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Biligeri Rangamma Vs. Annapurnamma - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. No. 826 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1963Mys168
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 8, 15(2), 16 and 18
AppellantBiligeri Rangamma
RespondentAnnapurnamma
Appellant AdvocateT. Rangaswamy Iyengar, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.R. Gopivallabha Iyengar, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....the district judge thought that conclusion was not possible in this case since there was something in section 18 which enjoined that even in a case like the present one defendant 2 who was only a half sister of the plaintiff was excluded by defendant 1 who was her full sister. rangaswamy iyengar is quite right in pointing out to me the incongruous situation which would arise in a situation like that envisaged by him. 19. in the view that i take this revision petition has to fail and it is accordingly dismissed;.....was of the view that the half sister was excluded by the full sister under the provisions of the hindu succession act by which succession was governed since the plaintiff died after that act came into force. it is the correctness of that view taken by the district judge which is challenged in this revision petition.2. the question therefore to be decided is whether the half sister was one of the heirs of the plaintiff after her death. since the plaintiff died intestate, succession to her property was regulated by section 15(2) of the hindu succession act. section 15(1) contains the general rules of succession to the property of a female hindu. but sub-section (2) provides for a special mode of succession in certain cases, slightly at variance with that provided by sub-section (1).3......
Judgment:
ORDER

A.R. Somnath Iyer, J.

1. The properties which formed the subject matter of the suit out of which this revision petition arises belonged to one Ramaswamiah who had two wives. He had two daughters by the first wife and one daughter by the second. The first wife of Ramaswamiah pre-deceased her husband and after Ramaswamaiah died his junior wife was in possession of his properties as a limited owner since the daughters of Ramaswamaiah were still living. After his junior widow died, one of the two daughters by the senior wife brought a suit for partition of the properties of Ramaswamiah, and, defendant 1 in that suit was her own full sister and defendant 2 was her half sister. A preliminary decree for partition was made in that partition suit and after the preliminary decree was made the plaintiff died. The question then arose whether the first defendant who was the full sister of the plaintiff was the sole heir and the legal representative of the plaintiff or whether the half sister who was defendant 2 was also entitled to be brought on record as one of the legal representatives of the plaintiff.

The District Judge was of the view that the half sister was excluded by the full sister under the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act by which succession was governed since the plaintiff died after that Act came into force. It is the correctness of that view taken by the District Judge which is challenged in this revision petition.

2. The question therefore to be decided is whether the half sister was one of the heirs of the plaintiff after her death. Since the plaintiff died intestate, succession to her property was regulated by Section 15(2) of the Hindu Succession Act. Section 15(1) contains the general rules of succession to the property of a female Hindu. But Sub-section (2) provides for a special mode of succession in certain cases, slightly at variance with that provided by Sub-section (1).

3. Now section 15 reads:

'(1) The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the rules set out in Section 16,--

(a) firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) and the husband;

(b) secondly, upon the heirs of the husband;

(c) thirdly, upon the mother and father;

(d) fourthly, upon the heirs of the father; and

(e) lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

(2) Not with sanding anything contained in Sub-section (1)

(a) any property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother shall devolve, in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) not upon the other heirs referred to in Sub-section (1) in the order specified therein, but upon the heirs of the father: and

(b) ............................'.

4. Since in this case the property-was inherited by the plaintiff from her father and she had no son or daughter succession to her property was regulated by Sub-section (2) (a) of this section and not by Sub-section (1). The resultant position therefore was that the plaintiff's heirs were the heirs of her father Ramaswamaiah. And in order to decide who the plaintiff's heirs were, it would be necessary to ascertain the heirs of Ramaswamaiah.

5. Now, before making such ascertainment it would, be necessary to refer to Rule 3 of Section 16 of the Act. That part of the section reads:

'Section 16. Order of succession and manner of distribution among heirs of a female Hindu.-- The order of succession among the heirs referred to in Section 15 shall be, and the distribution of the intestate's property among those heirs shall take place according to the following rules, namely: * * * *

Rule 3 -- The devolution of the property of the interstate on the heirs referred to in clauses (b) (d) and (e) of Sub-section (1) and in Sub-section (2) of Section 15 shall be in the same order and according to the same rules as would have applied if the property had been the father's or the mother's or the husband's as the case may be, and such person had died intestate in respect thereof immediately after the intestate's death.'

6. Now this rule makes it necessary for the Court which has to decide who the plaintiff's heirs are, to imagine that Ramaswamaiah had died intestate after the plaintiff died intestate, and then to determine who the heirs of Ramaswamaiah are, and then to come to the conclusion that those heirs are the heirs of the plaintiff also. What, therefore, has to be considered is, who would have been the heirs of Ramaswamaiah if he had died intestate after the death of the plaintiff. The answer to this question would depend upon the provisions of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act which provides that the property of a Hindu male dying intestate shall firstly devolve upon his heirs enumerated in class I of the schedule, and secondly if there is no heir of that class, upon the relatives specified in class II of the schedule, and thirdly if there is no heir of any of the two classes, then upon the agnates of the deceased and lastly if there is no agnate, upon his cognates.

7. It is upon this principle that the heirs of Ramaswamaiah have to be ascertained. It is clear that the relations in class II do not become the heirs of Ramaswamaiah in this case since some of the heirs specified in class I of the schedule were in existence and those heirs were the two daughters of Ramaswamaiah Viz., defendants 1 and 2. If nothing else could have been said about this matter, since those two persons, viz., defendants 1 and 2, would have been the heirs of Ramaswamaiah if he had died intestate after the plaintiff died, Rule 3 of Section 16 and Sub-section (2) (a) of Section 15 would have made it abundantly clear that those two persons would have also been the heirs of the plaintiff.

But the District Judge thought that conclusion was not possible in this case since there was something in Section 18 which enjoined that even in a case like the present one defendant 2 who was only a half sister of the plaintiff was excluded by defendant 1 who was her full sister. That section reads:

'Section 18. Heirs related to an intestate by full blood shall be preferred to heirs related by half blood, if the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect'.

8. Now, the nature of the relationship of defendant 1 and defendant 2 to the plaintiff was the same in every other respect. The only difference in the relationship was that while one was a half sister the other was a full sister. The District Judge thought, and that is also the argument presented before me by Mr. Gopivallabha Iyengar for defendant 1, that under Section 18 which gives effect to the ordinary rule of Hindu Law that a full blood relation must be preferred to a half blood relation, defendant 1 who is a full sister had to be preferred to defendant 2 who was only related to the plaintiff by half blood.

9. Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar appearing on behalf of defendant 2 contends that Section 18 on which the District Judge rested his conclusion has no application to the case since succession to the plaintiff's properties was governed exclusively by a special provision which is contained in Section 15(2)(a) which was uncontrolled by anything contained in Section 18.

10. The question which arises is, whether Section 18 does or does not control Section 15(2)(a). If it does, it is clear that defendant 1 would exclude defendant 2, but if it does not, it becomes clear that both of them would be the heirs of the plaintiff and entitled to equal shares in her properties.

11. On a careful consideration of the matter it seems to me that Section 18 of the Hindu Succession Act is as much a rule of succession as the rule which Section 15(2)(a) incorporates, and that the rule which is contained in Section 15(2)(a) should be read along with the rule which is enshrined in Section 18. Both of them, in my opinion, are supplementary rules governing succession to the property of a Hindu female dying intestate.

12. It is not disputed by Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar that in the case of the property of a Hindu female dying intestate falling within Sub-section (1) of Section 15 for the purpose of deciding the heirs of such Hindu female, the provisions of Section 15(1) and Section 18 should both be obeyed. In other words, it was not disputed by Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar that Section 15(1) was undoubtedly controlled by Section 18. But he strenuously urged that since Section 15(2) was an exception to Section 15(1), Sub-section (2) of that section remained uncontrolled by Section 18 and was a complete and exhaustive code on the subject of succession to the property of a Hindu female dying intestate which she inherited from her father or mother, without leaving behind any son or daughter or the children of any predeceased son or daughter.

13. It does not appear to me that that interpretation suggested by Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar should commend itself to me. Acceptance of that interpretation would involve the importation Into Section 18, of words which are not contained there. Section 18 is a general rule of succession and the fascicle of sections consisting of Sections 18 to 29 appears under the heading 'General provisions relating to succession'. Even if it may not be permissible to attach any undue importance to the heading under which the section occurs, the language of Section 18 makes it impossible in my opinion, to think that, although that section say that in all cases of succession the heir related to an intestate by full blood shall be preferred to the heir related by half blood, that rule for some inexplicable reasons should not be applied to a case falling within Section 15(2) of the Act.

14. Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar next adverted to certain anomalies which may flow upon the interpretation which I am inclined to take of Section 18. He has asked attention to the class of heirs specified in class I of the schedule to the Act and points out that, under that statutory provision if there had been the daughter of a son's son of Ramaswamaiah or the daughter-in-law of his son's son, those two persons would have been entitled to claim a share in the property of the plaintiff since the heirs of the plaintiff are the heirs of Ramaswamaiah as already pointed out.

15. Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar asks what would be the justice or equity in taking the view that such remote relations of Ramaswamaiah would be entitled to claim a share along with defendant 1; if they had existed, while a daughter of Ramaswamaiah, because she happens to be a half sister of the plaintiff, could not claim any. It is this submission made by Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar that did create in my mind a little difficulty in the interpretation of Section 18.

16. Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar is quite right In pointing out to me the incongruous situation which would arise in a situation like that envisaged by him. But, that such incongruities are possible, would not in my opinion constitute any justification in departing from the interpretation, which should ordinarily be placed upon a statutory provision which its plain language fully justifies. Incongruities such as those referred to by Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar have to be removed by Parliament by appropriate legislative processes and it is not for the Courts to do anything about it.

17. Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar next pointed out that the principle of an illustration appearing in the commentary to the book on Hindu Law by Mulla (12th edition) under Section 18 upon which the District Judge, depended, was diametrically opposed to the principle of another illustration appearing in the commentary to Section 15 of the Act. He pointed out to me that those two illustrations are respectively the eighth and third illustrations. In the eighth illustration appearing in the commentary to Section 18, what the learned author has done is to give effect to the principle incorporated in Section 18 and to say that in circumstances similar to those of the present case a half sister was excluded by a full sister.

But Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar points out that in the third illustration appearing under the commentary to Section 15, that principle was overlooked and a brother and step-brother were both held to be equally entitled to shares in the property of the sister.

It may be that Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar it right in pointing out this curious feature about the two illustrations, and it may be that the authority of the second illustration is considerably undermined by the first, so as to make it difficult for a Court to accept the one or the other as correctly incorporating the interpretation to be placed upon Section 18.

18. In that view of the matter it may be possible for Mr. Rangaswamy Iyengar to say that the District Judge should not have preferred the eighth illustration of Section 18 to the third illustration of Section 15. But it does not appear to me that that should make any difference at all to the interpretation which, in my opinion, is what the plain language of Section 18 demands. If according to its language, defendant 2 in the present case was excluded by defendant 1 who was the full sister of the plaintiff, what follows is that the District Judge is right in treating defendant 1 as the sole legal representative of the plaintiff.

19. In the view that I take this revision petition has to fail and it is accordingly dismissed; But I make no order as to costs.


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