SRIMATI MATANGINI DEBI Vs. SRIMATI JAYKALI DEBI
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
SRIMATI MATANGINI DEBI
SRIMATI JAYKALI DEBI
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(1.) This case has been very ably argued on both sides. It appears to me that the judgment of the Court of original jurisdiction ought to be affirmed. There is no doubt that, according to the Hindu law of inheritance, a wife who commits adultery during the life-time of her husband, loses her right to inherit her husband's estate, unless the act is condoned by her husband, or expiated by penance. But the question involved in the present case is, whether a widow who succeeds to her husband's estate by inheritance, holds that estate merely so long as she remains chaste, or forfeits the estate which has become vested in her if she is guilty of unchastity. There are some authorities both ways. Giving the case my best consideration, it appears to me that the Judge in the Court below arrived at a correct conclusion. He has so fully entered into the authorities and arguments, that I do not purpose to go to much length in the consideration of the question.
(2.) Mr. Colebrooke's opinion, as expressed in his remarks upon the Trichinopoly case 2 Strange's H.L., 272, appears to me to be correct. He says:-- "An unchaste woman is excluded from the inheritance of her husband. But no misconduct, other than incontinency, operates disinherison; nor after the property has vested by inheritance does she forfeit it, unless for loss of caste, unexpiated by penance, and unredeemed by atonement."
(3.) It was said in argument that the right of inheritance or succession according to the Hindu law is founded on benefits to be conferred upon the ancestor. "He who takes the estate of the deceased is to perform his obsequies." This is not true in every case, for it is laid down that, "if one be heir to an estate, and another be qualified to perform the shraddha, he must give sufficient property, and cause the rites to be celebrated by him who is qualified to perform them;" see Vyavastha Darpana, page 363, where reference is made to Colebrooke's Digest, Volume III, pages. 545, 546. But, however that may be, there is no authority to show that the person who takes an estate by inheritance, holds that estate only so long as he performs those duties which are morally imposed upon him, or that he forfeits the estate which he has taken if he ceases to perform those duties. It is clear that, according to the Bengal school, a man who takes an estate by inheritance may sell or otherwise dispose of it.;
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