(1) This second appeal raises a question of interpretation of section 14(2) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
(2) Sakharam and Sitabai were the father and mother respectively of Govind and Shankar. Sakharam died in 1945 and Govind a few days after him, leaving widows Anusayabai and Kamalabai, defendants 2 and 3 and daughter Tarabai, defendant No. 1. These three filed a suit for partition against Sitabai and Shankar and a decree was passed. Sitabai was awarded in lieu of her one-third share postal cash certificates of the value of Rs. 10,000/- for her enjoyment for her lifetime. After her death, the corpus was to go to Shankar. Sitabai died on March 22, 1958. After her death, Shankar obtained succession certificate in respect of the certificates but he was required to furnish security for safeguarding the share of Anusayabai and Tarabai if any in the said amount. The heirs of Shankar filed the suit for declaration of their title contending that the share certificates were of the exclusive ownership of Shankar after Sitabai's death and after him of their ownership. Trial Court decreed the suit but the District Court modified the decree, holding that they had only a one-half share and the other one-half share belonged to Tarabai, defendant No. 1, Govind's daughter.
(3) Section 14, sub-section (1) provides that a female holding an estate shall be deemed to be an absolute owner of the same and sub-section (2) which is an exception is : 'Nothing contained in the sub-section (1) shall apply to any property acquired by way of gift or under a will or any other instrument or under a decree or order of a Civil Court or under an ward ................. where the terms of ............ decree or order .................. prescribe a restricted estate in such property'.
(4) Mr. Vaidya relies upon the terms of the decree which prescribe that Sitabai will enjoy the income of the said certificates for her lifetime and after her death the certificate shall belong to Shankar.
(5) The word 'acquire' having regard to the context must and can only mean acquisition for the first time under any of the instruments there mentioned or under a decree. When the female has already by reason of law or otherwise an interest in the property, then she does not 'acquire' any interest in it by reason of the instrument or the decree, and in that case the restriction imposed cannot be effective. In this connection it must be remembered that ordinarily the word in a Statute must receive its ordinary meaning. But a word may have a wider or limited meaning by reason of the context or its purpose. The Court has while construing a statutory provision to consider the language used, other relevant provisions, the circumstances under which the statute was enacted and its purpose. Having regard to the intention of the Legislation in enacting section 14 of the Act which was to reform the Hindu Law and give full status to women, the word 'acquire' must mean acquisition for the first time. The decree did nothing but provide what was according to law her right. If there had been no decree she would by reason of the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 have a one-third share as a Hindu widow, and it would have ripened into an absolute estate. Does then the passing of a consent decree in terms of the statute then in force alter the matter? In my view it cannot have that effect, because by the decree she did not 'acquire' the property but by it what was her own was defined.
(6)This view has been taken in Sampath Kumari v. Lakshi Ammal, : AIR1963Mad50 , where the property was assigned to the widow under a partition deed with a clause similar to the present. Same view was taken also in Sasadhar Chandra v. Tara Sundari, : AIR1962Cal438 and Lalchand v. Sushila Sundari, : AIR1962Cal623 . I with respect agree with the ratio of these cases.
(7) Mr. Vaidya relies upon decisions in Mali Bewa v. Dadhi Das, : AIR1960Ori81 , and S. Veerabhadra v. D. Lakshmi Devi, : AIR1965AP367 . In both these cases the husbands of the widows had died prior to the coming in force of the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 and on the husbands' death they had only a right of maintenance. In lieu of maintenance they were given a share in the properties with the restriction of their interest of their life time. Evidently, the interest was 'acquired' under the decrees of the Court. The cases therefore have no application.
(8) The learned Judge was, therefore right in his conclusion.
(9) Appeal dismissed.