1. The parties to Exhibit I are Hindus related to each other as mother-in-law (under whom defendant claims) and daughter-in-law (plaintiff) By this instrument they arranged for their respective enjoyment of the property left by the late husband of the plaintiff. They divided the property between them. The mother-in-law alienated a portion of the property assigned to her enjoyment. She has since then died, and the plaintiff now sues to recover the property from the alienee. The question is whether, under Exhibit I, the deceased took a life-estate only, or a larger interest. The District Judge has held that she took an absolute estate, the intention being to transfer the property absolutely in lieu of all future claims for maintenance. We cannot accept this construction. There are no express words to indicate such intention.
2. The words referring to enjoyment do not indicate anything more than an enjoyment for life. The respondent relies on the provision in the document that neither party shall sell her share of the house and backyard except to the other party. No doubt this provision implies that the parties contemplated the possible alienation of the other properties, but there is nothing to suggest that the alienation contemplated was more than that of the life-interest of the alienor. Such alienation would have been perfectly legal, whether they had agreed to it or not, and the provision relating to the house and backyard was nothing more than a mutual limitation of that power made by each in favour of the other in respect of that portion of the property, the transfer of which to a stranger during the life-time of the other would have been specially inconvenient. The general tenor of the arrangement under Exhibit I does not suggest that the parties contemplated any alienation by each party to enure beyond the life of the alienor, and it is difficult to see what object they could have had in providing that the survivor should be bound by the alienations of the other after the death of the latter.
3. In the absence of express terms or clear indications to the contrary, the presumption is that the parties, being Hindu females, did not intend to create in each other an absolute estate. Their intention was to create a life-estate only. As to the question of limitation, the mother-in-law, who had only a life estate, having died in 1890, the plaintiff's suit for possession is clearly not barred by limitation,
4. Wo must, therefore, reverse the decree of the lower Appellate Court and restore that of the District Munsif with costs in this and in the lower Appellate Court.