1. The plaintiffs are the stepsons of the stepsister of the deceased and claim to succeed to his estate. Our learned brother Kumaraswami Sastri J. dismissed the suit, holding that plaintiffs are not heirs. The plaintiffs appeal. The only point for decision in appeal is whether the stepson of a stepsister is an heir under the Hindu Law (according to Mitakshara) as administered in the Madras Presidency.
2. Mr. A Krishnaswami Aiyar who appeared for the appellant started his case by saying (1) that the stepsister is a sapinda of the propositus and (2) that the plaintiffs are her sapindas. But he did not, and rightly,--follow up these propositions by arguing that the plaintiffs are therefore sapindas of the propositus. Later on, he expressly disclaimed any intention to argue that the plaintiffs are Bandhus (or Bhinnagotra sapindas) of the deceased. On this portion of the case, it is only sufficient to observe, that, in general, sapindaship involves descent from a common ancestor, the only exception to this principle being the case of wives of male sapindas. If A and B (males) are sapindas of each other, the wives of A and B are sapindas. This follows from the definition of ' sapinda' in the Achara Adhyaya of the Mitakshara (quoted in Umaid Bahadur v. Udai Chand I.L.R.(1881) Cal. 119 Babu Lal v. Nanku Ram I.L.R. (1894) Cal. 339 Ramachandra Martand Waiker v. Vinayak Venkatesh Kothekar I.L.R. (1914) Cal. 384; Rajkumar Sarvadhikari on Inheritance pages 601-605; and West and Bulher 4th Edn. page 114). But the sapinda relationship of such females--except in the case of ancestors such as mother, grand mother etc., who come in among Sagotra heirs-has not served to bring them into the line of heirs; so that a stepmother, (Mari v. Chinnammal I.L.R(1884) . Mad. 107, Seethai v. Nachiar I.L.R. (1912) Mad. 286) or a great grandfather's great grandson's widow (Balamma v. Pullayya I.L.R. (1894) Mad. 168) is not an heir under the Mitakshara Law; except in Bombay (Lalubhai Bapubhai v. Mankuvar Bhai and Ors. I.L.R. (1876) Bom. 388 Rachava v. Kalingappa I.L.R. (1892) 16 Bom. 716, Kashibai v. Moreshur Raghunath I.L.R.(1911) 35 Bom. 389 ), generally there is no such principle of law as that--if A and B not descended from a common ancestor are each a sapinda of C, A and B are sapindas of each other.
3. The arguments of the appellant are two-fold. A step mother is regarded as the equivalent of a mother (Manu IX, 183; see also Vishnu XV, 41 and Vasishtta XVII, 11) for various purposes (a) adoption, (b) sharing with sons in partition, (c) inheritance to a woman's sfridhan. In the first case, the principle is that adoption is to a father primarily and only in a secondary sense to his wife, so much so that, except in the case of Pratigrihita mata or the wife who is actually associated with the husband in the ceremony of adoption (Annapurni Nachiar v. Forbes (1899) I.L.R. 23 Mad. 1 (P.C.)) all the wives of an adopter are regarded as adoptive mothers. (See Mayne Section 167). In the second case, plural is used in the texts-'wives' in Mitakshara Ch. 1 Section 2 pl. 9 and mothers (matarau) in Smrithi Chandrika Ch. 4, Section 14 citing Vishnu and inferring that 'mother' includes 'step-mother'. In the third case, the right to succession to a woman's stridhan of her stepson is based on special texts (e. g.) Viramitrodaya Ch. 5 part. II Section 5. Anyhow it is clear that the argument may be carried too far. In the text of Brihaspati (quoted in Smrithi Chandrika Ch. 9 Section 3 Section 36, Vyavahara Mayukka Ch. 4 S. .10 in Mandlik page 98 and Viramitrodaya Ch. 5 Part. II Section 14) certain other female relatives besides step-mother are regarded as mothers. It is clear that the general principle stated in Manu IX, 183 did not avail the step-mother to become an heir (Mari v. Chinnammal I.L.R(1884) . Mad. 107, Seethai v. Nachier I.L.R.(1912) Mad. 286) and cannot in general be relied on in questions of succession, Annapurni Nachiar v. Forbes I.L.R. (1899) Mad. 1 and Gangadhara Bogla v. Hira Lal Bogla I.L.R. (1916) Cal. 944 .
4. The second line of argument adopted by the appellants may be stated as follows;--A certain number of females denied to be heirs outside Madras except in Bombay (and not yet recognised by the Privy Council even in Madras) have been held to be heirs by the Madras High Court. viz., Sister, (Kutti Ammal v. Radhakrishna Iyer (1875) 8 M.H.C.R. 88, Lakshmanammal v. Tiruvengadam I.L.R.(1882) Mad. 241 ); father's sister, (Narasimha v. Mangammal I.L.R(1889) . Mad. 10, Chinnammal v. Venkatachala (1890) .L.R. 15 Mad. 121); Son's daughter, (Nallanna v. Ponnal I.L.R. (1890) Mad. 149 ); Daughter's daughter, (Ramappa Udayan v. Arumugat Udayan I.L.R. (1893) Mad. 182, Raja Venkatanarasimha Appa Row v. Rajah Suraneni Venkata Purushothama Jagannatha Gopala Rao I.L.R.(1908) M. 321); Brother's daughter, (Venkatasubramania Chetti v. Thayarammal I.L.R. (1898) M. 263); Sister's daughter, (Sundrammal v. Rangaswami Mudaliar I.L.R(1894) . M. 193 apparently with some hesitation (See page 198). These are not bandhus (I am here stating only the appellant's arguments). They cannot come in as 'bandhus' for, if they do, as all bandhus are divided into atma bandhus, Pitri bandhus and Matri bandhus who take in the order of enumeration (See Aditnarayana Singh v. Mahabir Prasad Tiwari (1920) 40 M.L.J. 270 (P.C.)) female atma bandhus should take precedence over male pitri and matri bandhus and female pitri bandhus' over male matri bandhus, whereas, according to the Madras High Court, these female heirs are postponed to all male bandhus. Therefore they come in as heirs only as relations after the bandhus. The plaintiffs are at least such relations. Reliance is placed on Girdhari Lal Roy v. The Bengal Government (1868) 12 M.I.A. 448 where the Right Honourable Sir James Colville discussing the right of the maternal uncle and quoting a passage from Viramitrodaya on the question, says 'If this be the correct reading, it would follow that even if the exclusion of maternal uncle and others not mentioned in the text relied upon by the Respondent from the list of Bandhus were established, they would still, as relations be heirs * * '. The next succeeding sentence of his Lordship repels the suggestion, if any, in the Viramitrodaya that the maternal uncle is not a bandhu but a relation. The appellant's Vakil also relies on Sundarammal v. Rangasami Mudaliar where it is said that sister's daughters are not bandhus. In view of the other decisions above mentioned in all of which, Such female heirs are regarded as bandhus, it must be admitted that the language of Sundarammal v. Ranga-swami Mudaliar I.L.R. (1894) Mad. 193 is not quite clear. All that was meant was they are not male bandhus. The case was so explained by Subramania Aiyar J. in Venkatasubramaniam Chetti v. Thayaramtnal I.L.R. (1898) Mad. 263 . In Lakshmana Ammal v. Tiruvengada even females who would be sagotra sapindas by birth--such as sister, and son's daughter--are said to be only bandhus for either they pass away into another gotra by marriage or are capable of so passing away, Lakshmanatnmal v. Tiruvengad, Incidentally it may be observed that the words 'relations' 'Kinsmen' occuring in several of the English, translations of the Sanskrit texts correspond to ' Bandhu' or ' Sapinda' in the original e.g. Mitakshara Ch. II Sec. VII-1 and the text of Apastamba (II 14 Section 2) quoted therein,, Lakshmatiammal v. Thiruvengadam I.L.R. (1882) Mad. 241 , Manu IX-1 187 (Bannerjee J's translation in Babu Lal v. Mankuram I.L.R)(1894) Cal. 339. As to the supposed difficulty in arranging the order of female and male bandhus for which reliance is placed on Aditnarayan Singh v. Mahabir Prasad Tewari (1921) 40 M.L.J. 270 it is only sufficient to say that no case of female bandhus has yet come up before the Privy Council; their Lordships', observation in 40 M. L . (P. C.) 270, were made with reference to male bandhus only and it is. unnecessary now to speculate as to, whether the Privy Council will recognise female bandhus, and if they do, they will postpone them to all male bandhus or place the Atma bandhus (male and female) before the pitri bandhus and similarly for pitri and matri bandhus. In this connection, it must be remembered that Yagnavalkya's text Ch. II Section 135-136(Mandlik p. 220) mentions only bandhus between ''gotrajas' and 'pupil.' The Mitakshara in commenting on this, does not purport to add any new class (Ch. II Sections vi and vii). When Mr. Mayne questioned the correctness of the Madras High Court's decision in Kutli ammal v. Radhakrishna Iyer (1825) 8 M.H.C.R. 88 on the ground that the High Court, by that decision, added a new class of heirs, the High Court's reply in Lakshmana Ammal v. Tiruvengadu I.L.R.(1882) Mad. 241 was that they did not but that they were construing the word 'Bandhu' in Mitaksharal(Sec. VI) as not confined to males. All the decisions (above enumerated proceed on this ground. The learned vakil for the appellants admitted before us that there is no case of a person who is not a sapinda (apart from pupil and teacher) being allowed to succeed as an heir. Mitakshara Ch. II Sec. 3 P1. 4 and Lakshmanammal v. Thiruvengada I.L.R. (1882) Mad. 241 show that propinquity of blood is still all important. I have therefore no hesitation in holding that the appellant is not an heir. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs (proportionate to the respective interests of the respondents.)
5. I am completely in accord with what my learned brother has said. There is manifestly no consanguinity between a man and his step sister's step son and there is no authority for holding that the latter is a bandhu, There is no class of relations coming in after the lines of gotraja sapindas and bandhus are (exhausted. Colebrooke's translation of the word 'adi' occurring in the Mitakshara 'as well as other relations' is a loose translation. It may be more correctly rendered as 'the like' are 'etc,'. In Lakshmanammal v. Thiruvengada I.L.R. 5 Mad. 241 the suggestion that Kutti Ammal v. Radhakrishna Iyer (1825) 8 M.H.C.R. 88 was an authority for the existence of a class of heirs who being relations, are neither gotrajas nor bandhus was negatived by Sir Charles Turner C. J. and Kindersley J. The appeal is dismissed with costs, proportionate to respondents' respective interests.