(1) The petitioner is the sister of one Kanniammal who died intestate on 7-7-1960. She is the childless widow of one Patta Achari, and Patta Achari's brother's sons are the respondents. This revision arises out of proceedings for the issue of a succession certificate in respect of the outstandings due on three promissory notes to the deceased Kanniammal. The learned District Munsif, on the evidence, finds that Kanniammal had been given properties by her father and that she sold jewels and lent amounts for interest. It is found that the promissory note amounts were her own acquisitions, the nucleus being gifts made to her by her father. It may be taken as uncontested that her husband did not contribute to any acquisition by her. The question in the circumstances is as to who is her heir, who gets the three dispute outstandings of Kanniammal.
(2) The learned District Judge, Chingleput has held that the respondents herein, as heirs of the husband of the deceased, are the persons that succeeded to these outstandings under S. 15(1)(b) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. On behalf of the sister, that is the present petitioner, it was contended that she would be the heir under S. 15(2)(a) of the Act. But S. 15(2) is an exception to the general provision for succession found in sub-section (1) of S. 15 applicable to case where the intestate woman had inherited properties either from her father or mother or from her husband or from her father-in-law and the question relates to such properties. Learned counsel for the petitioner would contend that the word "inherited" in subsection (2) should be read so as to include also property acquired otherwise than by descent on the death of a previous owner. According to the petitioner S. 15(2)(a) would include also property which the deceased woman had obtained by gift or settlement from her parents. Reading the entire S. 15 of the Act, it looks to me that where succession to a female Hindu generally is provided for under sub-section (1), an exception has been engrafted under sub-section (2) recognising a different mode of devolution in respect of property which the woman acquired by inheritance, in away to a very limited extent recognising the old Hindu law in the mater, which restricted a woman's estate in inherited property and provided for its devolution as from the last full owner. Sub-section (2) of S. 15 runs thus:
"Notwithstanding anything contained in subsection (1)-
(a) any property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother shall devolve in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) not upon the other heirs--referred to in sub-section (1) in the order specified therein, but upon the heirs of the father, and
(b) any property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or from her father-in-law shall devolve, in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) not upon the other heirs referred to in sub-section (1) in the order specified therein, but upon the heirs of the husband".
Prima facie, it looks that the exception engrafted seeks to retain in the father's family property inherited by the deceased lady from her parents and similarly seeks to retain in the husband's family property inherited from her husband or father-in-law. The word "inherit" is a word of known import and ordinarily cannot give any difficulty in understanding its content. To inherit is to receive property as heir, that is succession by descent. In Aiyar's Law Lexicon the word "inherit" is thus defined:
"To receive property as heir. 'Inherit' means, succession by descent. To take by inheritance (48 Mad 1--AIR 1925 Mad 497). To take, or to have; to become possessed of; to take as heir at law by descent or distribution; to descend. The words 'inherit' and 'heir' in a technical sense, relate to right of succession to the real estate of a person dying intestate".
In the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, of the several meanings to the word "inherit", one finds the following:
"To take or receive as heir of the former possessor at his decease; to get by legal descent or succession".
There is nothing in the Act to suggest, as contended for the petitioner, that the word "inherited" has in S. 15(2) been used in a loose way and would include also receipt of property from the father or mother during their lifetime. Far from it, a reference to S. 14 clearly shows that the draftsman has used the word "inherit" with precision having in view the legal significance of the word. In the explanation to S. 14, which gives absolute right to a Hindu female in property possessed by her, one finds "property" thus defined:
" 'Property includes both moveable and immoveable property acquired by a female Hindu by inheritance or device, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance or arrears of maintenance or by gift from any person, whether a relative or not, before, at or after her marriage, or by her own skill or exertion, or by purchase or by prescription, or in any other manner whatsoever and also any such property held by her as stridhana immediately before the commencement of this Act".
Thus, under S. 14 absolute title is given to the female Hindu in property possessed by her subject to the provisions in sub-section (2) of Section 14, in whatever manner the property had been acquired by the female. It is devolution of the property thus acquired that is provided for under S. 15 in a case where a female Hindu dies intestate. The explanation to S. 14 sets out the various modes in which property may be acquired by the Hindu female and S. 15(2) picks out therefrom property acquired by inheritance from certain specified persons for special provision in the matter of devolution on intestacy, when the female died childless. While S. 15(1) as already stated, provides for devolution generally, sub-section (2) makes an exception in regard to the devolution of property acquired by the female Hindu in particular circumstances. I see no reason whatsoever for departing from the common and ordinarily understood meaning of the word "inherited" set out above already.
(3) If that be so, the present petitioner, that is the sister, cannot claim the outstandings, as the father's heir, to the deceased Kanniammal. As set out above, the case of the petitioner is that Kanniammal, the deceased female, got the property from her father by way of gift and that she is entitled to the same as the father's heir under S. 15(2)(a) of the Act. As it cannot be said that the property has been inherited by Kanniammal, the exemption cannot be availed of. The rules of devolution provided under S. 15(1) apply, and the respondents as the heirs of the husband of the deceased female, will take the property. In the circumstances there is no reason for interfering with the order of the learned District Judge.
(4) The revision petition therefore fails and is dismissed. No Costs.
(5) Revision dismissed.