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Madras High Court
Vappuluri Tatayya Alias Veeranna vs Garinalla Ramakrishnamma And … on 1 April, 1910
Equivalent citations: 6 Ind Cas 240 a
Bench: R Benson, K Aiyar


1. The second appeal is argued as regards the validity of the gift of Item No. II to Lakshimamma who succeeded to the property of her father on his death in the sixties; she made a gift of 49 cents of her father’s property to the 3rd defendant. The extent of land which came to her from her father was about 19 acres apart from houses and house sites and movable property. The gift was made on the occasion of the Pushkaram at Rajahmundry, a peculiarly holy event amongst Hindus which happens once in twelve years. She was the person to perform her father’s shraddha on his death, there being no brothers and her mother having died before him. She performed the shradhha on the occasion of the Pushkaram and made the gift of the land as part of the shradhha ceremony. The plaintiff, a reversioner, impeaches the gift.

2. Under the Hindu. Law in force in this presidency, the daughter is a limited owner like the widow and her powers of alienation as regards property which she has inherited from her father are no grater than those of, the widow and we are inclined to hold that they are not less. The test, however is apart from cases of temporal necessity, whether the alienations are for the spiritual purposes of the deceased father or husband. The daughter inheriting property from her father is not entitled to expend it for the spiritual needs of her husband, though it cannot be said that tinder no circumstances can the father’s property be so used. However this may be, if the expenditure by the daughter is for spiritual needs of the father’s soul, it stands on the same footing as the expenditure by the widow for the spiritual needs of her husband. There may be a question as to whether the daughter is competent to minister to the spiritual needs of a father in all those ways in which the widow is competent to serve the spiritual needs of her husband. But if according to the ceremonial law it is incumbent upon the daughter to serve the spiritual necessities of bib deceased father whose property she inherits, we are not justified in dealing with her alienation of her father’s property for such necessities in a manner different from a widow’s alienations under like circumstances. In this case the daughter succeeded to her father’s property. She was also the person bound to perform his shraddha at his death. Her duty in respect of the funeral and annual ceremonies is laid down by writers on the Ceremonial Law. Rajkumar Sarvadikary in his Tagore Lectures names her at page 110 as the person entitled to perform, shraddha rites on failure of the widow”. Mr. Ghose in his Hindu Law names her among the persons competent to perform the shraddha at page 63. Sarvadikarir relies on the authority of the “Dharma Sindhu” from which he quotes largely. In the Bombay Sanskrit Edition of the Nirnaya Sindhu at page 287 the author says: “the daughter performs the shraddha to a divided father as she takes the property.” In the shiaddha Kanda of Vydianatha Dikshta published by Narayana Sastri in Grantha characters, the daughter’s duty to perform her father’s shraddha is laid down in pages 23 and 26. He says the daughter performs the shraddha in the absence of the son etc., and gives the order at the bottom of page 26 thus: the son born, the grandson, his male descendants, the putrika pntra, his descendant, the adopted son, his issue, the daughter’s son who inherits, the daughter’s son, the widow, the husband, the son of a co-wife, the daughter, the brother, the brother’s son etc.” The performance of the shraddha being enjoined, the Nibbandnna writers are agreed that a visit to a Thirthi or holy place is a proper occasion for the performance of a, shraddha. Reference is made by Sarvadikary in the foot-note at page 101 to the Thirthi Shraddha on the authority of Dharma Sindhu. The Nirnaya Sindhu, (Bombay Sanskrit Edition) speaks of it at page 379. The Madhaviya published as Volume 48 of the Bombay Sanskrit series lays down the duty of performing the shraddha on occasions of visits to holy places and on the occurrence of sacred conjunctions. See pages 301 to 307. So does the Vythianatha Dikshitya dwell in great elaboration on the peculiarly sacred occasions when the performance of shraddha is enjoined. That the banks of the Godaveri which is a sacred river would according to Hindu ideas be a fitting place for the performance of shraddha cannot be questioned. That the occurence of the Godaveri Pushkara would largely enhance the sacredness of the place is also an accepted item of orthodox belief. The gift of land is a suitable appendage to the shraddha ceremonial, and is laid down in ceremonial treatises as highly meritorious. The Madhaviya at page 433 and the Vythianadha Dikshitya at page 359 (the editions are those already referred to) refer to the gift of land as part of the shraidha ceremonial. It is, therefore, clear that the gift in the present case of a very small extent of the father’s property was in accordance with Hindu ideas as regards the daughter’s duty in connection with the performance of a fathers’ shraddha on the occasion of the Godaveri Pushkara. It has sometimes been said that the gift of property is justifiable if it is in performance of indispensable acts of duty or religious necessity. See Rama v. Ranga 8 M. 552 and Lakshiminarayana v. Dasu 11 M. 28. In the first of these cases, the sale by the widow of nearly all the property she inherited from her husband for the expenses of pilgrimages was held unjustifiable. In the second ease of a gift to a pro-Brahmin introduced into a family by widows for the performance of their husband’s shraddahs, it was held that the gift was for indispensable necessity and of a small portion of the husband’s property and, therefore, valid. But we do not think we can lay down the rule that to justify the alienation the expenditure should be for a spiritual necessity. We have already said that the gift or expenditure should have reference to the spiritual needs of the father or husband whose property is taken. Where it was only for the widow’s spiritual benefit as in Puran Dai v. Jai Narain 4 A. 482 or for the endowment of a temple built by the mother-in-law as in Ram Kamal Singh v. Ram Kishore Dass 22 C. 506, the gift was undoubtedly without jurisdiction. The case of Raj Chunder Deb Biswas v. Sheeshoo Ram Deb 7 W.R. 146 is not quite intelligible and we are not clear that the head-note is supported by the somewhat laconic judgment. It is said that the sale of the property by the daughter for the mother’s shraddha was invalid. The appeal itself appears to have been dismissed which would rather support the view that the alienation was held-good. But none of these cases, which were relied on by Mr. Nagabhushanam, is authority for the position that the alienation must be for an indispensable spiritual duty to support the alienation. It can hardly be supposed that a Hindu widow paying a visit to Gaya or Sethu is not justified in incurring reasonable expenditure for the purpose or in making a gift of land on the occasion of the shraddha there performed for the spiritual benefit of her husband’s soul. Mr. Justice Dwarkanath Mitter, a high authority on such a question, held in, Chowdhry Junmenjoy Mullick v. Russomoyee Dossee 10 W.R. 309 : 11 L.R. 418 note, that a sale for the expenses of her husband’s mother’s shraddha by a Hindu widow was justifiable even though the actual performer of the ceremonies was the husband’s brother. We think we are warranted in holding that if the property sold or gifted bears a small proportion (which it is impossible to define more exactly) to the estate inherited and the occasion of the disposition or expenditure is reasonable and proper according to the common notions of the Hindus, it is justifiable and cannot be impeached by the reversioner. We are obliged to express ourselves somewhat guardedly because almost every, gift according to Hindu notions is as such calculated to promote spiritual merit and the occasions for the performances of ceremonies calculated, to bring spiritual reward are so innumerable that almost any expenditure not for a sinful object and any alienation by way of gift may be attempted to be justified as ministering to spiritual benefit. We do not think that Hindu lawyers contemplated such an exercise of the power of alienanation by a limited owner. It is to be regretted that we have not found ourselves in a position to lay down a more definite rule for practical application. In the Collector of Masulipatam v. Gavaly Venkata Narainnppa 8 M.I.A. 529 at p. 551, the Privy Council said: “For religious or charitable purposes, or those which are supposed to conduce to the spiritual welfare of her husband, she (the widow) has a larger power of disposition than that which she possesses for purely worldly purposes.” Their Lordships did not attempt to further define the spiritual purpose. We have endeavoured to suggest the further limitation that the Spiritual purpose should be such as is regarded by the Hindu community as reasonable and proper though not absolutely necessary. We think the alienation in the present case falls within the rule. We must dismiss the second appeal with costs.

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