High Court Upholds Religion-Neutral Stance of Karnataka Stamps Act on Property Transfers

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  • 15th May 2024
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High Court Upholds Religion-Neutral Stance of Karnataka Stamps Act on Property Transfers
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In a significant ruling, the High Court affirmed that Mohammedan law does not bar property transfer deeds, emphasizing the religion-neutral stance of the Karnataka Stamps Act. The court declared that the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act-1937 does not supersede Section 2(q) and Article 48 of the Karnataka Stamp Act-1957, which sanction property transfer through settlement deeds.

Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde observed that although Shariat law, regarded as divine instructions, may not encompass all contract types recognized by contemporary law, this does not render settlement deeds impermissible among Mohammedans. He underscored that the absence of explicit recognition in Shariat law does not equate to prohibition, aligning with the philosophy of the Quran.

This ruling emerged from a regular first appeal by three grandsons of TA Abdul Jabbar, challenging a January 11, 2013, civil court order. The civil court had mandated a fresh partition, arguing that the settlement Jabbar made with his grandsons and their father contravened Mohammedan law. The suit was filed by Jabbar’s daughters from his third wife.

In September 1965, Jabbar executed three registered settlement deeds. The first deed was in favor of his three grandsons, the appellants. The second deed granted property in Guddadahalli to TA Abdul Rasheed, his son from his first wife. The third deed provided Rs 5,000 to his third wife and settled property in favor of his minor daughters from his third wife, the plaintiffs in this case. Jabbar passed away in 1968.

In 1996, Jabbar’s two daughters contested the second settlement deed. The trial court ruled that Mohammedan law does not recognize property transfer through settlement, decreeing the partition of properties under the second deed. Jabbar’s grandsons contended that such transfers are not expressly barred under Mohammedan law, while his daughters argued that the Quran forbids transactions depriving an heir apparent of a right and discriminating among heirs.

Justice Hegde clarified that the Karnataka Stamps Act is “religion neutral,” allowing any competent individual to execute a settlement deed for their property, whether movable or immovable, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

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