Parents Can Revoke Property Gifted To Children, Rules Punjab & Haryana HC
As cases of neglect and violence against senior citizens continue to be on the rise, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that property transferred to a son or daughter can be revoked in case such parents find themselves being harassed by them. Even without putting a condition in the property transfer deed, they can revoke.
The court of justice has emphasised the rule laid out in Section 23 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 which says, “Where any senior citizen who, after the commencement of this Act, has transferred by way of gift or otherwise, his property, subject to the condition that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and basic physical needs to the transferor and such transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities and physical needs, the said transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence and shall at the option of the transferor be declared void by the Tribunal.”
In the past, however, there had been many discussions around this provision. In 2007, the Supreme Court (SC) bench of Justices S.B. Sinha and H.S. Bedi. had ruled that “Once a gift is complete, the same cannot be rescinded. For any reason whatsoever, the subsequent conduct of a donee cannot be a ground for rescission of a valid gift.” Therefore, for parents who were suffering at the hand of their child/children, there was little or no respite.
This ruling had come to light when Asokan’s mother sought to cancel a gift deed that was registered in 1984 in the son’s favour. After his father’s death, Asokan’s mother said that she wished to cancel the deed given that it was gifted on the condition that her son would contribute Rs 1 lakh for his sister’s wedding. After he contributed the amount, the mother alleged that Asokan’s behaviour towards his mother had changed. When the matter reached the court, they ruled in favour of the gift deed and said that gift deeds are registered out of love and because the son was a rightful successor. Justice Sinha said, “Could they now turn around and say that he was to fulfil a promise? The answer thereto must be rendered in the negative.” Asokan’s case was heard by the court on December 14, 2007.
By the end of December 2007, Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 came into form and was meant to protect parents and seniors. The Act in a way overturned the norms, children were supposed to look after their parents especially after their parents had transferred their property.
In fact, these laws could be further enforced. A new draft bill is doing the rounds and suggests that children who abuse parents could be in for a bad time. This could be an amendment to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 and has been drafted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It talks about increasing the jail term and the definition of ‘children’ would now comprise of not just son and daughter but adopted or step children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter and a minor. Accordingly, ‘maintenance’ would mean not just a pocket money but ensuring food, clothing, medical attendance, treatment, safety, housing and security.