Woman's rights over deceased husband's property cease if remarriage proven: Chhattisgarh HC

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Bilaspur, Jul 5 (PTI) The Chhattisgarh High Court has observed that rights of a woman over the property of her deceased husband would cease if her remarriage is 'strictly proven' as per the law.

A bench of Justice Sanjay K Agrawal made the observation in a recent order, while dismissing an appeal related to a property suit filed against Kiya Bai by her deceased husband's cousin brother Loknath, who claimed that she had remarried as per local rituals.

'According to Section 6 of the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act 1856, in case of remarriage, all the formalities for marriage are required to be proved,' the order said.

'…..The effect of the valid remarriage is the widow losing her right in the property inherited from the previous husband. Therefore, where remarriage is set up as defence, it has to be strictly proved looking to devastating consequences to be befallen upon the widow in the shape of depriving her the right to property,' it said.

As per the order, the dispute relates to the sharing of property of Kiya's husband Ghasi, who died in 1942 at Chichor Umaraiya village in the state's Raigarh district.

The property in dispute originally belonged to Sugriv, who had four sons- Mohan, Abhiram, Goverdhan and Jeeverdhan - all dead now. Goverdhan had one son Loknath, the plaintiff in the case who is also now dead, and Ghasi was the son of Abhiram.

Loknath had moved the court claiming that Kiya, after her husband's death, remarried in 1954-55 through 'Chudi' form (a traditional custom in Chhattisgarh wherein a man marries a widow by offering her bangles). Therefore, she and her daughter would get no share in the property, being governed by clause 29 of the Raigarh State Wajib-ul-arz.

Kiya, who also died during pendency of the suit, and her daughter in a joint statement had said the partition of the property took place when Ghasi was alive.

The duo had said that after Ghasi's death, they remained in possession of the suit property and Kiya's name was included in the revenue records by tehsildar (revenue officer) in 1984 in accordance with the law.

They had said Kiya never remarried and the civil suit should be dismissed.

After hearing the matter, the HC in its order said there is no admissible evidence on record to hold that Kiya had remarried and lost her right to the property.

'..as it has already been held that the effect of remarriage would be, widow loses her right in the property inherited from her husband and unless the fact of remarriage is strictly proved after observing the ceremonies required as per Section 6 of the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act 1856, the fact of remarriage cannot be said to be established by which the right to property, which is a constitutional right, is lost that too by widow,' it said.

Earlier, trial court had held that Kiya and her daughter were not entitled for any share in the property, which the first appellate court reversed, holding that during the lifetime of Ghasi and his father Abhiram, the suit property was partitioned and Kiya remained in its possession after Ghasi's death.

After the Hindu Succession Act-1956 came into force, Kiya became the full owner and as such, the plaintiff is not entitled for any decree, the appellate court had held. Later, a second appeal was filed in the high court. PTI COR TKP GK GK

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