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Emana Veeraraghavamma Vs. Gudiseva Subbarao and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 48 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1976AP337
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 15(2)
AppellantEmana Veeraraghavamma
RespondentGudiseva Subbarao and anr.
Appellant AdvocateV. Parabrahma Sastry, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateT.H.B. Chalapathi, Adv.
Excerpt:
property - stridhana - section 15 (2) of hindu succession act, 1956 - daughter of deceased mother inherited property which was sold by her - daughter died - original property inherited by her no longer available on date of her death - female inheriting property from her parents becomes absolute owner of such property and can deal with it according to her wish - held, property not available for devolution on her death if she had alienated property inherited by her as per section 15 (2). - - the basis of her claim was that on the death of the father, her mother, herself and the said subbamma inherited his property equally and that they were in joint possession and enjoyment of the same and that the first defendant, taking advantage of the weak intellect of the plaintiff's husband and..........them. the basis of her claim was that on the death of the father, her mother, herself and the said subbamma inherited his property equally and that they were in joint possession and enjoyment of the same and that the first defendant, taking advantage of the weak intellect of the plaintiff's husband and the ignorance of the second defendant, has managed to get a half share in the said a schedule properties sold by his wife and with that consideration purchased the b schedule property at his own village kanchadam and that therefore the said b schedule property must be deemed to be the substitute property to which she and her mother are entitled to succeed on the death of gudiseva subbamma under s. 15(2)(a) of the hindu succession act (hereinafter referred to as the 'act'). the first.....
Judgment:

Jeevan Reddy, J.

1. This Letters Patent Appeal is preferred with leave against the judgment of A.D.V. Reddy, J, allowing the Second Appeal with costs

2. One Nanduri Nagayya owning an extent of Ac. 1-91 cents of land (mentioned in the plaint A schedule) dies on 26-7-1961 leaving behind him his wife Veeramma and two daughters. Emana Veeraraghavamma (plaintiff) and Gudiseva Subbamma whose husband Gudiseva Subbarao is impleaded as first defendant to the suit. On 22-3-1966. Nanduri Veeramma executed a gift deed Ex. B-4 giving the said extent of Ac. 1-91 cent to her two daughters in equal shares i.e. Giving each 95 1/2 cents. Obviously, she executed the said gift-deed on the assumption that she was the absolute owner of the said total extent and she purported to gift the same to her daughters equally. Gudiseva Subbamma was married in another village Kanchadam whereas her parents were the residents of Kanchakodur. She sold the said 95 1/2 cents under Ex. B-5 dated 2-4-1966 in favour of one Venkatappiah for a consideration of Rs. 3,000 and adding another sum of Rs. 1,000 and stamp and registration charges form her husband's estate, purchased the suit property of an extent of Ac. 2-50 cents in Kanchadam village under Ex. B-3 dated 25-3-1966. The said Gudiseva, Subbamma died in 1967 whereupon the other daughters Emana Veeraghavamma filed the present suit for a declaration that the plaintiff and second defendant (Nanduri Veeramma, the mother) are the heirs of the deceased Gudiseva Subbamma and are entitled to the joint possession of the suit property (mentioned in Schedule B appended to the plaint) and for recovery of future profits upon the same till the delivery of the said land to them. The basis of her claim was that on the death of the father, her mother, herself and the said Subbamma inherited his property equally and that they were in joint possession and enjoyment of the same and that the first defendant, taking advantage of the weak intellect of the plaintiff's husband and the ignorance of the second defendant, has managed to get a half share in the said A schedule properties sold by his wife and with that consideration purchased the B schedule property at his own village Kanchadam and that therefore the said B schedule property must be deemed to be the substitute property to which she and her mother are entitled to succeed on the death of Gudiseva Subbamma under S. 15(2)(a) of the Hindu Succession Act (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act'). The first defendant i.e. the husband of the deceased Gudiseva Subbamma contested the suit and this defence was that inasmuch as the plaintiff and the deceased Subbamma obtained equal shares under Ex. B-4, the plaintiff is precluded from questioning the competency of her mother to execute the said gift deed and that therefore the said 95 1/2 cents was not 'inherited' by his wife from her father and mother, but was received under a gift and therefore in such a case, the Rule of Succession contained in Section 15(2)(a) of the Act does not apply. He further submitted that the property received under the gift deed was sold by Subbamma herself and that adding some more funds from her husband's estate, she acquired the B schedule properties and therefore the property now sought to be recovered is not the same property which was obtained by Subbamma. For the said reasons, he contended that he succeeds to his wife's property and therefore the suit must be dismissed.

3. The learned Principal District Munsif, after framing the necessary issues, held that on the death of Nanduri Nagaiah, on 26-7-1961 his estate was inherited by his wife and two daughters and that the gift deed Ex. B-4 executed by the mother in respect of the entire property is ineffective and invalid. He further held that the B schedule property is the substitute property for the joint interest which the deceased Gudiseva Subbamma had in the A schedule property and that therefore under S. 15(2)(a) the plaintiff and the second defendant succeed to the said property. He accordingly decreed the suit with costs. The first defendant filed an appeal which was dismissed by the learned Additional District Judge, Machhlipatnam and then the matter was carried in second appeal to this Court. A.D.V. Reddy, J, allowed the second appeal holding that on Nagaiah's death, the wife and the two daughters each get a 1/3rd share and that Ex. B-4 was valid to the extent of 1/3rd share of the mother. It was further held that half the interest in the said 1/3rd property acquired by Subbamma under Ex. B-4 i.e. 1/6th share in the total would not attract Section 15(2)(a) and further because the monies from the husband's estate were also used for acquiring the B schedule property, it cannot be held to be substituted property of the 1/3rd interest inherited by Subbamma from her father. He also held that inasmuch as the identity of the property has changed, the said special Rule of succession under Section 15(2)(a) cannot apply. The learned Judge, however, thought it fit to grant leave and accordingly the plaintiff has filed this Letters Patent Appeal.

4. Mr. Parabrahma Sastry, the learned counsel for the appellant, contended that the 1/3rd interest inherited by the deceased Subbamma, has to revert back along with any accretions to it on her death, to her father's heirs. The learned counsel contended that if the original interest/property inherited by the daughter is substituted by another property even then the said special Rule of succession applies and the father's heirs are entitled to follow the said interest/property and obtain the same. He therefore, contended that B schedule property or at any rate, so much portion of it as can be said to be the substitute of the interest inherited by Subbamma from her father, must go back to her father's heirs namely to herself and her mother. Both the learned counsel for the parties stated that there is no decided case of any High Court or the Supreme Court in support of or negativing the appellant's contentions. We shall therefore have to decide the question with reference to the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act. Section 15, relevant for our purpose, reads as follows ;---

Section 15 -- General rules of succession in the case of female Hindus :

(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) Notwithstanding 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 pre-deceased 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) any property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or from her father-in-law shall devolve, 'in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased 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 husband.'

5. The above section in effect provides a general rule of succession to the property of a female Hindu dying intestate and also two special rules of succession contained in clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (2). Under clause (a) of sub-section (2), the property inherited by a female from her parents shall devolve upon the heirs of her father, in the absence of any son or daughter to her, while clause (b) thereof provides the mode of succession to the property inherited from her husband or from her father-in-law. Those two clauses in sub-section (2) are in the nature of exceptions to the general rule of succession provided in sub-section (1). We are of course concerned only with clause (a) of sub-section (2) in this case. Now, while interpreting the said clause (a), it must be borne in mind that the female inheriting a property from her father or mother becomes the absolute owner of such property and that she can deal with it in such manner as he likes. If she alienates the property inherited by her, it cannot then be said, on her death, that the property inherited by her, is still available for devolution. We are of the opinion that the expression 'property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother' occurring in this sub clause must be given a restricted meaning consistent with the absolute right of disposition of the female owner. The special rule of succession applies only in case the very 'property' inherited by a female from her father or mother is still available at the time of her death, otherwise, the rule does not apply. For example, if the identity of the property is changed or if the property is substantially altered or improved or if the property has been substituted, the said special rule can have no application. We are of the opinion that placing a broader meaning upon the said expression 'property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother' would lead to much mischief not contemplated by the Parliament. If the property were to be followed by the father's heirs irrespective of the change in the identity and/or character of the property it would give scope for unsavoury litigation and complications. This case itself in a small measure indicates the same. If the broader interpretation is placed upon the said expressions and the plaintiff and the second defendant are allowed to pursue the said property in whosoever's hands and in whatever shape, then we would be obliged to pass a decree for partition to the extent of the original 1/3rd share of late Gudiseva Subbamma. The question of interest accruing on the consideration for the original share, its accretions and separation of the said interest from the 1/6th interest acquired by the said Subbamma under her mother's gift deed as well as the determination and separation of the interest in the said property attributable to the funds provided by her husband will all have to be gone into. The learned counsel for the appellant however relied upon Surayya v. Mangayya, AIR 1941 Mad 345. That was a case where the widow blended funds from several sources including from her husband's estate and invested the same in reacquiring the property which previously formed part of her husband's estate but has been alienated by him. It was held that having regard to the surrounding circumstances and facts of the case, the acquired property must be taken to be part of the husband's estate and available for reversioners. But that was a case of a widow's estate while we are dealing here with an estate of a female who was the absolute owner of the property with unfettered right of disposition over the same and, therefore, we are not prepared to import the principle applicable in the case of widow's estate to the present case.

6. Applying the above principle it would be seen in this case that the deceased Subbamma sold the 951/2 cents of land situate in the village of her parents and with the said consideration and other funds provided by her husband, she purchased the property in her husband's village. The original property inherited by he is no longer available on the date of her death. We do not see any justification or principle behind the theory of substitute property applied by the trial court, and the lower appellate Court. In fact, the said theory applicable in the case of widow's estate is clearly inapplicable when we are dealing with the succession to the property of an absolute owner. When the property which was inherited by the female is no longer available at the time of her death, it is not necessary to enquire any further. The original property may have been exchanged with another property or the consideration of the same may be used for acquiring another property or may be partly frittered away and partly invested or may have been used in any other manner.

7. For this above reasons, we are of the opinion that the suit has to fail and accordingly this letters patent appeal is dismissed with costs.

8. Appeal dismissed.


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