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Jeot Ram Chaudhari Vs. Mt. Lauji and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Reported inAIR1929All751
AppellantJeot Ram Chaudhari
RespondentMt. Lauji and anr.
Cases Referred and Rangammal v. Echammal
Excerpt:
.....the better conclusion is, perhaps, that the party whose moral claim becomes a legal right would not be affected by testamentary dispositions in favour of volunteers made by the person morally bound to provide the maintenance. but in cases like this, her claim to maintenance, originating from the status acquired by her marriage, becomes a legal right independently of his volition and comes into existence at the same moment as the dispositions in favour of the volunteer become operative......the plaintiff mt. lauji is the widow of a predeceased son of one abhilakh who owned 2 annas self-acquired property admittedly this property was acquired by abhilakh subsequent to the death of dubri, husband of mt. lauji, the plaintiff. abhilakh left him surviving three sons palakdhari, jeot ram and sheo govind. during his lifetime he gifted an 8 pie share to jeot ram and sheo govind each, while the balance of 8 pie was inherited by palakdhari. such appears to be the fact, though it is not explained why the 8 pie share outside the two gifts was not inherited by all the three brothers. the moral obligation of abhilakh to maintain the widow of a predeceased son cannot be denied. it is well established in this court since 1888 in the case of janki v. nand ram [1889] 11 all. 194 where a.....
Judgment:

Dalal, J.

1. This appeal involves a question of law which has not so far been specifically decided by this Court. The plaintiff Mt. Lauji is the widow of a predeceased son of one Abhilakh who owned 2 annas self-acquired property Admittedly this property was acquired by Abhilakh subsequent to the death of Dubri, husband of Mt. Lauji, the plaintiff. Abhilakh left him surviving three sons Palakdhari, Jeot Ram and Sheo Govind. During his lifetime he gifted an 8 pie share to Jeot Ram and Sheo Govind each, while the balance of 8 pie was inherited by Palakdhari. Such appears to be the fact, though it is not explained why the 8 pie share outside the two gifts was not inherited by all the three brothers. The moral obligation of Abhilakh to maintain the widow of a predeceased son cannot be denied. It is well established in this Court since 1888 in the case of Janki v. Nand Ram [1889] 11 All. 194 where a Pull Bench of this Court held in favour of the moral liability of the father-in-law which became a legal obligation in the hands of his surviving son who inherited the father's property. The right, therefore, of Mt. Lauji to recover her maintenance allowance which has been fixed at Rs. 9 per month from the 8 pie share left by Abhilakh at the time of his death is admitted. In this second appeal Jeot Ram has raised the argument that his 8 pie share which he received by gift was not liable. He has in his favour a Bench judgment of the Bombay High Court in the case of Bai Parvati v. Tarwadi Dolatram [1901] 25 Bom. 263. It was held there that the widow of a predeceased unseparated son had no right to maintenance from a person to whom her father-in-law had bequeathed the whole of his self-acquired property. This judgment, however, appears to have been arrived at laboriously after distinguishing the previous Bombay case of Yamunabai v. Manubai [1899] 23 Bom. 608. The authority of both the Calcutta and Madras High Courts is in favour of the plaintiff. In Gopal Chandra Pal v. Kedambini Dasi : AIR1924Cal364 a Bench of two Judges including Sir Asutosh Mookerjee held that no distinction should be drawn between property which is inherited from the father-in-law and property which is gifted by him. At p. 237 of the report they dissented from the Bombay ruling and observed:

But we are unable to accept the contention that the daughter-in-law is not entitled to maintenance out of the property in the hands of a donee or devisee. If the contention of the appellant were to prevail, it would be possible for the father-in-law to evade his moral obligation and protect his estate after his death from the claim of the daughter-in-law, which, according to well established rules, at this stage ripens into a legal claim. It is on this principle that a contrary view has bean maintained in the cases of Yamunabai v. Manubai [1899] 23 Bom. 608 and Rangammal v. Echammal [1899] 22 Mad. 305.

2. The Bombay High Court pointed out that in the Madras case referred to in the Calcutta ruling the remarks of the learned Judges were mere obiter dicta on which the judgment distinctly stated it was not necessary to found a decision. In the Madras case, however, the opinion, whether necessary for the decision of the case or not, was expressed by such a great Hindu jurist as Subramania Ayyar who delivered the judgment. The learned Judge observed at p. 307 of the report:

The better conclusion is, perhaps, that the party whose moral claim becomes a legal right would not be affected by testamentary dispositions in favour of volunteers made by the person morally bound to provide the maintenance. No doubt, if the title of the female claiming the maintenance were dependent on the volition of such a testator he could, by his will, have directed that she should get no maintenance out of his estate. But in cases like this, her claim to maintenance, originating from the status acquired by her marriage, becomes a legal right independently of his volition and comes into existence at the same moment as the dispositions in favour of the volunteer become operative. It is consequently difficult to see how the latter could affect the former.

3. My opinion, therefore, is that the view of law taken by the subordinate Courts is correct. Mr. Sinha expressed the apprehension that Mt. Lauji will recover the entire maintenance allowance from his client Jeot Ram, the appellant, as she was living with Palakdhari. This difficulty can be easily solved. The decree can be split up. I direct that the plaintiff shall recover Rs. 3 from every one of the three brothers Palakdhari, Jeot Ram and Shea Govind, and that their liability shall not be joint. The maintenance for one year, Rs. 108, for the year prior to the institution of the suit shall also be recoverable separately from every brother at the rate of Rs. 36 from each. This amendment shall be made in the decree of the lower appellate Court; otherwise the appeal is dismissed. The defendants shall jointly pay costs of the two subordinate Courts, while in this Court the parties shall bear their own costs.


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