1. This appeal arises out of a suit for maintenance by two boys who claim to be the illegitimate sons of the defendant. The first Court decreed maintenance for both sons; but the lower appellate Court held that it had not been proved that the elder boy was the son of the defendant. Even with regard to the younger, it reduced the quantum of maintenance granted. The learned advocate for the appellant puts forward three contentions. The first is that the lower appellate Court has not had regard to the proper presumptions to be made in cases of this kind. The argument of the appellant is that the second son was born during the continuance of the marriage between the mother of the boys and one Narayanamurthy and that the Court should therefore have presumed that both the boys were the sons of the husband of their mother. The lower appellate Court found that the appellant had not proved that the plaintiffs' mother was validly married to Narayanamurthi; but Mr. Krishnamurthi contends that that should have been presumed by the Court. It is dangerous to apply too closely English presumptions in matrimonial matters to the conditions in India. The argument of Mr. Krishnamurthi might have been sound enough if Narayanamurthi had been the only person with whom the plaintiffs' mother had lived; but it is in evidence that she was married when she was young to a man who died leaving her a widow at the age of 14 years. She lived with Narayanamurthi after that. The learned District Munsif says that re-marriage of widows in the community to which the mother of the plaintiffs belonged, viz., the Kamsala community, is not allowed; and I find from Thurston's 'Castes and Tribes of Southern India' that that is the case. One cannot, under these circumstances, presume that Narayanamurthi, even though he was of the same community, was legally married to the plaintiffs' mother; he could not have been.
2. The point with regard to which most of the contest in the second appeal has been waged is whether plaintiff 2 is entitled to maintenance throughout his life or only till he attains majority. All the relevant authorities are on one side, though none of them deals precisely with the point raised. It was one of the points that their Lordships of the Privy Council enunciated as coming up for decision in Vellayyappa Chetti v. Nataraian , but it was unnecessary for them to discuss that point, because the illegitimate sons had been awarded maintenance only for their lifetime and they had not filed a cross-appeal. The matter was however fully discussed in the judgment of this Court from which the appeal to the Privy Council was preferred, viz. Vellayyappa Chetti v. Natarajan A.I.R. 1927 Mad. 386; and the point decided in favour of the illegitimate sons. In Ananthayya v. Vishnu (1994) 17 Mad. 160, the claim was by an illegitimate son of a Brahmin; and it was held that the illegitimate son was entitled not merely to maintenance until he attained majority but to maintenance for life. As the provisions with regard to maintenance of illegitimate sons of Sudras are generally more liberal than among the regenerate classes, the principle enunciated in 17 Mad. 160 3 would apply a fortiori to the case of Sudras. Moreover, the ground for awarding maintenance for life was one that would apply equally to all Hindus, as it arose because the illegitimate son had no right to share in the property. Mr. Krishnamurthi points out that these decisions deal with cases in which the father was dead. The right of illegitimate sons to maintenance arises, however, out of their inability to share in the same way as legitimate sons do in the family property; and so in lieu of a share of the family property they are entitled to maintenance. If that is so, then there can be no force in the contention that there is a period between their attainment of majority and the death of their father when they would not be entitled to maintenance, though they were entitled to it before and subsequent to that period. In Muniappa Mudaliar v. Kuppuswami Mudaliar : AIR1942Mad419 , Venkataramana Rao J. said that
an illegitimate son cannot claim higher rights than a legitimate son. Accordingly, a Hindu father who is not possessed of any joint family property is under no obligation to maintain his adult illegitimate son during his own lifetime.
The father is bound to maintain his minor son irrespective of whether he has any property or not; but his obligation to maintain an adult son depends upon his possession of joint family property. If he has such, then the illegitimate son is entitled to be maintained out of it both before and after his father's death.
3. The third point argued is with regard to the quantum of maintenance. I am not satisfied that the rate awarded by the lower appellate Court is too high. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.