The Supreme Court says, “Acceptance of a gift can be inferred by the implied conduct of the donee”
In an appeal filed before the Apex Court, the issue raised was whether the registered gift deed executed by the appellant is valid in the eyes of law?
In this case, the appellant challenged the proceedings initiated under Rajasthan Imposition of Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1973, before the High Court. The single bench after allowing the respective writ petition, held that the case was beyond the purview of Section 6 of the Act because the land was transferred by way of gift before 26.09.1970. It was further held that the aforesaid transfer of land, by the appellant in favour of his son by virtue of a registered gift deed, being bona fide, was valid in the eyes of law. Setting aside this judgment by allowing the appeal, the Division Bench observed that a perusal of the gift deed does not show acceptance of gift by the donee, rather it seems that donee was even unaware of the gift.
The court noted that Section 122 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 neither defines acceptance, nor does it prescribe any particular mode for accepting the gift. Taking note of the observations made in Asokan v. Lakshmikutty, (2007) 13 SCC 210, the court said:
“The word acceptance is defined as "the receipt of a thing offered by another with an intention to retain it, as acceptance of a gift." (See Ramanatha P. Aiyar: The Law Lexicon, 2nd Edn., page 19).
The aforesaid fact can be ascertained from the surrounding circumstances such as taking into possession the property by the donee or by being in the possession of the gift deed itself. The only requirement stipulated here is that the acceptance of the gift must be effectuated within the lifetime of the donor itself.”
The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant observed,
Hence, being an act of receiving willingly, acceptance can be inferred by the implied conduct of the donee. Such inference can be ascertained from the surrounding circumstances such as taking into possession the property by the donee or by being in the possession of the gift deed itself.”
Taking note of the materials placed on record including some statements made by appellant before Court of Additional District Magistrate, the bench observed:
“The above mentioned circumstances clearly indicate that there was an acceptance of the gift by the donee during the lifetime of the donor. Not only the gift deed in itself contained recitals about transfer of possession, but also the mutation records and the statements of the both the donor and donee indicate that, there has been an acceptance of the gift by conduct. The respondents failed to bring on record any evidence to rebut the fact that the donee was in enjoyment of the property. In light of the same, the learned Single Judge Bench took a plausible view that, it was a transfer between a father and a son and there was a valid acceptance of the gift when the donee's son started living separately. Lastly, it ought to be noted that apart from the point of acceptance by the donee as held above since the deed is registered, bears the signature of the donor and has been attested by two witnesses, the requirements under Section 123 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 have been satisfied."
Thereby, answering other issues also in favour of the appellant, the bench allowed the appeal and restored the judgment of the single bench of the High Court.