1. The present civil revision application arises out of an application made by the revision-applicant Balasaheb Anandrao Ghatge for a succession certificate. The matter has a chequered history and the point involved, though a narrow one, is important under the Hindu Law of Succession.
2. It appears that one Bhavanji Raje Ghatge who was a Watandar of certain lands was entitled to a cash allowance of Rs. 4,026/- per year from the Government. He died in the year 1910 leaving only his widow Laxmibai, The watan came to be abolished as per the provisions of the Bombay Pargana and Kulkarni Watans (Abolition) Act, 1950 which came into force on 1-5-1951. As per the said provisions, in view of the abolition of the watan, the watandar was entitled to get compensation equal to seven times the amount of the yearly cash allowance. The Collector, Satara by his order declared that Laxmibai the widow of the said Bhavanji Raje was entitled to get compensation of Rs. 28.182/-. This order was passed during the lifetime of Laxmibai who died on 22-4-1965. However this amount was not received by Laxmibai and remained with the Collector, Satara. Thereafter in the year 1963, Gojakkabai Kadambande the sister of Bhavanji Raje filed an application before the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Dahi-wadi for a certificate of succession tothe said amount on the basis that she being the sister of Bhavanji Raje was entitled to the said amount lying to the credit of Laxmibai. That application was transferred to the Court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Satara and was numbered there as Miscellaneous Application No, 8 of 1963. The trial Court held in that application that the present applicant Balasaheb Ghatge was entitled to the succession certificate. He therefore dismissed the said application filed by Gojakkabai. Against that decision, Gojakkabai preferred an appeal being Civil Appeal No. 309 of 1964 in the District. Court which allowed Gojakkabm's appeal holding that Gojakkabai was entitled to the succession certificate. Against that decision, the present applicant preferred Civil Revision Application No. 1114 of 1965 in this Court. It appears that before that revision application came up for final hearing, Gojakkabai died on 16-8-1968 and hence this Court in the said revision application directed the present applicant to file a fresh application for getting the succession certificate. This Court also consequently quashed all the earlier orders passed in the matter The applicant then filed the present application before the trial Court for a succession certificate. It also further appears that an application was made on behalf of the Mukhtyars that the original opponents Nos. 3 to 6 who were the grand-children of the co-wife of the said Gojakkabai were the legal heirs and representatives and that they themselves had no interest in the proceedings. Accordingly, opponents Nos. 3 to 6 came to be joined as parties to the said application. The trial Court allowed the applicant's application under the condition that the applicant should be allowed to receive the compensation amount on his furnishing a security bond for the entire amount. Against the said decision dated 7-3-1074, the original opponent No. 3 Jaimala the grand-daughter of the co-wife of the said Gojakkabai alone preferred an appeal. To that appeal the original opponents Nos. and 2 who were the Mukhtyars were not made parties, The Appeal Court by its decision dated 13-10-1975 allowed the appeal and quashed the order of the trial Court granting the certificate in favour of the applicant Balasaheb. It is against this decision that the present revision has been filed by Balasaheb Ghatge.
3. The short question that arises for decision in this application is whether itis the present applicant who claims to be the Bhauband or Kinsman of Bhavanji Raje, or the respondents who are the grand-children of the co-wife of the said Gojakkabai who was the sister of the said Bhavanji Raje, who are entitled to be preferred for the grant of the succession certificate. In order to appreciate the contentions of the rival parties, it is necessary to reproduce the genealogy which is Ex. 40 on record. The said genealogy is as follows :--
PADHAJI GHATGE|------------------------------------------------------| |Nagoji Shivaji| |Bovaji Shahji| |Bhavanji Sayaji| |Shivaji Krishnaji| |Bhavanji Tatyasaheb| |Shivaji Anandrao| (Died in 1958) ----------------------- || | BalasahebBhawanji Rajo Gojakkabai(Died in 1910) (Died on =Laxmibai 16-8-1968)(Died in 1955) =Deorao|Bhagwantrao(Died in 1945)|-----------------------------------------------| | | |Raghuji Kanthaji Deorao Jaimale
4. Before I answer the said question. It is necessary to dispose of a point which was raised by Mr. Gole. the learned Counsel appointed amicus curiae in the absence of any appearance on behalf of the respondents. He submitted that there was no definite finding given by either of the Courts below that either party to this application bore the relationship which they claim to the pro-positus. He submitted that both the Courts had proceeded on the assumption that the present applicant Balasaheb was the Kinsman and the respondents were the grand-children of the co-wife of Gojakkabai. I am a said that it is no longer open, particularly to the respondents, to raise the said question of fact because Raghuji who is respondent No. 2 in this application has himself filed an affidavit which is Ex. 49 on record admitting the relationship claimed by both the parties to the application. I am therefore unable to hold that there is nothing on record to show that the parties bore the relationship which they claimed or that the Courts below were in error in proceeding on theassumption on which they dtd. Having disposed of this point, I may now advert to the question of law involved in this application.
5. It is not disputed that on the death of Laxmibai, Gojakkabai the sister of Bhavanji Raje had become entitled to get the compensation amount. The succession to the property of a female Hindu dying intestate is governed by the provisions of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, (hereinafter referred to as the said Act). The question that was however debated before me was whether it is the provisions of Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2) of the said Section 15 which will govern the present case. Mr. Albal, the learned Counsel appearing for the applicant Balasaheb. contended that since Gojakkabai had inherited the said amount from her brother Bhavanji Raje, it will have to be held that Gojakkabai had inherited the said property from her father's side and therefore the succession will be governed by Sub-clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the said Act, and the applicant being the Kinsman of Bhavanji Raje and his ancestors, will have a preferential claim over the respondents who were merely the grand-children of the co-wife of the said Gojakkabai, In support of his contention he submitted that the word 'father' in the said Sub-clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of Section 15 will have to be read as 'father's side'. He contended that the scheme of Section 15 as envisaged by the Legislature is to lay down different rules of succession depending upon whether the property of a female Hindu was a self acquired property or whether she had inherited it from her father's side or from her husband's side. In cases where the property was inherited from the father's side, the first preference was given to the heirs of the father, and where it was inherited from the husband's side, such preference was given to the heirs of the husband. Mr. Albal also submitted that the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 15 control those of Sub-section (1) of the said section and therefore the result urged by him followed as a matter of course. As against this, Mr. Gole. the loomed Counsel appointed for the respondents contended that the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the said Act were in thp nature of an exception to those contained in Sub-section (1) thereof. The rules of succession to the property other than the property mentioned in Sub-section (2), were enumerated in Sub-section (1) thereof,This being the case, the exception enumerated in Sub-section (2) will 'have to be construed strictly and it is not open to enlarge the scope of the words mentioned in Sub-section (2) so as to restrict the operation of the general rules of succession contained in Sub-section (1). In this connection he submitted that the contention advanced by Mr. Albal required the Court to enlarge the scope of the word 'father' used in Sub-section (2) and this would be against the preliminary rule of construction of a Statute. In this connection he relied upon a decision of this Court : AIR1969Bom205 Rama Ananda Patil v. Appa Bhima Redekar.
6. There is no direct authority for the proposition canvassed by either side. The decision : AIR1969Bom205 (supra) and relied upon by Mr. Gole lays down an altogether different proposition in the context of the facts arising in that case and therefore the said decision is also of no avail to me in deciding the question arising in the present case. There is no dispute that if it is held that the word 'father' used in Sub-clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of the said Section 15 is read to mean 'father's side', the applicant Balasaheb who is the kinsman of Bhavanji Raje would be entitled to the succession certificate. If, however, the said word 'father' is not given that extended meaning, his application for succession certificate will have to be rejected, since the case would be governed by the provisions of Sub-section (1) of the said Section 15. For reasons which follow, I am of the view that the applicant is not entitled to succeed in the present application. The provisions of Section 15 of the said Act are as follows :--
'15. (1) The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the rules set out in Section 16,--
(a) firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) and the husband;
(b) secondly, upon the heirs of the husband;
(c) thirdly, upon the mother and father;
(d) fourthly, upon the heirs of the father; and
(e) lastly, upon the heirs of the mother. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (1),--
(a) any property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother shalldevolve, in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) not upon the other heirs referred to in Sub-section (1) in the order specified therein, but upon the heirs of the father; and
(b) any property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or from her father-in-law shall devolve, in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) not upon the other heirs referred to in Sub-section (1) in the order specified therein, but upon the heirs of the husband.'
7. Firstly, it is a primary rule of construction of a Statute that the words in the statute should be interpreted in their plain, literal and grammatical meaning unless such interpretation leads to absurdity. It is not shown as to how the plain construction of the word 'father' in Sub-clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of the said Section 15, will in any way lead to -a meaningless consequence. Secondly, the specific words used are 'father' or 'mother'. If the Legislature wanted to use the expression 'father's side' or 'mother's side', there was nothing to prevent the Legislature from doing so. In fact if it was the intention of the Legislature to incorporate in the said Sub-clause (a), the rules of succession to the properties inherited from the father's side, as contended 'by the applicant, nothing could have been easier than to denote the same by using specifically the words 'father's side' or 'mother's side' instead of using the words 'father' or 'mother', it therefore appears that the Legislature wanted to confine the rules of succession contained in the said Sub-clause only to the property inherited either from father or mother. Thirdly, to accept the interpretation suggested on behalf of the applicant would involve the reading of additional words in the section. In the context in which the said provision is made, such addition is unwarranted. Not only this will amount to legislating, but will also be inconsistent with the intention of the Legislature, which as stated above is against the reading of such additional words. Fourthly, as has been held by this Court in : AIR1969Bom205 (supra); the provisions of Sub-section (2) are an exception to those contained in Sub-section (1). One of the prominent objects of the said Act is to confer additional rightson the female in the matters of succession to the properties both of her father and of her' husband and making her an absolute owner of the property which comes to her hand, in many respects the female has been placed on par with the male, under the Act. Unless therefore, a restriction is specifically placed, it will be in tenor with the rest of the provisions of the said Act to hold that the succession to the property of the female is not regulated differently from that to the property of the male. Thus viewed, the restrictions contained in Sub-section (2), to the general rules of succession to the property contained in Sub-section (1), will have to be construed very strictly and the deviation from the general rules contained in Sub-section (1) should not be accepted unless such a deviation found mention in specific language. To accept the applicant's contention will be to depart from this rule by reading additional words in the Statute. This is yet another reason for rejecting the interpretation put on behalf of the applicant. Fifthly, yet another consideration which weighs with me in rejecting the interpretation placed by the applicant is the fact that even in Sub-clause (b) of Sub-section (2), the words used are not 'husband's side', but again the words used are 'husband' or 'father-in-law'. If as contended on be-half of the applicant, the scheme of Sub-clauses (a) and (b) was to lay down rules for succession to property inherited from the 'father's side' or 'husband's side' there is no reason why even in Sub-clause (b) the Legislature should have used only the two words 'husband' and 'father-in-law' instead of the expression 'husband's side' which would not have necessitated the use of the further word 'father-in-law'. It is therefore apparent that the intention of the Legislature was not to make distinction between the properties inherited from the father's side and the husband's side, but to lay down a rule of succession for properties inherited from specific persons viz. father or mother, husband or father-in-law. Lastly, to accept the applicant's contention would mean that in every case, the inquiry will have to extend beyond the immediate person from whom the female has inherited the property and a search will have to be embarked upon to trace the origin of the said property. That seems to be farthest from the mind of the Legislature. As in the present case, the inheritance by Gojakkabal, although it is immediately from her brotherBhavanji Raje. will have to be ignored end the origin of this inheritance even in the hand of Bhavanji Raje himself will have to be inquired into. The contention advanced on behalf of the applicant was that although Gojakkabai had inherited the property from Bhavanji Raje who was her brother, Bhavanji Raje himself had inherited the original watan from his father and hence it should be held that it would be governed by the provisions of Sub-clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of the said Section 15. Thus not only for the purpose of holding in favour of the applicant it will have to be held that the property inherited from the brother should be deemed to have been inherited from the person from whom the brother himself had inherited, but 'also as stated above, the word 'father' will have to be deemed to include brother, he being from the father's side. I do not think that on a plain reading of the section itself, the Legislature intended that the inheritance by the female from other than her immediate predecessor-in-title should be taken into account for the purposes of the said Sub-section (2).
8. For all these reasons. I am of the view that the present applicant is not entitled to succeed in this application and therefore his application for the succession certificate will have to be rejected. I therefore confirm the finding of the Appellate Court and discharge the rule.
9. Application dismissed.