Kar HC | Widow cannot be divested of property inherited from her deceased husband, on remarriage

Karnataka High Court: Krishna S Dixit, J. dismissed a petition in limine, filed against an order of the Senior Civil Judge; on the ground of insufficiency of provisions of law and inability of the petitioner to support the legal contentions.

The petitioner herein was a party in a final decree proceeding arising out of a suit for partition and is aggrieved by the dismissal of his obstructor application under Order 21 Rule 97 and 101 read with Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 to re-adjudicate the rights of the parties. Hence, this petition.

Issue: Whether a Hindu widow, on contracting marriage, is divested of the property that has been vested in her by way of succession to the estate of the deceased husband?

The petitioner was represented by H.V. Manjunatha and  R. Manjuladevi who contested that respondent had contracted second marriage after the death of her first husband and therefore, she was divested of the property inherited from the deceased husband upon remarriage. Hence, there was a need for fresh adjudication of rights qua the respondent.

The Court’s conclusion consisted of a two-fold observation. Firstly, for an obstructor’s application, accrual of an independent cause of action which obstructs the execution of a decree is required. Secondly, contentions have to be supported by provisions of law or rulings, which the petitioners failed to do. It was held that a widow cannot be deprived of property by mere remarriage, subject to any just exceptions. A widow is the full owner of the property (Section 14 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956) and therefore such stipulations do not align with the intent of the legislature to bring gender equality.

High Court laid emphasis on Cherotte Sugathan v. Cherotte Bharathi, (2008) 2 SCC 610 and noted that the contested Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856 also stood repealed by the Parliament which further elucidated on the above-mentioned question of law. In light of the aforesaid rationale, the Court dismissed the petition in limine.[A.N. Amruth Kumar v. A.N. Vanitha, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 683, decided on 13-06-2019]

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