According to the Supreme Court in the case of KATTUKANDI EDATHIL KRISHNAN
& ANR. vs KATTUKANDI EDATHIL VALSAN & ORS., if a man and a woman live together as husband and wife for long years, it is assumed that they were married, and their children will have the right to ancestral property as well.
This whole thing was about a property dispute. The Kerala High Court refused to grant rights to ancestral property to the son of a man-woman living in a live-in relationship in 2009. The Supreme Court has now overturned the Kerala High Court’s decision, ruling that the son cannot be denied the right to inherit the ancestral property.
The property at issue in the court case belonged to Kattukandi Idhatil Colonel Vaidyar. Damodaran, Achyutan, Shekaran, and Narayan were Kattukandi’s four sons.
The petitioner claimed to be Damodaran’s son, while the respondent Karunakaran claimed to be Achuthan’s son. Shekharan and Narayan both died while unmarried.
Karunakaran stated that he is Achuthan’s only child; the other three brothers were unmarried. His claim was that because the petitioner’s mother had not married Damodaran, he was not a legitimate child and thus could not obtain a right to the property.
The property dispute was resolved in trial court. Damodaran had lived with Chiruthakutty for a long time, and the court assumed that they had married. The trial court ordered that the property be divided into two parts.
The case was later heard by the Kerala High Court. According to the court, there is no evidence of Damodaran and Chiruthakutty living together for an extended period of time, and the documents show that the plaintiff is Damodaran’s son, but not a legitimate child.
So, what did the Supreme Court decide?
When the case was heard by the Supreme Court, the justices agreed that there was evidence that Damodaran and Chiruthakutty had been living as husband and wife for a long time.
‘If a man and a woman have been living together as husband and wife for a long time, it can be assumed that both of them were married,’ said the bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Vikram Nath. Section 114 of the Evidence Act allows for such inferences.
However, the court also stated that this presumption can be refuted, but that it must be proven that the marriage did not take place despite the fact that the two had lived together for a long time.
What will the consequences of this decision be?
Although living in a live-in relationship is not a crime in India, if a child is born to a man and a woman living in a live-in relationship, he does not have a right to ancestral property. With the Supreme Court’s decision, a child born to a man and a woman in a live-in relationship will now have the right to ancestral property.
Property is classified into two types. One earns his or her living. And then there’s the inherited one. An inherited property is referred to as ancestral property. Heirs have a claim to ancestral property. If a person dies without leaving a will, his or her heirs have equal rights to the ancestral property.
Both the Hindu Succession Act and the Indian Succession Act apply in this case. Muslims are subject to their own Shariat law. Hindu male heirs have equal rights to ancestral property. No heir has the right to sell the ancestral property at any time.
Both son and daughter now have equal rights to ancestral property. Prior to 2005, this was not the case. Until 2005, only the son had rights to the ancestral property; however, the daughter now has equal rights to the ancestral property. For example, the grandson will have the right to the property on which he has a right.