Decided on August 30,1957

NAND KAUR Respondents


- (1.) This appeal raises the question whether among Sandhu Jats of the Ferozepore District a sonless widow is entitled to succeed to her husband's estate equally with each of his sons.
(2.) The facts of the case are very simple indeed. Early in January, 1954 one Lal Singh, a resident of village Kanyanwali of the Muktsar Tehsil died leaving behind him three widows, a son by one of the three widows by the name of Sardul Singh and a plot of land measuring 1336 kanals 7 marlas. On the 13th August, 1954 Sardul Singh brought a suit for a declaration that he is entitled to succeed to the entire estate left by his deceased father, and for an injunction restraining the defendants, namely his mothers from interfering with his possession. The trial Court expressed the view that each of the three widows was entitled to 1/6th share in the property left by the deceased landholder in lieu of maintenance, but the learned Additional District Judge came to a contrary conclusion and held that each of the three widows was entitled to share equally with the son and that each one of them was entitled to 1/4th share in the said property. The plaintiff, who is a boy of about 12 or 13 years of age, is dissatisfied with this order and has come to this Court in second appeal.
(3.) The general agricultural custom of the Province as embodied in paragraph 16 of Rattigan's Digest of Customary Law is that in the presence of a male descendant of the deceased his widow is ordinarily only entitled to suitable maintenance, whether such descendant is the issue of the surviving widow or of another wife. This general custom has in the Ferozepore District been varied by a special custom, for the answer to Question No. 35 of the Customary Law of the Ferozepore District compiled by Mr. M.M.L. Currie is in the following terms :- "Where there are more than one widow and one or more are sonless, there is considerable diversity of opinion and practice. Among the Hindu tribes the following say that - (i) a sonless widow obtains a son's share if the property is small, but, if the estate is a large one, is only entitled to sufficient land to maintain her :- Gils (except in Fazilka), Siddhus of Zira, Muktsar and Fazilka, Dhaliwals of the same tehsils, Khosas of Zira and Moga, and the miscellaneous Jats of Ferozepore and Moga, the Siddhus of the 11 Bhaike villages of Nathana; (ii) she gets a son's share :- Gils of Fazilka, Sandhus, Khosas of Ferozepore, Dhaliwals of Moga and Ferozepore, Bagri Kumhars, Mahtams of Muktsar and Fazilka. * * * *";

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