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Goswami Shri Maganlalji Gordhanlalji Maharaj Vs. Goswami Shri Purshottamlalji Wagheshalalji Maharaj - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Family
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberO.C.J. Suit No. 2092 of 1936
Judge
Reported inAIR1949Bom80; (1948)50BOMLR618
AppellantGoswami Shri Maganlalji Gordhanlalji Maharaj
RespondentGoswami Shri Purshottamlalji Wagheshalalji Maharaj
Excerpt:
hindu law - widow-adverse possession-reversioner not affected by her adverse possession.; where a hindu widow enters into possession of property in her capacity as limited owner, she can hold any part of it adversely to third parties and therefore in the interests of the real reversioner or reversioners; but she cannot enlarge it against the reversioner and hold such part so as to make it part of her stridhan. - - their lordships think that it is not desirable that they should decide this matter until it has been properly investigated by the courts of india and they are in possession of the views of the court of appeal as well as of the trial judge. in these circumstances the court of appeal has remitted the matter to me inasmuch as their lordships used the expression 'views of the..........right on the ground of adverse possession and make it her stridhan; (b) that a hindu widow who has held property in a limited capacity, namely, in her capacity as a hindu widow in the family, cannot, by its very nature, hold it adversely to the estate and against the reversionary heir or heirs so as to make such property part of her stridhan.13. i have nothing further to add.14. as regards costs i have reaffirmed in my judgment on the finding of facts as regards the wrongful holding by shri rukshmani vahuji and there being no question of adverse possession on that and as regards the question of law i have come to the conclusion expressed by me above which is in favour of the plaintiff. on reading the directions of their lordships of the privy council the question of costs is left to the.....
Judgment:

Coyajee, J.

1. This matter is placed before me at the direction of the Court of Appeal pursuant to a remand made in this matter by their Lordships of the Privy Council.

2. The facts of the case are set out in my judgment dated April 9, 1943. In that judgment I held that a parcel of the Tapti Valley Railway Company, Ltd., shares were held by Shri Rukshmani Vahuji as part of the estate of Shri Narsinglalji Maharaj, and that the said shares formed part of the joint family property in her possession. On a consideration of facts in that case arising on the evidence adduced before me I arrived at the conclusion that in those particular circumstances the said shares belonged to the reversioner, the plaintiff in the suit and I passed a decree in his favour for the payment of an amount equivalent to the value of the shares together with interest thereon.

3. As I came to that conclusion I indicated that no question of adverse possession and of limitation survived for a decision.

4. I had observed for reasons sufficiently set out in that judgment that it may be open in certain circumstances for a widow in possession of the joint family property to plead adverse possession and limitation against the reversioner and relied for that purpose on the case of Lajwanti v. Safa Chand

5. The Court of Appeal held that the claim of the sale proceeds of those shares was not within the scope of the action; they further held that the suit was barred by the law of limitation. The Court of Appeal, thereupon, decided the appeal without going into the merits of the dispute and without expressing any view on the question whether a Hindu widow could, whilst wrongfully claiming part of the joint family property, hold it adversely to other members of the family particularly in regard to limitation. The Court of Appeal, therefore, allowed the appeal and dismissed the suit.

6. The plaintiff preferred an appeal to the Privy Council. Their Lordships held that the case made out before the trial Court was sufficiently pleaded in the plaint. They reversed the decree of the Court of Appeal and remanded the case for disposal to the Court of Appeal observing as follows:

Their Lordships think that it is not desirable that they should decide this matter until it has been properly investigated by the Courts of India and they are in possession of the views of the Court of Appeal as well as of the trial Judge.

In these circumstances the Court of Appeal has remitted the matter to me inasmuch as their Lordships used the expression 'views of the Court of Appeal as well as of the trial Judge.

7. As stated above my view was expressed in my judgment asset out by me above, and counsel appearing for the plaintiff as well as the defendants submitted that no further observations were required in those circumstances from the Court of the first instance.

8. In deference, however, to the directions given by the Court of Appeal I have to make certain further observations as follows. In my judgment dated April 9, 1943, I referred to the argument of the plaintiff's counsel to the effect that Shri Rukshmani Vahuji holding the property as a Hindu widow could not, by the very nature and character in which she held the same, hold such other property acquired by her at any time at all against the reversionary heirs. In that connection I observed:

It has been held repeatedly that there can be adverse possession by a widow of the property belonging to the joint family property, although that must necesesarily depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case to show whether there was or was not adverse possession.

In that connection the defendants' counsel had cited the case of Lajwanti v. Safa Chanel, and I had based my observations thereon.

9. On a reconsideration of that case of Lajwanti it appears that in that case it was contended by the appellant's counsel that the widows being in adverse possession for the statutory period, the title of Hira Mal, under whom the opposing parties claimed, was barred under Section 28 of the Indian Limitation Act. Their Lordships of the Privy Council have made certain observations at p. 176 of that case which are very important and they are as follows:

It was then argued that the widows could only possess for themselves; that the last widow-Devi would then acquire a personal title; and that the respondents and not the plaintiffs were the heirs of Devi. This is quite to misunderstand the nature of the widow's possession. The Hindu widow, as often pointed out, is not a life renter, but has a widow's estate-that is to say, a widow's estate in her deceased husband's estate. If possessing as widow she possesses adversely to any one as to certain parcels, she does not acquire the parcels as stridhan, but she makes them good to her husband's estate.

To my mind these observations clearly indicate that any adverse possession by a widow holding as a widow as against third parties acquires a title which enures for the benefit of the estate and consequently for the benefit of the reversioner. In other words such holding amounts to an accretion to the estate in her hands. In this connection I may refer to the remarks made by the late Sir Dinshah Mulla in his Principles of Hindu Law, 10th edition, at p. 281:

But if the property acquired by adverse possession was claimed and held by her not in her own right, but as a widow representing her husband's estate, it is not her stridhan, but an accretion to her husband's estate, and in it she takes no more than a widow's estate, and it descends on her death to her husband's heirs.. Thus, where a Hindu widow in the enjoyment of her husband's estate as heir remarried and had thereby forfeited her title to the estate, but continued in possession without asserting any change in the character of her possession, she acquires title by prescription only to a widow's estate and not to an absolute estate.

In support of this proposition that a Hindu widow can acquire title against third parties by adverse possession Sir Dinshah Mulla cites the above said case of Lajwanti v, Safa Chand. This view is adopted by a certain judgment of the High Court of Allahabad in Chandrabali Pathak v. Bhagwan PrasadPande [1944] All. 533 The Court observed at p. 537 as follows:

It is true that possession, unless it is based upon title, must be deemed to be adverse but the possession of a Hindu widow must be treated on a different basis. The true test was always been furnished by the character in which she steps into possession. If she has entered possession, not as a widow of the last male owner or as a widow of the family the possession will be deemed to be adverse, but if she has entered in possession as a widow of the last male owner or as the widow of the family, her possession has never been treated as adverse.

10. In support of this the Allahabad High Court cited the case of Gaya Din v. Badri Singh [1943] All. 230 and quoted the observations of Mr. Justice Hamilton to the effect that:

It seems to follow, if there are no indications to the contrary, that a woman claiming an estate expressly by inheritance must be deemed to be claiming a limited estate.

11. I am in entire agreement with the view expressed in the abovesaid case, Chandrabali Pathak v. Bhagwan Prasad Pande, because it is clear to my mind that a Hindu widow takes a widow's estate or limited estate. Having entered into possession of that estate in that capacity as limited heir, she can certainly hold any part of it adversely to third parties and therefore in the interests of the real reversioner or reversioners. Entering upon the estate in that limited capacity and holding, as described above, a limited estate, she cannot, in my opinion, enlarge it against the reversioner and hold those parcels so as to make them part of her stridhan.

12. It follows, therefore, that my observation in my judgment dated April 9, 194S, to the effect that ' It has been held repeatedly that there can be adverse possession by a widow of the property belonging to the joint family property ' was too broadly stated.

I am, therefore, for reasons set out above of the view (a) that Shri Rukshmani Vahuji having acquired those shares of the Tapti Valley Railway Co. as heir of ShriNarsinglalji Maharaj on her own statement, which is supported by the documents in the case, cannot, in any event, claim to hold the same in her own right on the ground of adverse possession and make it her stridhan; (b) that a Hindu widow who has held property in a limited capacity, namely, in her capacity as a Hindu widow in the family, cannot, by its very nature, hold it adversely to the estate and against the reversionary heir or heirs so as to make such property part of her stridhan.

13. I have nothing further to add.

14. As regards costs I have reaffirmed in my judgment on the finding of facts as regards the wrongful holding by Shri Rukshmani Vahuji and there being no question of adverse possession on that and as regards the question of law I have come to the conclusion expressed by me above which is in favour of the plaintiff. On reading the directions of their Lordships of the Privy Council the question of costs is left to the High Court and therefore these costs of remand will be dealt with by the Court of Appeal which will finally be disposing of the question of costs after hearing the appeal on facts and according to law.

15. The matter went next to the Appeal Court, where on April 7, 1948, the parties settled their differences and took a consent order.


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