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Hindu Womens Absolute Property Under Sec 14 of Hindu Succ Act Explained Air 1977 Sc 1944

Hindu Womens Absolute Property Under Sec 14 of Hindu Succ Act Explained Air 1977 Sc 1944

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PETITIONER:V. TULASAMMA & ORS.Vs.RESPONDENT:V. SESHA REDDI (DEAD) BY L. Rs.DATE OF JUDGMENT17/03/1977BENCH:BHAGWATI, P.N.BENCH:BHAGWATI, P.N.GUPTA, A.C.FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZACITATION:1977 AIR 1944 1977 SCR (3) 2611977 SCC (3) 99CITATOR INFO :R 1978 SC 361 (5)R 1979 SC 993 (3,4,5,6,7)E&R 1985 SC1695 (3,5,)RF 1987 SC2251 (7,8)RF 1991 SC1581 (6,8)ACT:Hindu Succession Act, 1956--S. 14(1) and (2)--Scope of.HEADNOTE:Section 14(1 ) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 pro-vides that "any property possessed by a female Hindu, wheth-er acquired before or after the commencement of the Act,shall be held by her as full owner thereof and not as alimited owner." According to the explanation to thissub-section the term "property" includes both movable andimmovable property acquired by a female Hindu in lieu ofmaintenance or arrears of maintenance or in any other mannerwhatsoever. Sub-section (2) provides that nothing in sub-s.(1) shall apply to any property acquired by way of gift orunder a will or any other instrument which prescribes arestricted estate in such property.At the time of his death, the appellant’s husband, whowas the brother of the respondent, lived in a state. ofjointness with the respondent. On her husband’s deaththe appellant filed a petition for maintenance. The re-spondent entered into a compromise with her, one of theterms of which was that the appellant should enjoy duringher life time certain properties given to her and on herdeath those properties should revert to the respondent. ’Theappellant .sold some of the properties. The respondentsought a declaration that under 1he terms of the compromisethe appellant’s interest, which was a limited one, could notbe enlarged into an absolute interest enabling her to sellthe. properties.The District Munsiff decreed the suit. On appeal, theDistrict Judge held that by virtue of the provisions of the1956-Act, the appellant had acquired an absolute interest inthe properties and that s. 14(2) had no application to thecase because the compromise was an instrument in recognitionof a pre-existing right. The High Court, on the other hand,
held that the compromise was an instrument contemplated bys.14(2) and the appellant could not get an absolute inter-est, under s.14(1); and that since her husband died evenbefore the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937 cameinto force, she could not be said to have any pre-existingright because she had got the right for the first time underthe compromise.Allowing the appeal,(Per Bhagwati and Gupta, JJ)HELD: Since the properties were acquired by the appel-lant under the compromise in lieu or satisfaction of herright to maintainance it is s. 14(1) and not s.14(2) whichwould be applicable. The appellant must be deemed to havebecome full owner of the properties notwithstanding that thecompromise prescribed a limited interest in the properties.[274 C-D]1. Under the Sastric Hindu Law a widow has a right to bemaintained out of joint family property and this right wouldripen into a charge if the widow took the necessary stepsfor having her maintenance ascertained and specificallycharged on the joint family property and even if no specificcharge were created, this right would be. enforceableagainst joint family property in the hands of a volunteeror a purchaser taking it with notice of her claim. Theright of the widow to be maintained is not a ]us in rem,since it does not give any interest in the joint familyproperty but it is ]us ad rem. When specific property isallotted to the widow in lieu of her claim for maintenance,the allotment would be in satisfaction of her jus ad rem,namely, the right to be maintained out of the joint familyproperty. It would not be a grant for the.262first time without any pro-existing right in the widow, Thewidow would be getting the property in virtue of her pre-existing right, the instrument giving the property beingmerely a document effectuating such pre-existing right. [273A-C]2(a) Section 14(1) is large in its amplitude and coversevery kind of acquisition of property by:, a female Hinduincluding acquisition in lieu of maintenance. Where suchproperty was possessed by her at the date of commencementof the Act or was subsequently acquired and possessed, shewould become the full owner of the property. [268 G](b) The words "any property" are large enough to coverany and every kind of property but in order to expand thereach and ambit of the, section and make it all-comprehen-sive, the Legislature has enacted the explanation. [268 B](c) Whatever be the kind of property movable or immova-ble and whichever be. the mode of acquisition, it would becovered by sub-s. (1 ), the object of the Legislature beingto wipe out the disabilities from which a Hindu femalesuffered in regard to ownership of property under the oldSastric Law, to abridge the stringent provisions againstproprietary rights and to recognise her status as an inde-pendent and absolute owner of property. [268 D](d) In Gummalapura Taggina Matada Kotturuswami v.Setra Veeravva [1959] Supp. 1 SCR 968, this Court construedthe words "possessed of" in a broad sense and in theirwidest connotation to mean as "the state of owning or havingin one’s hand or power" which need not be actual or physicalpossession or personal occupation of the property by theHindu female, but may be possession in law. It may beactual or constructive or in any other form recognised bylaw. [268 E-F] .(e) Sub-section (2), which is in the nature of a proviso
to sub-s.(1), excepts certain kinds of acquisition ofproperty by a Hindu female from the operation of sub-s. (1).[269 B](f) Sub-section (2), must be read in the context ofsub-s.(1) to. leave as large a scope for operation aspossible to sub-s.(1). So read, it must be confined tocases where property is acquired by a female Hindu for thefirst time. as a grant without any pre-existing right undera gift, will, instrument, decree, order or award, the termsof which prescribe a restricted estate in the property. [269H](g) The legislative intendment in enacting sub-s.(2)was that this subsection should be applicable only tocases where the acquisition of property is made by a Hindufemale for the first time without any pre-existing right.Where. however, property is acquired by a Hindu female at apartition or in lieu of her right to4 maintenance iris invirtue of a pre-existing right and such acquisition wouldnot be within the! scope and ambit of sub-s.(2) even if theinstrument allotting the property prescribes a restrictedestate in the property. Where property is acquired by aHindu re,male under art instrument in virtue of a preex-isting right such as a right to obtain property on partitionor a right to maintenance. and under the law as it stoodprior to the enactment of the Act, she should have no morethan limited interest in the property a provision in theinstrument giving her limited interest in the property wouldbe merely by way of record or recognition of the true legalposition and the restriction on her interest being a disa-bility imposed by law would be wiped out and her limitedinterest would be enlarged under sub-s. (1). [270 D; 272 A-B]In the instant case the appellant claimed maintenanceout of the joint family properties in the hands of herdeceased husband’s brother, and the claim was decreed and inexecution of the decree the respondent entered into a com-promise and allotted properties to her in lieu of her claimfor maintenance. The appellant must in the circumstances bedeemed to have become full owner of the properties notwith-standing that the compromise prescribed a limited interestfor her in the properties. It is sub-s.(1) and not sub-s.(2) of s. 14 which must be held to be applicable on thesefacts.S.S. Munna Lal v.S.S. Raikumar, [1962] Supp. 3 SCR 418Gummalapura Teggina Matada Kotturaswami v. Setra Verrayva[1959] Supp. I SCR 968 Mangal Singh v. Ratno, AIR 1967 SC1786 Badri Pershad v. Smt. Kanso Devi263[1970] 2 SCR 95 Nirmal Chand v. Vidya Wanti (dead) by herLegal representatives. C.A. No. 609 of 1965, decided onJanuary 21, 1969, Rani Bai v.Shri Yadunandan Ram, [1969]3 SCR 789. referred to.B.B. Patil, v. Gangabai, AIR. 1972 Bom. 16, Sumeshwar Misrav. Swami Nath Tiwari AIR 1970 Pat. 348, Reddayya v. VarapulaVenkataraju AIR 1965 A.P. 66, Lakshmi Devi v. Shankar Jha,AIR. 1967 Mad. 429, N. Venkanagouda v. Hanamangouda, AIR1972 Mys. 286, Smt. Sharbati Devi v. Pt. Hiralal AIR 1964Pb. 114, Sesadhar Chandra Dev. v. Smt. Tara Sundari Dasi,AIR 1962 Cal. 438, Saraswathi Ammal v.Anantha Shenoi, AIR1966 Ker. 66 and Kunji Thomman v. Meenakshi, ILR [1970] 2Ker. 45 approved.Gurunadham v. Sundarajulu, ILR [1968] 1 Mad. 467 Sentha-nam v. Subramania, ILR [1967] 1 Mad. 68, S. KachapalayaGurukkal v. V.Subramani Gurukkal, AIR 1972 Mad. 279 ShivaPujan Rai v. Jamune Missir, ILR [1947] Pat. 1118 Gopisetti

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