1. The plaintiff sued for a declaration that he is the nearest reversionary heir to one Parshottam Madhavji, that the will made by his widow Ujam in respect of the property she acquired under a consent decree between her adopted son Bulakhi and herself was void and inoperative as having been made by a Hindu widow, for possession of the immoveable properties described in the plaint and as acquired by the widow under the consent decree, together with mesne profits, and for accounts and possession of the moveable property of Parshottam. The First Glass Subordinate Judge of Ahmedabad dismissed the suit. The plaintiff appeals.
2. The essential point in this case is a short one. On reference to the pedigree at p. 2 of the print, it would be found that the plaintiff is the great-great grandson of one Bechar Dhanji, and Parshotamdas was his great-grandson. Parshotamdas died in 1890, and in 1904 his widow Bai Ujam adopted Bulakhidas. Bulakhidas died in August 1916, leaving behind him a widow Lakshmi, who died in December 1916, and an infant daughter Babli, who died in January 1917. Rai Ujam lived until August 15, 1924. After the adoption, on the adopted son Bulakhidas attaining majority, there were disputes between him and his adoptive mother, and he brought a suit against her. That suit ended in a compromise. By that compromise Bai Ujam was given a life-interest in the immoveable property mentioned in the compromise, and an absolute interest in certain moveables. After her death, Bulakhidas as the owner, he was so described in the compromise, was to take possession of the property. But, as already pointed out, Bnlakhidas, his wife, and his child all predeceased Bai Ujam, and therefore the rights of Bulakhidas came to Bai Ujam, who was his heir, and Bai Ujam made a will, which is not disputed, in favour of the present defendant. It is contended on behalf of the appellant that the interest of Ujam in the property was that of a Hindu widow, that therefore she had no right to dispose of it by will, and that on her death it reverts to her husband's estate, and would be inherited by his nearest reversioner, which the plaintiff claims to be. The sole point in the case, therefore, apart from the question of the plaintiff being the reversioner, is as to the nature of the interest which the widow Bai Ujam took in the property by reason of the compromise between her and her adopted son, and it has been strenuously contended by the learned advocate for the appellant that the interest of Ujam in the property is that of a Hindu widow. There could be no interest of that nature unless Bai Ujam inherited the property from her husband directly, or from her son on his death. In the present case, from the date of the adoption, the property vested in the adopted son, and Ujam had only the right of maintenance, and the rights which she acquired in this property are acquired by virtue of the compromise decree, which is translated at p. 5. How possibly any question of a Hindu widow's estate can arise in these circumstances is not clear to me. As the learned Judge has pointed out in para, 22, the property which a mother gets by a compromise decreebetween her and her son has no analogy to a Hindu widow's estate, and the nature of the rights given to her under the decree can only be determined by reference to the terms of the decree. In the present case, where the adoption is recognised, the widow could only acquire a title to such property by way of grant from the son, and not by way of any independent title as heir to her husband. The terms of the compromise decree have been set out in full at p. 5, In Clause 1 it is declared that Bulakhi enjoys all the rights of an adopted son in the property. In the second clause, which deals with the immoveable property, it is made quite clear that the interest which is conferred upon the widow Bai Ujam is a life-eatate, and that on her death the estate reverts to the adopted son. The adopted son was originally the owner. This is the case of a grant. He is not a reversioner. He has a vested interest which is transferable and inheritable, and on his death this vested interest will pass to his heirs, who are respectively his widow, his infant daughter and ultimately Bai Ujam herself, and therefore, as the Subordinate Judge has pointed out, all the rights which belonged to the adopted son as well as the rights which were given her by the compromise decree vested in her on the death of the last heir of Bulakhidas other than herself, and she became full owner of the property, and could dispose of it by will, as she has done.
3. The learned advocate for the appellant has referred to two oases, Sreemutty Rabutty Dossee v. Sibchunder Mullick (1854) 6 M.I.A. 1 and Ganpat Rao v. Ram Chandar I.L.R. (1888) All. 296 Neither of these cases has any application, because in Sreemutty Rabutty Dossee's case the widow claimed as the representative of her husband, that is to say, any rights which she had she acquired from her husband, and not, as in the present case, by a grant from the adopted son who was the actual owner of the property. In Ganpat Rao v. Ram Chandar the dispute was between the brother and the brother's widow. The learned Counsel for the respondent has relied on a case which is more like the facts of the present case than any other, Mussumat Bhagbutti Daee v. Chowdry Bholanath Thakoor in which there was a deed somewhat similar in terms to the present deed executed by an adopted son, as well as another one by the husband, and that was considered to be a family settlement giving the widow an estate for life with power to appropriate the profits as in the present case, and to the adopted son a vested remainder on her death. In that case, the case quoted by the learned advocate for the appellant,viz., Sreemutty Rabutty Dossee v. Sibchunder Mullick, has been distinguished on the ground I have already mentioned, that the widow in that case claimed in the character of heiress and legal personal representative of her deceased husband, and not, as in the present case, where the rights which the widow has flow from a grant by the adopted son and are not in any sense of the word derived from her deceased husband. The learned Counsel for the respondent has further referred to Balwant Singh v.Jyoti Prasad I.L.R. (1918) All. 692 which is very similar to the circumstances of the present case, in which it was held that where an agreement has been entered into between an adopted son and his adoptive mother giving a life-estate to the adoptive mother, and the remainder to the adopted son, the interest of the son is not merely that of a contingent collateral Hindu reversioner, but he has a vested interest in the property of his adoptive father which he is competent to deal with, subject only to the previous life-estate, and at p. 695, where the document is translated, it distinctly states that the right which was given to the adoptive mother was the right which a Hindu widow has over her husband's estate according to the Hindu law, and yet inspite of that it was held that the interest of the son amounted to a vested interest. The learned Counsel for the respondent has further referred to the decision in Lallu v. Jagmohan I.L.R. (1896) Bom. 409 and Chunilal v. Bai Muli I.L.R. (1899) Bom. 420 : 2 Bom. L.R. 46 as dealing with the question of vested interest. But I do not think there can be any reasonable doubt but that the view of the Subordinate Judge is right. This is not a case in which the widow acquires her interest from her husband or from her son on his death, but she acquires it by a grant made by the absolute owner really for the purposes of maintenance, and the remaining rights in the property are vested in the owner, the adopted son, subject to the widow's life-interest. Now when the son dies, those rights pass to his heirs, and, as has already been shown, in this case, owing to a succession of deaths in the family, in 1917 these rights all come to the widow as the heir, and therefore taken in conjunction with the rights which she already possessed under the compromise decree, she became absolute owner of the property, and was entitled to dispose of it by will as she has done. It is not in any sense of the word property which she inherited from her husband to which her husband's reversioners, assuming that the plaintiff was the nearest reversioner, would succeed.
4. In these circumstances, the question of whether the plaintiff is the nearest reversioner, which the Subordinate Judge has found in the affirmative, although the evidence on that subject appears to be rather vague, loses all importance. The widow is justified in disposing of the property by will, and admittedly she has so disposed of it in favour of the defendant.
5. The question as to the moveables has not been raised in this Court. No Court-fee has been paid on that part of the claim. It is clear that under the compromise decree the widow was made absolute owner of the moveables, and was entitled to dispose of them in any way she liked.
6. The result is that the decree of the lower Court will be confirmed, and the appeal dismissed with costs.
7. I agree, and have nothing to add.