Joint family property – Presumptions with special reference to ‘Doctrine of Blending’

Introduction:-
Whenever the Kartha of a joint family purchases an item of property by selling an item of joint family property, the one so purchased needs to be treated as owned by the joint family. If a member of joint family property acquired in his own name in the presence of ancestral nucleus, it shall be presumed to be joint family property. Law relating to blending of separate property with joint family property is well settled. Property separate or self- acquired of a member of a joint Hindu family may be impressed with the character of joint family property if it is voluntarily thrown by the owner into the common stock with the intention of abandoning his separate claim therein but to establish such abandonment a clear intention to waive separate rights must be established. There are judicial pronouncements that whatever may be the extent of the contribution of the acquiring member himself out of his self-acquired fund, if he takes the aid of any portion of joint or ancestral property in acquiring the property, however small that aid may be, the property so acquired assumes the character of joint family property and cannot be claimed by him as self-acquisition.

Severance of joint status:
As was held in Mudigowda Gowdappa Sankh & Ors vs Ramchandra Ravagowda Sankh & Anr, 1969 AIR 1076, 1969 SCR (3) 245, in order to operate as a severance of joint status, it is necessary that the expression of intention to separate himself, by the ‘particular member must be definite and unequivocal. If the expression of the intention is a mere pretence or sham, there is, in the eye of law, no separation of the joint family status. There is no presumption that a joint Hindu family, because it is joint, possesses any joint family property or if there was a nucleus, any acquisition made by any member of the joint family is joint family property. It is only after the possession of an adequate nucleus is shown that such a presumption is drawn and the onus shifts on to the person who claims the property as a self-acquisition to make out his claim.
Where it is found that the family possessed some joint property which from its nature and relative value may have formed the nucleus from which that property may have been acquired, the burden shifts to the party alleging that it was a self-acquired property. (Ref: Rajendra Nath Majhi vs Tustu Charan Das And Anr, AIR 1979 Cal 105)

Doctrine of blending:
The ‘doctrine of blending’ was clearly explained in Mallesappa Bandeppa Desai And another vs Desai Mallappa And Others, 1961 AIR 1268, 1961 SCR (3) 779. It was observed in this ruling that the rule of blending in Hindu Law as evolved by judicial decisions can have no application to a property held by a Hindu female as a limited owner. That rule postulates a coparcener deliberately and intentionally throwing his independently acquired property into the joint family stock so as to form a part of it.

Joint Family Property : Presumption
If a member of joint family property acquired in his own name in the presence of ancestral nucleus, it shall be presumed to be joint family property. Law relating to blending of separate property with joint family property is well settled. Property separate or self- acquired of a member of a joint Hindu family may be impressed with the character of joint family property if it is voluntarily thrown by the owner into the common stock with the intention of abandoning his separate claim therein but to establish such abandonment a clear intention to waive separate rights must be established. From the mere fact that other members of the family were allowed to use the property jointly with himself, or that the income of the separate property was utilised out of generosity to support persons whom the holder was not bound to support, or from the failure to maintain separate accounts, abandonment cannot be inferred, for an act of generosity or kindness will not ordinarily be regarded as an admission of a legal obligation. See: Lakkireddi Chinna Venkata Reddi vs Lakkireddi Lakshmama,1963 AIR 1601, 1964 SCR (2) 172.

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 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. See. Adivappa vs. Bhimappa, CIVIL APPEAL No. 11220 OF 2017 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.5664/2012), Dated of judgment. 6 September, 2017.

What extent of contribution is required to assume the character of joint family property?
Whatever may be the extent of the contribution of the acquiring member himself out of his self-acquired fund, if he takes the aid of any portion of joint or ancestral property in acquiring the property, however small that aid may be, the property so acquired assumes the character of joint family property and cannot be claimed by him as self-acquisition. It was observed that the extent of his contribution or that of the family property it is enough to make the self-acquired property, the property of the joint family. (Ref: Bhimavarapu Subba Reddy And Anr. vs B. Nagireddy And Anr, AIR 1973 AP 184).

On whom the burden lies?
Since more than half a century, the law is consistent that where possession is through invalid sale, the vendee ipso facto acquires adverse possession from the date of possession itself and in such case, such person becomes the owner after the lapse of the statutory period. Here, the burden lies on the person asserting that it is his self acquired property to prove the same. See. Nakkalapu Annapurnamma v. Nakkalapu Narendra Kumar and Ors., 1997 (3) An.W.R. 564 = 1997 (4) ALD 97 (D.B.).

It is not necessary to prove with mathematical precession:
it is too well settled that whenever the Kartha of a joint family purchases an item of property by selling an item of joint family property, the one so purchased needs to be treated as owned by the joint family. As long as the sale of the joint family property and purchase of a new item are contemporaneous, it is not necessary to prove with mathematical precession, that the sale proceeds were sufficient to purchase the new item or that timing was accurate. (Ref. Raavi Nookaraju v. Kotaru Latchayyamma and others, 2012 (3) ALD 423.)

Whether the Joint family necessarily own any property to presume as Joint family properties?
It is a settled law that though joint family need not necessarily own any property, but once ancestral nucleus is proved, all the subsequent acquisitions irrespective of the fact as to whether they stand in the name of either ‘kartha’ or other member of joint family, even female members, are deemed to be joint family properties, unless the same is rebutted by clinching evidence by the person setting-up the said properties as his self-acquisitions. See. Kolluru Sambasiva Rao vs Kolluru Nagabhushanam Alias Nageswara Rao and Ors,1993 (3) ALT 256 (DB)

Conclusion:- If a member of joint family property acquired in his own name in the presence of ancestral nucleus, it shall be presumed to be joint family property. Similarly, if the Kartha of a joint family purchases an item of property by selling an item of joint family property, the one so purchased needs to be treated as owned by the joint family. The rule of blending under the Hindu law postulates a coparcener deliberately and intentionally throwing his independently acquired property into the joint family stock so as to form a part of it. From the above analogy, it is clear that there is no presumption that a joint Hindu family, because it is joint, possesses any joint family property or if there was a nucleus, any acquisition made by any member of the joint family is joint family property. It is only after the possession of an adequate nucleus is shown that such a presumption is drawn and the onus shifts on to the person who claims the property as a self-acquisition to make out his claim. Despite joint family need not necessarily own any property, once ancestral nucleus is proved, all the subsequent acquisitions irrespective of the fact as to whether they stand in the name of either ‘kartha’ or other member of joint family, even female members, are presumed to be joint family properties. But it can be rebutted by the person setting-up the said properties as his self-acquisitions.
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