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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hindu Women's Right to Property Act as applied in the erstwhile State of Hyderabad agricultural lands not included = The appellants contended that under the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act as applied in the erstwhile State of Hyderabad where the lands were situated, the Ist respondent being the widow of deceesed Ramshetti, was not entitled to a share in the joint family agricultural lands. Agricultural lands are excluded from the provisions of the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937. This contention has been negatived by the High Court. Hence the present appeal has been filed by the heirs of Veerappa.= It was submitted that prior to the enactment of the Hyderabad Hindu Women's Right to Property (Extension to Agricultural Lands) Act, 1954, the Hindu women's Right to Property Act as enacted in 1952 would not apply to agricultural land. The High Court has rightly negatived this contention. A subsequent Act cannot be used to interpret the provisions of an earlier enactment in this fashion. The language of the earlier Act is wide enough to cover agricultural land also. In the entire Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937, there is nothing which would indicate that the Act does not apply to agricultural land. The word 'property' is a general term which covers all kinds of property, including agricultural land. A restricted interpretation was given to thee original Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 enacted by the then Central Legislature, entirely because of the legislative entries in the Government of India Act, 1935, which excluded the legislative competence of the Central Legislature over agricultural lands. Such is not the case in respect of the Hindu Women's Right to Property act, 1937, as enacted by the State Legislature of the State of Hyderabad. The ratio of the Federal Court judgment, therefore, would not apply. There is, therefore, no substance in the contention that the subsequent Act of 1954 restricted the application of the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 brought into force by the earlier Hyderabad Act of 1952. As is pointed out by the High Court, the Act of 1954 was enacted by way of abundant caution, to make sure that the agricultural lands were not considered as excluded from the scope of the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act as enacted in 1952. The second Act is, therefore, clarificatory. The High Court has dealt at length with various decisions of this Court and other Court on thee question of interpretation of the said statute. Since we are in agreement with the reasoning and conclusion arrived at by the High Court, we are not again examining the cases referred to by the High Court. We, therefore, affirm the reasoning and conclusion arrived at by the High Court and dismiss this appeal. There will, however, be no order as to costs.

published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=12909
PETITIONER:
VAIJANATH & ORS.

Vs.

RESPONDENT:
GURAMMA & ANR.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 18/11/1998

BENCH:
SUJATA V. MANOHAR, & G.B. PATTANAIK.




ACT:



HEADNOTE:



JUDGMENT:
ORDER
The application to bring on record  Respondent No.2
also as legal representative of deceased Respondent No. 1 is
allowed.
The Ist respondent was the widow of one Ramshetti  who died
some time  in  July,  1954.    The  2nd respondent  is her
daughter.  Ramshetti and his brother Veerappa, during  their
life  time  constituted a  joint  family which owned, inter
aliea agricultural land.   The present appellant  are the
widow, sons and daughters of Veerappa.
On a partition of  the joint family property  which was
ordered in proceedings arising pursuant to regular Suit No.
88/78 for partition and possession, the Ist  respondent  as
widow of   Ramshetti has  been  given  a  share  in the
agricultural lands belonging  to  the  joint  family. The
appellants  contended  that under the Hindu Women's Right to
Property Act as applied in the erstwhile State of  Hyderabad
where  the lands were situated, the Ist respondent being the
widow of deceesed Ramshetti, was not entitled to a share  in
the  joint family agricultural lands. Agricultural lands are
excluded from the provisions of the Hindu Women's  Right  to
Property  Act, 1937.  This contention has been negatived by
the High Court. Hence the present appeal has been  filed  by
the heirs of Veerappa.
     On the  date  of death of Ramshetti in July, 1954, the
lands were situated in the  erstwhile  State  of  Hyderabad,
Under  the Hyderabad (Application of Central Acts) Act, 1952
which received assent of the  President on  22nd  of  July,
1953,  certain Central Acts affecting Hindu and Muslim laws
were applied to the State of Hyderabad. One of the  laws  so
applied to  the  State of  Hyderabad was the Hindu Women's
right to Property Act, 1937.
Scheme 3 of the Hyderabad  (Application of  Central
Acts)  Act,  1952,  hereinafter referred to as the Hyderabad
Act of 1952, stated that Acts specified therein shall, with
effect from the appointed day, extend to and be in force in
the  whole  of the  State  of Hyderabad  subject  to the
modification mentioned in the Schedule and shall accordingly
be in force in the said State with effect from the said date
in  the forma respectively specified in Annexures 'A', 'B',
'C', 'D', 'E' and 'F' to the Schedule, in  the Schedule  to
the  said Act the modification to the Hindu Women's Right to
Property Act, 1937 is set out. The  only  modification is,
"For sub-section (2) of Section 1, the following sub-section
shall  be  substituted, it extends to the whole of the State
of Hyderabad, "Annexure C' to the said Hyderabad Act of 1952
sets out the text of the Hindu Women's Rights to  Property
Act,   1937  as modified  by  the  aforesaid  Schedule and
applicable in the State of Hyderabad.  the  entire  text  of
the   Act   remains   the  same with  the  modification  of
sub-section (3) of the said Hindu Women's Right to  Property
Act,  1937  when  a  Hindu governed by any school other than
Dayabhaga School of Hindu  Law or  a  customary  law, dies
intestate  having  at the time of his death an interest in a
Hindu Joint Family Property, his widow shall  have  in the
property  the  same  interest  as he himself had, subject to
sub-section (3).  Under sub-section  (3)  Under sub-section
(3) the interest devolving on a Hindu Woman's Estate.  There
is  no definition of property under the Hindu Women's Rights
to Property Act, 1937. Therefore, the term property has  to
be   given   its   ordinary   meaning  which  would  include
agricultural land also.
However, the appellants rely upon a decision of the
Federal Court  in  Re: Hindu Women's Right to Property Act.
1937 AIR 1941 Federal Court page 72 under which the validity
of the said Original Act  which had  been  enacted  by the
Central Legislature  was  considered  by the Federal Court,
Examining the question of  legislative competence  of the
Central Legislature to enact in 1937 the Hindu Women's Right
to  Property  Act the Federal Court examined the legislative
entries under the Government of India Act, 1935.    It held
that  under  Entry  21 of  List  II  which  applied  to the
Provincial Legislatures, laws with respect to devolution  of
agricultural  land  could  be enacted only by the Provincial
Legislature.  It also noted that in List  III, that  is  to
say,  the  Concurrent List, Entry 7 was wills, intestacy and
succession save and except agricultural land'. The  Federal
Court  observe that while the Act purports to deal in quite
general terms with property' or 'separate  property'  of  a
Hindu  dying  intestate or  his  interest  in joint family
property, it does not distinguish between agricultural land
and other  property and.  therefore, is not limited in terms
to the latter. However, looking to the completence  of the
Central Legislature to enact such a law the word 'property'
will have to be suitable construed.  'When legislature with
limited and  restricted  powers makes use of such a word of
such a wide and general import, the presumption must  surely
be  that  it  is  using it  with  reference to that kind or
property with respect to which it is competent to  legislate
and to no  other.  The Federal Court, therefore, restricted
the application of the Hindu Women's Rights to Property Act,
1937 by excluding agricultural lands from its purview.
       The  same  constraint  do  not  apply  to  the said
Hyderabad  Act of  1952  passed  by thee legislature of the
State of Hyderabad, which has received the  assent  of the
President  on  22nd  of July, 1953. The relevant Legislative
entries under the  Constitution  of  India  are   somewhat
different. Entry 5 in the Concurrent List, being List III in
the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, is as follows:
     "Marriage and  divorce; infants and minors;
adoption; wills,  intestacy  and  succession;  joint
family and  partition; all  matters  in respect of
which parties  in   judicial  proceedings were
immediately   before   the   commencement   of this
Constitution subject to their personal law."
The is no exclusion of agricultural lands from Entry 5 which
covers wills, intestacy and succession as also joint family
and partition. Although Entry 6  of  the  Concurrent List
refers to transfer of property other than agricultural land,
agriculture   as   well  as  land  including  transfer and
alienation of agricultural land are placed under Entries  14
and 18 of  the State List.  Therefore, it is quite apparent
that the Legislature of the State of Hyderabad was competent
to enact  a  Legislation  which dealt with  intestacy and
succession  relating  to  Joint Family Property  including
agricultural land.  The language of the Hindu Women's  Right
to  Property  Act, 1937 as enacted in the State of Hyderabad
is as general as the Original Act.  The words 'property'  as
well  as 'interest in Joint Family Property' are wide enough
to cover  agricultural lands  also. Therefore,   on  an
interpretation of  the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act,
1937 as enacted by the State of Hyderabad,  the Act  covers
agricultural lands.    As the Federal Court has noted in the
above judgment, the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act is a
remedial Act  seeking  to  mitigate  hardships of  a  widow
regarding  inheritance under  the  Hindu  Law prior to the
enactment of the  1937 Act;  and  it  ought  to  receive  a
beneficial interpretation.  The beneficial interpretation in
the  present  context would clearly cover agricultural lands
under the word 'property'.    This  Act also  received the
assent of the President under Article 254(2) and, therefore,
it will prevail.
The  appellants, however, rely upon a subsequent Act
passed by the State of Hyderabad,  namely,  Hyderabad  Hindu
Women's Rights to Property (Extension to Agricultural Land)
Act, 1954.  Section 2 of the said Act  provides that  "term
'property' in the Hindu Women's Rights to Property Act as in
force  in  the State of Hyderabad shall include agricultural
land.  This Act received the assent of the President on 15th
October, 1954 and was published in the State  Gazette  dated
22nd of October,  1954. 
 It was submitted that prior to the
enactment of the Hyderabad Hindu Women's Right to  Property
(Extension  to Agricultural  Lands)  Act,  1954,  the Hindu
women's Right to Property Act as enacted in 1952  would not
apply to  agricultural land.  
The  High Court has rightly
negatived this contention.  A subsequent Act cannot be used
to  interpret the provisions of an earlier enactment in this
fashion.  The language of the earlier Act is wide enough  to
cover agricultural  land  also.  
In the entire Hindu Women's
Right to Property Act, 1937, there is  nothing which  would
indicate  that the Act does not apply to agricultural land.
The word 'property' is a general term which covers all kinds
of property, including agricultural  land.    A  restricted
interpretation was  given  to thee  original Hindu Women's
Right to Property Act, 1937  enacted  by  the  then  Central
Legislature,  entirely because of the legislative entries in
the Government of  India  Act, 1935, which  excluded the
legislative  competence of  the  Central  Legislature over
agricultural lands.  Such is not the case in respect of the
Hindu Women's Right to Property act, 1937, as enacted by the
State Legislature  of  the State of Hyderabad. The ratio of
the Federal Court  judgment,  therefore,  would not  apply.
There is, therefore, no substance in the contention that the
subsequent  Act of  1954  restricted the application of the
Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 brought into force
by the earlier Hyderabad Act of 1952.  As is pointed out  by
the  High  Court,  the Act  of 1954  was enacted by way of
abundant caution, to make sure that the agricultural  lands
were  not considered as excluded from the scope of the Hindu
Women's Right to Property Act  as  enacted  in 1952. The
second Act is, therefore, clarificatory.
The High Court has dealt at length with various decisions of
this   Court   and   other   Court   on  thee question  of
interpretation of  the said  statute.  Since we  are  in
agreement  with the  reasoning and conclusion arrived at by
the High  Court,  we  are  not again  examining  the  cases
referred to  by the  High Court.  We, therefore, affirm the
reasoning and conclusion arrived at by the  High  Court and
dismiss this appeal.  There will, however, be no order as to
costs.



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