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Member of HUF can only claim self-acquired property and not ancestral: SC

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A member of Hindu Undivided Family, or HUF, can claim exclusive rights over a family property if they prove that the asset was self-acquired, and not being given through ancestral lineage.

The verdict by the two-member bench came on Thursday.  The Court upheld an earlier order of Karnataka High Court which rejected the claim by some members of HUF over an agricultural land.

“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,” said the bench led by Justices R K Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre.

SC clarified that in case of clashes, the onus is on the claimant to prove that the asset is self-acquired, rather than being ancestral.

“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 an entire lot of ancestral properties are his self-acquired property,” the bench remarked.

Further validating Karnataka HC order, which rejected the plaintiff’s’ effort to acquire agricultural farm jointly owned by the family, the court said members of HUF who stake exclusive claim over a property; fail to adduce evidence that the property was self-acquired.