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Ravji Andu Nikam Vs. Rama Krishna Mane - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 837 of 1925
Judge
Reported inAIR1928Bom14; (1927)29BOMLR1346
AppellantRavji Andu Nikam
RespondentRama Krishna Mane
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
hindu law-widow-compromise-husband's estate-power of the widow to compromise claims to the estate.;a hindu died, leaving him surviving his widow, a daughter, and a married sister. the sister's husband set up a will under which the deceased bequeathed his property to the sister's son (plaintiff). the widow disputed the will and the matter was referred to arbitrators, before whom she admitted the will but; contended that its provisions were to come into effect on the plaintiff marrying her daughter. the arbitrators made an award * accepting the widow's contention and a decree was passed in terms of the award. the marriage of her daughter with the plaintiff was duly solemnized. some years afterwards the parties quarrelled. the plaintiff sued to recover possession of the property and the..........is given by mr. justice heaton, and if one looks at the facts there, one finds this, that the widow compromised a claim to recover property by partition. in this manner she gave up the claim to the property and she took rs. 165 a year for life for herself and a reversionary grant of rs. 30 a year for her daughter who was not a party to the suit. the court there thought that that compromise was not one which could fairly be regarded as binding on the reversioner. the facts of that particular case we are not concerned with in the present case, but in so far as there are observations either in natvarlal maneklal v. bai chanchal or in ram satu v. daji naru to suggest that under no circumstances can any admission of fact by a hindu widow operate as against her reversioners, however bona.....
Judgment:

Amberson Marten, Kt., C.J.

1. [His Lordship after setting out the facts of the case proceeded :] That brings me to the position which counsel for the appellants has put before us. Substantially he says the widow had no right to compromise the claim to the estate as against the adopted son, that no matter that the adopted son was not then in existence or at any rate had not been adopted, the true view of the law is she could not make any admission binding on a future reversioner; she could only litigate a case to the bitter end and have the decision in effect of the highest Court. That proposition to my mind is absolutely unsound in law. We fortunately have a decision by their Lordships of the Privy Council in Ramsumran Prasad v. Shyam Kumari , and there it is thus stated (p. 346):

Bearing this in mind their Lordships will proceed to consider whether an alienation, which is the result of a compromise, or the mode by which a compromise is carried into effect, should, if the compromise be reasonable and prudent, and for the interest of the estate, fall within the power of the holder of a Hindu woman's estate, either as being an alienation which is deemed to be induced by necessity, or as being in a parallel position to an alienation induced by necessity. It may be observed at once that the argument which * would refuse authority to compromise in any case would have very extreme consequences. A Hindu woman might be party to a litigation concerning considerable immoveable property, might be successful in the first Court and be threatened with an appeal, and have then a suggestion from the adversary that if she would part with a single item of property or a few big has he would let the judgment stand. She would have if the argument were sound to refuse the suggested compromise, and be prepared to fight the case up to the Privy Council. Or it might be put in another way. Her opponent could never suggest a compromise, because he would know that any compromise would be upset. It would be very undesirable in the interests of property owners that this extreme doctrine should be upheld, and their Lordships, after consideration of the authorities that have been cited to them, are glad to find that they are nut driven to any such extreme position.

2. The argument here is that though the widow admitted the will, she had no legal authority to do so. I think the answer is found in the sentences which I have just read.

3. If then she had the power, the course she took here was apparently a reasonable one in the interests of the estate and the parties affected. I do not propose to go into all the authorities that have been cited to us. The question of family arrangements has been dealt with also by their Lordships in Khunni Lal v. Gobind Krishna Narain and Musammat Hiran Bibi v. Musammat Sohan Bibi (1914) 18 C.W.N. 929. .Further we have had a well-known case cited to us, Katama Natchiar v. The Rajah of Shivagunga (1863) 9 M.I.A. 539, where their Lordships have laid down the proposition that where In a litigation properly entered into and properly conducted the estate is represented by a Hindu widow, and certain results are arrived at, that result may be binding on the reversioners The subsequent cases on same point will be found in Vaithialinga Mudakar v. Srirangath Anni (1925) 28 Bom. L.R. 173, P.C., where the previous authorities are reviewed. Consequently, I may only notice in passing the decision of our own Courts in Ghelabhai v. Bai Javer I.L.R. (1912) 37 Bom. 172 11 Bom. L.R. 1142 and Subbammnl v. Avudaiyammal I.L.R. (1906) 30 Mad 3.

4. It is, however, said that there are two decisions by our own Court in Natvarlal v. Bai Chanchal (1919) 22 Bom. L.R. 768 and Rama v. Daji : AIR1918Bom85 which prevent the present decree award from being relied on. The former is a decision by Sir Norman Macleod and Mr. Justice Heaton. The judgment is given by Mr. Justice Heaton, and if one looks at the facts there, one finds this, that the widow compromised a claim to recover property by partition. In this manner she gave up the claim to the property and she took Rs. 165 a year for life for herself and a reversionary grant of Rs. 30 a year for her daughter who was not a party to the suit. The Court there thought that that compromise was not one which could fairly be regarded as binding on the reversioner. The facts of that particular case we are not concerned with in the present case, but in so far as there are observations either in Natvarlal Maneklal v. Bai Chanchal or in Ram Satu v. Daji Naru to suggest that under no circumstances can any admission of fact by a Hindu widow operate as against her reversioners, however bona fide made, all I have to say is that in my opinion those observations are inconsistent with what I have already quoted from the Privy Council decision of Ramsumran Prasad v. Shyam Kumari.

5. In my opinion that is, therefore, sufficient to dispose of the case. I would hold that the matter was fairly and bona fide considered in 1908, and it was not till many years afterwards when the parties began to quarrel that it was suggested that this will was not a proper will. Under those circumstances I do not think it necessary to go into the further point as to whether the decree in the widow s suit against her would be binding on the reversioner, the adopted son. It is said that that decree was passed on limitation and not on merits, but however that may be, it is material to observe that the widow failed in getting the decree award set aside.

6. The point was also taken under Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code that inasmuch as Rama's suit was started first, no decision in the widow's suit could be regarded as res judicata. But that argument was advanced in forgetfulness of the express provisions of Section 11, Expln. I, which expressly provides that the material date is not the data of the suit, but the date of the decision. Therefore there is no substance in that point.

7. On the whole I consider that the learned Judge came to a correct conclusion in the present case, and that this appeal ought to be dismissed with costs.

Crump, J.

8. I agree.


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