In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on 20.04.2016, ruled that a man is legally entitled to nominate his married daughter to own his cooperative society flat after his death, depriving his wife and only son.
The West Bengal Cooperative Societies Rules, 1987, stipulate that the owner of a flat in a cooperative society can nominate his house in favour of a person “belonging to his family”.
Taking this rule as their defence, along with other provisions of the WB Cooperative Societies Act, 1983, Biswa Ranjan Sengupta’s wife and son challenged the decision of the managing committee of Purbanchal Housing Estate, Salt Lake City, Kolkata, to transfer ownership of a flat to Indrani Wahi, Sengupta’s married daughter.
Based on the objection, the deputy registrar of Cooperative Societies declined to record Indrani’s name as the successor of the flat originally allotted to Sengupta, who in his last days was living with her because of “ill-treatment” by his wife and son.
Indrani’s appeal was allowed by a single judge of the high court, which directed the flat to be registered in her name. But a division bench of the HC said Indrani was a part shareholder of the property along with Sengupta’s wife and son and that she could dispose of the property only with the express consent of other shareholders. Indrani appealed against this judgment in the apex court.
A bench of justices JS Khehar and C Nagappan analysed the entire gamut of judgments on this issue and said: “There can be no doubt that where a member of a cooperative society nominates a person in consonance with provisions of the rules, on the death of such member, the cooperative society is mandated to transfer all the share or interest of such member in the name of the nominee. The rights of others on account of inheritance or succession is a subservient right. Only if a member had not exercised the right of nomination under Section 79 of the Act, then and then alone, the existing share or interest of the member would devolve by way of succession or inheritance.”
Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Khehar said: “It is not necessary for us to deal with the issue whether Indrani Wahi, being a married daughter of the original member, Biswa Ranjan Sengupta, could be treated as a member of the family of the deceased because the single judge, as also the division bench of the HC, have concluded that she was a member of the family.” The court noted that this concurrent finding was not challenged by Sengupta’s only son.
Holding that the cooperative society had no option but to register Indrani as the owner of the flat, the SC bench said it would be open to Sengupta’s son to pursue his case of succession or inheritance in other forum.