The Bombay High Court has held that a child given away in adoption cannot claim any right in the property of his biological father.
The ruling was delivered on November 30 by Justice Mridula Bhatkar who observed that once a child is given away in adoption, his rights to property of his biological father ceased to exist.
The case pertains to a joint Hindu family from Nashik, where family-head Ramachandra Mahale had given away his eldest son Radhakrishna to More family. Ramchandra has two more sons Trimbak and Digambar.
During the course of time, Digamber died and Trimbak too died later leaving behind his wife and daughter.
Somnath, son of Radhakrishna, claimed a share in the property jointly owned by the Mahale family.
The high court, however, held that Radhakrishna and Somnath do not have right to claim share in the property belonging to their biological family since Radhakrishna was given away in adoption.
Justice Bhatkar said "family is not defined under Hindu Succession Act. Thus, who can be a member of the family is not described by the statute. Therefore, the court has to determine position of Ramachandra in view of his legal status only".
"His (Somnath's) status as a family member may be acknowledged by Trimbak and Digamber, however, Somnath is not a coparcener in law. He does not have any legal right in the property of his father's (Radhakrishna's) biological father", the judge said.
"Due to adoption, Radhakrishna's rights in the property of his natural father were ceased and so of Somnath. He continued to stay there and continued to look after the family of his brothers and other family members, yet his right cannot be rejuvenated", the judge said.
The dispute over the property rose when Ujjwala, daughter of Trimbak sought partition to which Somnath objected.
A civil court ruled that Ujjwala had one-fourth share in the property and dismissed Somnath's claim, saying his father was given away in adoption to another family.
Aggrieved with the order, Somnath moved the high court.
He disputed the fact that his father was given away in adoption.
However, Ujjwala's lawyers pointed out that Somnath's surname in school records was mentioned as More which was that of the adopted family. They also submitted a document showing Radhakrishna's adoption.
The high court upheld the civil court ruling which said Somnath had no right to claim share in the property of his biological father.