1. This is a second appeal preferred against the decree and judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge of Pudukottai in A. S. No. 20 of 1955 modifying the decree and judgment of the learned District Munsif of Pudukottai in O. S. No. 232 of 1953.
2. The facts are within short compass and they raise an interesting point of law. Items 1 to 4, 6 to 12, 14 to 20. 22 to 27, 30, 36 and 37 of the plaint A schedule which will hereinafter be referred to as the disputed properties belonged to Innasimuthu, a Roman Catholic Christian. He married the plaintiffs mother as his first wife and begot the plaintiff. Subsequently he married the first defendant as his second wife and begot a son, Savarimuthu. Innasimuthu died in 1936 leaving him surviving his two widows, Savarimuthu, his son by the second wife and the plain-tiff, his daughter by his first wife.
It is common ground with the parties in appeal that though Innasimuthu was an Indian Christian, he was governed, at the time he died, by Hindu law not only in the matter of intestate succession but also with reference to marriage. In this connection, it may be remembered that somesections of the Indian Succession Act relating to intestate succession were alone introduced in Pudukottai by means of the Christian Intestate Regulation of 1938. However Innasimuthu died before the introduction of this Act.
It would follow from this that the first defendant must be regarded as the legally wedded wife of Innasimuthu, though she was the second wife and Savarimuthu, her son, must be regarded as his legitimate son; and it must be held that Savarimuthu became owner of Innasimuthu's estate upon the latter's death. But by the time of his death the Pudukottai State had merged in the Madras territory and the provisions of tho Indian Succession Act had been extended to Pudukottai.
3. An interesting question which has arisen is as to who succeeded to the estate of Savarimuthu who was an Indian Christian and was governed at the time of his death by the Indian Succession Act. He left surviving him the first defendant, his mother and the plaintiff, his half-sister. Section 43 of the Indian Succession Act provides that
'if the intestate's father is dead, but the intestate's mother is living and there are also brothers or sisters of the intestate living and there is no child living of any deceased brother or sister, the mother and each living brother or sister shall succeed to the property in equal shares.' Section 27 of the Act provides that
'for the purposes of succession, there is no distinction (a) between those who are related to a person deceased through his father and those who are related to him through his mother or (b) between those who are related to a person deceased by the full blood or those who are related to him by the half blood,'
It cannot be disputed that the plaintiff is the half-sister of Savarimuthu and would be entitled to succeed to the property of Savarimuthu in equal shares with the defendant, his mother.
4. The endeavour, therefore, of the Advocates for the mother, the first defendant, has been to contend that she is not the legitimate wife of Innasimuthu, and that her son, Savarimuthu, is a bastard, and that, therefore, the half-sister would not be entitled to a share, and that she, the mother, would become heir of the illegitimate son under Hindu law. There is no doubt that this aged mother attributes concubinage of herself and illegitimacy to her son owing to her greed and desire to grab the entire estate of the deceased Savarimuthu.
5. But unfortunately though the law according to the immortal language of Mr. Bumble is an ass, it is not so asinine as all that. In this case Savarimuthu was admittedly not a bastard nor was he nullius Filias in the eye of Hindu law which admittedly governed him at the time he was horn and at the time he succeeded to the estate of his father, Innasimuthu. Before the introduction of the Indian Succession Act, Savarimuthu and the plaintiff were legitimately related and were not in the eye of the law filliae nullius.
The fact that Pudukottai estate by a truth of history came to be part of Indian Republic and the Indian Succession Act became applicable to the Indian Christians residing in Pudukottai territory would not retrospectively bastardise Savarimuthu, as pointed out by the learned Subordinate Judge, and transform a relationship, which was egitimate at the time it came into being, into an illegitimate one. The State in its solitude for its subject has been known to enact laws by legitimising illegitimate marriage, e.g., self-respect marriages to prevent the stigma of illegitimacy being attached to the offspring of these unions; but not the reverse.
Where parties have acquired a certain status on foot of a relationship which has been sanctified by the existing law, it cannot be nullified, nor in any manner impaired, by the coming into force of an Act which withholds such a status from persons similarly related. There are no words in the Indian Succession Act which limit the relation contemplated therein to relations which are legitimate according to Christian law. The relations contemplated in that Act are those which are recognised by the law, that law being in this case the Hindu law, which governed the parties at the time the relationship came into being.
6. Therefore, the attempt of the appellant to bastardise retrospectively this Savarimuthu must fail and the plaintiff must be held to be half-sister of the deceased Savarimuthu.
7. On this it follows that in that capacity this plaintiff has succeeded to his estate along with the first defendant in equal shares under Section 43 of the Indian Succession Act.
8. The conclusion of the lower appellatecourt is unsustainable and this second appeal hasgot to be and is hereby dismissed, but in the circumstances, without costs. No leave.