In a recent ruling, the Bombay High Court reaffirmed the rights of senior citizens in property disputes in the matter of Nitin Rajendra Gupta vs Deputy Collector, Mumbai and others setting a significant precedent in the realm of family law and senior citizens’ rights. The case revolves around the cancellation of gift deeds given by a father (widower) to one of the sons by a Maintenance Tribunal, underscoring the delicate balance between familial obligations and legal protections for the elderly.


The Petition was filed by the son (Petitioner) of the Respondent No 2 (father) challenging the Order passed by the Maintenance Tribunal under the provisions of Sections 23(1) of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (“Act”).

Vide this Order, the Gift Deeds executed by Respondent No 2 (father) in favour of his son (Petitioner) were set aside. Essentially, the case stemmed from a dispute over four gift deeds in respect of the immovable property made by the father, transferring his share of flats in Mumbai to one of his three sons i.e., the Petitioner. The father was not the 100% owner in respect of any of the flats. The father was rendered homeless and was forced to reside at Surat with his other son despite having multiple houses in Mumbai. He had no other source of income or property and various shares, mutual funds, PPF and jewellery were also transferred by the son in his name/ custody. The Maintenance Tribunal vide an Order dated 31 October 2022 had nullified the gift deeds executed on 21 June 2019 and 25 September 2020, ordering the son and his family to vacate two flats in Kandivali, Mumbai. This decision, made on 31 October 2022, sparked a legal battle between the parties which ultimately reached the High Court. On April 10, Justice S V Marne of the Bombay High Court delivered a verdict observing that the Act is not a tool to nullify a valid gift deed.


The crux of the matter lies in Section 23(1) of the Act, a legislation aimed at safeguarding the interests of elderly individuals. This provision empowers a tribunal to revoke a gift deed if it is contingent upon the recipient's obligation to provide basic amenities and physical needs of the donor. The ‘tribunal's decision, in this case, hinged on whether the gift deeds implied a duty to provide basic amenities for the elderly father, notwithstanding any explicit conditions.

Held: At the heart of the legal debate is the interpretation of the Act and its application in property disputes within families. The court was of the view that considering the broad objective behind enacting the provisions of Section 23(1) of the Act, which is to ensure provision of basic amenities and basic physical needs to senior citizens, the Maintenance Tribunal ought to have passed an order in such a manner that the father is provided basic amenities and basic physical needs rather than revocation of the gift deeds.

However, as argued by the Counsel for the Petitioner, interpreting Section 23(1) of the Act to require provisions for basic needs in transfer documents could exclude many transactions from the ambit of Section 23(1) of the Act. Senior citizens may not be aware of this requirement, leaving their protection dependent on how the documents are drafted. This could lead to disparities in application, as the decision rests with the drafter, potentially undermining the law's intent.

The Bombay High Court also opined that the provision of Section 23(1) of Act cannot be used as a machinery for settling property disputes between the heirs of senior citizens. However, unfortunately in many cases, it is observed that such a course of action is taken by the parties. The Court observed that the Maintenance Tribunal has to ensure that the provision is not misused by children who are denied share in the immovable properties by seeking to get gift-deeds annulled by filing application through senior citizens. Section 23(1) of the Act empowers tribunals to revoke gift deeds if parental neglect is evident. However, the basic idea behind this provision is not to nullify validly executed documents of transfer but to ensure that senior citizens are restored the basic need of residence in the house which he/she gifts in favour of his/her children. At the end, the Hon’ble Court directed the Petitioner to provide the father residence in one of the flats in addition to payment of Rs. 25,000/- per month towards maintenance.

MHCO Comment: The verdict serves as a reminder for adherence to the principles enshrined in Senior Citizens Act. It underscores the need for sensitivity and compassion in addressing the needs of aging parents within the framework of law. Moving forward, this landmark ruling will influence future judgments and promote a more equitable understanding of responsibilities towards senior citizens in Indian society. It will also act as a deterrent for children seeking to approach courts through their parents to settle property disputes.

This update was released on 29 Apr 2024.

The views expressed in this update are personal and should not be construed as any legal advice. Please contact us directly on +91 22 40565252 or for any assistance.

Legal Update Team
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