In the widow. Her surrender merely accelerates the

In Smt. Haresh Kumari v. Shakshi Lal, the widow sold the property without any legal necessity, prior to the commencement of the Act of 1956, at that time she does not become full owner of the said property under Section 14(1) of Hindu Succession Act. The court held that her transfer is not valid because at that time she was not absolute owner of the said property. Where a right to property has been surrendered by a widow, it would not amount to an act of alienation by the widow.

Her surrender merely accelerates the succession and the next reversioner automatically becomes entitled to the property as if the widow had suffered a physical death. Such a reversioner is neither a grantee nor a transferee, and does not hold his title from the widow, but from the last male owner, as his successor-in-law. The controversy regarding the right of a reversioner to challenge the alienation effected by a female Hindu before the commencement of the Act has been settled in the famous case of Radha Rani Bhargva v. Hanooman Prasad. The Court overruling the view of Allahabad High Court held that in case the widow had alienated the property before the commencement of the Act and it stood to be against the law existing at that time the reversioners continued to have the right to challenge even after the commencement of the Act.

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In the above case, the widow inherited the property from her husband after his death in 1939. In 1940 she mortgaged it to X with possession. The reversioners, namely  and C, the two brothers of the deceased husband sued X for a declaration that the mortgage was invalid and also for recovering the property on the ground that the mortgage was an unauthorised alienation. Prior to the commencement of the Act of 1956, a widow had no power to alienate the estate inherited by her except under the following three conditions. (a) Legal necessity. (b) Benefit to the estate. (c) Religious and charitable purposes.

If the alienation made by her did not fulfil any of the above three conditions, Â and Ñ could successfully challenge the transfer and recover the property. Although Section 14 of the Act, 1956 abolished the widow’s estate and made her absolute owner of the property possessed by her yet it does not affect such cases where the widow had parted with the property and the possession was transferred. The Section also does not affect the right of the reversionary to challenge the validity of such transfers effected prior to the commencement of the Act. The Supreme Court made an important pronouncement in the case of Kalawatibai v. Soiryabai. The court held that it is only a limited estate, being possessed by a female Hindu on the date of the commencement of the Act, which is converted into absolute estate. Where the alienee of the limited estate does not acquire a lawful title, he cannot claim the benefit of Section 14(1). In the above case, a female Hindu inherited certain property from her husband after his death.

A gift was executed by her in favour of one of her daughters and the gift consisted of entire estate inherited by her. The gift was challenged by her another daughter on the ground that the gift was invalid as her widowed mother was incompetent to gift away the inherited property. Since gift was executed in 1954, it was held to be invalid as the gift was neither for any legal necessity, nor for the benefit of estate nor for any meaningful charitable purpose. Thus the donee could not acquire any valid title in it and even after being in possession of the property on the date of the commencement of the Act, the benefit of Section 14(1) would not extend to her. The Court observed: “Thus if prior to 1956 any alienation was made by a Hindu widow of widow’s estate (limited estate) prohibited by law or being beyond permissible limits, it shifted the widow of her rights and she could not acquire any right under Section 14. And so far alienee was concerned it could utmost create temporary and transitory ownership precacious in nature and vulnerable in character open to challenge if any attempt was made to cloud reversioner’s interest. Her possession may be good against the world, her right in property may not be impeachable by the widow but her interest qua the reversioner was to continue in possession at the maximum till the lifetime of her donor or transferor.

A female alienee did not become a limited owner or holder of limited estate as understood in Hindu law. And the alienation without legal necessity could be assailed by the reversioner. No change was brought about in this regard. If the alienation was contrary to law, as in the case of gift of entire widow’s estate, then it did not bind the reversioners who could file a suit after the death of the widow. And the alienee could not claim to have acquired title to the property under the gift deed. Nor had she become limited owner under Hindu law, which could mature in full ownership when the Act came into force.

” Under the scheme of the Act, the reversionary rights which were recognised prior to the commencement of the Act stand abrogated. Since the widow’s estate has been abolished by the Act, it necessarily follows that the right of a reversioner, which is otherwise a spes succession, cannot now be enforced. Hence a suit by a reversioner challenging the gift of the property by such widow is not maintainable after the Act. The section is expressly retrospective in character and there is no vested interest in a reversioner in the property inherited by a Hindu widow, the provision of the Act must be applied to a case even at the stage of appeal. The combined effect of Section 14 is that any property acquired by a female Hindu before or after the commencement of the Act became her absolute property and therefore any class of reversioners does not exist under the Act. After the commencement of the Act the reversioner’s right has been abrogated.

A limited interest held by a Hindu widow in the share of her deceased husband, who died after the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937, will become her absolute property under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and such interest of her in the property shall be held by her as full owner and not as limited owner. Her erstwhile limited interest will, therefore, ripen into an absolute interest.


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