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Gadam Reddayya Vs. Varapula Venkataraju and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 134 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1965AP66
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 14(1) and 14(2)
AppellantGadam Reddayya
RespondentVarapula Venkataraju and anr.
Appellant AdvocateM. Krishna Rao and ;M. Jagannadha Rao, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateD. Narasaraju and ;Y. Suryanarayana, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....not prescribe rights higher than those conferred upon the maintenance holder, as the lands were given to her under specific restrictions. this was another way of stating that the widow could have a life estate in the property and that she is to enjoy these properties in lieu of her maintenance......on her estate as maintenance holder. this was another way of stating that the widow could have a life estate in the property and that she is to enjoy these properties in lieu of her maintenance. it is not disputed that a maintenance holder cannot alienate properties beyond her life time. her rights cannot be equated to a widow's estate. in these circumstances, the instant case falls outside the scope of sub-section (2) and is governed by sub-section (1) of section 14.(10) we do not find any analogy between this case and that of mt. s. kuer v. d. m. debi, : air1960pat360 . that was a case where a new right was derived by a mother under a settlement by her daughters. it was true that the mother made a gift of these properties to the daughters, but subsequently the daughters executed a.....
Judgment:

Chandra Reddy, C.J.

(1) In this appeal under clause 15 of the Letters Patent, with the leave of the learned Judge, the crucial terms of the maintenance deed (Ex. A. 8) which fall to be considered are : -

'Challamma during her life time, can raise the crops and shall enjoy the fruits and she cannot contract any debts on the security of the said lands.'

(2) This deed, Ex. A. 8 came into existence in the following circumstances :

A widow by name Chellamma adopted the plaintiff sometime after her husband's death early in 1935. Shortly thereafter, there were some disputes between the plaintiff and the widow Chellamma, which were referred to some mediators for settlement. Ultimately, it ended in settlement evidenced by Ex. A. 8 by and under which she was given four acres of wet land and one acre of dry land to be enjoyed by her for her life and the rest of the property to be taken by the plaintiff in recognition of his rights as an adopted son. It was agreed that the cist was to be paid by each of the sharers on his or her share of the lands from that time.

Chellamma executed a will in 1955 under Ex. B. 1 in favour of her nephew, but she died on the 20th August, 1956, i.e. , sometime after the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 came into operation. It is because of this circumstance that the legatee under the will claimed a right to the properties in dispute as flowing from the will read in the light of the relevant provisions of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956.

(3) The plaintiff denied the claim of the legatee to the properties on the ground that the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act do not benefit a person in his position. However, having failed to obtain possession of the properties from the legatee, he brought the suit which has given rise to this appeal for the recovery of the lands that were given to Chellamma for her maintenance, contending that the legatee could not prescribe rights higher than those conferred upon the maintenance holder, as the lands were given to her under specific restrictions.

(4) This action was opposed by the defendant on the plea that the rights which he had under the will were enlarged by the provisions of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act .

(5) The trial Court dismissed the suit accepting the defence. On appeal, the Subordinate Judge reversed the judgment of the trial Court in the view that the instant case was governed by sub-section (2) of S. 14. In second appeal by the defendant, who was dissatisfied with the judgment of the appellate Court, Justice Gopalakrishnan Nair set aside the judgment of the lower appellate Court and restored that of the trial Court being of opinion that it is sub-section (1) of section 14 that is attracted to this case. The learned Judge, however, granted leave.

(6) As the problem has to be solved with reference to the provisions of section 14, it is useful to extract them here.

'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, before, 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 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.

(7) The point that is posed here is whether the present case falls within the ambit of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of section 14.

(8) What is argued by Sri Krishna Rao in support of this appeal is that Ex. A. 8 is an instrument which prescribed a restricted estate in the suit properties as envisaged by sub-section (2) of section 14 of the Act. According to the learned counsel for the appellant, the maintenance holder obtained only a restricted estate in such property, the restriction being in the shape of the condition in the document that she should not contract any debt on the security of the said lands.

(9) We are not persuaded that the clause in question could have the effect that is attributed to it. we feel that sub-section (2) comes into effect only in cases where a new right is created with certain restriction and conditions and can have no application to cases of recognition of existing rights. Indisputably, the adoptive mother has a right to be maintained by the adopted son out of the estate. It is pursuant to that right that her claim to maintenance was settled under Ex. A. 8. It is also worthy of note that Ex. A. 8 has settled the dispute between the parties. It should be borne in mind that prior to coming into being of Ex. A. 8, Chellamma denied the factum of adoption and claimed the whole of the property for herself, while the present plaintiff asserted his right as adopted son. It is this dispute that was settled by the mediators and as we have already said under clause 5 of Ex. A. 8 while the widow got 5 acres, inclusive of one acre of dry land, for life, the adopted son got the rest of the estate. A perusal of the document shows that it was clause (7) that made the estate conferred on her limited to her life. So, this document evidences a family settlement, in that, the differences between the parties were resolved and the pre-existing rights of each other, recognised. As such, it is not a new right that was conferred upon the widow under this document. The restriction referred to above merely set out the legal effect on her estate as maintenance holder. This was another way of stating that the widow could have a life estate in the property and that she is to enjoy these properties in lieu of her maintenance. It is not disputed that a maintenance holder cannot alienate properties beyond her life time. Her rights cannot be equated to a widow's estate. In these circumstances, the instant case falls outside the scope of sub-section (2) and is governed by sub-section (1) of Section 14.

(10) We do not find any analogy between this case and that of Mt. S. Kuer v. D. M. Debi, : AIR1960Pat360 . That was a case where a new right was derived by a mother under a settlement by her daughters. It was true that the mother made a gift of these properties to the daughters, but subsequently the daughters executed a document by and under which the mother was to be in possession of the lands during her life without any right of alienation by sale or mortgage. That situation does not obtain here, since, as we have already stated, it is in recognition of the pre-existing rights of maintenance that the land was given to the adoptive mother.

(11) Nor is the case of Seetharamamma v. Peeraiah, : AIR1964AP545 relevant in the present context. On the terms of the document, the learned Judge came to the conclusion that the life interest that was created under the relevant document was not the same as 'limited estate' which the person concerned could have under the Hindu law. That being the position, the appellant cannot derive any benefit from that decision .

(12) In these circumstances, the judgment under appeal is unassailable and has to be upheld.

(13) In the result, the appeal is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.

(14) Appeal dismissed.


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