The Kerala High Court recently ruled that a son-in-law has no legal right to his father-in-property law's and building, even if he paid for its construction.
While dismissing a second appeal with costs, Justice N. Anil Kumar stated:
"When the plaintiff has possession of the property, the defendant, son in law, cannot claim that he was adopted as a member of the family following the marriage of the plaintiff's daughter and has a right to it... The presence of a son-in-law in the plaint schedule building is only permissive. As a result, even if he paid for the building's construction, the son-in-law has no legal claim to his father-in-property law's and building."
The plaintiff (respondent herein) filed an original suit in the trial court seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant (his son-in-law) from trespassing into the plaint schedule property or interfering with the plaintiff's peaceful possession and enjoyment of the said property, which belongs to the plaintiff by virtue of a gift deed.
The plaintiff's wife and daughter had also sought a restraining order against the defendant. Despite the fact that the cases were settled, the defendant's behaviour became intolerable, prompting the plaintiff to seek a permanent prohibitory injunction preventing his entry.
It was argued that the defendant has no legal claim to the property.
The defendant (appellant herein) contended that he had married the plaintiff's only daughter and thus had been practically adopted as a member of the family following the marriage. On these grounds, he asserted that he has a legal right to live in the house.
The trial court, on the other hand, determined that the plaintiff is the owner in possession of the plaint schedule property and that the son-in-law has no right to interfere with the plaintiff's possession of the plaint schedule building.
Despite the fact that an appeal was filed, the first appellate court also concluded that the defendant has no right to disturb the plaintiff's peaceful possession of the plaint schedule building. As a result, the appeal was dismissed.
Dissatisfied, the defendant filed a regular second appeal with the High Court.
The primary issue before the Court was whether a son-in-law has any legal right to his father-in-property law's and building.
The Court noted that the plaintiff was paying property and building taxes. He had been living in the plaint schedule building as well. It was also determined that holding that the defendant is a member of the family was difficult. According to the Court, the plaintiff's family consists of his wife and daughter.
"The defendant is the plaintiff's son-in-law. It is rather shameful for him to claim that he was adopted as a member of the family following his marriage to the plaintiff's daughter."
As a result, it was determined that when the plaintiff is in possession of the property, the son in law cannot claim that he was adopted as a member of the family following his marriage to the plaintiff's daughter and thus has a right to the property.
It was reiterated that the son-in-residence law's in the plaint schedule building, if any, is only permissive in nature. As a result, the Court ruled that a son-in-law has no legal right to his father-in-property law's or building, even if he has paid for its construction.
The High Court, in upholding the decisions of the trial court and the first appellate court, stated:
"This Court finds no error in the first appellate court's decision to confirm the trial court's judgement and decree by dismissing the suit for injunction simpliciter. As a result, this RSA is dismissed with costs."
Advocate Blaze K Jose represented the appellant, and Advocate V.T Madhavan Unni represented the respondent.
Case Title: Davis Raphel v. Hendry Thomas