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Mother is legal heir to her deceased daughter's property : Madras High Court

Mother is legal heir to her deceased daughter's property : Madras High Court

Recently, the bench of Justice V Sivagnanam of the Madras High Court rejects a criminal revision application filed by one Annadurai, challenging a magistrate's court order that had permitted his mother-in-law to recover the arrears of maintenance amounting to ₹6.2 lakh, after his divorced wife died during the pending case.

The single-headed bench ruled that A mother is a legal heir to her deceased daughter's property, and is therefore entitled to claim accrued arrears of the daughter's alimony.

The Court noted that a combined reading of sub-sections 1 and 2 of Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act made it clear that arrears of maintenance were to be considered as both movable and immovable property that one had acquired under a decree. 

The Court further said that as per the Transfer of Property Act, the arrears of maintenance will be in the "nature of the property that is heritable." But, the right to "future maintenance, however, was not transferable or heritable."

The petitioner's husband had argued that the maintenance was the deceased's personal right and that right was extinguished once she died.

To his reply, the Court noted that as per Section 15(1)(c) of the Hindu Succession Act, a mother was entitled to the property of her daughter and that principle would apply to the present case. 

"No doubt, the right of maintenance is the wife's personal right. The maxim “Action personalis moritur cum persona” (A personal action dies with the person) is applicable, so far as future maintenance is concerned. So far as the arrears of maintenance is concerned, it is a property of wife as per the explanation 2 Section 14 of Hindu Succession Act," the High Court said.

The Court agreed with the respondent counsel's submission that since a mother was entitled to the property of her daughter, in the present case, the respondent mother was entitled to the arrears of maintenance accrued till the death of her daughter.

"In view of Section 15(1)(c) of the Hindu Succession Act, the mother is entitled to the property of her daughter. In this case, the arrears of maintenance accrued till the death of her daughter Saraswathi (wife of the petitioner). Therefore, the learned Judge rightly impleaded the mother of the deceased daughter (wife of the petitioner) in the petition for arrears of maintenance. There is no infirmity in the order passed by the learned Judge and no reason to interfere with the impugned order and no merit in the criminal revision case. Accordingly, the criminal revision case is dismissed. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed," the High Court said.

Case Title - Annadurai v Jaya

Advocate K Govi Ganesan appeared for the petitioner Annadurai.

Advocate R Amburaj appeared for the respondent's mother-in-law.

 

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