarks Act to the defendants. The same could be given if the use is in accordance with the honest practises in industrial or commercial matters.
  • Thus, the appeal was allowed and the order of the HC was set aside.
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