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Case Summary: ABDUL GAFUR & ORS. VS NIZAMMUDIN & ORS.

Author : Rutambhara Nayak

Citation: 1892 19 I.A. 170

Bench: Lord Watson, Lord Morris, Sir Richard Couch, Lord Shand.

Introduction:

The case is a clarification with regard to the essentials of a valid waqf, that the primary endowment must be for religious/charitable purposes. Further that the inheritance of property by the descendants is decided by the Mohammedan law where is no other document that the owner leaves behind to decide the matter.

Facts:

The owner of the property in dispute, Karimudin had created a deed purported to be a Waqfnamah whereby he had entitled his property to his two wives, children and descendants. He had also mentioned the method or rules by which the property shall devolve upon the ones he is entitling. A other part of property was clearly assigned for religious/charitable purposes which is not the subject matter of dispute in this case.

Tahirabibi, one of the daughters of Karimudin is the judgment debtor in a suit where the land that she possessed was taken in execution and sold judicially which was purchased by the father of the Defendants. The Appellant-Plaintiffs claim the land to be reverted to them being the descendants of Karimudin and as the interest of Tahirabibi was limited to life rent.

Issue and Fact of Law:

  1. Whether the deed in question is Waqfnamah and hence, the property in dispute, a waqf property ?
  2. Whether Tahirabibi is entitled with property only for life estate?

Judgment:

The bench took the liberty to follow what most of the cases decided earlier for the first issue and gave their answer in negative. A waqf to be valid according to the Moammedan Law, it should primarily and generally be endowed to obtain a religious/charitable purpose. Although the court supports the notion that an endowment of property that benefits the family of the donor is deemed waqf but this is still dependant on a condition that such temporary endowment is finally replaced by endowment for religious/charitable purpose. Any kind of remote or unlikely connection with religious purpose is not treated as waqf as was the case here. The words of Karimudin clearly pointed towards keeping the possesion of the property wit his family, devolving upon his descendants and there was no clear intention of it being transferred to a religious purpose. Thus the court denied the grant of waqf.

Further, while deciding the second issue, stated that the appellants could not successfully prove the deed in question to be a valid settlement, thus the devolution of his property upon his heirs would be by the inheritance laws of the Mohammedan law. The court clarified that Karimudin had made no grant whatsoever during his lifetime and the creation of life-estate is invalid according to the Mohammedan law, thus it cannot be his intention to do so. Also, it was not proven if Tahirabibi gave her consent in accepting the deed to be the will of Karimudin, so that point was also canceled. Therefore, by all means, it is not shown that Tahirabibi held a life interest only in the property which was sold as hers and purchased by the defendants. It follows that the plaintiff’s suit to eject the defendants, on the ground that Tahirabibi had only a life interest, must fail.

The appeal was dismissed.

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