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Chaman Lal Vs. Mohan Lall and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revns. Nos. 375 and 376 of 1976
Judge
Reported inAIR1977Delhi97
ActsHindu Succession Act, 1956 - Sections 8 and 25
AppellantChaman Lal
RespondentMohan Lall and ors.
Appellant Advocate S.P. Mahajan, Adv
Respondent Advocate Hira Nand, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....suit by 2-4-73.'6. it will be noticed that in us order the learned trial court held that both the widow of deceased rajinder kumar as well as chapman lal, brother are heirs/successors and since the allegation of murder against the widow is not yet proved, only chapman lal was brought on the record. 7. it appears that thereafter the murder case failed against the widow and she has been acquitted. shakuntala devi has been ordered to be imp leaded in place of the deceased husband is bad as though she was acquitted of the charge of murder yet she was instrumental in abetting the offence of murder. it is not the scheme of the succession act that civil court should again examine the charge of hold an enquiry or trial acquittal from there is no other restriction on the heir once he or she is..........had alleged that rajinder kumar, plaintiff, died on 10-9-1972 leaving behind smt. shakuntala devi widow of rajinder kumar who was suspected to be the murderer of her husband but has since been acquitted of the charge of murder on 23-4-1974 and is in a position to represent her husband in the above-mentioned suit. it is further alleged in the application that chaman lal, his brother had made an application that he should be substituted as plaintiff in the above-mentioned case. it was also alleged that under the hinda succession act he is not the lawful heir or successor to his brother, rajinder kumar in the presence of the widow smt. shakuntala devi. it was, in these circumstances, prayed that srnt. shakuntala devi who is widow of rajinder kumar and has not remarried is the rightful.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This order will dispose of civil revisions Nos. 375 and 376 of 1976 against the identical orders passed by the learned Subordinate Judge dated 21st October 1975. By these orders the trial Court decided the application of Mohan Lal dated 10-4-1975 under Section 151 read with Order 22, Rule 3 and Order 1, Rule 10, C. P. C.

2. In these applications Mohan Lal, who was a defendant in a suit filed by Rajinder Kumar, his brother and Smt. Shakuntala Devi, his mother, had alleged that Rajinder Kumar, plaintiff, died on 10-9-1972 leaving behind Smt. Shakuntala Devi widow of Rajinder Kumar who was suspected to be the murderer of her husband but has since been acquitted of the charge of murder on 23-4-1974 and is in a position to represent her husband in the above-mentioned suit. It is further alleged in the application that Chaman Lal, his brother had made an application that he should be substituted as plaintiff in the above-mentioned case. It was also alleged that under the Hinda Succession Act he is not the lawful heir or successor to his brother, Rajinder Kumar in the presence of the widow Smt. Shakuntala Devi. It was, in these circumstances, prayed that Srnt. Shakuntala Devi who is widow of Rajinder Kumar and has not remarried is the rightful heir of the deceased Rajinder Kumar and should be brought on the record.

3. A reply was filed to this application by the petitioner Chaman Lal dated 9-10-1975. In this reply it was averred that Smt. Shakuntala Devi no doubt was the wife but was instrumental in bringing about the murder of her husband Rainier Kumar deceased. She was charged and challenged but given benefit of doubt. She was not purged of her complicity in the offence. She had played active and malignant hostility to the deceased and she is not entitled to succeed him. It was also alleged that it was because of unchastely that she brought about the murder of her husband and she is living au unchaste life. It was further submitted that the order of substitution of Chapman Lal had already been passed by the Court and that order has become final and operates as rest judicata over the present controversy.

4. It appears that two are pending in which identical suits in punned orders have been passed. One suit is filed by Devinder Kumar for possession on the basis of title by purchase of the property from Mohan Lal against Chaman Lal, Smt. Kamlesh, wife of Chaman Lal, Smt. Sat Bharai wd/of Sewa Ram and Rajindar Kumar as unauthorised occupants other suit was filed by Smt. Sat Bharai and her son Raiinder Kumar against the purchaser Devinder Kumar and Mohan Lal son of Smt. Sat Bharai for declaration that the property in dispute was joint Hindu property and could not be alienated by Mohan Lal alone.

5. Rajinder Kumar died on 10-9-1972. Chaman Lal was already on the record of the suit filed by Devinder Kumar and he continue d to be on the record. In the suit filed by Smt. Sat Bharai and Rajinder Kumar, Chaman Lal was imp leaded by order dated 12th March 1973. The order reads as under:

'This is an application under Order 22 rule 3, C. P. C. for bringing the heirs of deceased plaintiff Rajinder Kumar on file. It is alleged that deceased died on 10-9-72 as a result of murder by his wife and in-law. A case under Section 302, Ipc stands registered against the murderers as the wife is the murderer she is not entitled to inherit to the deceased. The other heirs are plaintiff No. 2 mother and Chaman Lal the brother. As the mother is already on record, Chaman Lal be also brought on record. Both the defendants have contested the application. It is alleged that Chaman Lal brother be not substituted as he is not an heir. The joining of the widow is also opposed. I do not find any force in this objection. Both the widow and brother Chaman Lal are heirs according to the Hindu Succession Act and the allegations that the widow is the murderer of the deceased is not yet proved. Under the circumstances I allow the substitution application. Let the plaintiff file an amended plaint joining both the widow and Chaman Lal brother as party to the suit by 2-4-73.'

6. It will be noticed that in Us order the learned trial Court held that both the widow of deceased Rajinder Kumar as well as Chapman Lal, brother are heirs/successors and since the allegation of murder against the widow is not yet proved, only Chapman Lal was brought on the record.

7. It appears that thereafter the murder case failed against the widow and she has been acquitted. It matters not whether she was acquitted honourably or given benefit of doubt. In law she is acquitted. After the acquittal of the widow Smt. Shakuntala Devi is the only legal heir of her husband Rajinder Kumar to the exclusion of any of the brothers of Rajinder Kumar. In these circumstances the trial court was justified in passing the impugned orders dated 21st October 1976 whereby Smt. Shakuntala Devi was imp leaded as legal representative of the deceased Rajinder Kumar and notice was directed to be issued to her for appearance and for filing of the amended plaint.

8. In the present revision petitions the learned counsel for the petitioner Shri S. P. Mahajan has submitted that the order whereby Smt. Shakuntala Devi has been ordered to be imp leaded in place of the deceased husband is bad as though she was acquitted of the charge of murder yet she was instrumental in abetting the offence of murder. It is also submitted that she is an unchaste widow and cannot, thereforee, be an heir to her husband.

9. In this connection learned counsel for the petitioner drew my attention to a passage in Mulla's Hindu Law 12th Edition at page 181 para 96 where the learned author has observed that a widow who is unchaste at the time of her husband's death is not entitled to inherit to him, but once the husband's estate has vested in her which could only be if she was chaste at the time of her husband's death it cannot be divested by her subsequent unchastity. It will be noticed that this paragraph 96 appears in Chapter Ix of the aforesaid 12th Edition which is headed as 'Exclusion from Inheritance and Partition, Law prior to Hindu Succession Act, 1956.11 From a mere heading of the Chapter it is clear that this particular passage in paragraph 96 is wholly irrelevant after coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act.

10. Hindu Succession Act contains a provision giving overriding effect to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which is contained in Section 4(b).

'4. (1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act.-

(a) xx xx xx xx

(b) any other law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to apply to Hindus in so far as it is inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act.'

11. Under Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act the property of a male Hindu dying intestate first devolves upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class I of the Schedule. Widow is one such heir in class 1. There is no condition mentioned in the Hindu Succession Act for her exclusion from inheritance on her husband's death except a general provision in Section 25 of the Act whereby a person who commits murder or abets the commission of murder shall be disqualified from inheriting the property in furtherance of the succession to which he or she committed or abetted the commission of the murder. This general disqualification provided in Section 25 is applicable to all per sons to the extent it is applicable to them but is not limited merely to a widow. In the present case, admittedly, Smt. Shakuntala, Devi has been acquitted. That acquittal is final for the purpose of Hindu Succession Act. It is not the scheme of the Succession Act that civil court should again examine the charge of hold an enquiry or trial acquittal from There is no other restriction on the heir once he or she is entitled to succeed under Section 8. If there is any law like pare, 96 of Mulla's Hindu Law then this law is positively inconsistent with the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, particularly inconsistent to Section 8 and would to the extent of inconsistency cease to apply to Hindus. Even if for the sake of argument the general allegation of the petitioner that Smt. Shakuntala Devi was unchaste be accepted that does not disqualify her from being a heir and legal representative of her husband. She was, thereforee, rightly substituted as legal representative in place of her deceased husband.

12. The earlier order of the trial Court dated 12th March 1973 when Chaman Lal was imp leaded as legal representative of the deceased Rajinder Kumar again does not stand in the way. At that time Smt. Shakuntala Devi was still facing the charge of murder. it was only subsequently that she was acquitted. Due to these circumstances she was subsequently entitled to be brought on the record as legal representative of the deceased Rajinder Kumar.

13. It was also submitted by Mr. S. P. Mahajan, learned counsel for the petitioner, that Smt. Shakuntala Devi having remarried has ceased to be an heir. No such averment was made in the reply filed by him to the application of Mohan Lal dated 10-4-1975. In fact, Mohan Lal had positively stated in the application that Smt. Shakuntala Devi has not remarried. As this point was not taken up by way of objection before the learned trial court it cannot be allowed to be urged and an argument built thereon for the first time in the revision petition.

14. For these reasons both the revision petitions fail and are dismissed. Parties are, however, left to bear their own costs. Records are directed to be sent back to the lower court immediately. The parties are directed to appear before the trial court on 6th December, 1976.

15. Revision dismissed.


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