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Sonubai Yeshwant Jadhay Vs. Bala Govinda Yadav and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Constitution
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 47 of 1978
Judge
Reported inAIR1983Bom156; 1983(1)BomCR632; (1983)85BOMLR398
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 100, 100(4), 101 and 151; Hindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 15(2); Constitution of India - Articles 14 and 15
AppellantSonubai Yeshwant Jadhay
RespondentBala Govinda Yadav and ors.
Appellant AdvocateM.V. Paranjape and;S.G. Page, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateR.T. Walawalkar,;Narendra V. Walawlkar and;C.D. Shenoy, Advs.
Excerpt:
constitution of india, articles 15, 14; schedule vii, list iii, entry 5 - hindu succession act (xxx of 1956), sections 15(2)(b), 16, 3(j) -- object and scheme of section 15 -- expression 'heirs of husband' in section 15(2)(b) whether indicative that provision is discriminatory on ground of sex -- while admitting second appeal substantial question of law on which appeal was admitted not framed by court -- whether appeal should be dismissed on that ground alone or court can draw upon inherent powers to cure the defect -- civil procedure code (v of 1908), sections 100(4), 100(5), 151. the provisions like sections 15(1) and 15(2) of the hindu succession act clearly show that when sucession opens to a female hindu dying intestate rules are enacted with clear intent to keep up the continuity.....1. this is original defendants no. 1's second appeal that question the concurrent judgment and the decree made and affirmed holding that to the property left by the deceased tanubai w/o vithoba giriappa, who died on nov. 17, 1966 plaintiff bala govinda yadav, being the nearest heir, was entitled to succeed and the will set up by the appellant-original defendants no. 1 was a got up one and did not confer any entitlement on the appellant to succeed to the property to tanubai.2. the undisputed facts as are found are that plaintiff bala is the son of govinda, s/o nana, who was the son of patu. patu had four sons, being aba, nana, sakhoba and girjappa. vithoba, the husband to tanubai was the son of girjappa. the plaintiff thus is shown to be tanbuai's husband cousin brothers sons as far as the.....
Judgment:

1. This is original defendants No. 1's second appeal that question the concurrent judgment and the decree made and affirmed holding that to the property left by the deceased Tanubai w/o Vithoba Giriappa, who died on Nov. 17, 1966 plaintiff Bala Govinda Yadav, being the nearest heir, was entitled to succeed and the will set up by the appellant-original defendants No. 1 was a got up one and did not confer any entitlement on the appellant to succeed to the property to Tanubai.

2. The undisputed facts as are found are that plaintiff Bala is the son of Govinda, s/o Nana, who was the son of Patu. Patu had four sons, being Aba, Nana, Sakhoba and Girjappa. Vithoba, the husband to Tanubai was the son of Girjappa. The plaintiff thus is shown to be Tanbuai's husband cousin brothers sons As far as the other branches are concerned. there does not appear to be any other male heir having priority in the branch and in the family of the husband to Tanubai.

3 . The suit property was the property was the property of Vithoba, who did not as far back as some time in 1951. Upon his death, the property was inherited by Tanubai and she was holding the same till her death on Nov. 17, 1966. It was the case of the present appellant that 7 days before her death, se left the will bequeathing all the property and that will was produced along with the lease at Ex. 37. As its due execution was not established it was not formally exhibited. Both the Court below have concurrently found that not only there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the making of the will which the evidence falls short to dispel the same, but even the execution of the will has not been established, in that it is not shown that the thumb impression on the will was that of Tanubai. This finding is based on the appreciation of the case set up by the present appellant that Tanubai was an illiterate lady. She used to put her left hand thumb impression in token of execution of the documents and the thumb impression on the documents of the will was so made by her. As that thumb impression was denied to be that of Tanubai, the said thumb impression along with the admitted thumb impression were sent firstly at the behest of the plaintiff to the handwriting expert who opinion that that was not the thumb impression of Tanubai. Again, at the behest of the present appellant the said thumb impression on the will was referred to another expert and he too affirmed the opinion earlier given by the expert. Both these experts, being Madhav Panchabhai and Vaman puntambekar, have been examined and accepting their testimony. the Courts below have held that the thumb impression purporting to be that of Tanubai is not of her left hand. After the opinion, it appears, the case was set up that it was the thumb impression of the right hand. Appreciating the evidence on this aspect, which consists of scribe kulkarni and attesting witness Paras Shevale, Yeshwant Patil and Vishnu Ghare, both the Court below have found that this evidence is totally false and against the probabilities. Thus, it has been found that the execution of the will itself was not proved and so also there were suspicious circumstances which reasonably agitate the judicial mind. Having rejected the will in this manner, the plaintiff's claim has been decreed on the basis that he was the nearest heir and would be entitle to succeed in view of the provisions of Section. 15(2) of the Hindu Succession Act. 1956 (hereinafter called 'the Act') and the order of succession as mentioned in Section 16 of the Act.

4. As far as defendants Nos. 3 and 4 are concerned. who was respondents Nos. 3 and 4 to the appeal, admittedly they are in possession of the landed property. The case pleaded was that their tenancy was illegal . That is countered by defendants No. 4. In spite of this, without framing the issues with regard to the validity of the tenancy. if appear that the Courts below have made a decree for possession with regard to the landed property against the defendants.

5. Furthermore, when this appeal was admitted by this Court, the record shows that order as to specifying the substantial question of law as required by Section 100(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure has not been made. When this made was initially argued, a preliminary objection on that Court was preferred by Mr. Walawalkar. To overcome this objection. Mr,. Paranjape has put in an application raising the substantial questions of law. All this is the subject-matter of the present appeals. Upon these facts and findings and from the submission of the respective learned Counsel, four points emerge for my decision.

6. First is the preliminary objection raised by Shri Walawlkar as to the tenability of the appeal for the reasons that the admission of the appeal being contrary to Section 100(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the appeal should be summarily dismissed. Second and third are the submissions that arise out of the argument advanced by Shri Paranjpe in support of the appeal to the effect that the appeal involved substantial question of law as to the adequacy of proof required for propounding the will. In the submission of the learned Counsel the Court below erred in law in not accepting the will of Tanubai and that raises a substantial question of law. In the alternative, it is submitted that the provisions of Section 15(2) of the Act by reason of which the plaintiff succeeded should be struck down as ultra vires of arts. 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India for the same are discriminatory. The fourth submission comes from Mrs. Shenoy who appears for respondent Nos. 3 and 4 and submitted that the decree under appeal should be reversed because it directs the delivery of possession form defendants Nos. 3 and 4, without making a reference to Tenancy Authority as the their entitlement to remain in possession as the tenant of the agricultural lands in issue. The submission is that the decree can be varied or modified though these respondent have not appeal under Order XLI, Rule 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

7. I proposes to deal with these seriatim.

8. The amended Civil procedure Code has made a departure from the earlier one and has restricted the right of second appeal. Prior to it, the appeal lay with regard to the question of law and now in the legislative wisdom such an appeal is specified only with regard to 'the substantial question of law'. Amendment clearly restricts the right of second appeal. Sub-section (4) of Sc. 100 of the Civil Procedure Code enjoins upon the Court admitting such appeal to formulate 'the substantial question of law' upon which the appeal is admitted. That provisions by itself is mandatory. It is no doubt true that when this appeal was admitted the record does not disclose that there had been any compliance with sub-section (4) of Section 100 of the Code. and there is undoubtedly great force in the submission of the learned Counsel that the Court having failed in its statutory duty in not so farming the substantial question of law result should be that appeal should fail. Mr. Walawlkar is further right that it is with reference to such a question, sub-section (5) indicates that a notice to is issue to the respondent and the appeal has to be set for final hearing. Furthermore, at that stage a statuary opportunity is provided to the respondent to show that the question so framed are not substantial question of law and the appeal should be dismissed. Undoubtedly, this statutory entitlement of the answering respondent could not be furthered because of the failure of the court in not framing the substantial question at the initial stage. But, the question is whether all the means that the appeal should be dismissed when it is set for final hearing? Or is there any other fair modality by which such apparent statutory defect can be cured if otherwise proper opportunity is given to all the parties concerned an further more the debate is also permitted as to the existence of non-existence about the involvement of the substantial question of law

9. Answer to this would depend primarily in finding out whether the suitor or the appellant should be blamed and penalised for the omission on the part of the Court while admitting such an appeal. The position is plain. After all, the provisions of Section 100(4) are the parts of the procedural law and the mandate of that provisions to the Court though binding on all whose who seek to move the process of second appeal. Evident as it is that sub-section (4) enjoins the Court to frame the substantial question on which the appeal has been admitted. A failure on the part of the Court while admitting the appeal in this regard would allowed in law be the error of the Court though party affect thereby has to move diligently for its correction. However, failure to documents so cannot result in automatically affection the order of admission and making an order of dismissing the appeal for want of proper prosecution. This is not to observe that appellee has no duty nor any obligation. Even with regard to such errors he has to be diligent enough to bring the same to the notice of Court and get it corrected. In a given case if the contract of the party in this regard lacked bona fide such a result may be reached. But as a matter of law party cannot be penalised for the error of Tanubai Court. it is pertinent to observe that under the proviso to sub-sec (5) of Section 100 additional substantial questions of law can well be permitted to be raised with the leave of the Court and along with the initial question firmed can partake and formulate the subject-matter of the debate in such appeal. This proviso in indicative of the legislative intention in this regard. It confers enabling power upon Court and consequent entitlement in favour of the party. The restrictive scheme of Section 100 couched in mandatory terms firstly cast a duty on the Court not to admit the appeals which documents not involve substantial question of law, for, such an appeal is not provided for and secondly, it requires the admission order to speak about the spell out such substantial question and thirdly on that question the notice has to be issued to the respondent, who are enabled to show that such a question is neither a substantial question of law, nor arises in a given appeal, but further at that stage with the leave of the Court the appellant is further enabled to rely on any other substantial question of law which can form the part of the debate at the final hearing stage. While working out this compact scheme, however, occasion like the present one may arise wherein though the Court admitted the appeal it failed to spell out the substantial question of law as enjoined by sub-section (4). Doubtless such a situation is regrettable. Nonetheless, such omission is the omission of the Court and not of the party. The principle that applies to the omission, errors or mistakes on the part of the Court should always be available in such an eventuality provided the course of justice is not prejudiced of affected to opponent's disadvantage. Once the litigant has diligently followed the procedural law, he cannot be punished for the omission of the Court. To act ex debito justitiae is the basis rule in matters of administration of justice and, particular when it arises out of the procedural laws. Failure on the part of the Court, therefore, though serious does not affect the process of appeal, which is set for final hearing, nor can the appeal be dismissed for that reason. There are ample complementary and supplementary inherent powers with which the Court is clothed to cure such defects and that is expressly recognised by the provisions of Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Drawing upon that power in a given case, the Court would be entitled to cure such a defect of Court failure to comply with the mandatory requirement of sub-section (4) of Section 100 even later stage.

10. In furtherance of this view. I allowed the appellant to put up an application indicating the substantial question involved in the present appeal, as no doubt the appellant could have moved in review before the same Judge who admitted to appeal requesting fro formulation of such substantial question of law, but since that would have entitled unnecessary waste of judicial time and would have added to the complications of the cause particularly when the matter has reached the stage of final hearing and set before me for that the purpose, I though it proper, and I think that is the proper course to cure such a defect drawing upon the inherit powers that the recognised by Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The submission for the respondent, therefore, that the order of admission should be vacated because of the failure of the Court to frame such a question and the appeal be dismissed does not more survive and is rejected.

11. Turning to submission of Mr. paranjpe on the first aspect, it is difficult to find any substantial question of law in the present controversy. The will that was being propounded (Exh. 37/1) has been held after review of evidence as not being genuine and in fact both the Courts have concurrently found that it has not been proved. That finding is based on the appreciation of the testimony of the Handwriting Experts, one examined for the defendants and another for the plaintiff and both of them have consistently opined that the alleged left hand thumb impression on the will was not of the testatrix Tanubai. The other evidence tenders to show at a later stage that it was the right hand thumb impression has been correctly appreciated and both the Courts have concluded that the evidence in that regard was got up one. Thus, the rejection of the will after appreciating evidence does not give rise to any question either of law of the substantial question of law. No second appeal lies in such matter which arise out of complaints about appreciation of evidence. The first submission of the learned Counsel is without any merit.

12. That taken me to the challenge to the validity of the provisions of se 15 (2) of the Act, because it is submitted that is discriminates between 'the heirs of husband' and 'heirs of wife'. It is suggested that this is a legislative discrimination based on sex different and, therefore, void and ultra vires of the guarantee of equal treatment under Art. 14 and discriminatory on the ground of sex and, therefore, invalid under Art. 15 of the Constitution. Several provisions of law were relief upon make a submission that this should be so.

13. Undoubtedly, when the Act is a codifying legislation like the present one, the principles of interpretation governing the same like any other enactment requires the Court to gather the meaning of the statute by the language employed by the legislative. This language-following dictate is meant to lay down a limit in that Tanubai the Court is not at liberty to travel back into the past and probe into the history so as to attribute meaning to the words in place of its natural meaning. What is clear should be held so. The interpreting court cannot being enquiry of the law previously stood and then assume that it was probably intended to leave it or later otherwise by attributing meanings to the words employed by the legislative so that it should bear an interpretation in conformity with the earlier historical view. Section Bank of England v. Vagliano Brothers, 1891 A. C. 107: Narendrasingh v. Kamalbasani, ILR(1896) Cal 563 : Smt. Rohini Kumari v. Narendrasingh : [1972]2SCR657 and Anandji Haridas v. Engineering Mazdoor : (1975)IILLJ12SC ).

14. This rule of interpretation of follow the language of the statue applied then the particular words and terms and in issue. That, however, does not hold the filed when a state follow itself is required to be gone into to understand as to what an Act Court legislative purposed to pre-empt by express legislative. This should be more so, when the legislative steps in so as to give uniformity and fixity to otherwise flexible and fluid state of law including thorax of simulated sastric injunctions and judicial interpretations as well the pattern of changing customs of the people. Keeping this all in view, a narrow question posed centres round the phrase 'heirs of the husband' and whether by providing for an preferring that when a Hindu female dies, and irrational and arbitrary classification is made having as was suggested, an inbuilt discrimination only on the ground of the sex against the citizens of the state.

15. The Constitution does not posit totally unguided non-classified quality. Equal protection under the laws is not an abstract proposition. Laws are intended to solve specific problems and achieve definite objective and hence. absolute equality or total uniformity is impossible of achievement. The governing principles of Art. 14 operate upon the filed that amongst the equal the law should be equal and be so administered. Discrimination if for bidden between the classes and persons who are substantially similarly circumstance . If the person of groups are rationally classified and such classified bears the testimony of long standing position of the personal law. then surely law can reach them differently and such different treatment would not result in discrimination. If the classification is founded on intelligible differentia and has rational relation to the object the legislative provisions is intended to achieve, then such a challenger can hardly merit acceptance. It is only when the discrimination is based only on consideration of the different of sex amongst the same class that the challenge under Art. 15. could be substantiated. Both these Article are supplement to each other . Article 14 is containing the general right of equality, while the other laying down special circumstance. (See G. Dasaratha Rama Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh : [1961]2SCR931 and P. Rajendra, v. State of Madras, : [1968]2SCR786 ).

16. Enquiry should proceed from finding the object of the enactment and the purposes for which same is made. Provisions of the Hindu Succession Act along with the companion Act have the historical background arising out of the system of personal law governing Hindu community. This codification of some of the branches of Hindu Law was undertaken after the independence so as to confer much needed uniformity and statutory stability to otherwise fluid state of law. Legislation was not embarked upon any virgin filed but was undertaken to given shape and form the sanctioning legislative principle in that regard. Historically, that system of law was determined over ages by the tradition, customs, sastras and the judicial interpretation thereof. The personal law of Hindu or that body of law that goes under the term 'Hindu Law' is one of the most ancient known system of jurisprudence. Primarily, it grew with the order that organised Indian Society,. It evolved and developed over periods that set pace to orderly development of human affairs Constantly adapting and even assimilating divergent elements it often changed the course and united the people around the precepts. Its recognisable origins are traced back to the fountains of Vedic texts, Smritis and Shrutis and several commentaries of Dharmasastras. All this pronounced law inter-mixed with the customs of the people was turned into a live mix by applicative judicial interpretations. It is not necessary to travel back along with the luminous trial of judicial history of this ancient system. Suffice it to observe that as far as the present debate is concerned. the stage of applicative law with regard to succession did have classified branches having concept of family, marriage. property, of its source as well the generally principles of succession, inheritance and recognition of male and female heirs for that purpose. Coparcenary and/or joint family was the nature state of Hindu Society. That recognised an unique system of proprietary interest by birth and its unimpeded enjoyment. Survivorship and rules of succession were all applicative rules for retaining property with such a family. All though, the principal unit or core of family was supported by such rules of succession that added strength and vigour as well provided sustenance to the very basis of the institution. Schematically, it is not as if that this jurisdiction system was averse to recognise rights in favour of a female member as the heir to the property. though her position in history witnessed diminution and derivation. Earlier enlightened injunctions in this regard indicate continued effects to enhance and argument her right as the part of basic institution of the family. It is enough to quote from the 'Marriage and Family in India' by K. M. Kapadia, a very illustrious exposition. where the passage of property rights to females is observed as follows:--

'Yajnavalkya introduced the wife and daughter as heirs of family property, declared a son's right by the very fact of his birth to the property held by his grandfather. and enlarged the content of women's property and her control over it. In consonance with these changed in favour of women, he introduced the three immediate ancestors of the other as the recipients of pindas at the sraddha. Katyayana further enlarged the scope of stridhana. women's property, and recognised woman as entitled to her husband's share in the joint family property after his death. Vijnanesvara introduced the daughter's son as an heir in preference to such a near agnatic relation as the father or the brother. And Jimutavahana brought, in the sister's son, the father's sister's son and the father's sister's son as heirs in preference to come of the nearer collaterals. The claims of agnatic relatives beyond the fourth generation came to be ignored in favour of relatives though the mother. And all this was done when joint-family as the basic pattern of Hindu culture was very strongly insisted on'. (Emphasis provided).

With such layout of the joint family, keeping it as the basic pattern, workable concept of woman's property or stridhana came to be recognised. Woman could inherit while being a members of the family and in true provide upon death the point for succession.

17. To schools of Mitaksara and of Dayabhaga or Bengal School, that represent the main streams Court f person law, did recognise classifications with regard to different successions to males' and females' property. If it were a stridhana. an order of succession was also recognised thereto and it was the rule in Mitaksara that even the stridhana in default of an issue was to go to the husband himself. In Mayukha also where a woman died without issue as far as the stridhana was concerned, failing the specified heirs. it devolved on the husband's heirs,. (See Section 147 to 151 Mulla's Hindu Law).

18. All this body of law developed around and though the social realities of life of man living the organised group like family and joint family. clan and commune or the tribe. Institutional recognition of marriage was understood as bringing male and female. together in one unity. That generated the basic dynamics of the family: and property relations and entitlement thereto evolved out of the obvious necessity of sustaining the same. The rules of succession and inheritable that were thus made applicable when the marriage of the woman was in an approved form, were based on the concept that the valid marriage results in unity of the spouses, that is, wife and husband together formed one union. In recognition of that position. when succession opened to wife's property. the class known as heirs of the husband when no other immediate heirs were available, was permitted to succeed. That was the logical result of the initial unity, in which the husband and wife came to be inter-woven by the tie of marriage. Recognition and reference to the heirs of the husband was just a logical necessary step to continue that unity in which the female had merged by marriage and was an integral part of such a family. If the property accrued to her from that family. the rule discernible was that it should remain in succession in that family.

19. It is this state of law which had the basic socio-legal recognition in the unity of the family. in the institution of marriage and out of which sprung the necessity of laying down the rules of inheritance and succession that provide the feedback to the present codifying legislation. It has recognised the same basic necessity to maintain the succession with the family, the unit which thrives and is furthered by marriage. It is significant that the Hindu Succession Act makes meaningful references to several relations that arise because of valid marriage within the social unit of the family. Otherwise uncodified dictionary of several terms that describe the relations in a kin group as contemplated by this law is a sure indication of the intention of the Legislature to fortify the institution of family by recognising marriage as basic and on that basis. In this scheme 'wife' as a relative is a specified heir. No doubt. the present codification is not mere collection or arrangement of past parcels of precepts. There are clear departures from the history. one such being the conferring of full ownership upon a Hindu female with regard to the property acquired by her and thus putting her on par with other owners of the property in Hindu family. (Section 14 of the Act). that, however. is not intended either to affect her position as he 'wife' in the family or to affect the character of the family or property in her hand. On the other hand, the provisions like section 15(1) or 15 (2) clearly show that when succession opens to her. rules are enacted with clear intent to keep up the continuity so that the property of the husband remains in his like. while that of parents follows their line. Both on the socio-juristic grounds, classification reasonably exists and is continued.

20. Principally, law of succession is a law of entitlement. And also of status. these twin objects are achieved by laying down compact supportive schemes. It is self-evident that for achieving these objective. the integral unity of the family is the point of legislative reference. That may be because of the socio-legal group governed by the tenets of personal law of Hindus wherein institution like marriage results in union and gives rise to different relations in turn strengthen is, in social web of associative existence. Property or acquisition offers and supports its continuity and unity. Family by that retains its economic as well juridical identity. Of course, marriage, by no means, is private property in wife nor an economic arrangement. It ever represents essential partnership of two human beings united as husband and wife, each of whom being and providing heirs to each other. All this matrix of relations is clear and reference to the definitions available in Section 3 of the Hindu Succession Act of the terms like 'heir' goes to highlight the same.

21. 'heir' means a person, male or female. who is entitled to succession to the property of an intestate. The term 'intestate' indicates a person who is deemed to die intestate in respect of the property of which he or she had not made testamentary disposition. (Sections 3(f) and 3(g)). Leaving aside other terms. the definition of the word 'relative' available in Section 3(i) also takes in the basis of legitimate kinship. Therefore, if the kinship is recognised by law and its terms entitle such a person. male or female by the rules of devolution to succeed to the property. then such a legal classification can hardly be said to militate against the interest of other heirs only because such heirs appear to be of other sex. It is interesting to observe. in this context that several classes of heirs have been classified in the Schedule to the Act and the terms thereof are couched in descriptive manner indicating the natural and legal relations between the parties and particularly to the person whose succession is in issue. In the very nature of things, if the object is to further the institutional identity of the family along with its property. the same can well be conferred in favour of the family along with its property. the same can well be conferred in favour of the class that comes closer to the family, such as those like husband and wife and their off-springs, than the other related but distant persons to that group of which the husband and wire are the united members. By describing the heirs of husband, , the heirs of wife are not excluded. for being a wife she is the member of her family. That is clear if a look is taken at the arrangement of different types of heirs and the classes thereof. If the property has come from the father or mother of a Hindu woman dying intestate. the law in furtherance of the clear objective to continue the family unity directs that such property should go to the heirs of father and mother and not to the heirs of the husband. It is only when the property is inherited from the husband that the provisions require that it should devolve on the heirs of the husband. The supportive principle of both these provisions is the same. Sustaining the entitlement to the property carved out in favour of closer relations than remote. Choose the core group and permit remote ones to come in only in case of its want is the principle.

22. Even the main scheme of Section 15(1) provides that when a Hindu woman dies intestate. her property has to devolve according to the rules set out in Section 16 upon her sons and daughters and the husband (all closely related blood relatives), secondly upon the heirs of the husband (showing the principle of the close knit unity with the husband). thirdly upon the mother and father (indicating the second group of related family) and fourthly upon the heirs of the father and lastly upon the heirs of the mother (other distant related groups). This scheme itself throws light upon the principles on the basis of which choice and arrangement of different classes of heirs is made, namely. closer blood relation is preferred to the distant one, having reference to the family where succession opens. In the context of this, sub-section 92) of Section 15 lays down a special rule which does not depart from this basic principle but furthers it. wife being the part of the family by marriage. it she had received the property by inheritance from her husband in the absence of a son or daughter including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter. this rule states that property goes to the heirs of the husband. There is neither any scope of finding out any hostile classification or any sex discrimination as is suggested in this whole operative scheme. It is a rule of devolution that begins to operate when ' a wife' -- as distinct from mere female -- dies that with regard to inherited property from husband, heirs being described as husband's heirs that are made tot succeed. When this provision speaks of the 'heirs of the husband'. reference is to the provisions of Section 8 of the Act. and that deals with the general rule of succession ins the case of male Hindu dying intestate. It provides that property of such male Hindu would devolve firstly on the relatives specified in class. I. failing that on the relatives specified in class II and failing them too on the agnates and lastly upon the cognates of the deceased as mentioned in the Schedule. Class I amply shows that there is no sex bias in this legislation for. it includes along with male heirs the female heirs like daughter. widow and mother, etc. So also class II includes female heirs.

23. Therefore, there is hardly any manifest or remote evidence to indicate that any sex preference is legislated by this measure. On the other hand. what is being provided is in favour of the family of which the beneficiaries are both male and female heirs. Only because the words of the statute use the phrase like 'heirs of husband' to indicate upon whom the property should devolve, such terminology does not lead to the conclusion that this has enacted preference only on the ground of sex. The very fact that the Schedule included the female heirs,. who are entitled to succeed to the property of the husband (male Hindu), goes to show otherwise. The subject of Section 15(2) is a succession of a female Hindu dying intestate. It includes both married and unmarried females. If it were a case of married female, she being a wife by virtue of law has the capacity Court succeed to the interest in property of the husband by reason of Section 8. Upon her death as a wife holding the property inherited from the source like that of the husband, the law interdicts that such property should devolve on 'the husband's heir' as is the case with regard to the property that comes to such person from the parents. The basis of both is reasonable and free from any sex criterion.

24. Upon analysis, this being the position, it is hard to find any discrimination, much less a hostile discrimination only on the ground of sex in the provisions of Section 15(2)(b) of the Hindu Succession Act that enacts a special rule operative upon specified property inherited by the female from her husband. Such devolution is in recognition of initial twin objectives of maintaining the unity involved in the family kinship and maintaining continuous succession to property in favour of the family when occasion to succession arises. That is so essential to be sustained by such law of succession. It is trite to observe that death is certain fact of individual life. That puts an end to the individual. But the law like that of succession reaches out to maintain a line of extension notwithstanding such death or such extinction, in its practical, pragmatic as well philosophical brooding so as to confer essential continuity to human affairs as institutionalised in family. marriage and property.

25. Now, to the decisions which came to my notice I must turn. These offer one more approach to the debated problem as to the constitutional validity of the codified provisions of personal law.

26. In the case of State of Bombay v. Narsu Appa. : AIR1952Bom84 . the Division Bench of this Court repelled the challenge to the provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Hindu Bigamous Marriages Act on the grounds that they violated Articles 14 and 15(1) of the Constitution of India. The ratio of that case is binding. The learned Judges of the Division Bench, namely, Chief Justice Chagla and Justice Gahendragadkar, speaking separately, apart from other reasons have taken the view that Article 13(1) of the Constitution of India uses the phrase 'Laws in force' and that does not include the legislation concerning personal law applicable to a given religious community. This is no doubt one of the primary reasons apart from other reasons on the basis of which the challenge was turned down. I must confess my inability to agree with the proposition that post-constitutional legislation on any subject would not be covered by the term 'Laws in force' notwithstanding the legislative competency as is available in Entry No. 5 of the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule. The competency enables the Indian Legislatures to make laws affecting personal laws as specified in the Entry and such laws would necessarily be within the contemplation of Article 13(1) of the Constitution of India. However, as stated earlier, the decision is binding and furthermore, because of the view I have already expressed, the present legislation passes the lest of equality and there is no discrimination that can be reached so s to be affected by Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. It is clear that the classification 'of the heirs of husband' has a historical background and further has the rational basis clearly discernible in the growth of socio-legal institution like marriage, family along with that of property and, in the content. does not militate against constitutional contemplations.

27. The Madras High Court was similarly called upon in the case of Srinivasa Aiyar v. Saraswathi Ammal. : AIR1952Mad193 . to decide the challenge to the provisions of the Madras Hindu (Bigamy Prevention and Divorce) Act, 1949. That challenge on the basis that the Act violated Article 15 or Article 25 was negatived holding that it was backed by complete legislative competency: and the judgment suggests that the enactment operates upon the defined class of people governed by the given system of personal law and thus could not be violative of the fundamental rights concerned. The Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Gurdial Kaur v. Mangal Singh. . dealt with a custom regarding succession of Jats in Punjab and the challenge to that custom was on the ground that it violated the guarantee of Article 15(1) of the Constitution because the mother was disinherited if she remarried, but the same consequence was not attached to the father. One of the reasons given by the Court for repelling the challenge was that there was no force in the alleged treatment of discrimination because rights of succession very between different heirs belonging to different classes and the matter was governed according to the personal law or the usages by which the party was governed and it was too much to suggest that all heirs belonging to any sex must have the same rights of inheritance. Though there are no further reasons in the text of the judgment. it is obvious that the Court ruled that the rights of inheritance of the mother in that regard depended upon the personal law which governed the parties and the principles of that law could hardly be challenged as discriminatory only because it preferred a particular succession.

28. Similar challenges on the ground of violations of principles of equality and hostile differentia on the basis of sex have been turned down by the Courts consistently. In Yusuf Abdul Aziz v. State of Bombay. : [1954]1SCR930 . the Supreme Court upheld the provisions of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code on the basis that the distinction was based upon special position of women.) Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act was held valid by the Punjab High Court in Kaur Singh v. Jaggar Singh. AIR 1961 P&h; 389. while the provisions of the Hindu Married Women's Right to Separate Residence and Maintenance Act. 1946 were upheld in Abdulls Khan v. Chandni Bi AIR 1956 Bho 71. Similarly, the validity of the Hindu Marriage Act was upheld in Hs. B. Singh v. Tanubai. N. Hs. Os. B. Devi AIR 1959 Man 20. Apart from this challenge to the personal law being arbitrary where Lingayats were classed as Sudras was turned down by gouda v. Kalkangouda AIR 1960 Mys 147. So is the ratio with regard to the Madras Aliyasanthana Act in the case of Sudha v. Sankappa Rai AIR 1963 Mys 245, and in the case of Santhamma v. Neelamma. AIR 1956 Mad 642. the former dealing with Section 10 and the latter with Section 35 (1d) of that Act. With regard to special personal laws, the dictates applicable to Mahomedan by Section 129 of the Transfer of Property Act, the Patna High Court in Bibi Maniran v. Mohd. Ishaque. : AIR1963Pat229 , turned down the challenge on similar grounds.

29. One thing is clear. All these decisions indicate, in the context of the controversy that came to be decided, that the true principle is that the community governed by the given personal law itself forms a recognised class within the constitutional contemplation and that itself offers a reasonable class of persons for testing the given legislation and the same has to be examined in the background of the principles by which such class is governed by the tenets of their personal law. It those principle are otherwise reasonable in the context and the history of the given system of personal law, then the challenge like the present one is hardly sustainable.

30. It is already indicated that as far as the rights of inheritance are concerned, the Hindu personal law recognised a rule with regard to the property in the hands of a female and that upon her death the succession to it should be in favour of the heirs of the husband because of the source and origin of her inheritance. Similar rule applied to the property that came from the paternal side. Both had reasonable nexus. Following that rule for keeping the property with the source of the familial line. succession is presently enacted. family and property being the two supportive social institutions, there is no reason to hold that such a rule is either unreasonable or discriminatory.

31. I am unable, there, Court find any substance in the submission of the learned Counsel that the provisions of Section 15(2)(b) enact a preferential treatment in favour of a male member of the family and as such introduces sex discrimination with regard to the property of the female.

32. As far as the submission on be half of the respondents Nos. 3 and 4 is concerned, undoubtedly. the learned Counsel is right. Order XLI. Rule 33 of the Civil Procedure Code enables the appellate Court to pass any decree or order which ought to have been passed as also further order or decree as the nature of the case requires. (See Ramchand v. Janki Ballabhji, : [1970]1SCR630 and Giani Ram v. Ramji lal, : [1969]3SCR944 ). These are enabling provisions and are available to this Court for making it clear that the decree for possession with regard to land in cultivation of the respondents Nos. 3 and 4 (defendants No. 3 and 40 would not mean to conclude one way or the other their entitlement to be protected by the provisions of the relevant tenancy law. It is significant, that it was the case of the plaintiff that he was the tenant. It is further significant to observe that that was the case set up also by defendant No.4. In spite of this, no issue appears to have been framed with regard to the rights in tenancy claimed by defendants Nos. 3 and 4. It was the obligation and duty of the trial Court to frame an appropriate issue with regard to tenancy and, as the law presently stands, to refer the same to the revenue authorities for deciding the question as to the legality Court otherwise of such a tenancy. That having not been done, the only course would have been to remit back this matter to the trial Court directing reference of the issue in this regard to the tenancy authorities. But to overcome such a remand, the parties have filed a joint pursis and Mr. Walawalkar for the plaintiff has categorically stated that the claim of the alleged tenancies of the respondent Nos. 3 and 4 would not be deemed to have been concluded by the decree that is being affirmed in this second appeal and these defendants would be free to raise objections on the basis of their alleged tenancy when the decree is put in execution and the executing Court would be entitled to deal with the same according to law. This agreed submission by all the parties obviates the necessity of varying the decree having recourse to the provisions of Order XLI. Rule 33 of the Civil Procedure Code. it is, however. made clear that in execution of this decree, the defendants Nos. 3 and 4, who are in possession of the landed property, would be free to raise such objections on the ground of such a tenancy and the executing Court will deal with the same according to law. In case they are found to be protected by the provisions of tenancy law, the plaintiff's entitlement to actual possession of the lands ins their cultivation will have to be worked out in consonance with that law. That satisfies the submissions raised on behalf of the respondents Nos. 3 and 4.

33. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.

34. Appeal dismissed.


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