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Babballapati Kameswararao and anr. Vs. Kavuri Vesudevarao - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 613 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1972AP189
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 14(1) and 15(2)
AppellantBabballapati Kameswararao and anr.
RespondentKavuri Vesudevarao
Appellant AdvocateR. Venugopalareddi, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateT. Dasaratharamaiah, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....to section 15 (2) (a) in case hindu female dies issueless then property inherited by her from her father or mother will devolve upon heirs of father - for this order of succession to property of female hindu dying intestate would have been uniform - court observed that k got property from her mother not by inheritance but under will consequently section 15 (2) (a) would not apply - plaintiff was husband's heir he was entitled to succeed to suit property of k. - - 2(a) viewed in the light of above would indicate that in order to attract that provisions the following requirements ought to be satisfied; she can effect any transfer inter vivos like anyone else and can also bequeath the property by will. but we fail to see how that decision is relevant to the instant case. the decision..........will. she can thus prevent the property without allowing (sic) it to go back to the heirs of her father mother husband or father-in-law. (.......) the meaning of inheritances in sec. 15(2). then in spite of such transfer if she dies issueless and if the case is otherwise coming under sub-section (2) then the property will devolve upon her father's or husband's heirs although they may have transferred the property inter vivos or by a will. we do not think that the legislature intended to produce such a result. we clear in our view that sub-section (2) provides for an exception only with regard to one source of acquisition viz., the inheritance and then again the exception is confined to the property inherited by her either from her father or mother or husband or father-in-law and from.....
Judgment:

Gopal Rao Ekbote, J.

1. This appeal is preferred (referred?) by K. Ramachandrarao, J., as the learned Judge thought that the question which arises for consideration in the appeal is of considerable importance and is also likely to arises frequently. The question involves the interpretation of Section 15(2) of the Hindu Succession Act, hereinafter called 'the Act'.

2. The facts are very brief and are not in dispute. The property in question belonged to one K. Mahalakshmamma, wife of Ramakrishnayya. The plaintiff is the son of Janakiramaiah, the eldest brother of the said Ramakrishanayya. Mahalakshmamma died issueless. The plaintiff claims to be entitled to her properties. The 1st defendant is the paternal uncle's son of Mahalakshmamma. The 2nd defendant is the brother-in-law of the 1st defendant. They have no manner of right in the suit properties. The suit was therefore originally laid for declaration of plaintiff's title and for a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with his possession. It was subsequently altered to that of possession and mesne profits.

3. The defendants set up a will executed by K. Mahalakshmamma dated 24-9-1961. They denied the alleged adoption of the plaintiff by K. Mahalakshmamma.

4. The trial court framed appropriates issues and after a proper trial decreed the plaintiff's suit O. s. No. 32/63 on 30-4-1965.

5. Aggrieved by that decision the defendant filed A. S. 13/66. The Second Additional District Judge, Guntur by his judgment dated 8-5-1969 dismissed the appeal.

6. Since both the courts have found that the adoption set up by the plaintiff and the will set up by the defendant are not proved, the learned advocate for the parties rightly chose not to dispute the correctness of the findings of fact. The only question which was argued by Sri. R. Venugopala Reddi the learned counsel for the defendants, was that Section 15(2) of the Act is an exception to Section 15(1). He argued that the intention in legislating Section 15(2) is to re (.....) if she dies issueless irrespective of the fact that the widow has inherited the property as such or got it by gift of other form of transfers inter vivos. His contention was that the word 'inheritance' used in Section 15(2) includes transfers by way of gift etc.

7. It is common ground that the suit property originally belonged to the mother of K. Mahalakshmamma. Her name was Raghavamma. Raghavamma executed a Will Ex. A-1 on 29-2-1940. She thereunder bequeathed the suit property to her daughter K. Mahalakshmamma. K. Raghavamma died in 1959. Thus the suit property came to Mahalakshmamma under the said will from her mother. What was contended was that although the property has come to K. Mahalakshmamma under a will from her mother, she would be deemed to have inherited the property from her mother within the meaning of Section 15(2) of the Act and as the defendant is the heir of K. Mahalakshmamma's father, he is entitled to the property under Section 15(2)(a).

8. Now Section 15 lays down general rules of succession in the case of female Hindus. Sub-section (1) lays down the general order of succession to the property of a female intestate who dies after the commencement of the Act. It lays down a scheme of succession to her property which is different from the order of succession to the property of a female intestate. The section groups of heirs of a female intestate into five categories described as clauses (a) to (d) specified in sub-section (1). It is not however a complete statute of law in that behalf. There are two exceptions both of the same character which are incorporated in sub-section (2). But for this the order of succession to the property of a female Hindu dying intestate would have been uniform..

9. Broadly stated the two exceptions are that if the female dies without leaving any son or daughter including the children of any predeceased son or daughter, then firstly in respect of property inherited by her from her father or mother, that property will devolve not according to the order laid down in the five clauses of sub-section (1) but upon the heirs of the father; and secondly in respect of her property inherited by her from her husband or from father-in-law it will devolve not according to the order laid down in sub-section (1) but upon the heirs of the husband. Sub-section (2) thus carves out two exceptions to the general scheme and order of succession mentioned in sub-section 92). These two exceptions appear to have been made on (.....) perty passing into the hands of persons to whom justice would require that it should not pass and on the ground that they are in the interest of the female intestate herself.

10. Once it is found that sub-section (2) serves as an exception to sub-section (2) then it becomes manifest that such exception operates to restrict the generally of legislative language used in sub-section (1). Although it is not always necessary to interpret exceptions, rightly, nevertheless it has to be interpreted principally in view of the legislative intent. Thus even if it is granted that the interpretation of an exception must be necessarily strict in all cases, even then generally an exception is considered as a limited upon the matter which precedes it and consequently limits generality of the preceding provisions of law. Sub-section (2) therefore on the basis of this principle serves as an exception or a qualifying clause and the effect of it is to except out of the preceding clause upon which it is engrafted an order of succession in a certain case which but for the exception would be within the generally order of succession. Sub-s. 2(a) viewed in the light of above would indicate that in order to attract that provisions the following requirements ought to be satisfied; (1) The property must have been inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother (2) There must not be surviving her any son or daughter of the deceased including the children of any predeceased son or daughter.

11. If these requirements are complied with then the property of such a female Hindu intestate shall devolve upon the heirs of her father and not upon the other heirs referred to in sub-section (1) and in the order specified therein. It is a common ground that K. Mahalakshmamma died intestate. that she was not survived by any son or daughter or children by any predeceased son or daughter. The only question which was agitated before us was that though K. Mahalakshmamma got by will from her mother Raghavamma the property is inherited by her from her mother within the meaning of Section 15(2)(a) and as admittedly the 1st defendant is the heir of the father of K. Mahalakshmamma, he is entitled to the property and not the plaintiff. On the other hand it was contended by the plaintiff that K. Mahalakshmamma has not inherited the suit property from her mother but it was bequeathed to her. Therefore sub-section (2) is not applicable and since the plaintiff is the heir of the husband of Mahalakshmamma he comes within the purview of Section 15(b) and in the absence of persons referred to in clause (a) be would inherit the (....) ultimately hangs upon the decision whether K. Mahalakshmamma had inherited the suit property from her mother.

12. The term 'inherited' employed in sub-section 92) is not defined in the Act. A reading of Section 14(1) of the Act would indicate that the words 'device' meaning 'bequest' under the ill and 'inheritance' are used separately. They are distinct expressions and therefore must convey two separate meanings. The term 'inheritance' therefore would have to be given a meaning which would not include 'device' or a 'bequest' therefore acquires a restricted meaning and not a wide one though in other Acts or Constitution the word 'inheritance' may have been given the principles enunciated above that as sub-section (2) is an exception to sub-section 91) it must be taken to have limited the generality of sub-section (1) and consequently the word 'inheritance' will have to be given a narrow meaning because it is in accord with the legislative intent. If that term is given the widest possible meaning so as to include within it a will, gift or any transfer inter vivos as is urged by the learned advocate for the appellant, then sub-section (2) ceases to serve as an exception to sub-section (1) and would be so general as to make sub-section (1) ineffective and it would almost destroy it to that extent. It would mean that property acquired by a female from her mother, father, husband or father-in-law by whatever means, would devolve after the death of the female intestate dying issueless in all cases under Section 15(2) only, sub-section (1) being applicable to other kinds persons than the one mentioned in sub-section (2). thus there would be two distinct provisions for devolution of property according to the source from which the property is acquired by the female. And in such a case the transfer in whatever form may have been made by the persons mentioned in sub-section (2) in favour of the female would be meaningless and ineffective. Sub-section (2) then would be enlarged in its scope and would function as an independent provision and not strictly as an exception to sub-section(1).

13. It is manifest that Section 14 abolishes the various kinds of stridhana and property of every kind possessed by a female Hindu however acquired and whenever acquired now becomes her absolute property. She can effect any transfer inter vivos like anyone else and can also bequeath the property by will. She can thus prevent the property without allowing (sic) it to go back to the heirs of her father mother husband or father-in-law. (.......) the meaning of inheritances in Sec. 15(2). then in spite of such transfer if she dies issueless and if the case is otherwise coming under sub-section (2) then the property will devolve upon her father's or husband's heirs although they may have transferred the property inter vivos or by a will. We do not think that the legislature intended to produce such a result. We clear in our view that sub-section (2) provides for an exception only with regard to one source of acquisition viz., the inheritance and then again the exception is confined to the property inherited by her either from her father or mother or husband or father-in-law and from none else. There is therefore, no justification to clothe the word 'inheritance' with wider meaning than what it is capable of in the context in which it is used. It means only the acquisition of the property by succession and not by device under a will. The word 'inherit' thus can in the context only mean 'to receive property as heir' succession by descent'.

14. We are fortified in our view by the following decisions; Avi Ammal v. Subramania Asari, (AIR 1966 Mad 396) and Jayantilal v. Chhanalal : AIR1968Guj212 .

15. Let us examine the decisions relied upon by the counsel of the appellants. Santhamma v. Neelamma, (AIR 1956 Mad 642) is a case not under the Act but relates to the interpretation of certain entries in Schedule VII of the Constitution. It is true that in that case, the expression 'inheritance' or 'succession' as used in the constitutional enactments is held not confined to cases of devolution in the strict sense of a passing of interest in property from the dead to the living but as comprehending also the adjustment of the rights and obligations that subsist between the parties governed by Hindu Law. Thus the expression devolution and succession is held to cover partition in a Hindu family. But we fail to see how that decision is relevant to the instant case. That decision apart from the fact was concerned with the interpretation of certain entries in altogether a different context, the decision does not lay down that the term inheritance or succession, whatever may be the context in which they are used would invariably mean that they include partition or some other kinds of transfers also.

16. Gulzara Singh v. Smt. Tej Kaur, is again a case not under the Act. The decision interpreted the word 'heir' appearing in Section 22 of the Hindu Adoptions and maintenance Act 1956 to include all those on whom the estate of the deceased developed whether on testacy or by means of a testamentary instrument like a will. We assistance in interpreting Section 15(2) of the Act.

17. Similar is the case with Mohinder Singh v. Balbir Kaur, Tekchand, J., was concerned with Section 15 of the Punjab Pre-emption Act of 1913. It is in the context of the provisions of that Act that the learned Judge held that the word 'succeeded' in Sec. 15 of the said Act or its cognate expression are not confined to succession of intestacy. We are not concerned with any such question in the present case.

18. Our concluded opinion therefore is that in view of the fact that K. Mahalakshmamma got the property from her mother not by inheritance but under a will and consequently Section 15(2)(a) of the Act would not apply to this case. Since the plaintiff is the husband's heir, he has been found rightly entitled to succeed to the suit property of K. Mahalakshmamma under Section 15(I)(d) as admittedly the heirs mentioned in Cl. 2(a) do not exist. The conclusion of the low court therefore must remain although we have reached the conclusion by somewhat different route and that is because the point raised before us was not raised before the courts below.

19. The appeal is dismissed with costs.

20. Appeal dismissed.


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