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Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 s.100 – Second appeal – Scope of – High Court setting aside the concurrent finding of fact recorded by both the courts below that in view of the fact that husband of the defendant was alive at the relevant time, marriage between her and the brother of plaintiff could not be presumed – HELD: High Court re-appreciated the documentary evidence, and did not take into consideration the evidence of plaintiff’s witnesses which had been relied upon by courts below, but decided on the presumption of marriage only placing reliance on the evidence of DW-1 who had been disbelieved by the courts below for cogent reasons – Such a course is not permissible while deciding a second appeal u/s100 – Judgment of High Court set aside. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: s.5 – Marriage – Presumption of – HELD: If one of the parties of live-in relationship has a spouse living, merely live-in relationship between the said two parties would not lead to presumption of marriage between them. s.16(2) – Legitimacy of children of void or voidable marriages – HELD: In view of legal fiction contained in s.16, the illegitimate children for all practical purposes, including succession to properties of their parents, have to be treated as legitimate – But, they cannot succeed to the properties of any other relation. Evidence Act, 1872: s.112 – Birth during marriage, conclusive proof of legitimacy – Presumption of a child being legitimate can only be displaced by a strong preponderance of evidence and not merely by a balance of probabilities – Proof of non- access between the parties to marriage during the relevant period is the only way to rebut the presumption – In the instant case, the proof of non- access between the parties to the legally subsisting marriage had never been even pleaded – Hindu Marriage Act, 1985 – ss. 5 and 16. Transfer of Property Act, 1882: s.52 – Transfer lis pendens – HELD: Owners still being in possession of suit property and their suit for declaration of title having been decreed, purchaser may resort to legal proceedings for recovery of sale consideration from his vendors – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 – ss. 5 and 16 – Cod of Civil Procedure, 1908 – s.100. The predecessor-in-interest of the appellants filed a suit against respondent nos. 2 to 5, claiming her share in the suit property left by her brother namely, `MR’, who died intestate and was stated to be unmarried. It was stated that defendant-1 (respondent no.2) was married to one `AR’ who was alive on the date of institution of the suit and her claim of live-in relationship with `MR’ and having two children from him was to be rejected. Defendant no. 1 denied her marriage with `AR’. The trial court decreed the suit. Respondent no. 1, having purchased the suit property pending first appeal, got himself impleaded as a party in the appeal. The first appellate court affirmed the decree. However, the High Court allowed the second appeal filed by the respondents. Aggrieved, the successors of the plaintiff filed the appeal. =Allowing the appeal, the Court HELD: 1.1. The High Court, while deciding a second appeal, can interfere with the finding of fact, provided the findings recorded by the courts below are perverse. In the instant case, the trial court as well as the first appellate court have recorded a categorical finding of fact that defendant No.1 was legally wedded wife of `AR” who was alive on the date of institution of the suit and, therefore, the question of marriage by presumption between defendant no. 1 and `MR’ (brother of the plaintiff) would not arise; and for determining the same all the material on record, including the statement of DW1 along with all other defence witnesses and the documents, particularly, Exts.B14, B18, B19 and B2, was taken into consideration. The courts below placed very heavy reliance upon the witnesses examined by the plaintiff particularly, PWs 2 and 5. The High Court without making any reference to the evidence of the plaintiff’s witnesses, particularly, P.Ws .2 and 5, reversed the finding of fact and reached the conclusion that merely live-in-relationship between the said two parties would lead to the presumption of marriage between them. The High Court has decided the issue regarding the factum of marriage between `AR’ and defendant no. 1 placing reliance only upon the statement of DW1, step mother of `MR’, who had been disbelieved by the courts below by giving cogent reasons. Such a course is not permissible while deciding the second appeal u/s 100 CPC. [para 7, 9,13 and 17] [163-B-C; 163-F; 166-G] H.B. Gandhi, Excise & Taxation Officer-cum- Assessing Authority, Karnal & Ors. Vs. M/s. Gopi Nath & Sons & Ors. 1992 Supp.(2) SCC 312; M/s. Triveni Rubber & Plastics Vs. Collector of Central Excise, Cochin AIR 1994 SC 1341; Kuldeep Singh Vs. Commissioner of Police & Ors. (1998) 3 Suppl. SCR 594= (1999) 2 SCC 10 ; Gaya Din (dead) thr. Lrs. & Ors. Vs. Hanuman Prasad (dead) thr. Lrs. & Ors. AIR 2001 SC 386; Rajinder Kumar Kindra Vs. Delhi Administration, thr. Secretary (Labour) & Ors. (1985) 1 SCR866= AIR 1984 SC 1805; Sheel Chand Vs. Prakash Chand (1998) 1Suppl. SCR 297=AIR 1998 SC 3063; Rajappa Hanamantha Ranoji Vs. Mahadev Channabasappa & Ors. AIR 2000 SC 2108; Kulwant Kaur & Ors. Vs. Gurdial Singh Mann (dead) by L.Rs. (2001) 2 SCR 525= AIR 2001 SC 1273, relied on. 1.2. The High Court has also reappreciated the documentary evidence and took a view contrary to that taken by the courts below. It was not appropriate for the High Court to re-appreciate the evidence in second appeal as no substantial question of law involved therein. In view of the fact that the High Court did not even take note of the deposition of the plaintiff’s witnesses, findings recorded by the High Court itself become perverse and thus liable to be set aside. [Para 17-18] [166-H; 167-A-C] 2. The High Court erred in not appreciating that the judgments of the courts below could be based on another presumption provided u/s 112 of the Evidence Act, 1872, i.e. the presumption of a child being legitimate and such a presumption can only be displaced by a strong preponderance of evidence and not merely by a balance of probabilities as the law has to live in favour of innocent child from being bastardised. In the instant case, as the proof of non-access between defendant no. 1 and `AR’ had never been pleaded, the matter has not been examined by the High Court in correct perspective. It is settled legal proposition that proof of non-access between the parties to marriage during the relevant period is the only way to rebut that presumption. [Para 15-16] [166-A-D] Mohabbat Ali Khan Vs. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan & Ors. AIR 1929 PC 135; Chilukuri Venkateswarlu Vs. Chilukuri Venkatanarayana (1954) SCR424=AIR 1954 SC 176; Mahendra Manilal Nanavati Vs. Sushila Mahendra Nanavati (1964)SCR267= AIR 1965 SC 364; Perumal Nadar (Dead) by Lrs. Vs. Ponnuswami Nadar (minor) (1971) SCR49= AIR 1971 SC 2352; Amarjit Kaur Vs. Harbhajan Singh and Anr. (2003) 10 SCC 228; Sobha Hymavathi Devi Vs. Setti Gangadhara Swamy and Ors. (2005) 1 SCR848 =AIR 2005 SC 800; and Shri Banarsi Dass Vs. Teeku Dutta (Mrs.) and Anr. (2005) 3SCR923 = (2005) 4 SCC 449, relied on. 3.1. Section 5(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act lays down conditions for a Hindu marriage. It provides that marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus if neither of them has a spouse living at the time of marriage. Section 11 of the Act provides that any marriage which is in contravention of s. 5(1) would be void. Section 16 as amended by Amendment Act of 1976 intends, as its prime object, to bring about social reforms and conferment of social status of legitimacy on a group of children, otherwise treated as illegitimate.. In view of the legal fiction contained in s.16, the illegitimate children, for all practical purposes, including succession to the properties of their parents, have to be treated as legitimate. They cannot, however, succeed to the properties of any other relation on the basis of this rule, which in its operation, is limited to the properties of the parents. [para 19-20 and 23] [167-D-E; 168-C-G-H] S.P.S. Balasubramanyam Vs. Suruttayan @ Andali Padayachi & Ors; AIR 1992 SC 756; S. Khushboo Vs. Kanniammal & Anr. JT (2010) 4 SC 478; Lata Singh Vs. State of U.P. & Anr. (2006) 3 Suppl. SCR350 = AIR 2006 SC 2522; Smt. P.E.K. Kalliani Amma & Ors. Vs. K. Devi & Ors. (1996) 2 Suppl. SCR 1= AIR 1996 SC 1963, referred to. Rameshwari Devi Vs. State of Bihar & Ors. (2000) 1 SCR 390= AIR 2000 SC 735; Jinia Keotin & Ors. Vs. Kumar Sitaram Manjhi & Ors. (2002) 5 Suppl. SCR689 = (2003) 1 SCC 730; Neelamma and others Vs. Sarojamma and others (2006) 9 SCC 612, referred to. 3.2. It is evident that a child born of void or voidable marriage is not entitled to claim inheritance in ancestral coparcenery property but is entitled only to claim share in self-acquired properties, if any of his/her parents. In the instant case, the respondents did not plead at any stage that the suit land was a self-acquired property of `MR’. It is evident from the record that `MR’ did not partition his joint family properties. He died issueless and intestate in 1974. Therefore, the question of inheritance of co-parcenery property by the illegitimate children, who were born out of the live-in-relationship, could not arise. Thus, the judgment of the High Court is liable to be set aside only on this sole ground. [Para 27-28] [171-B-D] 4. It shall be open to R-5 to resort to legal proceedings permissible in law for recovery of the sale consideration from his vendors, as he has purchased the suit property lis pendens and the appellants are still in possession thereof. [Para 30] [171-E-F] Case Law Reference: (1998) 1Suppl. SCR297 relied on para 10 AIR 2000 SC 2108 relied on para 11 (2001) 2 SCR525 relied on para 12 1992 Supp. (2) SCC 312 relied on para 14 AIR 1994 SC 1341 relied on para 14 (1998) 3 Suppl. SCR594 relied on para 14 AIR 2001 SC 386 relied on para 14 (1985) 1 SCR866 relied on para 14 AIR 1929 PC 135 relied on para 16 1954) SCR424 relied on para 16 (1964)SCR267 relied on para 16 (1971) SCR49 relied on para 16 (2003) 10 SCC 228 relied on para 16 (2005) 1 SCR848 relied on para 16 (2005) 3SCR923 relied on para 16 AIR 1992 SC 756 referred to para 22 JT (2010) 4 SC 478 referred to para 22 (2006) 3 Suppl. SCR350 referred to para 22 (1996) 2 Suppl. SCR1 referred to para 23 (2000) 1 SCR390 referred to para 24 (2002) 5 Suppl. SCR689 referred to para 25 (2006) 9 SCC 612 referred to para 26 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 7108 of 2003. From the Judgment & Order dated 10.07.2001 of the High Court of Judicature at Madras in S.A. No. 1603 of 1987. K. Ram Kumar for the Appellants. Sai Krishna Rajgopal, Hari Shankar, Vikas Singh Jangra, Bharat S. Kumar for the Respondents.

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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7108 of 2003
Bharatha Matha & Anr. …….Appellants

Versus

R. Vijaya Renganathan & Ors. ………Respondents

ORDER
Dr. B. S. CHAUHAN, J

1. This appeal has been preferred against the Judgment

and Order of the High Court of Judicature at Madras dated

10th July, 2001 allowing the appeal filed by the respondent

No.1 against the judgment and decree of the Ist Appellate

Court dated 17.9.1986 affirming the judgment and decree of

the Trial Court dated 7.3.1977 in O.S. No.269/1975 instituted
by the predecessor-in-interest of the present appellants for

claiming the property in dispute and denying the share to the

respondent Nos. 2 to 5 or their predecessor-in-interest.

2. The facts and circumstances giving rise to the present

case are that the predecessor-in-interest of the present

appellants, Peria Mariammal instituted a suit, being O.S. No.

269 of 1975 against the respondents and their predecessor-in-

interest claiming the share of her brother Muthu Reddiar, on

the ground that he died unmarried and intestate and that

Smt. Rengammal, the defendant No. 1 in the suit was a legally

wedded wife of one Alagarsami Reddiar, who was still alive,

therefore, her claim that she had live-in-relationship with

plaintiff’s brother Muthu Reddiar and had two children from

him, had to be ignored. The defendants/respondents

contested the suit denying the marriage between defendant

No. 1 and the said Alagarsami Reddiar. The Trial Court

decreed the suit vide Judgment and decree dated 7th March,

1977 recording the finding that Rengammal, defendant No.1 in

the suit was wife of Alagarsami Reddiar who was alive at the
2
time of filing the suit. There had been no legal separation

between them. Therefore, the question of live-in-relationship

of Smt. Rengammal with Muthu Reddiar could not arise.

3. Being aggrieved, the defendants therein filed the First

Appeal. The respondent No. 1 herein, Vijaya Renganathan,

purchased the suit property in 1978 i.e. during the pendency

of the First Appeal for a sum of about Rs. 10,000/- and got

himself impleaded in the appeal as a party. The First Appeal

was dismissed by the Appellate Court vide judgment and

decree dated 17th September, 1986. The said purchaser,

respondent No.1, alone filed the Second Appeal under Section

100 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter called as

`CPC’) before the High Court which has been allowed. Hence,

this appeal.

4. Learned counsel for the appellants has submitted that

Smt. Rengammal, original defendant No.1 was legally wedded

wife of Alagarsami and he was still alive. Therefore, the

question of presumption of marriage for having live-in-
3
relationship with Muthu Reddiar could not arise. In such

eventuality, Muthu Reddiar could be liable for offence of

Adultery under Section 497 of Indian Penal Code, 1860

(hereinafter called as `IPC’). More so, even if live-in-relationship

is admitted and it is further admitted that the two children

were born due to that live-in-relationship, the said children

could not inherit the coparcenery property and in absence of

any finding recorded by any Court below that the suit land

was self-acquired property of Muthu Reddiar, the judgment of

the High Court is liable to be set aside. At the most, the

respondent No. 1 herein can claim recovery of the sale

consideration from his vendors as the possession is still with

the present appellants.

5. On the contrary, learned counsel for the respondent No.1

has vehemently opposed the submission of the learned

counsel for the appellants, contending that the High Court

after re-appreciating the evidence on record came to the

conclusion that the factum of marriage of Smt. Rengammal

with Alagarsami Reddiar could not be proved by the appellants
4
herein and because of their live-in-relationship, a presumption

of marriage between Muthu Reddiar and Smt. Rengammal

could be drawn and, therefore, in view of the provisions of

Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (hereinafter called

as, “the Act”), the two children born out of that live-in-

relationship were entitled to inherit the property of Muthu

Reddiar and thus, the appeal is liable to be dismissed.

6. We have considered the rival submissions of the learned

counsel for the parties and perused the record.

7. The Trial Court as well as the First Appellate Court have

recorded a categorical finding of fact that Smt. Rengammal,

defendant No.1 had been married to Alagarsami Reddiar who

was alive on the date of institution of the suit and, therefore,

the question of marriage by presumption between Smt.

Rengammal and Muthu Reddiar would not arise and for

determining the same all the material on record had been

taken into consideration including the statement of
5
Seethammal, DW1 along with all other defence witnesses and

the documents, particularly, Exts.B14, B18, B19 and B2.

8. However, the High Court framed two substantial

questions of law, namely:

(a) Whether on the admitted long cohabitation of the

First defendant and Muthu Reddiar, a legal

presumption of a lawful wedlock is not established;

and

(b) Whether the specific case of prior and

subsisting marriage between defendant and

Alagarsami Reddiar set up by Plaintiff is established

as required by law and she could have a preferential

claim over defendants 1 to 3?

9. While determining the substantial question (b) the High

Court only considered the statement of Seethammal, DW1, the

step mother of Muthu Reddiar and did not take into

consideration the evidence of plaintiff’s witnesses which had

been relied upon by the courts below, particularly,
6
Kumarasamy PW2 and Kandasamy PW5 and re-appreciated

the documentary evidence. Therefore, the question does arise

as to whether such a course is permissible while deciding the

Second Appeal under Section 100 CPC.

10. In Sheel Chand Vs. Prakash Chand, AIR 1998 SC 3063,

this Court held that question of re-appreciation of evidence

and framing the substantial question as to whether the

findings relating to factual matrix by the court below could

vitiate due to irrelevant consideration and not under law,

being question of fact cannot be framed.

11. In Rajappa Hanamantha Ranoji Vs. Mahadev

Channabasappa & Ors. AIR 2000 SC 2108, this Court held

that it is not permissible for the High Court to decide the

Second Appeal by re-appreciating the evidence as if it was

deciding the First Appeal unless it comes to the conclusion

that the findings recorded by the court below were perverse.
7
12. In Kulwant Kaur & Ors. Vs. Gurdial Singh Mann (dead)

by L.Rs. AIR 2001 SC 1273, this Court held that the question

whether Lower Court‘s finding is perverse may come within the

ambit of substantial question of law. However, there must be

a clear finding in the judgment of the High Court as to

perversity in order to show compliance with provisions of

Section 100 CPC. Thus, this Court rejected the proposition

that scrutiny of evidence is totally prohibited in Second

Appeal.

13. Thus, it is evident that High Court can interfere with the

finding of fact while deciding the Second Appeal provided the

findings recorded by the Courts below are perverse.

14. In H.B. Gandhi, Excise & Taxation Officer-cum-

Assessing Authority, Karnal & Ors. Vs. M/s. Gopi Nath &

Sons & Ors. 1992 Supp.(2) SCC 312, this Court held that if a

finding of fact is arrived at by ignoring or excluding relevant

material or by taking into consideration irrelevant material or

if the finding so outrageously defies logic as to suffer from the
8
vice of irrationality incurring the blame of being perverse, then

the finding is rendered infirm in law. In M/s. Triveni Rubber

& Plastics Vs. Collector of Central Excise, Cochin AIR 1994

SC 1341, this Court held that the order suffers from perversity

in case some relevant evidence has not been considered or

that certain inadmissible material has been taken into

consideration or where it can be said that the findings of the

authorities are based on no evidence or that they are so

perverse that no reasonable person would have arrived at

those findings. In Kuldeep Singh Vs. Commissioner of Police

& Ors. (1999) 2 SCC 10, this Court held that if a decision is

arrived at on no evidence or evidence which is thoroughly

unreliable and no reasonable person would act upon it, the

order would be perverse. But if there is some evidence on

record which is acceptable and which cannot be relied upon,

howsoever compendious it may be, the conclusions would not

be treated as perverse and the findings would not be interfered

with. In Gaya Din (dead) thr. Lrs. & Ors. Vs. Hanuman

Prasad (dead) thr. Lrs. & Ors. AIR 2001 SC 386, it has been

held that order of an authority is perverse in the sense that
9
the order is not supported by the evidence brought on record

or it is against the law or it suffers from the vice of procedural

irregularity. In Rajinder Kumar Kindra Vs. Delhi

Administration, thr. Secretary (Labour) & Ors. AIR 1984

SC 1805, this Court while dealing with a case of disciplinary

proceedings against an employee considered the issue and

held as under:

“17. It is equally well-settled that where a quasi-
judicial tribunal or arbitrator records findings
based on no legal evidence and the findings are
either his ipse dixit or based on conjectures and
surmises, the enquiry suffers from the additional
infirmity of non-application of mind and stands
vitiated. ….The High Court, in our opinion, was
clearly in error in declining to examine the
contention that the findings were perverse on the
short, specious and wholly untenable ground that
the matter depends on appraisal of evidence.”

15. In the instant case, the Courts below had appreciated the

entire evidence and came to the conclusion that Smt.

Rengammal, defendant no.1 was legally wedded wife of

Alagarsami Reddiar and thus did not presume her marriage

with Muthu Reddiar. The High Court without making any
10
reference to the evidence of the plaintiff’s witnesses,

particularly, Kumarasamy-P.W.2 and Kandasamy-PW.5

reversed the finding of fact and reached the conclusion that

merely live-in-relationship between the said two parties would

lead the presumption of marriage between them. The High

Court erred in not appreciating that the judgments of the

Courts below could be based on another presumption provided

under Section 112 of the Evidence Act, 1872 (hereinafter

called as the `Evidence Act’).

16. Section 112 of the Evidence Act provides for a

presumption of a child being legitimate and such a

presumption can only be displaced by a strong preponderance

of evidence and not merely by a balance of probabilities as the

law has to live in favour of innocent child from being

bastardised. In the instant case, as the proof of non-access

between Rengammal and Alagarsami had never been pleaded

what to talk of proving the same, the matter has not been

examined by the High Court in correct perspective. It is

settled legal proposition that proof of non-access between the
11
parties to marriage during the relevant period is the only way

to rebut that presumption. [vide Mohabbat Ali Khan Vs.

Muhammad Ibrahim Khan & Ors. AIR 1929 PC 135;

Chilukuri Venkateswarlu Vs. Chilukuri Venkatanarayana

AIR 1954 SC 176; Mahendra Manilal Nanavati Vs. Sushila

Mahendra Nanavati AIR 1965 SC 364; Perumal Nadar (Dead)

by Lrs. Vs. Ponnuswami Nadar (minor) AIR 1971 SC 2352;

Amarjit Kaur Vs. Harbhajan Singh and Anr. (2003) 10 SCC

228; Sobha Hymavathi Devi Vs. Setti Gangadhara Swamy

and Ors. AIR 2005 SC 800; and Shri Banarsi Dass Vs.

Teeku Dutta (Mrs.) and Anr. (2005) 4 SCC 449]

17. The High Court has decided the issue regarding the

factum of marriage between Alagarsami and Rengammal only

placing reliance upon the statement of Smt. Seethammal,

DW1, step mother of Muthu Reddiar who had been disbelieved

by the Courts below by giving cogent reasons and taking note

of the fact that she had arranged their marriage spending a

sum of Rs.10 only. The High Court has also reappreciated the

documentary evidence and took a view contrary to the view
12
taken by the court’s below. It was not appropriate for the High

Court to re-appreciate the evidence in Second Appeal as no

substantial question of law involved therein. Both the Courts

below found that Rengammal was legally wedded wife of

Alagarsami. The Courts below had placed very heavy reliance

upon the witnesses examined by the appellant/plaintiff

particularly, Kumarasamy- PW 2 and Kandasamy- PW 5.

18. In view of the fact that the High Court did not even take

note of the deposition of the plaintiff’s witnesses, findings

recorded by the High Court itself become perverse and thus

liable to be set aside.

19. Be that as it may, Section 5(1) of the Act lays down

conditions for a Hindu marriage. It provides that marriage

may be solemnized between any two Hindus if neither of them

is a spouse living at the time of marriage. Section 11 provides

that any marriage which is in contravention of Section 5(1) of

the Act, would be void. Section 16 of the Act stood amended
13
vide Amendment Act of 1976 and the amended provisions read

as under:-

“Legitimacy of children of void and voidable
marriages – (1) Notwithstanding that a marriage is
null and void under section 11, any child of such
marriage who would have been legitimate if the
marriage had been valid, shall be legitimate……..

(2) Where a decree of nullity is granted in respect of a
voidable marriage under section 12, any child
begotten or conceived before the decree is made, who
would have been the legitimate child of the parties to
the marriage if at the date of the decree it had been
dissolved instead of being annulled, shall be deemed
to be their legitimate child notwithstanding the
decree of nullity.

(3) Nothing contained in sub-section (1) or sub-
section (2) shall be construed as conferring upon
any child of a marriage which is null and void or
which is annulled by a decree of nullity under
section 12, any rights in or to the property of
any person, other than the parents, in any case
where, but for the passing of this Act, such child
would have been incapable of possessing or
acquiring any such rights by reason of his not being
the legitimate child of his parents.” (Emphasis
added)
20. Thus, it is evident that Section 16 of the Act intends to

bring about social reforms, conferment of social status of

legitimacy on a group of children, otherwise treated as

illegitimate, as its prime object.
14
21. In S.P.S. Balasubramanyam Vs. Suruttayan @ Andali

Padayachi & Ors. AIR 1992 SC 756, this Court held that if

man and woman are living under the same roof and cohabiting

for a number of years, there will be a presumption under

Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as husband and

wife and the children born to them will not be illegitimate.

22. In S. Khushboo Vs. Kanniammal & Anr. JT 2010 (4) SC

478, this Court, placing reliance upon its earlier decision in

Lata Singh Vs. State of U.P. & Anr. AIR 2006 SC 2522, held

that live-in-relationship is permissible only in unmarried

major persons of heterogeneous sex. In case, one of the said

persons is married, man may be guilty of offence of adultery

and it would amount to an offence under Section 497 IPC.

23. In Smt. P.E.K. Kalliani Amma & Ors. Vs. K. Devi &

Ors. AIR 1996 SC 1963, this Court held that Section 16 of the

Act is not ultra vires of the Constitution of India. In view of

the legal fiction contained in Section 16, the illegitimate
15
children, for all practical purposes, including succession to the

properties of their parents, have to be treated as legitimate.

They cannot, however, succeed to the properties of any other

relation on the basis of this rule, which in its operation, is

limited to the properties of the parents.

24. In Rameshwari Devi Vs. State of Bihar & Ors. AIR 2000

SC 735, this Court dealt with a case wherein after the death of

a Government employee, children born illegitimately by the

woman, who had been living with the said employee, claimed

the share in pension/gratuity and other death-cum-retiral

benefits along with children born out of a legal wedlock. This

Court held that under Section 16 of the Act, children of void

marriage are legitimate. As the employee, a Hindu, died

intestate, the children of the deceased employee born out of

void marriage were entitled to share in the family pension,

death-cum-retiral benefits and gratuity.

25. In Jinia Keotin & Ors. Vs. Kumar Sitaram Manjhi &

Ors. (2003) 1 SCC 730, this Court held that while engrafting a
16
rule of fiction in Section 16 of the Act, the illegitimate children

have become entitled to get share only in self-acquired

properties of their parents. The Court held as under :-

“4………..Under the ordinary law, a child for
being treated as legitimate must be born in
lawful wedlock. If the marriage itself is void
on account of contravention of the statutory
prescriptions, any child born of such marriage
would have the effect, per se, or on being so
declared or annulled, as the case may be, of
bastardising the children born of the parties to
such marriage. Polygamy, which was
permissible and widely prevalent among the
Hindus in the past and considered to have evil
effects on society, came to be put an end to by
the mandate of the Parliament in enacting the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The legitimate
status of the children which depended very
much upon the marriage between their
parents being valid or void, thus turned on the
act of parents over which the innocent child
had no hold or control. But for no fault of it,
the innocent baby had to suffer a permanent
set back in life and in the eyes of society by
being treated as illegitimate. A laudable and
noble act of the legislature indeed in enacting
Section 16 to put an end to a great social evil.
At the same time, Section 16 of the Act, while
engrafting a rule of fiction in ordaining the
children, though illegitimate, to be treated as
legitimate, notwithstanding that the marriage
was void or voidable chose also to confine its
application, so far as succession or

17
inheritance by such children are concerned to
the properties of the parents only.

5. So far as Section 16 of the Act is concerned,
though it was enacted to legitimise children,
who would otherwise suffer by becoming
illegitimate, at the same time it expressly
provide in Sub-section (3) by engrafting a
provision with a non-obstante clause
stipulating specifically that nothing contained
in Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2) shall be
construed as conferring upon any child of a
marriage, which is null and void or which is
annulled by a decree of nullity under Section
12, `any rights in or to the property of any
person, other than the parents, in any case
where, but for the passing of this Act, such
child would have been incapable of
possessing or acquiring any such rights by
reason of this not being the legitimate child of
his parents’. In the light of such an express
mandate of the legislature itself there is no
room for according upon such children who
but for Section 16 would have been branded
as illegitimate any further rights than
envisaged therein by resorting to any
presumptive or inferential process of
reasoning, having recourse to the mere object
or purpose of enacting Section 16 of the Act.
Any attempt to do so would amount to doing
not only violence to the provision specifically
engrafted in Sub-section (3) of Section 16 of
the Act but also would attempt to court
relegislating on the subject under the guise of
interpretation, against even the will expressed
in the enactment itself. Consequently, we are
unable to countenance the submissions on
behalf of the appellants…….”

18
26. This view has been approved and followed by this Court

in Neelamma and others Vs. Sarojamma and others (2006)

9 SCC 612.

27. Thus, it is evident that in such a fact-situation, a child

born of void or voidable marriage is not entitled to claim

inheritance in ancestral coparcenery property but is entitled

only to claim share in self acquired properties, if any.

28. In the instant case, respondents had not pleaded at any

stage that the Suit land was a self acquired property of Muthu

Reddiar. It is evident from the record that Muthu Reddiar did

not partition his joint family properties and died issueless and

intestate in 1974. Therefore, the question of inheritance of

coparcenery property by the illegitimate children, who were

born out of the live-in-relationship, could not arise. Thus, the

judgment of the High Court is liable to be set aside only on

this sole ground.
19
29. In view of the above, the appeal succeeds and is allowed.

The judgment and order of the High Court dated 10th July,

2001 is hereby set aside. No order as to cost.

30. However, it shall be open to R.5 to resort to legal

proceedings, permissible in law for recovery of the sale

consideration from his vendors as he has purchased the

property in lis pendis and the appellants are still in possession

of the suit property.
…………………………………..J.
(Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)

…………………………………..J.
(SWATANTER KUMAR)
New Delhi,
May 17, 2010
20
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
JUDGMENT TO BE PRONOUNCED

BY

HON’BLE DR. JUSTICE B.S. CHAUHAN

ON

25.5.2010 (TUESDAY)
21
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Civil Appeal No. 7108 of 2003
Bharatha Matha & Anr. …….Appellants

Versus

R. Vijaya Renganathan & Ors. ………Respondents

Dear brother
A draft judgment in the above mentioned matter is being sent
herewith for your kind perusal and favourable consideration.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
(Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)
19.5.2010

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SWATANTER KUMAR
22
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7108 of 2003
Bharatha Matha & Anr. …….Appellants

Versus

R. Vijaya Renganathan & Ors. ………Respondents
ORDER DICTATED BY

HON’BLE DR. JUSTICE B.S. CHAUHAN

ON

17.5.2010
23
24

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