Madras High Court Verdict: The Madras High Court has said in an important decision that a mother is the legal heir to the property of her deceased daughter, therefore she is entitled to receive the arrears for the maintenance of the daughter. Along with this, the court rejected the petition of the ex-husband of the woman challenging the decision of the lower court.
A man named Annadurai was divorced from his wife. During this, his divorced wife died during the litigation, after which the Magistrate Court ordered the amount received as maintenance to be given to the mother of the deceased. This amount was Rs 6.2 lakh. The woman’s ex-husband challenged the lower court’s decision in the Madras High Court.
What does the Hindu Succession Act say?
A bench of Justice V. Sivagnanam in the Madras High Court, in its judgment delivered on April 21, said, “It is clear from a combined reading of sub-sections 1 and 2 of the Hindu Succession Act that the arrears of maintenance obtained under the decree are Both should be treated as fixed assets.
The Court further said, as per the Transfer of Property Act, the arrears of maintenance would be of the nature of property which is inherited. However, the right to future alimony is not transferable or inheritable.
The petitioner husband argued that alimony was a personal right of the deceased, which ended with her death. Since, the right to claim maintenance does not survive on the death of the divorced wife, her mother cannot continue the proceedings and is not entitled to maintenance.
The court reasoned
The bench argued that as per Section 15(1) C of the Hindu Succession Act, a mother is the heir to her daughter’s property. This principle would apply in the present case also.
The court said, there is no doubt that alimony is the personal right of the wife. As far as future alimony is concerned, a personal right ceases with the death of the individual. Where it comes to arrears of alimony, on the interpretation of sub-section 2 of section 14, it is the property of the wife and the mother is entitled to claim it.
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