Partition by Panchas – SC Judgments

Appointment of Panchas for dividing family properties – Reference to Panchas amounts to severance of joint family status – Effects of such division – Binds the parties.

 “The agreement between the members of the joint hindu family to appoint Panchas for dividing the family properties amounts to severance of the joint family status from the date of the agreement.”

“If the consent of the parties was not procured by fraud, misrepresentation or any other ground which may vitiate a partition under the general law, the division made by Panchas and accepted by the parties would be binding upon them.”

“By reference to the Panchas, the parties ceased, to be members of the joint Hindu family. If thereafter the assets of the family were divided and that division was accepted by the parties, the properties reduced by the parties to their possession must be deemed to be of individual ownership of the parties to whom they were allotted, and the remaining properties as tenancy-in-common.” 

The proceedings taken by the Panchas were not revoked by the order of the trial Court revoking the reference as they had been accepted and acted upon by the parties. Where an award made in arbitration out of court is voluntarily accepted and acted upon by the parties and a suit is thereafter filed by one of the parties ignoring the acts done in pursuance of the acceptance of the award, the defence that the suit is not maintainable is not founded on the plea that there is an award which bars the suit but that the parties have by mutual agreement settled the dispute, and that the agreement and the subsequent actings of the parties are binding. Such a plea is not barred by s. 32 of the Arbitration Act. (Head Note) 

On Incomplete Division / Interim Award :: “The decisions given and divisions made were not merely tentative arrangements liable to be superseded at a later stage. The decisions were treated as final and were carried out. We agree with the High Court that whatever may be the original intention of the parties, the Panchas having with the consent of the parties proceeded to divide the properties in stages, each decision must be regarded as final with regard to the property divided thereby.” 

“The records made by the Panchas were documents which merely acknowledged partitions already made and were not required to be registered.”

Kashinathsa Yamosa Kabadi v. Narsingsa Bhaskarsa Kabadi AIR 1961 SC 1077, 1081 : (1961) 3 SCR 792 ; 63 BOM LR 659 (Kashinathsa Yamosa Kabadi, Etc vs Narsingsa Bhaskarsa Kabadi, Etc on 10 February, 1961 (

2. Admissibility of memorandum of partition which appointed a ‘panch’ for deciding on partition whose decision would be accepted by both parties.

The parties appear to have asked a person of common confidence to effect the partition and it was not intended to resort to any formal arbitration proceeding under the Arbitration Act. It was therefore not necessary for the parties to execute a formal reference or for the panch to declare a formal written award. As a memorandum of past event, the document could therefore, be received in evidence though it is not registered. (Para 6)

The conduct of the parties subsequent to the partition shows that the arrangement effected under the guidance of the Panch was mutually accepted and acquiesced in after the partition, the erstwhile partners began to look after their respective properties separately. (Para 7)

Munna Lal v. Suraj Bhan (1975) 1 SCC 556; AIR 1975 SC 1119. Munna Lal (Dead) By Lrs. And Ors. vs Suraj Bhan And Ors. on 4 March, 1975 (

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