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Sukan Sahu Vs. Musammat Gangajali - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Judge
Reported in13Ind.Cas.136
AppellantSukan Sahu
RespondentMusammat Gangajali
Cases ReferredNarsingh v. Yadavdas
Excerpt:
hindu law - widow--widowed daughter-in-law--maintenance--residence with family of deceased husband--not to leave husband's house for immoral purpose--amount of maintenance, how to determine. - .....singh v. raj koer 12 b.l.r. 238 : 20 w.r. 21 : i.a. sup. vol. 203 which was the case of a hindu, widow. reference may also be made to the cases of mokhoda dasee v. nundo lal haider 5 c.w.n. 297; siddesury dassee v. jonardan sarkar 5 c.w.n. 549 : 29 c. 557; kastuarbai v. shivajiram 3. b. 372; gokibai v. lakhmi das khimji 14 b. 490 and surumpalli bangarama v. surampalli bramhazee 31 m. 338 : 3 m.l.t. 266 : 18 m.l.j. 254. it must now be taken as firmly settled that all that is required of a widow or a widowed daughter-in-law is that she is not to leave her husband's house for improper or unchaste purposes, and that she is entitled to retain her right to maintenance unless she is guilty of unchastity after she leaves that residence. weighty reasons may be assigned, if necessary, in support.....
Judgment:

1. This appeal is directed against a decree in a suit for recovery of arrears a maintenance by a Hindu lady against her father-in-law. It is not disputed that the husband of the plaintiff died about the year 1881, while he was a member of a joint Mitakshara family composed of his father, himself, his brothers and his grandfather. After the death of her husband, the plaintiff continued to live au a member of the family of her father-in-law. But about the year 1903 disputes broke out by reason of the third marriage of her father-in-law and the introduction of the newly wedded wife into the family circle. The result was, that she was compelled to seek the protection of her brothers. She now claims in the present suit maintenance at the rate of Rs. 25 a month. The Courts below have made a decree in her favour at the rate of Rs. 16 a month and directed that the maintenance should be a charge upon the family property in the hands of the defendant. The learned Vakil for the defendant-appellant has sought to assail that decree on three grounds; namely, first, that as the plaintiff is not residing with her father-in-law she is not entitled to claim any separate maintenance at all; secondly, that the amount of maintenance ought to be determined with reference to the value of the family properties at the time of the death of the husband of the plaintiff; and thirdly, that as the plaintiff has failed to proceed with the suit against members of the family other than the defendant, the charge ought not to be declared upon the entire family property. In our opinion, there is no substance in any of these contentions.

2. In support of the first ground taken on behalf of the appellant, it has been argued that it is the duty of a widowed danghter-in-law to reside with her father in law, and that if she leaves the house of her father-in-law without any adequate reason, she is not entitled to claim maintenance from him. In support of this view, reliance has been placed upon the decision of a Full Bench of this Court in the case of Khetramani Das v. Kashi Nath Das 2 B.L.R. 15 : 10 W.R. (F.B.) 89. In our opinion, the case relied upon is clearly distinguishable. That was a decision under the Bengal School of Hindu Law. Consequently, it is rot necessary for us to consider whether even under that school of law the view put forward by the learned Vakil for the appellant can be maintained. In so far as the Mitakshara School of Hindu Law is concerned, it is now settled by decisions of the highest authority that neither the widow nor the widowed daughter-in-law is bound to reside with the family of her deceased husband. In support of this proposition, reference may be made to the decision of the Judicial Committee in Pirthee Singh v. Raj Koer 12 B.L.R. 238 : 20 W.R. 21 : I.A. Sup. Vol. 203 which was the case of a Hindu, widow. Reference may also be made to the cases of Mokhoda Dasee v. Nundo Lal Haider 5 C.W.N. 297; Siddesury Dassee v. Jonardan Sarkar 5 C.W.N. 549 : 29 C. 557; Kastuarbai v. Shivajiram 3. B. 372; Gokibai v. Lakhmi Das Khimji 14 B. 490 and Surumpalli Bangarama v. Surampalli Bramhazee 31 M. 338 : 3 M.L.T. 266 : 18 M.L.J. 254. It must now be taken as firmly settled that all that is required of a widow or a widowed daughter-in-law is that she is not to leave her husband's house for improper or unchaste purposes, and that she is entitled to retain her right to maintenance unless she is guilty of unchastity after she leaves that residence. Weighty reasons may be assigned, if necessary, in support of this view. Common experience shows that although the family house of her husband's relations is a proper residence for a widow, it is not necessarily the most proper place for her continued residence when she is young and is surrounded by young men, it may even be more prudent and decorous for her to return to her father's care and it may, under many circumstances, be not only a safer but a happier home. The learned Vakil for the appellant has, however, contended that unless he widow has been compelled to leave the house of her husband by reason of the cruelty of her relations she forfeits her right of her maintenance when she ceases to reside there. We are not prepared to accept this position as well founded on principle. The first contention of the appellants consequently fails.

3. In so far as the second contention is concerned, it has been argued that the amount of maintenance ought to be determined with reference to the state of the family properties at the time of the death of husband of the plaintiff. No authority has been cited in support of this proposition. But it has been suggested that her right ought to be determined on the assumption that a partition had taken place in the life-time of her husband and a separate share allotted to him; she would have been entitled to that share alone by right of inheritance and could not claim any maintenance. This argument is obviously fallacious. No partition, as a matter of fact, did take place in the life-time of the husband of the plaintiff. His interest in the property upon his death passed by survivorship into the hands of the other members of the family and that interest has afforded means to them for addition to the family properties. It is, therefore, impossible to maintain, on principle, the view that the amount of maintenance ought to be determined with reference to the value of the family properties at the time of the death of the husband of the plaintiff. The view we take is supported by two decisions of the Bombay High Court, namely, Adhibai v. Cursandas 11 B. 199 and Madhavrav v. Gungabai 2 B. 639. That the argument for the appellant is not well-founded on principle also becomes obvious when we remember the firmly settled rule that the amount of maintenance payable to a widow may be varied from time to time Sreeram v. Puddomuki 9 W.R. 152; Ram Kalee v. Court of Wards 18 W.R. 474; Rukka Bai v. Ganda Bai I.A. 594, Nabogopal v. Amritmoyee 24 W.R. 428; Ramchander v. Sagunbai (1879) Bom. P.J. 450; Narbadabai v. Mahadev 5 B. 99; Bhavanamma v. Ramasami 4 M. 193; Narsingh v. Yadavdas (1882) Bom. P.J. 345. The amount of maintenance, it is now well recognized, is to depend upon the extent of the property, the position of the family, the nature of the claim alleged, the number of members of the family and other special circumstances of each individual case. If, therefore, the amount of maintenance can be varied from time to time, it cannot be contended with reason that the amount should be determined and fixed for all time to come with reference to the value of the family properties at the time of the death of the husband of the plaintiff regardless of changes in the circumstances of the family. The second contention, therefore, fails.

4. In so far as the third contention is concerned, the question does not really arise in these proceedings. The other members of the family are not parties to this litigation, and whether the decree is binding upon their interest in the family property is a question which can arise for consideration only when the plaintiff seeks to execute her decree against them.

5. The result is that the decree made by the District Judge must be affirmed and this appeal dismissed with costs.


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