If you are not sure about how your son will treat you in future, be careful about gifting your property to him. The Supreme Court has ruled that parents cannot take back land or property gifted to their children on the grounds of illtreatment by the offspring after they have received the gift. This means that if a couple gift their only dwelling unit to their son and the latter tries to evict them from that very house, there is little the law can do to help the old parents.The judgment comes two months after the apex court ruled that parents could disentitle their only son from inheriting their property if he did not take care of them in their old age or during illness.

The recent case relates to a man from Kerala whose parents sought to revoke their gifts of land to him after he refused to support them financially.

A gift can’t be taken back: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench of Justices S B Sinha and H S Bedi who, on Monday, ruled that gifts from parents to children could not be rescinded later had said two months ago that parents could disentitle their son from inheritance if he neglected them. Ashokan from Kerala was gifted land by his mother through a registered gift deed out of “love and affection” on January 4, 1984. His father followed suit saying it would help him lead a good family life. But after one-and-a-half years, the parents cancelled the deeds saying Ashokan had failed to render financial assistance to the family though he worked in Oman. They were also upset he did not fulfil his promise to contribute Rs 1 lakh for his sister’s marriage.

Ashokan approached the trial court seeking quashing of the two documents executed by his parents through which the gift was cancelled. Despite the breach of promise cited by the parents, the court ruled that once the gift deed had been executed, it could not be revoked “by the mere fact that the donor’s feeling towards the recipient underwent a change”.

The parents had protested that if the deeds were kept alive, it would be fair to fear that the son would evict them from their own land. The district court ruled in favour of the parents saying the son had not taken possession of the land, nor paid tax, nor mutated it in his name. The Kerala HC upheld this decision.

Ashokan approached the SC challenging the HC’s decision. The SC said the gift deeds were executed out of love and on the ground that the recipient was the son of the donor and to enable him to live a good life.

“Could the parents now turn around and say he was to fulfil a promise? The answer must be in the negative. It’s one thing to say the execution of the deed is based on an aspiration or belief, but another to say the same constituted an onerous gift,” said the bench. The SC revived the gift deeds originally made by the parents and said, “Once a gift is complete, it cannot be rescinded.”

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