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Mathai v. Joseph Mary (2015) 5 SCC 622


  • Whether Sughra Bibi’s power of alienation is valid and legally enforceable?


  • Person allowed by way of family arrangement to take property on condition that it should not be alienated to stranger Such condition held not repugnant to law.


  • Sughra Bibi brought a suit against her cousin Afzal Husain, claiming a half-share in certain immovable properties in Oudh which had been entered in his name at the post mutiny settlement. The litigation ended in a compromise upon which a decree was passed.
  • The compromises were by the way marriage between both parties in the next month with few other conditions.
  • Afzal Hussain thereafter duly married Sughra Bibi and died in 1872 childless, his first wife Fatima Begum having predeceased him in 1871.
  • Sughra Bibi took possession of her share in the property but had sold or mortgaged it all before her death. Her transferees remained in undisturbed possession for nearly twelve years after her death.
  • The respondent filed a suit against the appellant having sughra bibi’s two-thirds share property regarding alienations.
  • The respondent s case was that under the compromise Sughra Bibi took only a life estate without the power of alienation and that on her death the half-share passed to her heirs, of whom the respondent in right of her mother Zainab Bibi, the sister of Afoul Husain, was one, her share is two thirds.
  • The learned Judge, after a detailed but not very informing examination of the case law on the subject, held that the restriction imposed by the deed on the lady s power of alienation was invalid and inoperative.
  • An appeal was made to chief court.


  • The chief court held that where a person has been allowed to take the property upon the express agreement that it shall not be alienated outside the family, those who seek to make title through a direct breach of this agreement can hardly support their claim by an appeal to the high sounding principles, such as justice, equity, and good conscience.
  • The terms of the compromise were binding, that the restriction as to alienation was only partial and that such a partial restriction was neither repugnant to law nor justice, equity, and good conscience.