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Bhagirathibai Bhalchandra Narayan Vs. Dwarkabai Shankar Baji - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 663 of 1929
Judge
Reported inAIR1933Bom135; (1933)35BOMLR44
AppellantBhagirathibai Bhalchandra Narayan
RespondentDwarkabai Shankar Baji
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
hindu law-maintenance-son's widow-self acquired properly of father-in-law-gift of property by father-in-law-widow's maintenance out of property not gifted away.;under hindu law a son's widow is entitled to maintenance out of the ancestral property and also the self-acquired property of her father-in-law in the hands of his heirs, but not out of his self-acquired property which he has disposed of by way of gift.;savitribai v. laxmibai and sadasiv ganoba (1878) i.l.r. 2 bom. 573, f.b., kalu v. kashibai (1882) i.l.r. 7 bom. 127, yamunabai v. manubai (1899) i.l.r. 23 bom. 608, s.c. 1 bom. l.r. 95, and bai parvati v. tarwadi dolatram (1900) i.l.r. 25 bom. 263, s.c. 2 bom. l.r. 894, followed. - - 2. we have heard a learned and interesting argument from mr.patkar, j.1. this is a suit by the daughter-in-law against the donees of the father-in-law of his self-acquired property. the finding of both the lower courts is that when the husband of the plaintiff died the income of the ancestral property was rs. 10 a year. subsequently the father migrated from his native village nivendi in ratnagiri to the thana district and acquired immoveable property. the learned subordinate judge dismissed the plaintiff's suit. on appeal the learned district judge held that the plaintiff was entitled to maintenance out of the ancestral nivendi property and also certain property which though self-acquired was not the subject-matter of the gift by the father-in-law but was inherited by the plaintiff's sisters-in-law.2. we have heard a learned and interesting.....
Judgment:

Patkar, J.

1. This is a suit by the daughter-in-law against the donees of the father-in-law of his self-acquired property. The finding of both the lower Courts is that when the husband of the plaintiff died the income of the ancestral property was Rs. 10 a year. Subsequently the father migrated from his native village Nivendi in Ratnagiri to the Thana District and acquired immoveable property. The learned Subordinate Judge dismissed the plaintiff's suit. On appeal the learned District Judge held that the plaintiff was entitled to maintenance out of the ancestral Nivendi property and also certain property which though self-acquired was not the subject-matter of the gift by the father-in-law but was inherited by the plaintiff's sisters-in-law.

2. We have heard a learned and interesting argument from Mr. Gharpure on behalf of the appellant who has relied on certain texts appearing in Chapter XII relating to resumption of gifts in Mitakshara on verses 175 and 176 of Yadnyavalkya, Gharpure's Translation, pp. 312 and 813, Mayukha, Chap. IX, placitum 4, Gharpure's Translation, page 168, and Texts of Narada, Chap. XIII, verses 4,5 and 6. It is urged that the donees of the self-acquired property of the father-in-law are liable to pay maintenance to the plaintiff out of such self-acquired property and that the texts were not considered in the previous decisions of this Court, and reference is made to Gholapchandra Sircar's Hindu Law, 6th Edn., pp. 605 and 606. It would have been necessary to go into the texts and consider whether they are preceptive or mandatory and support the contention on behalf of the appellant if the question were res integra, but we think that we are bound by the decisions of this Court in the cases of Savitribai v. Laxmibai and Sadasiv Ganoba I.L.R. (1878) Bom. 573 Kalu v. Kashibai I.L.R. (1882) Bom. 127 Yamunabai v. Manubai I.L.R. (1899) Bom. 608 1 Bom. L.R. 95 and Bai Parvati v. Tarwadi Dolatram I.L.R. (1900) Bom. 263 2 Bom. L.R. 894

3. In the full bench case of Savitribai v. Laxmibai it was held that a Hindu widow is not entitled to maintenance from her husband's relatives whether they are separated or unseparated from him at the time of his death if they have not any ancestral estate or estates belonging to him in their hands. At pages 610 and 611 the texts of Mitakshara, Chapter IX, pl. 2 to 5, which prohibited the alienation of property until maintenance of the family was provided for, and the texts of Smriti Chandrika and Narada, were referred to and considered.

4. In Kalu v. Kashibai it was held that a daughter-in-law has no legal right to be supported by the father-in-law who had no ancestral property notwithstanding that she was in indigent circumstances. It was held that when Hindu jurists speak of rights of females of the family (other than a wife or mother) to maintenance without reference to the existence of family property 'their tone is preceptive and the injunctions they contain are rather of ethical than of legal obligation.'

5. In Yamunabai v. Manubai it was observed by Ranade J. that the principle that a son's widow has no legal claim for maintenance against the self-acquired property in the hands of her father-in-law has been affirmed in a series of decisions, but it was held that when such property devolves upon his heirs the daughter-in-law has a claim against it in their hands for maintenance if her husband had lived in union with his father. The moral obligation of the father is converted into a legal obligation when his self-acquired property devolves upon his heirs. Savitribai's case was distinguished on the ground that there was separation in that case between the widow's husband and the defendants, and it was suggested that where there was no separation, it would be straining the texts too far to hold them to be preceptive only.

6. In Bai Parvati v. Tarwadi Dolatram it was held that a widow of predeceased unseparated, son has no right to maintenance from a person to whom her father-in-law has bequeathed the whole of his self-acquired property. Reference was made to Ranade J.'s observation at p. 611 in Yamunabai's case that if the heir were a testamentary devisee the incidents of self-acquisition would protect such property in his hands, and it was held that according to the full bench decision in Savitribai's case the widow of an unseparated son could not claim maintenance as a legal right from the self-acquired property of her father-in-law in his hands, and if so, a testamentary disposition of such property would not attach to it any legal obligation in the hands of a devisee any more than a gift inter vivos would attach thereto such legal obligation in the hands of the donee. No distinction can be drawn between a bequest and a gift. If a legatee from the father-in-law of his self-acquired property is not bound to maintain the daughter-in-law, equally a donee of the father-in-law of such property cannot be held bound to maintain his daughter-in-law. It appears from Bai Parvati's case that the legatee was the next heir. The fact that the donees in this case are the next heirs is immaterial. We think that we are bound by the decisions of this Court, and are, therefore, unable to accede to the contentions urged on behalf of the appellant. It follows, therefore, that the plaintiff daughter-in-law is entitled to maintenance out of the ancestral property and also the self-acquired property of the father-in-law inherited by the sisters-in-law, but not out of the self-acquired property of the father-in-law disposed of by him by way of gift.

7. The result is that the decree of the lower appellate Court must be confirmed and the appeal must bo dismissed.

Murphy, J.

8. This appeal is against the decree in a suit for maintenance by a Hindu widow out of property in the hands of her father-in-law's donees. The findings of fact were that the father-in-law inherited ancestral property yielding about Rs. 10 a year. By teaching and working as a priest and clerk, he in the course of twenty years or so acquired some other property. This he gifted away before he died. For the greater part, it has been held that the nucleus of the ancestral property had not contributed to the self-acquisition, and maintenance at Rs. 10 per annum was charged on the ancestral property and a portion of the self-acquired property which had been omitted from the deed of gift. The widow has appealed.

9. It seems to me that the first appeal Court's decree is correct. The rulings of this Court in previous cases, though not exactly on parallel facts, are contained in Kalu v. Kashibai I.L.R. (1882) Bom. 127 Yamunabai v. Manubai I.L.R. (1899) Bom. 608 1 Bom. L.R. 95 and Bai Parvati v. Tarwadi Dolatram I.L.R. (1900) Bom. 263 2 Bom. L.R. 894 Mr. Gharpure, the learned advocate for the appellant, has based his argument on the Sanskrit texts in the original authorities. But since the law on the point has been decided since 1897 to be that a Hindu owning self-acquired property can dispose of it in his lifetime by a will and has no more than a moral obligation to support his daughter-in-law, we cannot reconsider the matter as a division bench.


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