Even if a daughter is given dowry at the time of her marriage, her right in the family's properties does not cease and she can still stake claim, observed the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court recently.
Justice MS Sonak made the observation while hearing a petition filed by one of the four daughters, Terezinha David, seeking restrain on her mother and four brothers from creating any third party rights in family's properties. Terezinha was the eldest daughter who was married and hence was not given share in any of the properties by her four brothers and mother.
Court said no proof daughters were given sufficient dowry
“Even if it is assumed that some dowry was provided to the daughters, that does not mean that the daughters cease to have any right in the family property. The rights of the daughters could not have been extinguished in the manner in which they have been attempted to be extinguished by the brothers, post the father's demise,” noted the bench.
The court also said that there was no material to prove that the four daughters were given sufficient dowry.
Appellate court ruled in favor of brothers
The judge noted: “The evidence on record shows that the joint family property was purported to be exclusively usurped by the brothers to exclude the sisters. Merely because one of the sisters deposed in favour of the brothers does not mean that the issue of family arrangement or oral partition was duly proved.”
The daughter’s petition stated that the mother and the other sisters had given consent to transfer the family's shop and house in the favour their two brothers as per a Transfer Deed of 1990. She learnt about the deed only in 1994 following which she filed suit before the civil court which ruled in her favour. However, her brothers appealed before appellate court which ruled in their favour.
Terezinha approached HC in 2005
Hence she approached the HC in 2005. Her brothers claimed that she had no right in the properties while relying on the “oral partition” of the said properties wherein their other three sisters had given up their rights as they too were given dowry at the time of their wedding.
Disagreeing with the arguments, the HC said that there was no evidence of such an oral partition. “Merely stating that there was some family arrangement by which four daughters of Antonio (father) and Matilda (mother) were given dowry at the time of their marriages is insufficient to spell out the ingredients of the family arrangement or an oral partition,” said the court. it further added: “Secondly, in terms of Article 2184 of the Portuguese Civil Code, a partition which is merely severance of a joint status cannot be effected orally and has necessarily to be by a written document.”
Brothers tried to usurp joint family property, says HC
Besides, the brothers purportedly tried to exclusively usurp the joint family property, added the court. “The evidence on record shows that the joint family property was purported to be exclusively usurped by the brothers to exclude the sisters. Merely because one of the sisters deposed in favour of the brothers does not mean that the issue of family arrangement or oral partition was duly proved,” the court averred while quashing the transfer deed.
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