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Whether Stepson of A Hindu dying Intestate can claim Inheritance under Hindu Succession Act?

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

ORDINARY ORIGINAL CIVIL JURISDICTION
CHAMBER SUMMONS NO.495 OF 2017
IN
SUIT NO.2219 OF 2000
Yansh Bahadur Sabhajeet Yadav … Applicant
In the matter between:­
Dudhnath Kallu Yadav … Plaintiff
Vs.
Ramashankar Ramadhar Yadav and ors. … Defendants

WITH
SUIT NO. 2219 OF 2000
WITH
NOTICE OF MOTION NO. 381 OF 2015
IN
SUIT NO. 2219 OF 2000

Dudhnath Kallu Yadav … Plaintiff/Applicant
Vs.
Ramashankar Ramadhar Yadav and ors. … Defendants

Mr.Vansh Bahadur Sabhajeet Yadav Applicant in person present.
Mr.Ramchandra Yadav with Mr. Netaji Gawade i/by Mr. Sanjay Udeshi and Company for the Plaintiff.
Mr.Omar Khaiyam Shaikh with Mr. Chetan Mendadkar for Defendant No. 5.
Mr.Satish Upadhyay for Defendant No. 6B.
Ms.Madhumita S. Yadav i/by Mr. J.S.Yadav for Defendant Nos. 9 to 12.
Mr.Rakesh K. Singh for Defendant Nos. 16 to 20.
Mr. Vedchetan Patil for Defendant No. 21.
Mr. Vijayshankar R. Yadav, C.A. of Defendant No. 4 present in person.

CORAM : S.C. GUPTE, J.
DATE :12 JANUARY 2018.
ORAL JUDGMENT :

1 Heard learned counsel for the parties.

2. This chamber summons is taken out in a partition suit involving partition of properties, which are said to be jointly owned by the parties. The Applicant presses only for prayer clause(a).

3. During the pendency of the suit, Defendant No. 14, who is said to be one of coparceners having right to the ancestral property, expired. His heirs were brought on record as Defendant Nos. 14A to 14D. By an order dated 12 December 2011, the suit was ordered to be dismissed as against those defendants, who had remained unserved. Since Defendant Nos. 14A to 14D, who were added during the pendency of the suit, were not served, the suit against them stood dismissed. This fact was noted by the court in its order dated 3 November 2014. The present chamber summons is taken out by a third party applicant, who claims to be a step-son of Defendant No. 14. It is his case that after the death of Defendant No. 14, as much as Defendant Nos. 14A to 14D, he should also have been brought on record, as a party defendant, in his capacity as a legal heir of deceased Defendant No. 14. He accordingly seeks an impleadment. He also claims further reliefs including a decree for separate share and possession of 1/9th share of original Defendant No. 14 and stay of redevelopment of three buildings, which are part of the suit property.

6. Relying on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of K.V. Muthu v. Angamuthu Ammal MANU/SC/0158/1997 : (1997) 2 Supreme Court Cases 53, the Applicant, however, submits that in legal parlance the expression “son” may have a wider connotation, not only including a natural son, but even others such as a grand-son, etc. The Supreme Court has made it clear in K.V. Muthu’s case that having regard to the provisions of any particular law, the expression “son” may have a wider connotation; it may in an appropriate case include even a son’s son, namely, a grand-child, and where the personal law permits adoption, even an adopted son; even an illegitimate son may be treated as a “son” in certain cases. The Supreme Court in K.V. Muthu’s case did not mean to define the term “son” generally, but simply underscored the point that the term “son”, was a flexible term; its true meaning, like the term “family”, would depend upon the context in which it is used. Since Hindu Law permits adoption, the expression “son” for the proposes of the Hindu Succession Act would include even an adopted son. The word “son” appearing in class-I of the schedule to that Act would thus include an adopted son but there is clearly no warrant for including a step-son within the meaning of the expression “son” used in class-I of the schedule. The context in which the term “son” is used in the schedule does not admit of a step-son being included within it.

8. The Applicant relies on a Division Bench judgment of this court in the case of Rama Ananda Patil v. Appa Bhima Redekar MANU/MH/0097/1969 : AIR 1969 Bom. 205, in support of his submission that a step-son is entitled to succeed to the property of the deceased. The Judgment of this court in Rama Patil’s case was rendered in an altogether different set of facts. The application to inheritance in that case was by a son through the first husband of a deceased female Hindu. The property held by the deceased was inherited by her as a sole heir of her second husband. After her death, the applicant claimed to succeed to her property in preference over a nephew and a grand nephew of the second husband. The claim was accepted by our court. This judgment has no application to the facts of our case. In the first place, the succession is claimed here not to the estate of the Applicant’s mother, but to the estate of his mother’s second husband. Succession to the estate of a male hindu can only be claimed under Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act read with the schedule under that Act which, as noted above, provides for two classes of heirs. Also as noted above, the Applicant does not fall under either of these classes and is not entitled to succeed to the estate of the deceased male hindu, namely, defendant No. 14. Even otherwise this judgment is considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Lachman Singh v. Kripa Singh and ors. MANU/SC/0417/1987 : (1987) 2 Supreme Court Cases 547. The Supreme Court in that case held that a step-son or a step-daughter of a female Hindu dying intestate are not covered by the expression “son” or “daughter” in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act. They could merely be said to be falling under either clause(b) of sub-section(1) of Section 15 or sub-section(2) of Section 15. In any event, as noted above, there is no warrant for construing the provisions of Section 15, either sub-section (1) or (2) or any of the clauses therein, for our purposes. In our case, the applicable provision is Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act.

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