In Focus

Title in the property of a widow on remarriage

By Gajanan Khergamker

It was to remove all legal hindrances to the remarriage of Hindu widows that the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856 was enacted.

The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act has not been repealed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 but Section 4 of the latter Act has an overriding effect and in effect abrogates the operation of the Hindu Widows Remarriage Act, 1856.

According to the Section 4 of the Hindu Succession Act, all existing laws whether in the shape of enactments or otherwise shall cease to apply to Hindus in so far as they are inconstant with any of the provision contained in this Act.

In Kasturi Devi v. Deputy Directory of Consolidation, it was categorically held that a mother cannot be divested of her interest in the deceased son’s property either on the ground of unchastity or remarriage.

The Kerala High Court, in Thankam v. Rajan, also held that remarriage of the wife cannot be a ground for her losing right to succeed to her deceased husband’s property.

Yet again, in Velamuri Venkata Sivaprasad (Dead) by L.Rs. v. Kothuri Venjateshwadu (dead) by L.Rs & Ors., it was held by the Supreme Court that “incidentally, Section 24 of the Succession Act of 1956 placed certain restriction on certain specified widows in the event of there being a remarriage; while it is true that the section speaks of a pre-deceased son or son of a pre-deceased son but this is our view is a reflection of the Shastric Law on to the Statute.

“The Act of 1956 in terms of Section 8 permits the widow of a Hindu male to inherit simultaneously with the son, daughter and other heirs specified in Class I of the Schedule. As a matter of fact she takes her share absolutely and not the widow’s estate only in term of Section 14.

Re-marriage of a widow stands legalised by reason of the incorporation of the Act or 1956 but on her remarriage she forfeits the right to obtain any benefit from out of her deceased husband’s estate and Section 2 of the Act of 1856 as noticed above is very specific that the estate in that event would pass on to the next heir of her deceased husband as if she were dead.

“Incidentally, the Act of 1856 does not stand abrogated or repealed by the Succession Act of 1956 and it is only by Act 24 of 1983 that the Act stands repealed.”

To avail a legal service, an expert opinion or an appointment with Solicitor and Property Law Expert Gajanan Khergamker, call 8080441593