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Poosarla Achuta Rao and ors. Vs. the Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 736 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1977AP237
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 14(2)
AppellantPoosarla Achuta Rao and ors.
RespondentThe Union of India and ors.
Appellant AdvocateD.V. Reddy Pantulu and ;P.V.R. Sarma, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateK. Subrahmanya Reddy, Central Government Standing Counsel, ;M.S. Narasimhacharyulu and ;M. Narasimhachari, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....- will - section 14 (2) of hindu succession act, 1956 - will executed by wife of adopted son - suit property originally belonged to father of adopted son - validity of will questioned - high court observed that section 14 (1) not applicable to any property acquired by way of gift or other instrument prescribing restricted estate in such property - property given to testator under will by her father-in-law was restricted to be enjoyed by her during her lifetime - section 14 (2) squarely applied to facts of case - testator's right in property ceases on happening of her death - she had no right to bequeath that property to plaintiffs - following supreme court decision life estate given to testator under will is not enlarged to an absolute estate on coming into force of hindu succession..........in the trial court and the first appellate court are the appellants in the second appeal.2. the suit property, viz., the salt pans, originally belonged to one m. china sanyasayya chetti. narasimhulu chetti was his adopted son. chinna mahalakshmamma under the will of whom the plaintiffs are claiming the suit property, was the wife of that narasimhulu chetti. china sanyasi chetti executed a will certified copy of which is exhibit b-21 dated 12-8-1917 bequeathing the suit property in favour of his daughter-in-law. he died on 6-2-1925. narasimhulu chetti died in the year 1929. during her lifetime china mahalakshmamma executed a will exhibit a-5 dated 10-3-1964 bequeathing the suit property to the plaintiffs and died on 1-6-1965. the defendants are the agnates of chinna sanyasayya chetty......
Judgment:

Ramachandra Raju, J.

1. This second appeal arises out of a suit filed for declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to have the lease and licence in respect of the plaint schedule property (some salt pans) as the legatees under a will executed by one Motamarri Chinna Mahalakshmamma and for the transfer of the said lease and licence in their names. The plaintiffs who lost both in the trial Court and the first appellate Court are the appellants in the second appeal.

2. The suit property, viz., the Salt Pans, originally belonged to one M. China Sanyasayya Chetti. Narasimhulu Chetti was his adopted son. Chinna Mahalakshmamma under the will of whom the plaintiffs are claiming the suit property, was the wife of that Narasimhulu Chetti. China Sanyasi Chetti executed a will certified copy of which is Exhibit B-21 dated 12-8-1917 bequeathing the suit property in favour of his daughter-in-law. He died on 6-2-1925. Narasimhulu Chetti died in the year 1929. During her lifetime China Mahalakshmamma executed a will Exhibit A-5 dated 10-3-1964 bequeathing the suit property to the plaintiffs and died on 1-6-1965. The defendants are the agnates of Chinna Sanyasayya Chetty. They contested the suit alleging that China Mahalakshmamma had no rights of bequest in the suit property. The right given to her under Exhibit B-21 will, being the life estate, that right came to an end on her death.

3. It is not in dispute that under Exhibit B-21 will Chinna Sanyasayya Chetty gave China Mahalakshmamma a life estate and after her death the property to be reverted back to the collaterals of Chinna Sanyasayya Chetty. But, according to the plaintiffs, the life estate given to China Mahalakshmamma under Exhibit B-21 will become her absolute property on the Hindu Succession Act coming into force by reason of the provision contained in Sub-section (1) of Section 14 of that Act. It is convenient here to extract Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act.

'14(1) Any property possessed by a Female Hindu, whether acquired before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as full owner thereof and not as a limited owner.

Explanation : In this Sub-section, 'property' includes both movable and immovable property acquired by a Female Hindu by inheritance or devise, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance, or arrears of maintenance, or by gift from any person, whether a relative or not, at or after her marriage, or by her own skill or exertion, or by purchase or by prescription, or in any other manner whatsoever, and also any such property held by her as stridhana immediately before the commencement of this Act. (2) Nothing contained in 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 award where the terms of the gift, will or other instrument or the decree, order or award prescribe a restricted estate in such property.'

A reading of the above Section would show that if the property which China Mahalakshmamma got under Exhibit B-21 will fall under Sub-section (1) of Section 14, by reason of that provision the life estate given to China Mahalakshmamma under Exhibit B-21 must be taken to have become her absolute estate on the coming into force of Hindu Succession Act. If it falls under Sub-section (2) of Section 14 what right was given to China Mahalakshmamma under Exhibit B-21 will, would remain without any enlargement as provided under Sub-section (2). As provided under Sub-section (1) of Section 14 any property possessed by a Female Hindu whether acquired before or after the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act would be held by her as full owner thereof and not as a limited owner. As provided under the Explanation 'property' includes both movable and immovable property acquired by a Female Hindu by inheritance or devise, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance, or arrears of maintenance or by a gift from any person whether a relative or not, before, at or after marriage, etc. In the present case China Mahalakshmamma had no preexisting right in the property given to her under the will. It was not given in lieu of maintenance. It is the property which China Mahalakshmamma was having without any pre-existing right, a life estate given to her by her father-in-law under a will. As provided under Sub-section (2) of Section 14, nothing contained in Sub-section (1) shall apply to any property acquired by way of gift or other instrument prescribing a restricted estate in such property. The property given to China Mahalakshmamma under the will by her father-in-law was restricted to be enjoyed by her during her lifetime. Therefore in our opinion Sub-section (2) of Section 14 squarely applied to the facts of this case, in which event, she had no right to bequeath that property to the plaintiffs to be enjoyed by them after her lifetime, as her right in the property ceases on the happening of her death.

4. But a different note seems to have been struck by a Bench Judgment of this Court rendered by Gopal Rao Ekbote, J. and Alladi Kuppuswamy, J. in V. Krishna Subbamma v. P. B. Chinnakka, (1970 (2) APLJ 165) wherein it was stated in Para. 43 thus :-

'That does not however conclude the matter. In order to attract the provisions of Sub-section (2) not only there must be an instrument falling within Sub-section (2) by or under which the property is acquired by a Female Hindu, but it is also necessary that such an instrument must prescribe a restricted estate in such property. Unless both these things co-exist, Sub-section (2) will not be attracted. If such an instrument merely confers a limited estate without any restriction therein it is already seen that to such an instrument it is Sub-section (1) that will apply and not Sub-section (2). It is only when such an instrument puts restrictions over and above that go with the limited interest that Sub-section (2) will apply.'

But the view taken by the learned Judges in the passage extracted above, does not seem to be any longer good law in view of the Supreme Court's decision reported in the Supreme Court's decision reported in Mrs. Karmi v. Amru, : AIR1971SC745 . This decision was given by the Supreme Court on 5-1-1971 subsequent to the Judgment of this Court which was on 14-3-1969. In the Supreme Court case the facts are : One Jaimal was the owner of the Suit properties. He died in the year 1938 after executing a will on 13-11-1937 as his last testament. He directed that on his death, the entire estate should devolve on his window Nihali during her life and thereafter the same would devolve on his collaterals. On the death of his widow the collaterals claimed the properties on the basis of the will executed by Jaimal but the appellants claimed the properties as the sole legal heir from Nihali under her will of 25-4-1958. The Supreme Court said that Nihali having succeeded to the properties of Jaimal on the strength of a will executed by him, cannot claim any rights in those properties over and above that given to her under that will. The life estate given to her under that will cannot become an absolute estate under the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act and therefore, the appellants cannot claim any title to the suit properties on the basis of the will executed by Nihali.

5. The facts in the present case are exactly similar to the facts in the Supreme Court case discussed above. China Mahalakshmamma having been given the life estate in the suit property under the will of her father-in-law her right would be governed only by the terms of the will as provided under Sub-section (2) of Section 14 and Sub-section (1) of Section 14 is not attracted. In view of the Supreme Court decision the Bench decision of this Court referred to above is no longer good law. Following the Supreme Court decision, we hold that the life estate given to China Mahalakshmamma under Exhibit B-21 will is not enlarged to an absolute estate on coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act. Therefore, the appellants cannot claim any title to the suit property on the basis of the will Exhibit A-5 executed by China Mahalakshmamma.

6. Accordingly there are no merits in the Second Appeal and it is accordingly dismissed with costs.

7. Appeal dismissed.


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