Property rights of a son on mother’s self-earned property – Issues and the Law

Property rights of a son on mother’s self-earned property

There has been such a massive change in the social milieu in our country that now issues arise regarding a mother’s property too – reflective of the fact that women have shares in the family property now.

In further lines of succession of property owned by a woman, a son can claim a share in his mother’s self-earned property only if the mother wants. But if the mother dies intestate, the issue of claim arises.

Distribution of property among family members of the deceased when the person has died intestate has always been a challenging task.  The issue becomes more complicated when the property consists of both ancestral and self-earned property.

Also Read: The married daughters’ right in mother’s self-acquired property

Self-earned or Self-acquired property refers to the property:

  • made by a person by his resources or
  • which he has inherited under the law of succession or
  • acquired through Will or
  • which has come to him after partition.

How an individual deals with self-earned property:

  • The Law gives an individual the full right to deal with the self-earned property in any manner that he pleases; whether it is transferring the property by way of gift, sale or a Will.
  • A person can dispose of the self-earned property to the exclusion of his heirs. The entire property can be gifted to a third person/stranger.
  • No legal heir can claim any right over the said property till the time the owner of the property is alive.
  • The legal heirs can exert their right only if the owner dies intestate.

Personal and Statutory Laws governing property rights:

The right of the children in the property of their mother largely depends upon the personal law and statutory law governing such rights.

In India, the personal laws are related mostly to the religion of the person.  For Hindus, Muslims and persons of other faiths, there are different statutory and personal laws.

 Under Hindu Law, a woman is the absolute owner of the property which she acquires by any means: gift, will, inheritance. This property becomes her self- acquired/self-earned property. She can choose to transfer the entire property to any person other than her husband and her children.

Also Read: Gift Deed- Implications, Interpretations and Information

Can a son claim on the self-earned property of his mother?

During the lifetime of the mother, a son cannot claim any share in her self-acquired property.  

However, if a Hindu female (mother) dies intestate, the property devolves among legal heirs as per the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act. The legal heirs are

  • Sons Daughters (if predeceased, their children) Husband

The children and husband of the deceased woman (mother) have equal inheritance rights.  Other legal heirs follow if the first order is missing, i.e. a woman dies leaving no children, no grandchildren and no husband, then the legal heirs are:-

  • Mother and fatherHeirs of fatherHeirs of mother

In the case of Hindus,

  • A son can, therefore, claim a right in the self-earned property of his mother if the mother has died intestate.
  • Both son and daughter have equal rights.
  • Even the share of ancestral property falling to the mother after the partition of the property becomes her absolute property and is treated as her self- acquired property.

For Muslim mothers,

  • It is the personal laws which govern the right of her son in the self-earned property.
  • Under Muslim law also, a woman becomes the absolute owner of the property which she has acquired by any means.
  • Generally, there is no distinction like the ancestral or self-acquired property under Muslim Law.
  • The children of a Muslim mother cannot claim any right during her lifetime.  Inheritance opens only on the death of the person.

Also Read: Can NRIs buy property jointly with resident Indian?

For persons of other faiths, the right of the children in the property of the mother is governed by the Indian Succession Act. The relatives of the woman and her children are given preference over her husband and his relatives.

The issue of a son’s claim would therefore largely depend on the personal laws governing that particular segment and the line of succession.

How to file a partition suit for a property in India

how to file a partition suit for a property in india

Partition is a division of property among those who are entitled to the same. In case of property held jointly, if all the co-sharers decide mutually among themselves to divide the property and agree for specific share, there is partition by mutual consent. If there is a dispute, the parties file a suit for partition in a civil court.

Existence of a Right:

A person can claim a share if he has a right in the property. The right can be there:

  • As a legal heir
  • As a co-owner/co-sharer
  • Through any document conferring the share – Will, Gift Deed, Sale deed etc.

When the partition suit is filed, Court may fix an enquiry and appoint a Court Commissioner to ascertain the existence of the right of the party and its share in the suit property.

Read More: Division of property between brother and sister after father’s death

Process of filing a partition suit:

Partition suit is a civil suit, and the process of filing is the same as that of a civil lawsuit.

A. Drafting and filing of plaint – A plaint is nothing but a statement of facts of the case wherein the claimant explains and justifies his claim for the share in the property.

  • A plaint is drafted as per the formats applicable in a particular court. Generally, it is the same everywhere in India with a few differences in presentation.

B. Affixing the appropriate court fee – Requisite court fees must be deposited at the time of filing the plaint. It is essential to submit an accurate court fee. The court fee depends upon :

  • Nature of the case- If the parties are in joint possession of the suit property, the amount of the court fee is fixed. The court fee does not depend upon the market rate. If the party is not in  possession, the court fee is paid on his share as per the market rate.

The court fee structure varies from State to State.

Read More: Division of Property Among Daughters and Daughters-In-Law

C. Placing on record the relevant documents: The party in support of its claim submits the relevant documents. The documents can be-

  • Title deed – It is the primary document which confers the title to justify share in the joint property. It can be in original. If original not available, certified copy can be obtained.
  • Valuation of property- A certificate is issued by the Office of Sub Registrar confirming the value of the property as per the market rate.

Any other document can be filed, which establishes the right in the suit property or which fails the claim of the defendant.

The party filing the suit may or may not possess the original documents. Certified copy of the same can be obtained from the offices of concerned authorities.

Read More: Property rights of a wife after husband’s death

Who can file?

Any or all of the co-owners can file a partition suit. The co-owners can be legal heirs also if it is a family property. Anyone having a share in the property which is intended to be partitioned can file the suit.

Where to file?

A suit for partition is filed in a Civil Court having jurisdiction over the area where the property is located.  If there are several properties, the lawsuit can be filed in any one of the courts.

The partition suit results in a decree which ends the joint nature of the property. Court may order sale of the property and distribution of sale proceeds.