Decided on September 01,1972

Sthanam Muthu Kumara Krishna Murthy Gurukkal And Others Appellant
Sthanam Sudndaramma And Others Respondents


MR.CHINNAPPA REDDY,J. - (1.) This appeal had afforded me and the learned counsel an opportunity to refurbish our knowledge of the Hindu Law, which is fast getting rusty. The case raises a question of Hindu Law, which is not likely to occur again. The suit, out of which the appeal arises, was filed by the appellant to recover certain properties which belonged to one Subbaraya who died in the year 1890. Subbaraya's widow died in the year 1944 and according to the plaintiffs at the time of the death of the widow of Subbaraya, their mother Muthamma was the nearest friend. After Muthamma's death in 1950 they became reversioners to the estate of late Subbaraya. The case of the contesting defendants was that the reversion to the estate of Subbaraya opened in 1944 when Subbaraya's widow died and that even at that time the plaintiffs themselves were nearest reversioners as they, being male Bandhus, were entitled to preference over their mother Muthamma, who was a female Bandhu. The reversion having opened in 1944 and the plaintiffs being entitled to succeed to the reversion even in 1944 the suit was barred by limitation, the learned Subordinate Judge held that the plaintiffs were the nearest reversioners even in 1944 as they were entitled to preference over their mother. The reversion having opened in 1944, the suit which was filed in 1962 was held to be barred by limitation. The plaintiffs have preferred this appeal and the primary question for decision is whether a male Bandhu is entitled to exclude a female Bandhu under the Hindu Law of inheritance.
(2.) The relationship of the plaintiffs to the last male holder is as follows: Subbaraya was the daughter's son of one Dakshina Murthy. The plaintiffs are the daughter's sons of another Subbaraya, whose paternal grand-father was Dakshina Murthy. It is not disputed that Muthamma, the mother of the plaintiffs was a Bandhu and the plaintiffs are Bandhus of Subbaraya. If propinquity was the only test, Muthamma was entitled to succeed to Subbaraya's estate on the death of Subbaraya's widow. But if the rule of male Bandhus excluding female Bandhus was to be applied, the plaintiffs were entitled to succeed as the nearest reversioners on the death of Subbaraya. Sri K.B. Krishna Murthy, the learned counsel for the appellants argued that the test of religious efficacy was abandoned by the Privy Council in favour of the test of propinquity in the case of Balasubrahmanya Pandya Thalaivar v. Subbayya Tevar 65 Indian appeal 93 and therefore it followed as a necessary consequence that the rulings in earlier cases, which held that female Bandhus were liable to be excluded by male Bandhus did not lay down good law. He urged that the rule propounded by the earlier Madras cases was based on the, principle of religious efficacy and when once it had been held that the principle of religious efficacy should yield to the principle of propinquity, the very ground was cut under the feet of that rule.
(3.) As far back as in 1881 the Madras High Court in Lakshmanammal v. Tiruvengada I.L.R. 5 Mad. 241 has taken the view that according to Hindu Law as administered in the Madras Presidency the claims of a sister's son who was a male Bandhu were superior to the claims of a sister, who was a female Bandhu, though nearer in degree. It was observed by the learned Judges that the rule excluding the females in favour of preferential male heirs was recognised by Vignaneswara and that it had the support of long recognised usage in the Madras Presidency. Thus even in the year 1881, so far as the Madras Presidency was concerned, the rule was considered to be one which had the support of long recognised usage. On the same principle in Narasimha v. Mangammal I.L.R. 13 Mad. 10 a mother's brother was preferred to father's sisters. In Nallanna v. Ponnal I.L.R. 14 Mad. 149 it was observed that a son's daughter was entitled to inherit in the absence of preferential male Bandhus. In Chinnammal v. Venkatachala I.L.R. 15 Mad. 421 it was held that the maternal grand father was entitled to succeed in preference to the paternal aunt of deceased widow. In Rajah Venkata Narasimma Apparao Bahdur v. Rajah Surenani Venkata Purushothamma Jagannadha Gopalarow Bahdur I.L.R. Mad. 321 the principle that a male Bandhu was entitled to preference over a female Bandhu, even though the latter was nearer in degree was considered as settled law in the Madras Presidency.;

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