1. The question raised in this civil revision petition is about the interpretation of Section 18 of the Hindu Succession Act, hereinafter referred to as the Act. O. P. 11 of 1966 on the file of the Additional District Munsif, Salem, is one for the grant of succession certificate in respect of collection of certain debts left by one Ramaswami. The claimants are his sisters, by name Lakshmi and Sellammal, Ramaswami, since deceased. Lakshmi and Sellammal are the children of one Koocha Gounder through the second wife one Ramayee Ammal. The said Koocha Gounder begot theree other children through his first wife Kaveri alias Kapadiammal and they are Vellava Gounder, Chinna Gounder and Veeri Ammal. These three children, through the first wife, who are the half brothers and half sisters of deceased Ramaswami resisted the claim for succession certificate contending that the certificate should be issued not only in favour of the two full sisters of Ramaswami but also in their (half brothers' and half sister's) favour. Ramaswami did not leave any class I heir. His father had also predeceased him. His brothers and sisters are the only near relations left by him and they come under Entry II, Class II of the schedule. They would take the estate of Ramaswami simultaneously, but only subject to the provisions contained in Section 18 of the Act which excludes half blood in preference to full blood. The District Munsif interpreted Section 18 in such a way that he held that only Veeriammal, the step sister would be excluded hut the two step brothers of Ramaswami cannot be excluded in succeeding to the estate of the deceased. The claimants, namely, the two full sisters of Ramaswami (one of the claimants died and her legal representatives came to be added) filed A. S. 361 of 1970 on the file of the District Judge, Salem, and the learned Additional District Judge held that even the two step brothers are excluded as against the two full sisters of deceased Ramaswami in succeeding to his estate. The succession certificate had been ordered to be granted only in favour of the claimants. As against this the two step brothers of Ramaswami have filed the present revision petition.
2. Section 18 of the Act is as follows--
"Heirs related to an intestate by full blood shall be preferred to heirs related by half blood, if the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect."
What is the meaning of the term 'if the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect' occurring in the above section, is the question. The point is. whether in the present case, the claimants who are sisters of the deceased by full blood would exclude not only the sister by half blood but also the two brothers by half blood. There is no decided ease on this point by this Court. The very question was raised in the case reported in Vesamma Nadachi v. M. N. Paul Nadar, but the point has not been answered in that decision, on the ground that it was not necessary for the purpose of that case.
3. I do not find any difficulty in the interpretation of Section 18 of the Act and my view is that the conclusion of the appellate Judge that the two sisters of Ramaswami by full blood excluded not only the sister by half blood but also the brothers by half blood is correct. There is no warrant at all for interpreting Section 18 in such a way that if there are sisters by full blood, they would exclude only sister or sisters by half blood but they would not exclude brother or brothers by half blood. Sex has no relevance to the term 'the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect' occurring in the section. As a matter of fact, if the section merely stated 'if the relationship is the same in every other respect' and did not use the words 'if the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect', then a sister by full blood could exclude only a sister by half blood but could not exclude a brother by half blood. That is so because the relationship to the deceased is not the same in the case of a brother and sister. While one is a brother, the other is a sister. Therefore, if the section had simply stated that if the relationship is the same in every other respect, then a sister by full blood can exclude only a sister by half blood, for the relationship of both to the deceased is the same, namely, sister; and she (sister by full blood) cannot exclude a brother by half blood because the relationship to the deceased is not the same as one is a sister and the other is a brother to the deceased. It is in order to avoid such a contingency, the section uses the words 'if the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect'. There can be no doubt that the nature of relationship of a sister and a brother (in respect of the deceased) is one and the same in every other respect (sex has no relevance) for there is no difference either in respect of ascent or descent or in any other way.
4. As pointed out by Mulla in the 13th Edition at page 852, Section 18 is a substantial reproduction of the rule of Hindu Law, whereby relations of the whole blood are preferred to those of the half blood. It is pointed out there that the section lays down a rule of general applicability to heirs male and female alike. The learned author had stated that the words 'if the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect' may require judicial interpretation. After stating this, the author gives his own view on the matter and points out that the section speaks of the nature of the relationship being the same and it would seem that in all such cases heirs related to an intestate by full blood would be preferred to heirs related by half blood having regard, inter alia, to the nature of relationship indicated in the scheme of the Act itself. The author concludes--
"The meaning of the words, 'nature of relationship' must be found in the sense in which they best harmonise with the scheme and object of the Act and not so much in a strictly etymological propriety of language. The general scheme of succession under the Act is to treat the son and the daughter in aequali jura and to regulate the order of succession having regard to the degree of kindred to him. It is, therefore, submitted that since a brother and a sister of the intestate stand in the same degree of relation to him the nature of their relationship with the intestate is the same in every other respect." In Raghavachariar's Hindu Law, 6th Edn. at page 951, (under the commentry to Section 18), the same position is affirmed for the author says that Section 18 deals with the preference of full blood relations over half blood relations, that even under the law prior to the Act, in the case of heirs of the same degree of relationship to the propositus. the whole blood excludes the half blood and that having regard to the general scheme of the Hindu Law of Succession, the preference to the whole blood over the half blood is confined to the relations of the same degree. However, in the commentary under Clause II of the Schedule, while dealing with Entry II of Class II at page 978, the learned author stated that if in a particular case, there is a full brother, a half brother and a half sister, the full brother and the half sister will inherit, but the half brother will be excluded. After interpreting the provisions of Section 18 in the above manner, the learned author points out the incongruity and says :--
"Why a half sister should come in while a half brother should go out in such a group of heirs it is impossible to see. One way of avoiding this anomaly is to hold that a full brother or full sister will exclude both a half brother and half sister."
5. I am of the view that there is no warrant for the alternative interpretation out by the learned author which he himself states results in an anomaly. As a matter of fact, the interpretation according to which a full brother would exclude only a half brother and not a half sister and similarly a full sister would exclude only a half sister and not a half brother does lead to an anomaly. As pointed out by Mulla, the general scheme of succession under the Act is to treat the son and the daughter in aequali jura and to regulate the order of succession having regard to the degree of kindred to him. Further the section is a substantial reproduction of the rule of Hindu Law whereby the accepted principle is that relations of the whole blood are preferred to those of the half blood. That being so, I am unable to see why Section 18 should be interpreted in such a way that a full brother would exclude only a half brother and not a half sister. That, in fact, would be incongruous, for, in such a situation, a half sister would inherit along with a full brother, but a half brother would be excluded. Surely the section is not intended to give better right to a half sister than that to a half brother. If the revision petition is to be accepted, in some cases, half brothers would take part in inheritance to the exclusion of half sisters and in some other cases half sisters would take part while the half brothers would be excluded and in some others half brothers as well as half sisters would be excluded according to the presence or absence of full brothers or full sisters as the case may be. In the present case, Ramaswami did not leave any brother by full blood. The claimants are only two sisters by full blood. On the interpretation sought to be put on behalf of the revision petitioners, the sister by half blood alone is excluded and the two brothers by half blood are not excluded. Supposing Ramaswami had not left any sister by full blood but he had left only brother or brothers by full blood then the brothers by half blood would not (?) be excluded. Certainly such a situation would not be in the contemplation of the Parliament while it enacted Section 18.
6. I have no doubt that the revision petitioners who are brothers of Ramaswami by half blood are equally excluded just as in the same way as Veeriammal, the sister by half blood was excluded from inheriting Ramaswami's estate, as the claimants who are sisters of Ramaswami by full blood are preferential heirs by virtue of Section 18 of the Act. The civil revision petition fails and the same is dismissed. No costs.