If a member of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) wants to stake exclusive claim over any joint family property, then he or she will have to establish that this asset was self-acquired and not ancestral, the Supreme Court has held. A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre said the burden lies upon the member, who after admitting the existence of jointness in the family properties, asserts the claim that some properties out of the entire lot of ancestral properties are self-acquired by him or her.
The apex court, while upholding the Karnataka high court order which had declared a property as joint property of the family, rejected the plea of some members of a joint family claiming ownership over an agricultural land on the ground that they had acquired the property and other members of their family had no right over it. “It is a settled principle of Hindu law that there lies a legal presumption that every Hindu family is joint in food, worship and estate and in the absence of any proof of division, such legal presumption continues to operate in the family. “The burden, therefore, lies upon the member who, after admitting the existence of jointness in the family properties, asserts his claim that some properties out of entire lot of ancestral properties are his self-acquired property,” the bench said. The court also observed that the members of a HUF family, who stake exclusive claim over a property, fail to adduce sufficient evidence that the property was self-acquired.