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Rangathayi Ammal Vs. Neli Munusawmy Chetty - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1911)21MLJ706
AppellantRangathayi Ammal
RespondentNeli Munusawmy Chetty
Cases ReferredRaja Yerralagadda Mallikarjuna Prasada Nayudu v. Raja Yerrrlagadda Durga Prasada Nayudu I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- .....to the plaintiff against the minor defendant, her step-son. the subordinate judge finds that the family property in the hands of the defendant would be worth rs. 19,500 and that the annual income thereof might be taken to be rs. 1.710. he awards maintenance to the plaintiff at rs. 15 per mensem, being of opinion that one-sixth of the income of the estate or one-third of the income of her husband's share would be a proper allotment to her. he made no award for the plaintiffs residence or any extraordinary expenses. the learned vakil for the appellant objects to the principle adopted by the lower court and further offers to show that the value of the family property and the income derivable therefrom would be considerably more than what the subordinate judge has found them to be. we need.....
Judgment:

1. The main question for decision is what is the proper rate of maintenance to be awarded to the plaintiff against the minor defendant, her step-son. The Subordinate Judge finds that the family property in the hands of the defendant would be worth Rs. 19,500 and that the annual income thereof might be taken to be Rs. 1.710. He awards maintenance to the plaintiff at Rs. 15 per mensem, being of opinion that one-sixth of the income of the estate or one-third of the income of her husband's share would be a proper allotment to her. He made no award for the plaintiffs residence or any extraordinary expenses. The learned vakil for the appellant objects to the principle adopted by the lower court and further offers to show that the value of the family property and the income derivable therefrom would be considerably more than what the Subordinate Judge has found them to be. We need hardly point out that what a Hindu widow is entitled to for her maintenance is an amount which, in the opinion of the court, would be required to enable her to live comfortably according to the standard of comfort obtaining in the community to which she belongs, regard being had also to the extent of the property out of which she is entitled to maintenance. No hard and fast rule can be laid down that she is entitled to a particular fraction of the income, although she could, in no event, claim more than the income of the share of the estate which her husband would have been entitled to, if a division had taken place during his lifetime. We do not consider it necessary to investigate the question of the exact value of the property in the defendant's possession. Having regard to the social status of the family and to the other circumstances of the case, we think that a sum of Rupees twenty (Rs. 10) a month would be a proper and sufficient amount to be allowed to the plaintiff. This amount will include her claim for house rent. We direct that Rs. 240 per annum be substituted in the decree of the lower court for Rs. 180 and that the necessary consequential alterations be also made therein. The plaintiff has objected to the refusal of the lower court to decree arrears of maintenance from the date of her husband's death up to the 10th February 1909, when she made a written demand for maintenance. The Subordinate Judge says that till that date there was no wrongful withholding of maintenance. A wrongful withholding is not necessary to entitle a widow to arrears of maintenance, if by that expression is meant, that the withholding should be morally improper. No demand is necessary to give a right to receive arrears. Her status as the widow of one of the members of a joint family holding property in common is sufficient to entitle her to receive maintenance from the date of her husband's death. She may no doubt by living with her parents or otherwise, impliedly waive her right to be maintained by her husband's relations during the time that she lives away from them, but waiver cannot be necessarily inferred in every case from the fact of separate residence alone. The true principle to be applied is laid down in Raja Yerralagadda Mallikarjuna Prasada Nayudu v. Raja Yerrrlagadda Durga Prasada Nayudu I.L.R. (1901) M. 147 by the Privy Council that arrears will be re] fused only in cases where the person liable to make die payment had justifiable grounds for inferring 'that the claim was abandoned' and had in consequence not set aside any portion of his annual income to meet such a claim. In the present case the plaintiff was removed be her relations from her husband's home after his death on the ground that it was necessary to do so for her protection. The parties have been quarrelling ever since in the courts. The defendant had no valid grounds for supposing that the claim for maintenance would not be pressed. We must, therefore, allow the claim for arrears from the date of the plaintiff's husband's death at Rs. 180 a year. The plaintiff will receive costs from the defendant on the relief awarded to her both in this Court and in the court below. We do not think that in a suit for maintenance the defendant should be allowed proportionate costs on the amount disallowed to the plaintiff unless the claim be an exorbitant one. The object of such a suit is to ascertain the liability of the family estate and the costs of doing so should ordinarily come out of the estate. The defendant, in this case, is not entitled to any cost and the plaintiff is entitled to her in either of the courts.

2. The memorandum of objections is dismissed with costs.


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