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Marina Mangamma and ors. Vs. Mutyala Dorayya and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1937Mad100; 166Ind.Cas.59; (1936)71MLJ688
AppellantMarina Mangamma and ors.
RespondentMutyala Dorayya and ors.
Cases ReferredMahomed Shumsool v. Shewukram
Excerpt:
- - it would appear that the lower appellate court, that is, the subordinate judge, was under the impression that there was a presumption in favour of the widow in a case like this and that the burden of proving that the properties were given to the first defendant only for her life was upon the plaintiffs......a deed of such gift the court is entitled to assume that the donor intended the donee to take a limited estate only, unless the contrary appears from the deed. the basis of the rule, as stated in mulla's principles of hindu law, viii edition, at p. 467, is that females as a rule take only a limited estate in property inherited by them from male relations, and the donor must be presumed to have made the gift with that fact present to his mind. the learned author then refers to the leading case on the subject, namely, mahomed shumsool v. shewukram and goes on to observe that though the rule thus laid down by the privy council applies alike to all females who take a limited estate in property inherited by them, the courts in india have, following the spirit of the texts referring to.....
Judgment:

Pandrang Row, J.

1. In this Letters Patent Appeal the only question for us to decide is whether the view adopted by Varadachariar, J., namely, that in the absence of direct evidence one way or the other there is no presumption as to the quantum of interest which a Hindu female takes in respect of immovable property given to her, is right or not.

2. The case is one in which during the partition in the lifetime of the father one of the shares was given to the widowed daughter who had no children. The plaintiffs' claim that the properties were given to her for life only as maintenance and the daughter claims that they were given to her as an absolute estate with full powers of alienation. The suit was one to declare that the deed of gift executed by the widow in favour of certain of her nephews is not valid and binding on the plaintiffs after her death. It would appear that the lower appellate Court, that is, the Subordinate Judge, was under the impression that there was a presumption in favour of the widow in a case like this and that the burden of proving that the properties were given to the first defendant only for her life was upon the plaintiffs. Varadachariar, J., however, thought that though in a sense there is no presumption that properties given to a female are given only with limited rights and not with absolute rights, nevertheless, in a case of this kind the question of the quantum of interest has to be decided independently of any particular presumption or any particular view as regards onus of proof. In other words, he was of opinion that the decision must take into account the surrounding circumstances and the notions and dispositions of the parties to the transaction in the course of which these properties came to the widow. The general rule in the case of a gift made to a Hindu female by her male relations is that in construing a deed of such gift the Court is entitled to assume that the donor intended the donee to take a limited estate only, unless the contrary appears from the deed. The basis of the rule, as stated in Mulla's principles of Hindu Law, VIII edition, at p. 467, is that females as a rule take only a limited estate in property inherited by them from male relations, and the donor must be presumed to have made the gift with that fact present to his mind. The learned author then refers to the leading case on the subject, namely, Mahomed Shumsool v. Shewukram and goes on to observe that though the rule thus laid down by the Privy Council applies alike to all females who take a limited estate in property inherited by them, the Courts in India have, following the spirit of the texts referring to Stridhana, drawn a distinction between cases where a gift of immovable property is made by the husband to his wife, and those where it is made by a Hindu to other female relations. The learned author observes that there is nothing in Mahomed Shumsool's easel to justify this distinction, the rule laid down there being one which purports to apply to all females who take a limited estate in property inherited by them, and he refers to the fact that in a subsequent case the Judicial Committee applied the rule where a bequest had been made to a daughter and he concludes that it is therefore difficult to support the distinction made by the High Courts in India. Apart from these observations of the learned author which are entitled to much weight, nothing has been brought to our notice from which it can be gathered that the Judicial Committee has in any way confined the rule laid down in Mahomed Shumsool v. Shewukram to gifts or bequests made by a husband to his wife or held that it would not apply to gifts or bequests by other relations. The rule itself is based on the general principle, that, where the terms of a grant are ambiguous or where there is no grant in writing it is permissible, in order to find out the intention of the grantor to look to the surrounding circumstances of the transaction; and the notions and ideas of the grantor would be one of such circumstances to be taken into consideration. It is not seriously contended that the rule if applicable when there is a grant in writing, is inapplicable when there is no grant in writing as in this case. If that rule is to be applied to the present case there can be no doubt that the conclusion arrived at by our learned brother is right. All the circumstances point to the conclusion that it could not have been intended to give an absolute estate to a childless widow and that the properties must have been given to her only for her life. We therefore see no reason to interfere in appeal; with the decision of Varadachariar, J., in this case. The Letters Patent Appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs.


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