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Kanailal Pramanik Vs. Sm. Puspa Rani Pramanik - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Civil
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 1007 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1979Cal172,82CWN1130
ActsHindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 - Section 19, 19(1) and 19(2); ;Hindu Law
AppellantKanailal Pramanik
RespondentSm. Puspa Rani Pramanik
Advocates:Subrata Nayak, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
- .....point that is involved in this appeal is whether a hindu father-in-law governed by the dayabhaga school of hindu law, is under a legal obligation to maintain his destitute widowed daughter-in-law.2. the respondent sm. puspa rani pramanik, who was the plaintiff, is the widowed daughter-in-law of the appellant, kanai lal pramanik, the respondent was married to the appellant's son satyanarayan pramanik in baisakh 1335 b. s. unfortunately, her husband died in the month of agrahayan 1357 b. s. without leaving any issue, both the respondent and her husband were minors at the time of their marriage. it has been found by the trial court that the respondent who has been living in her father's house has no source of income by which she can maintain herself. her father is also a poor man. the.....
Judgment:

M.M. Dutt, J.

1. This appeal is at the instance of the defendant and it arises out of a suit for recovery of maintenance. The only point that is involved in this appeal is whether a Hindu father-in-law governed by the Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law, is under a legal obligation to maintain his destitute widowed daughter-in-law.

2. The respondent Sm. Puspa Rani Pramanik, who was the plaintiff, is the widowed daughter-in-law of the appellant, Kanai Lal Pramanik, The respondent was married to the appellant's son Satyanarayan Pramanik in Baisakh 1335 B. S. Unfortunately, her husband died in the month of Agrahayan 1357 B. S. without leaving any issue, Both the respondent and her husband were minors at the time of their marriage. It has been found by the trial court that the respondent who has been living in her father's house has no source of income by which she can maintain herself. Her father is also a poor man. The appellant, her father-in-law, has however, considerable quantities of land. The appellant has refused to maintain his daughter-in-law, namely, the respondent. In that view of the matter, the trial court has decreed her suit in part. It has been directed that she will be entitled to Rs. 40/- per month from the appellant on account of her maintenance with effect from the date of the decree. Further, it has been decreed that the respondent would get a sum of Rs. 10/-per month along with the monthly maintenance from the appellant on account of her accommodation. The respondent's claim for arrears of maintenance has also been decreed in part to the extent of Rs. 480/-. The properties mentioned in Schedule 'B' to the plaint have been charged for the amounts decreed. The lower appellate court has also affirmed the findings and the decree of the trial court.

3. The findings of the court's below have not been challenged before us on behalf of the appellant, for those are findings of fact. Mr. Subrata Nayak, learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellant has, however, urged that in view of Section 19(2) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, the respondent is not entitled to any maintenance from her father-in-law, the appellant. Before we consider the said contention, it may be stated that under the Hindu law the obligation of the father-in-law to maintain his widowed daughter-in-law is a moral obligation which cannot be enforced in case the father-in-law refuses to maintain his daughter-in-law. After the death of the father-in-law, this moral obligation ripens into legal obligation of his heirs to maintain her out of the estate of her father-in-law. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 has effected a material change in the rights of a widow in the matter of inheritance. Under that Act, a widowed daughter-in-law is a Class I heir of her father-in-law. Section 19 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act provides as follows : --

'19 (1). A Hindu wife, whether married before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be entitled to be maintained after the death of her husband by her father-in-law :

Provided and to the extent that she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property or, where she has no property of her own, is unable to obtain maintenance-

(a) from the estate of her husband or her father or mother, or

(b) from her son or daughter, if any, or his or her estate.

(2) Any obligation under Sub-section (1) shall not be enforceable if the father-in-law has not the means to do so from any coparcenary property in his possession out of which the daughter-in-law has not obtained any share, and any such obligation shall cease on the re-marriage of the daughter-in-law.'

4. It is contended on behalf of the appellant that as Sub-section (2) refers to the coparcenary property, Section 19 is not applicable to persons governed by the Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law. We are unable to accept this contention. It is true that the concept of coparcenary property is that of Mitakshara School of Hindu Law, but there is no reason to hold that Section 19 does not apply to a father-in-law who is governed by the Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law. Sub-section (1) of Section 19 does not either expressly or by necessary implication indicate that the provision of Sub-section (1) is applicable only to a Mitakshara father-in-law. It is inconceivable that the legislature will provide for the maintenance of destitute widowed daughter-in-law of Mitakshara families only, leaving such daughter-law of Dayabhaga families to starvation. Sub-section (1) of Section 19 confers a right on a widowed daughter-in-law to claim maintenance from her father-in-law irrespective of whether they are governed by the Mitakshara or the Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law. Under Sub-section (1), a father-in-law is under a legal obligation to maintain his widowed daughter-in-law, provided that she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property, or where she has no property of her own. is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her husband or her father or mother or from her son or daughter, if any, or from his or her estate. Sub-section (2), however, puts a restriction on the exercise of the right of the daughter-in-law to enforce the obligation of the father-in-law to maintain her if the father-in-law has not the means to do so from any coparcenary property in his possession out of which the daughter-in-law has obtained a share. Sub-section (2), therefore, applies to a case where the parties are governed by the Mitakshara School of Hindu law. The restriction that has been put under Sub-section (2) on the right of a widowed daughter-in-law to enforce the obligation under Sub-section (1), against a Mitakshara father-in-law is not without reason. It is clear from the provision of Sub-section (2) that in enacting that Sub-section the legislature had in its mind the provision of Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Section 6 inter alia provides that when a male Hindu dies having at the time of his death an interest in the Mitakshara coparcenary property and leaving behind him surviving a female relative specified in Class I of the Schedule to the Act or a male relative specified in that class who claims through such female relative, the interest of the deceased in the Mitakshara coparcenary property shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, and not by survivorship. In view of Section 6, if a male coparcener dies leaving behind him a widow, the latter will inherit the share of her husband in the coparcenary property. As, therefore, by virtue of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, the interest of a deceased son in the Mitakashara coparcenary property develves upon his widow by testamentary or intestate succession, the father-in-law has been absolved from the obligation to maintain his widowed daughter-in-law if she has obtained a share of her husband's interest in the coparcenary property, In case she has not obtained such share, still the obligation cannot be enforced against the father-in-law unless the coparcenary property in the hands of the father-in-law is sufficient for the discharge of the obligation. Under the Dayabhaga School of Hindu law, however, so long as the father is alive the property, whether self-acquired or coparcenary understood in the sense of ancestral property, belongs to him absolutely and his sons have no claim to the same. He may dispose of his property in any way he likes. There is, therefore, no question of a widow inheriting a share of her husband in any coparcenary property under the Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law. The provision of Sub-section (2) of Section 19 cannot, therefore, apply when the parties belong to the Dayabhaga School of Hindu law. In our view, therefore, as the parties are governed by the Dayabhaga School of Hindu law, the provision of Sub-section (2) of Section 19 does not apply. There is no substance in the contention of the appellant that Section 19 is applicable only where the parties are governed by the Mitakshara School of Hindu Law, No other point has been argued in this appeal.

5. The appeal is, accordingly, dismissed, but as none on behalf of the respondent has appeared at the hearing of the appeal, there will be no order for costs.

D.C. Chakravorti, J.

6. I agree.


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