KOLKATA: Property bought in a wife’s name “cannot necessarily” be called a benami transaction, the Calcutta high court has said.
“In Indian society, if a husband supplies the money for acquiring property in the name of his wife, such a fact does not necessarily imply benami transaction. Source of money is, no doubt, an important factor but not a decisive one,” a division bench of Justices Tapabrata Chakraborty and Partha Sarthi Chatterjee said in its order last week.
The court was hearing a case in which a son at the centre of a family assets dispute claimed his late father had given a benami property to his mother.
The HC ruled that the son had failed to prove his charge. “The burden of showing that a transfer is a benami transaction always lies on the person who asserts it,” the court said, terming it a “well-settled principle”.
The court said two kinds of benami transactions are generally recognised: in the first type, a person buys a property with his own money but in the name of another person without any intention to benefit the other person.
The second type, “loosely termed as a benami transaction”, is where the owner of the property executes a deed of conveyance in favour of another without the intention of transferring the title to the property. “In the latter case, the transferor continues to be the real owner,” the court said.
In this case, the father had bought and registered the property in 1969 in the name of his wife – a homemaker without any source of income. He built a two-storey house on it. After he died in 1999, going by succession laws, his wife, son and daughter inherited a third of the property each. The son stayed in that house till 2011 but when he moved out, wanted the property to be split between him, his mother and sister, a proposal the other two rejected. The son then moved court alleging a benami transaction.
To complicate matters, the mother, exasperated by her son’s conduct, gifted her share of the property to her daughter before she passed away in 2019.

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