The Chhattisgarh High Court recently dealt with the right of a widow on property of her previous husband after her re-marriage. The high court observed that a widow loses her right in the property inherited from her previous husband and that the same cannot be said to be established unless strictly proved under the statutory requirements.
A single judge bench comprising of Justice Sanjay K Agrawal said,
The effect of the valid remarriage is the widow losing her right in the property inherited from the previous husband. Therefore, where remarriage is set up as defence, it has to be strictly proved looking to devastating consequence to be befallen upon widow in shape of depriving her right to property.
Adding further, the bench noted,
The effect of remarriage would be, widow loses her right in the property inherited from her husband and unless the fact of remarriage is strictly proved after observing the ceremonies required as per Section 6 of the Act of the Hindu Widows Remarriage Act 1856, the fact of remarriage cannot be said to be established by which the right to property, which is a constitutional right, is lost that too by widow.
The development came in a second appeal concerning a suit property wherein one Ghasi (one of the sons) had died in the year 1942 leaving behind a widowed wife and a daughter, reported Livelaw.
According to the plaintiff, since the widowed wife had entered into second marriage in 1954-55, she ceases to have any interest in the suit property as she did not become the full owner of the suit property by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
Therefore it was argued that neither the widowed wife nor the daughter have any right and title over the property suit and as such, they be restrained from interfering with the possession of the plaintiff and the plaintiff be declared to be the title holder.
The Trial Court had while appreciating the oral and documentary evidences on record decreed the suit by holding that the widow had already entered into second marriage in 1954-55 and as such, she would only be entitled for 5 khandi of land for maintenance.
In appeal, the first appellate Court allowed the appeal of the daughter and held that in the light of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 the widow had become full owner of the suit property on coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and therefore the plaintiff is not entitled for any decree and set aside the judgment and decree of the trial court.
Chhattisgarh High Court
Looking at the facts of the case, the Court observed that the widowed wife remained in physical position of the suit land even after coming into force of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and her limited right, if any, has ripened into absolute title by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
Analysing the relevant provisions on the subject, the Court was of the view that:
It is quite vivid that under Section 14(1) of the Act of 1956, to get attracted, the property must be possessed by the female Hindu on coming into force of the Act of 1956. The object of this provision is firstly, to remove the disability of a female to acquire and hold property as an absolute owner and secondly, to convert any estate already held by woman on the date of commencement of the Act as a limited owner, into an absolute estate.
Relying on Section 2 of the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856 which provides for the Rights of widow in deceased husband’s property to cease on her remarriage, the Court observed,
Thus, according to Section 6 of the Act of 1856, in case of remarriage, all the formalities for marriage are required to be proved. Section 6 of the Act contemplates the performance of almost the same ceremonies, which are required in the case of the marriage of Hindu female. In order to prove the remarriage, performance of all the ceremonies will have to be done in her remarriage. There can be no valid marriage in any form without a substantial performance of the requisite religious ceremonies. The performance of ceremonies, therefore, is necessary for the completion of the marriage.
Observing that the first appellate Court was absolutely justified in dismissing the appeal filed, the High Court held thus:
Therefore, the finding recorded by the first appellate Court that the suit property fell in the share of Ghasi and after death of Ghasi, defendant No.1 remained in physical possession of the suit land and by virtue of Section 3(2) of the Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act, 1937, defendant No.1 Kiya Bai became the limited owner of the property during her lifetime till the coming into force of the Act of 1956 and after coming into force of the Act of 1956, she became the absolute of the suit property, is correct finding of fact based on the evidence available on record, it is neither perverse nor contrary to the record.