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Rangubai Vs. Laxman Lalji Patil - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal No. 641 of 1962
Reported inAIR1966Bom169; (1966)68BOMLR74; ILR1966Bom728
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 6
RespondentLaxman Lalji Patil
Appellant AdvocateV.M. Limave, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.A. Rane, Adv.
.....succession act, 1956 - deceased left behind widow and adopted son - widow filed suit claiming half share in property - no daughters and no qualified heirs - on partition during lifetime of deceased plaintiff-widow would have been entitled to one-third share and on succession to further share of one-sixth share - held. widow entitled to one-half share. - - , sec iv pl 19:-even childless with wives of the father are pronounced equal shares' the sons therefore who is partition fail at allot the proper share if to their mother can be compelled to do it afterwards, 2 west and buhler 31 q. rane referred us to a good many decisions where it has been share observed that the rights to a wife or a mothers to share at a partition between coparceners is in lieu of maintainance. to put it in..........share of the at notional partition and one- half of the one - third share on succession to her husbands share, which together becomes one - half of the whole property.(5)the question is by no means an easy one to answer. the hindu succession act, 1956, was brought onto statute book with the purpose of amending and codifying the law relating to the intestate succession amongst hindus, section 6 a of the act, recognize the principles of the hindu law that coparcenery property goes by the survivorship. the proviso oft section, however qualities the law of survivorship only explanation 1 to the proviso is material to the present question, section 6 is as follows:'when a male hindu and dies after the commencement of this act, having at the time of dis death an interest in mitakshara.....

Patel, J.

(1) This second appeal has been referred to a Division Bench by Chandrachud J., as it raise the important question of interpretation of S. 6 of the Hindu Succession of Act, 1956, and also as some doubt was entertained by the learned of the Division Bench in Shirmabai Bhimgonda v. Kalgonda Bhimgonda, : AIR1964Bom263 of which I was a member.

(2) The facts are the plaintiff is the widow of Lalji patil. At this death, he left the plaintiff and the defendants his adopted son. The window filed the present suit, claiming half share in the property. The trial court granted one-sixth share to her and the learned assistant judge with slight modification confirmed this decree.

(3) The editor of Sir Dinshaw Mulla's principles of Hindu Law. Expresses the opinion that in view the Explanation to S. 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, only one - third share in the coparcenery property would-be available for distribution - in this case between the plaintiff and the defendants - and if this is the correct interpretation of the section. In Shirmabai Bhimgonda Patil's case : AIR1964Bom263 the Division Bench or which I was a member decided that , in view of S. 4 of this act, the wife right to the claim and a share at the notional partition was abrogated as it was merely in lieu of maintenance's and therefore the whole of the share offer husband which was equal to that the to son, that the one-half, was available for partition between the next heirs. If that the judgment is rights the plaintiff would-be entitled to one-fourth share in the suit property.

(4) The third view now propounded on behalf of the widow in the present case is that the she is entitled to one = third share of the at notional partition and one- half of the one - third share on succession to her husbands share, which together becomes one - half of the whole property.

(5)The question is by no means an easy one to answer. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was brought onto statute Book with the purpose of amending and codifying the law relating to the intestate succession amongst Hindus, section 6 a of the Act, recognize the principles of the Hindu law that coparcenery property goes by the survivorship. The proviso oft section, however qualities the law of survivorship only Explanation 1 to the proviso is material to the present question, Section 6 is as follows:

'When a male Hindu and dies after the commencement of this act, having at the time of dis death an interest in Mitakshara Coparcener property in his interest in the property shall desolate by survivorship upon the surviving members of the coparcenery and not in accordance and with this act.

Provided that if the decades had left him surviving a female relative specified in class I of the schedule of a male relative specified is that class who claims through such female relative the interest of the decease's in the Mitakshara share Coparcener of property shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession , as the case may be under the this act and not by survivorship.

Explanation 1, - For the purpose of this section, the interest of the Hindu Mitakshara Coparcener shall be deemed to be the share I the property that would have been allotted to him it a partition to the property has taken place immediately of before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or note.

Explanation 2, - Nothing contained in the proviso to this section shall be constructed as enabling aspersion who has separated himself from the coparcenery before the death of the deceased or any of this heir to claim on in the a share in the interest referred to therein.'

(6) Mr. Rane Supports the view in Shirambai's case, : AIR1964Bom263 According to him, the principal adopted in that case namely that the share to which the wife or widow is entitled at partitions is lost to her by reason of if not S. 4 of the Hindu Succession act and at any rate S. 4 of the Hindu adoptions and Maintenance's act, 1956 the section being worded in similar terms Both sections so far as relevant areas follows.:

'4 (1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this act,:-

(a) any text, rule to interpretation of Hindu law or any custom or usage as part of that law in the force immediately before the commencement of this act shall case those effect with respect to any shall case which provision is made in this act.

9b) any others, law in force immediately before the commencement of this act shall case to apply to Hindus in so far as it is inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act.'

(7) In order to consider how far this contention can be valid, one has to consider the nature of the wife's or mother's right to a share at a partition between her husband and her sensor her sons.

(8) we must now therefore consider the nature of the right. The question arose before this High Court in an indirect form in Lakshman Ramchandra v.satybhamabai ILR [1877] 2 Bom 494, The matter arose in a suit brought a sole surviving members of the husband family and bona fide purchases for value from him of some immovable an trail property of the family West J. Made a careful analysis to the Hindu Law relating to the rights of a wife to demand a share at a partition between her husband and sons and of ambition at a partition between her sons he says [p 503].

'Through her marriage a Hindu Woman according to Jimuta Vahana, acquires an interest in her husbands property though only according to some writers of a secondary kind such as a may be divested by a gift by the husband to third party. A higher interest could certainly not be assigned to her constantly with that text of Manu [ChaVII Pl 416] which ranks her along with a son and slave as incapable of having wealth exclusively her own, but this interests has been deemed enough to entitle her to an equal share wish sonnies of the where her husband makes a partition of his property. The vyavahara Mavkha deals even with the reunion of a wife with the husband which implies a previous partition in the case sense probably of the allotment oaf share in division with son Apastamba Denies [Cole, Dig., bk, V ch, II p l89] that such ap partition can take place because of the essential unity of the married pair, a reason which could not apply after the husband death. That event, however while removing the superior and dominant interest of the husband the superior and dominant interest of the husband papers to the have been recognized that the least some oft smarts as bringing out the wives right into greater definiteness Manu [Chap. V., pl 148] and Narada [pt 1 ch III 36]alike insist on the dependence of the woman, yet Narada [pt I, ch III, 39 ,40] assigns to the widow on her husband's death,a general control of the estate in priority even to sons, Manu [ch.I 104] says that a partition cannot be made during her life by the sons -cannot be made, it has been understood, without her assent - and H.H. willson [work vol 5, p28] make the necessity of this consent a ground for the right of absolute disposal over the share allotted to her in the partition [2, Str, H.L. 383]. In this presidency the son's right to party partitions if subsists against their mother but the widow's rights has not been regarded by the Sharstris as originating in the partition, though a separate effect in thus given to it [Mitak, ch I sec VII., Pl I] In the case at I west and Buhler, 27, Q 10 and the in several other cases, as at 2 Wast, and Buhler 29 ,the widow has been pronounced entitled to a share equal to that of a single son who is being such could not make partition is the sence to which the text of the Mitakshara Directly applices. That this shars is not a mere maintenances to be allowed I in the discharge of filial duty appears from the passages of Visas Quoted in VyavaharaMayukah,chap IV., sec IV Pl 19:- 'Even childless with wives of the father are pronounced equal shares' The sons therefore who is partition fail at allot the proper share if to their mother can be compelled to do it afterwards, 2 West and Buhler 31 Q. 3. In Bengal it has been held that the mother is a necessary party to a suit brought by a son for a partiion Lajeet Singh v. Rajcoomar Sing. [1874]12 Ben LR 373'.

'If the mother is a necessary party to a suit for partition, it is hard to conceive of her as not having as interest in the property the as distinguished from a mere claim against the persons of her sons for a sufficient allotment.'

(9) Referring to the ratio of the decision in Deen Dayal Lal v. Jud Deep Narain Singh [1876] 4 Ind App. 247 he says [p. 507]

'This is to be referred to the wifes right in her husbands property acquired by her marriage.

It would, therefore, seem to the suggested that though she has no right to demand a partition as such her right ois not a right available against the husband and sons personally but is aright in te property of the coparcenery.

(10) Mr. Rane referred us to a good many decisions where it has been share observed that the rights to a wife or a mothers to share at a partition between coparceners is in lieu of maintainance. These decision are Hemagini Dasi v. Kedar Nath : AIR1918Bom175 the last being Pratapmull Agarwalla v. Dhanbati Bidi Where the judical committee had occasion to consider to the nature of the rights. Their Lordships Approved the observations of Mitter J, in sheo Dyal Tewaree v. Judoonath Tewaree, [1868] 9 S WR 61, which are as follows:

'............................the mother or the grandmother is entitled to a share when sons organza's divide the family estate between them selves but [that] she cannot be recognized as the owner of such until the division is actually made, as she has no pre - existing right in the estate except a right of maintenance.'

(11) It would seem, however, that the Hindu Succession, Act has made considerable impact on this decision as can be seem from the decision in Munnalal v. Rajkumar : AIR1962SC1493 . The facts of this case simple. One Garibdas left a son Gulzarilal who died in the 1939 leaving behind him two sons, Munnalal and Ramchand, and the widow of the predeceased son, Bhurilal, Sahebala, one of the son onMunnalal, filed a suit for partition and separate possession of his one- twelfth share in the joint family property. As he had not brought all the parties on record, the judge ordered that the absent parties should be brought on record, including great - grant moth Khilonabi, Ultimately, a preliminary decree was made for partition five - twenty - fourth to Ramchand and his sons one -fourth to Khilonabai and one - fourth to Rajkumar adopted by Bhuribai. The Defendants appealed against this decree to High Court , and during the pendency of the appeal Khilonabai died On july 3, 1956, Ramchand and Munnalal applied to the impleaded as her legal representatives in the respect of the interest in the property awarded to her by the preliminary decree. The judgment of the supreme court was delivered by Mr. Justice, Shah who after referring to the decision of the Judicial committee in pratapmull's case Says.

'Pratapmull's case, undoubtedly laid down that till actual division of the share declared for partition of joint familestate, a Hindu wife or mother was not recongnised as owner, but the rule cannot in our judgment apply after the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act. The act is a codifying enactment and has made act far reaching changes in the structure of the Hindu law of inheritances and succession the act confers upon Hindu females full rights of inheritances and sweeps away the traditional limitations on her powers of dispositions which were regarded under the Hindu law as inherent in her estate. It is true that under the Sastric Hindu Law, the share given to Hindu widow on partition between her sons other gransons was in lieu of her rights to maintenances. She was not entitled to claim partition. But the legislature by enacting the Hindu Women's Rights to property Act 1937, made a significant departure of the branch of the law the act gave a Hindu Widow the same interest in the property which her husband had at time of his death and if the ester was partitioned she become owner in seperately other share, subject onth peculiar rule of extinction of the estate of the death autal our civil. It cannot be assumed having regard to this development that in enacting S. 14 of the Hindu succession Act ,the Legislature merely intended to declare the rule enunciated by the privy to declare the rule enunciated by the privy council pratapmulls case

His Lorship considered the combined effect of section 4 and 14 of Act and held the preliminary decree having declared the rights in favour of Khillonabai, she become entitled to the absolute rights in the property. The view of taken in Munnalal's case : AIR1962SC1493 , that the rights of a wife or mother to a share on partition is not a mere personal right meant to assure her other maintenace but a rights in propety would find support from decisions such as in Jairam Nathoo v. Nathoo Shamji [1906] 8 Bom LR 632, and Hushersab Rajesab v. Basappa Puradappa : (1932)34BOMLR1325 where is it held that from the value of such must be deducted the value of any stridhan received by her as gift from her father-in-law or her husband. The rule is based on the understandable principle that if she is to have a share in the coparcener that if she to but just and and fair the she must account for whatever she has received from the coparcenery property.

(12) Similarly, the rights of the daughters and others not entitled to a share on a partition of the coparcenery property for whom provision has to be made is not made mere personal rights but a rights in the coparcenery property [Rajagopala Ayyar v. Venkataraman AIR 1947 PC 122, Sir Dinshaw Mulla's Hindu Law, 12th Edn., p. 476 Section 304 and p. 187 section 110]

(13) Mr. Rane, relying on some of the provisions of the adoptions and Maintenances Act has argued that the wife's or mothers rights to share or the rights of daughters for provisions on partition of the joint family property is abrogated. He refers toS. 18 which defines the rights of maintenances of a wife against the her husbands under certain circumstances section 19 which defines the rights maintenances of widowed daughter - in - law against her father - in - law and section 20 which obliges a Hindu to maintain his or her children and aged parents. In the second set come Section 21 and 22 which define the rights of son. The sections of them selves show that the obligations of is personal. It has no relations of rights ofproeprty. It has no relations rights of person entitled to provisions being made out of the coparcenery property ofassuch. If as we have stated above the rights othe wife of the mother to claim a shares in corporation property and the daughters in etc. To have property and the daughters in etc. To have property and the daughters in etc to have a provision of nd the daughters made is not a 'provision having been madein the in this Act' as required by section 4(a) then the principles old Hindu Law cannot be said to be arrogated. Section 4(b) of evidently cannot apply.

(14) Section 6 recognises the Hindu Law of survivorship but the proviso create and exception and provides for devaluation of the interest of the deceased coparcener it the died intestate and left any and the female her is specified in clauses 1 or male relative specified therein the claiming through such female relative probadly, if the Explanation such has not been there there would not have been any difficulty incepting the interpretation suggested in Dinshaw mulla principles of Hindu Law and by others text writers. The difficulty has been created reason of such Hindu Mitakshara coparcener. According to the Explanation to the interest is.

'Deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before this death'.

The question is what was intended by the legislation when in enacted this Explanantion. The intention of the legation is to be found form the words used giving them their ordinary meaning. The Explanation enacts of in effect that there shall be deemed to have been a that partition before the his death and such property as would have come to his share would be divisible amongst of his heris. It introduces and legal flections of partition before his share cannot be possible determined. In section 7 cannot be possible determined provision of succession to persons governed by the Marukkattayam law by subsection (2) there is Explanation to each which also governed defines to him interest of such coparcener to mean such the share in the property that the would have fallen to him in the her if partition of the property per capital had been made such share isthe before deemed of have been allotted to him or her absolutely. It would therefore appe from the scheme of sections 6 and 7 that the legislature intended that is shall be deemed that there was a partition in fact and substances of and that such property as would be available to the deceases would be divisible among in the heris.

(15) It this so, can it then be said that though the legislature intended that there shall be deemed to be partition of the property and the share of the deceased coparcener shall be deemed to have been separated the share to th which the wife would be entitled should fall in the vacuum and no relief can the granted to her? To put it in other words where the wife of the such coparcener is entitled to share of at such partitioner, should she not be entitled to claim it and should such share be allowed to be enjoyed by the son orsons? The supreme Courts in commissioners of Income - tax Delhi v. S. Teja singh : [1959]35ITR408(SC) had occasion to deal with legal fictions of the. In paragraph 6 of the judgment T.L. venkatarama Aiyat J., speaking on behalf of the court, says:

'it is rule of the interpretation well settled that in construing the scope of a legal fiction of it would be proper and even necessary to assume all those facts on which alone the fiction of can operate.'

The His Lordships cited the observations of Lord Asquith in East End Dwellings Co. Ltd, v. Finsbury Borough Counci, 1952 AC 109at the p. 132 with approval. These observations of the are to the following effets:

'If you are bidden to treat an imaginary state of affairs asreal, you must surely, unless prohibited from doing so, also imagine as real the consequences and incidents which, if the portative state of the affairs had in fact, existed must inevitable have flowed from or emancipation from the 1939 level of rents. The statute says that your mus imagine of a certain state of the affairs it does not say that having done so your must causes or permit your imagination to the boggle when it comes to the inevitable corollaries of that state of affairs:.

Unless therefore there is any things contained in the Explanation of section 6 or section7, the legal fiction of the of partition and separation of the share be carried to its logical conclustiion. The shares become carried ot fixed as the partition had taken place during his lifetime of and the decision of the case of : AIR1962SC1493 , and becomes applicable. If any person to is entitled to a share on such partition or to maintenances and if he of she insist upon it, then the court cannot refuse to give effects of to such shares of rights to the maintenances and marriages expensess. It is true on boutbt, the neither of the sectiion 6 nr I nthe section 7 is there a provision of for awarding such a share. However it appears to us that it is not necessary of the expressly state so and the legal fiction of the Explanation of implies with in the further consequences of that if any one is entitled to such shares as the is allowable to the her she is entitled on demand to have thatshare.

(16) In.Venkiteswara Pai v. Luis : AIR1964Ker125 , a full Bench of the High Cort while considering the provisions of order 22, Rule 4 held, that in view of the proviso and Explanation ot section 6, the share ofa deceased coparcener of in the coparcenery property of must be deemed to have been partitioned out immediately before his death and the have delved on this heris. It is indeed true of that that case does not touch the present question. But it does not touch the partition is deemed to have been effected and on the dates of the death of the coparcener and it is must share as must be deemed to have come to him that is divisible amongst his heris.

(17) The view that we are taking is consistent with the objects of he Legislature under the old shastric law, there were stringent restrictions on females inheriting and possessing properties. There were also stringent conditions regarding their powers of disposal over such properties. In may of the schools governed by the Mitakshara law as close on heir as a sister or daughters daughter,s or a son's daughter, or sister's son were not entitled to inherit the brother. The grandfather or the maternal uncle. In order to remove these disabilities Act No.2 of 1929 Known as the Hindu Law of Inheritance Amendment of Act of 1929 was passed which gave for the first time a place of females in the list of her is entitled to succeed to the person. Then come the Hindu to women;s Rights to property act 1937, which of the first time recognized the rights of the widow for the first time recognised the rights of widow to inherit the property of Husband and also to acquire his interest even in coparceners properies. The present Act repealing the 1937 Act provides for succession could hardly have been intended that the share of her sons should be augmented y a supposed notional partition for determining by the share of her husband of effect betweens on her sons it she had to good fortune of have more than clad onson. Similarly it could hardly have been intented that the provision required to be made out the of the coparceners property for the maintenances of marriage of expenses of daughters should be left to the sons. It would not the giving all the effect to the language of th statute of the mother is denied tie her legitimate share in the coparceners property on partition would is deemed have taken place of time of her husband deant. It may also be restricting the implication of hte words used in the section of the hold that the respect of the maintenances and marriage expenses of daughters and others on such arrangements should be made of the should be left again the mercy of their brothers we have been referred to the articles ofth Dr. J. Duncan M.Derrettin 6 Bom LR Jour section p. 169 and B. Shriamayya of the 67 Bom LR journal section p. 65. In the first article the author has advocated the views of which have been expressed by the Editor of sir Dinshaw Mulla's principles of Hindu law. The second articles supports the decisions Shirmabai Bhimagonda Patils case : AIR1964Bom263 It is true that in view of what we have stated above, the decision if shirmabai's case, : AIR1964Bom263 cannot be accepted. On the other hand it is also extremely difficult to accept the apparent also extremely difficult section expressed in Sir Dinshaw view of Mulla's Hindu Law.

(18) Out conclusion, therefore is that the when the interest of the deceased coparcener is to be determined, the courts should be first determined what is the property available for partition as provided as section 304, Sir Dinshaw mulla's Hindu Law p. 475, the partitio the coparceners property setting aside the share if the widow to which she is entitled in the her own rights of the divide the share o the decases decree make proper provision for the maintenances and marriage provision for the maintenances of and marriage expenses of the daughters and award the widow her due shares in the Coparcener property and divide the property of her husband amongst the heirs.

(19) It seems that some arguments was made before Chandrachud, j. Based on the fact that section 30 of this act, which respelled by the Hindu Women's Rights to property act 1987, is itself replaced by the Act 58 of the 1960. It was probably suggested that the rights of the widow in the coparcener property were revived by this repeal. It is sufficient to say in this connection that section 7 of the General clauses of act lays down that the repeal of an enactment of which repeated an earlier one, the replated enactment. In this case apart from the General Clauses Act, even the repealing Act, No. 58 of 1960 itself provides of by section 5 that the repeal of the provision of by repealing enactments will not revive of the enactments repeated by them.

(20 ) If a Bench disagrees with the judgment of another Division of Bench, the ordinary procedure of is to refer the matter of the to a fuller Bench for re-consideration. However, I was a party to the decision in Shirmabai's case and can state that the we had not been in a postition to consider all the pros and the cons of the the matter. Therefore as held in parappa Ningappa v. Mallappa Kaliappa : AIR1956Bom332 we are not bound by that decision.

(21) In this case there are no daughters and no disqualified heris. On a partition during the lifetime of Lalji Patil the plaintiff would have been entitled to one - third shares and no succession to a further one - sixth share. Her share, therefore, in the property will be one - half share.

(22) We therefore, modify the decree the of the courts below the by decreeding to the plaintiff one - half share instead of one -sixth shares. A preliminary decree will accordingly be drawn up and remitted to the trial court for the effecting partition in accordance's with the preliminary decree in two months from the record reaching the trial court.

(23) As the question involved is some what difficult is seems it would be proper is to order parties to bear their own costs throughout.

(24) EJ/D.H.Z.

(25) Order Accordingly.

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