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Madras High Court
Vuppulri Tatayya Alias Veeranna vs Garimilla Ramakrishnamma And … on 1 April, 1910
Equivalent citations: (1911) ILR 34 Mad 288
Bench: Benson, K Ayyar


1. The second appeal is argued as regards the validity of the gift of item No. II. Lakahmamma who succeeded to the property of her father on his death in the sixties, made a gift of 49 cents of her father’s property to the third defendant. The extent of land which came to her from her father was about 39 acres apart from houses and house-sites and moveable property. The gift was made on the occasion of the Pushkaram at Rajahrnun-dry, a peculiarly holy event amongst Hindus which happens once in twelve years. She was the person to perform her father’s sraddha on his death, there being no brothers and her mother having died before him. She performed the sraddha on the occasion of the Pushkaram and made gift of the land as part of the sraddha ceremony. The plaintiff, a reversioner, impeaches the gift. 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 greater 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 under no circumstances can the father’s property be so used. However this may be, if the expenditure by the daughter is for the 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 her 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 alienation under like circumstances. In this case the daughter succeeded to her father’s property. She was also the person bound to perform his sraddha at his death. Her duty in respect of the funeral and annual ceremonies is laid down by writers on the ceremonial law. Rajkumar Sarvadhikari in his Tagore lectures names her at page 110 “as the person entitled to perform sraddha rites on failure of the widow.” Mr. Ghose in his Hindu Law names her among the persons competent to perform the sraddha at page 63. Sarvadhikari 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 sraddha to a divided father as she takes the property.” In the Sraddha Kanda of Vaidianatha Dikshita published by Narayana Sastri in grantha characters, the daughter’s duty to perform her father’s sraddha is laid down in pages 23 and 26. Ho says the daughter performs the sraddha 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 putrikaputra, 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 sraddha being enjoined the nibandhana writers are agreed that a visit to a theertha or holy place is a proper occasion for the performance of a sraddha. Reference is made by Sarvadhikari in the footnote at page 101 to the Theertha Sraddha 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 sraddha on occasions of visit to holy places and on the occurrence of sacred conjunctions, See pages 301 to 307. So does the Vaithia-natha Dikshitiya dwell in great elaboration on the peculiarly sacred occasions when the performance of sraddha is enjoined. That the banks of the Godavari, which is a sacred river, would according to Hindu ideas be a fitting place for the performance of sraddha cannot be questioned, That the occurrence of the, Godavari 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 sraddha ceremonial, and is laid down in coremonial treatises as highly meritorious. The Madhaviya at page 436 and the Vaithianatha Dikshitiya at page 359 (the editions are those already raferred to) refer to the gift of land as part of the sraddha 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 father’s sraddha on the occasion of the Godavari 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 (1885) I.L.R. 8 Mad. 552 and Lahshminarayana v. Dasu (1888) I.L.R. 11 Mad.288. 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 case of a gift to a pro-Brahmin introduced into a family by widows for the performance of their husband’s sraddha it wag ‘hold 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 y. Jai Narain (1882) I.L.R. 4 All 482 or for the endowment of a temple built by the mother-in-law as in Ram Kawal Singh v. Ram Kishore Das (1895) I.L.R. 252 Calc. 506 the gift was undoubtedly without justification. The case of Raj Chunder Deb Biswas v. Skeeshoo Ram Deb (1867)7 W.R. 146 is not quite intelligible and we are not clear that the headnota is supported by the somewhat laconic judgment. It is said that the sale of the property by the daughter for the mother’s sraddha 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. Nagabhu-shanatn is authority fur 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 sraddha 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 Jummenjoy Mullick v. Rasmoyee Dossee (1868) 10 W.R. 309 that a sale for the expenses of her husband’s mother’s sraddha by a Hindu widow was justified 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 boars a small proportion (which it is impossible to define more exactly) to the estate inherited and the occasion of the disposition of 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 alienation 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 Masulipaiam v. Cavaly Vencata Narrainapah (1861) 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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