Lawrence Jenkins, K.C.I.E., C.J.
1. This case comes from the Satara District and it raises the question whether a lady is entitled to succeed as heir to her deceased co-widow.
2. The property became the stridhan of the deceased co-widow by the operation of the law of limitation ; and the rival claimants are the grand-children of the brother of the co-widow's father-in-law.
3. Now, for the decision of this case, we must look at the Mitakshara. On the death of a woman without issue, which is the position with which we have to deal, it is said in paragraph 11 of Section 11 of Chapter II, that the property of such a lady, if married by any of the four modes of marriage denominated Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, belongs, in the first place, to her husband.
4. The lady in this case was married in one of these four modes, and the husband is dead. For this contingency provision is made in the following sentence, which says that ' on failure of him, it goes to his nearest sapindas.'
5. Now, there can be no question that the plaintiff, as the widow of the deceased husband, is his sapinda, and according to the order prescribed in the Mitakshara, she is his nearest surviving sapinda.
6. Why, then, are we not to give effect to this apparently simple provision of the law? We can see no adequate reason.
7. This view is accepted by such eminent text-writers as West and Buhler, and Sir Gurudas Banerji, the first named authors at pages 517 and 518 of their work on Hindu Law, and the last named at pages 362 and following of his book on Hindu Law of Marriage and Stridhan. In West and Buhler it is stated though no authority is cited for the proposition, that a course of succession entitling the co-widow to succeed is in accordance with the custom on this side of India.
8. We, therefore, are of opinion that the widow can claim a least to be as against the parties to this litigation 'the neares sapinda'; whether she may possibly have any higherhigh we are not now concerned to decide.
9. The decree of the lower appellate Court must, therefore be reversed and that of the first Court restored, with cost throughout.