Onerous Gifts

January 2, 2024


The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, stands as a cornerstone in regulating property transfers in India. Among its various provisions, Section 127 holds significance as it delves into the intriguing concept of “onerous gifts.” This section specifically addresses scenarios where a gift, traditionally perceived as a voluntary transfer of property without consideration, is subject to specific obligations or conditions. This article aims to explore and elucidate the nuances of onerous gifts within the framework of the Transfer of Property Act.

Defining Onerous Gift

An onerous gift, as defined by Section 127 of the Transfer of Property Act, refers to a gift bestowed with attached obligations or conditions. This provision becomes instrumental in cases where a donor intends to impose certain responsibilities or requirements on the donee alongside the transfer of property. Unlike a straightforward, unconditional gift, an onerous gift involves conditions, purposes, or obligations that the recipient must fulfill for the transfer to remain valid.

Onerous Gift Meaning in Legal Context:

The term ‘onerous’ itself denotes something burdensome or involving obligations.The onerous gift is based on the maxim of ‘Qui sentit commodum, sentire debet et onus’. This maxim means that when one receives certain benefits, they must also bear the burden attached to it. Hence, the partial acceptance of gifts where one of them is burdened is not legally valid. In the realm of property transfers, an onerous gift signifies a transfer where the recipient inherits not only the property but also obligations attached to it, which could range from mortgages, debts, maintenance, or other encumbrances.

Safeguarding Donor Intentions through Section 127

Section 127 of the Transfer of Property Act serves as a safeguard, stipulating that if a gift is made onerous and the donee fails to meet the attached obligations, the gift could be rendered voidable at the discretion of the donor or their legal representatives. This provision ensures that the donor’s intentions behind imposing conditions or obligations are respected. Should the donee fail to fulfil these conditions, the donor or their heirs retain the right to revoke the gift.

Key Components of Section 127:

Acceptance with Conditions: When a gift is accepted subject to specific conditions, the burdens linked with those conditions are assumed by the donee.

Nature of Obligations: The obligations can vary from financial liabilities to responsibilities regarding the maintenance or upkeep of the property.

Alteration of Gift’s Character: Section 127 highlights how the acceptance of these conditions transforms a simple gift into an onerous one.

Practical Application and Conclusion

Onerous gifts play pivotal roles in various contexts, including family settlements, charitable contributions, and arrangements made concerning specific events such as marriages or educational pursuits. They serve as instruments through which individuals can transfer property while ensuring certain conditions or purposes are fulfilled.

In conclusion, Section 127 of the Transfer of Property Act encapsulates the concept of onerous gifts, highlighting their unique nature laden with obligations or conditions. It stands as a testament to the legal framework’s adaptability in accommodating diverse circumstances while safeguarding the interests of both donors and recipients in property transactions.

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