1. One Sattappa, a member of the dancing girl community, died in 1896 leaving his widow Paddamma, to whom he was lawfully married, and two daughters Pedda Satyabhama, who died in 1907, and Chinna Satyabhama, who died in 1938. Both these daughters led the ordinary life of women of their community and had children whose paternity is unknown. Pedda Satyabhama had only one daughter, who was impleaded as the first defendant. Defendants 2, 4 and 5 are her offspring by promiscuous unions. Third defendant is the son of second defendant. The plaintiff is the only son of Chinna Satyabhama and defendants 6, 7 and 9 are the daughters of Chinna Satyabhama by promiscuous unions. The eighth defendant is the daughter of the seventh defendant. The plaintiff claims the property of his grandfather, Sattappa, as his daughter's son, who has a preferential right to his grandfather's property in preference to any of the defendants, who rank only as daughter's daughters or persons of more remote decree. Both the Courts below held that since the plaintiff was not a legitimate son of Chinna Satyabhama, he cannot be considered under the Hindu Law as the daughter's son, and that he is therefore not entitled to the right and privileges of a daughter's son.
2. It is admitted by both sides that the rights of parties are governed by Hindu Law, subject of course to any agreement that they may have entered into amongst themselves. The main question arising in this litigation is whether, if it were held that the plaintiff ranked as a daughter's son, he would have higher rights than a daughter's daughter. In the absence of authorities to the contrary, I have no doubt that when under the Hindu Law a daughter or a son is referred to, the law-givers have contemplated only a legitimate son or a legitimate daughter. Illegitimate children have no rights at all in succession except in two classes of cases-as far as I have seen from the authorities cited before me. One exception to the general rule that illegitimate children have no rights is the case of the illegitimate sons of a Sudra. That exception is based on a special text and the interpretation of that text has led to an extension of the rule, which enables the legitimate descendants of one of two illegitimate sons of a Sudra to inherit from the legitimate descendants of another illegitimate son of the same father. The second exception is that the illegitimate children of a common mother can inherit from one another and from their mother and their legitimate descendants can inherit from one another.
3. Although there is no direct authority in support of the plaintiff's claim, yet his learned advocate has referred to the reasoning of learned Judges in certain cases as indicating that in order to determine whether one person can inherit from another, the test is sapinda relationship or propinquity ; but as has been pointed out earlier that what the Hindu Law givers understood by sapinda relationship and propinquity refers only to inheritance through legitimate children. The case most favourable to the appellant is Narayana Pundlik Valanji v. Laxman Daji Sirseker I.L.R. (1927) Bom. 784 where the question that had to be considered was whether a sister could inherit from another sister who lived the life of a prostitute. The learned Judge responsible for the leading judgment reasoned from various texts and held that on account of the blood relationship between the sisters, the one could inherit from the other. This particular case however is of the second class of exceptions referred to by me earlier. Jwala Prasad, J., in Ram Pargash Singh v. Mst. Dehan Bibi I.L.R. (1923) Pat. 152 was considering the law relating to inheritance in members of a dancing girl family; but the main question with which he concerned himself was whether the law to be applied to the parties was Hindu Law. He held that it was. In that case there were two males of the dancing girl community related as uncle and nephew. The uncle had two legitimate daughters who led loose lives; and one of them had a son who was a party to the proceedings. The two daughters, during the lifetime of their mother, mortgaged the property to a stranger, the plaintiff in that suit, and whose title therefore depended on the right of the daughters to mortgage the property to him. The learned Judge, after holding that the Hindu Law must be applied to the parties, held that the uncle and the nephew were joint and that upon the uncle's death, the property passed to the nephew by survivorship; so that the daughters, and a fortiori the plaintiff, had no right whatsoever. He then pointed out that even though the uncle and the nephew had not been joint, the daughters would still not have had any right to the property, because at the time when they made the alienation in favour of the plaintiff, their mother was still alive. Finally, the learned Judge said that if the uncle and the nephew had not been joint and if the mother had not been alive when the daughters made the alienation,
she (one of the daughters) had, if any, a limited interest which she could relinquish in favour of the next reversioner, her son.
The learned advocate relies on this sentence as indicating that the learned Judge held that the son of the daughter by a casual connection was entitled to inherit from her. At best, this sentence is in the nature of an obiter dictum; and its value is further lessened by the circumstance that the daughter executed a document in favour of her son. The sentence above quoted is followed by this sentence:
She did renounce her inchoate right, if any, by letting her son take the property and had his name registered in the land registration department.
The right of the son of the daughter was not discussed at all in the judgment by the learned Judge; and so the sentence quoted above is of very little value for the plaintiff.
4. I very respectfully agree with the remarks of Wallace, J., in Viswanatha Mudali v. Doraiswami Mudali : AIR1926Mad289 where the learned Judges had to consider whether the legitimate descendants of one illegitimate son of a dancing girl could inherit from the legitimate descendants of another illegitimate son of the same dancing girl. At page 959, Wallace, J., said:
I do not think that the placita from various ancient texts really assist this case, because they are not, in my opinion, dealing with the rights of succession of inheritance in favour of illegitimate children at all, except in the case of the illegitimate son of a Sudra; that is, in these texts ' son ' means a legitimate son and 'daughter' means a legitimate daughter....Illegitimate children have no place in Hindu Law....The rule laid down in Mayna Bai v. Uttaram (1864) M.H.C.R. 196. that the children of a prostitute, when the contest is purely between themselves, succeed to the property of their mother and to one another is, I think, the rule to be followed in this case. As I read that case, the principle did not in slightest degree depend either on the facts that the father was known or on the fact that the father of both illegitimate sons was the same person. It rested not on the common paternity, but on the common maternity of illegitimate sons....
Later on, the learned Judge said:
I think the net result of the authorities and the case-law is this, that Hindu Law texts have no application to illegitimate children except in the case of the illegitimate son of a known Sudra father, that so far as the Hindu Law cannon goes, illegitimate children have no right of succession to either parent, but that the general principles of Hindu Law will be applied to such a case unless such application would violate equity and good conscience and that applying these, the Courts will hold that illegitimate children inter se, when there is no contest between them and legitimate children inherit to their mother and to one another.
It is not denied by the defendants, whether by virtue of the agreement entered into between the first defendant and Chinna Satyabhama which the plaintiff is said to have ratified, or whether by a custom recognised in the dancing girl community, that the plaintiff's branch was entitled to a half of Sattappa's property. The plaintiff, however, claims the whole, which the Courts below rightly denied him.
5. The appeal is dismissed with the costs of the contesting respondents. The appellant must pay the court-fee due to Government.