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Karnataka High Court: Widow Cannot Be Dispossessed of Property Merely for Contracting Second Marriage [Read Order]

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Author – Neha Agarwal (Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan)

Karnataka High Court  in case of A.N. Amruth Kumar v. A.N. Vanitha and ors, has noted that a widow cannot be deprived of the property vested in her merely for contracting a second marriage.

In the present case, petitioner filed writ petition under Article 227 of Indian Constitution against the order dated 22.11.2018 whereby the Court below had rejected his application  for re-adjudication of rights of the parties under the decree on the ground that a decree holder (widow) had contracted the second marriage after the death of her first husband under order XXI Rule 97 & 101 read with Section 151 of CPC, 1908.

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The court noted down that learned counsel for the petitioner is not in a position to show any provision of law or a ruling of the Apex Court or of the other High Courts in support of his contention that the property vested in a widow goes out of her hands by devastation if and when  she contracts a second marriage. In our civilized  legal system no widow can be  deprived of the  property vested in her on account of her contracting a second marriage.

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The court observed that question 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, is succinctly answered in Mulla’s Hindu Law, 13th Edition, at Page 796 afteranalyzing the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act,1956 and the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage  Act,  1856,  in  the following words:

Remarriage of a widow is not now under the  Act a ground for divesting the estate inherited by her from her husband. The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856 though it legalized the remarriage of a Hindu widow, had the effect of divesting the estate inherited by her as a widow. By her second marriage she forfeited the interest taken by her in her husband’s estate, and it passed to the next heirs of her husband as if she were dead (S.2 of that Act). The rule laid down in that enactment cannot apply to a  case  covered by the present Act and a widow becomes full owner of the share or interest in her husband’s property that may devolve on her by succession under the present section.  Her  remarriage, which would evidently be after the vesting in her, of her share or interest on the death of the husband would not operate to divest such share or interest. The Hindu Widow’s Remarriage Act, 1856, is not repealed but Section of the  present Act in effect of a widow who succeeds to the property of her has the effect of vesting in  her that interest or share in her husband’s property as full owner of the same”.

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The Karnataka High Court headed by Justice Krishna S Dixit held that in the civilized system of today no widow can be deprived of the property vested in her on account of her contracting a second marriage.

While dismissing the plea, the court further said: “If unchastity or remarriage of a Hindu widower is not a ground to divest the property vested in him, it strikes at the root of law, at reason and justice to divest a Hindu widow of the property vested in her only because she has contracted a second marriage, especially when the Constitution of India mandates Gender Equality. “

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