Smt. Sitabai and Another V. Ramchandra: Case Comment

Case:  Smt. Sitabai and Another V. Ramchandra

Court:

The Supreme Court of India

Bench:

 J.C Shah (Acting C.J.) and V. Ramaswami and A.N. Grover, JJ

Decided on:

August 20th, 1969

Citation:

1969(2) SCC 544

Facts:

  • The first appellant was the widow of Bhagirath who predeceased his elder brother Dhulichand in 1930. An illegitimate son named Ramchandra was born to the widow as a result of her connection with Dhulichand in 1935. Dhulichand died in the year 1958.
  • The first appellant adopted Suresh Chandra sometime after the death of Dhulichand. Meanwhile, Ramchandra took possession of the joint family properties after the death of Dhulichand.
  • The first appellant filed a suit for eviction of the respondent from the properties. The trial court decreed the suit. The District Court modified the decree. In the second appeal, the high court reversed the decree and dismissed the suit on the ground that the adopted son did not obtain any coparcenary property in the joint family.

Issues raised:

  • Whether the son adopted by the widow becomes the son of the deceased husband?
  • Whether such an adopted son becomes a coparcener, character of a joint family?

Subject:

  • Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956
  • Madhya Bharat Land Revenue and Tenancy Act, 1950

Law Applied:

  • Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956: Section 11,12 and 14
  • Madhya Bharat Land Revenue and Tenancy Act, 1950: Section 86, 87 and 89

Arguments in favour of the Plaintiff:

In the present case, the counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs argued on the grounds of Section 11 and 12 of the Hindu adoptions and Maintenance Act, which states that once the son has been adopted to a family then the child altogether ceases to have any ties with the family of his birth, and simultaneously these ties are replaced by those created by the adoption in the adoptive family. The legal effect of giving the child in adoption must, therefore, be to transfer the child from the family of its birth to the family of its adoption. Thus the child is not only the child of the adoptive father but also the child of the adoptive mother. Similar is the case here where the adopted child should be absorbed in the adoptive family to which the widow belonged.

Arguments in favour of Defendant:

The present suit at the preliminary stage, in the trial court, was contested by the defendant on the ground that Dhulichand had in his lifetime surrendered the lands to the Jagirdar who made resettlement of the same with the defendant. Further, the defendant contested that Dhulichand had executed a will before death where he wanted the defendant to take charge of the entire house. But eventually, the trial court pronounced its judgment against the defendant.

Further, the defendant took the matter in appeal to the District Judge, who modified the decree and stated that the will executed by Dhulichand will be valid so far as half of his share is concerned with the house. Thus the District judge took the view that the defendant is only entitled to half of the share of the land.

Further, the defendant made a second appeal before the Madhya Pradesh High Court, where the decree was reversed and held that the plaintiff is not entitled to any relief and the suit should be dismissed entirely. The High Court held that the adopted son did not obtain any interest in the joint family properties. According to the High Court, Dhulichand was the sole coparcener on the date of the adoption and there was no one else to take a share of his property.

Judgment:

The Apex Court directed to set aside the decree passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and further directed the decree of District Judge to be restored granting the half share of the joint family properties.

Comment:

The present case deals with the dispute regarding the Joint Hindu Family property between the son born in the family and an adoptive son. The dispute arose between the two regarding who will bequeath the family properties. The plaintiff is the adopted son and the widow filed a suit and took the plea of Section 11 and 12 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 whereas the defendant contested that he should be entitled to get all the property in regard of the will which Dhulichand created to be executed after his death. Initially, the trial court disregarded his plea and ruled in favour of the plaintiffs but later on the defendant took the suit to District Judge where he allowed the defendant to take possession of half of the share of the properties. Further, the defendant made a second appeal where the court ruled in his favour and dismissed the suit entirely. After this, the plaintiffs took the lawsuit before the apex court where the order made by the High Court was set aside and restored the decree passed by the District Judge.

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