Friday, November 13, 2015

2005 से पहले पिता की मौत पर बेटियों को संपत्ति में हक़ नहीं

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2005 से पहले पिता की मौत पर बेटियों को संपत्ति में हक नहीं

नई दिल्ली, एजेंसियां : सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने अपने एक फैसले में पिता की संपत्ति में बेटियों की बराबरी के अधिकार को सीमित कर दिया है। कोर्ट ने कानून की व्याख्या करते हुए कहा कि अगर पिता की मृत्यु 2005 से पहले हो चुकी है तो ऐसी स्थिति में बेटियों को संपत्ति में बराबर का अधिकार नहीं होगा। उल्लेखनीय है कि नौ सितंबर, 2005 को हिन्दू उत्तराधिकार कानून में संशोधन किया गया था।1कोर्ट ने कहा कि हिन्दू उत्तराधिकार (संशोधन) अधिनियम, 2005 को पहले से लागू नहीं किया जा सकता। कोर्ट ने बताया कि बेटी को संपत्ति में बराबर का हिस्सेदार तभी माना जाएगा, जब पिता 9 सितंबर, 2005 को जीवित हों। 

                                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                           CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                                           CIVIL APPEAL NO.7217 OF 2013

PRAKASH & ORS.                            …APPELLANTS


PHULAVATI & ORS.                       ...RESPONDENTS

SLP (C) NOS.21814 OF 2008, 18744 OF 2010,  28702-28703  OF  2010,  28471  OF
2011, 4217-4218 OF 2012,  1299-1300 OF 2013, 17577-17578 OF 2013,  19816  OF
2014, 5619 OF 2015, 3805 OF 2008, 9390 OF 2015, 5680 OF 2015, 35209 OF  2011
AND 15557-15558 OF 2015 AND  SLP. (C) ….15560 OF 2015

                                                                   J U D G M E N T


1.    The only issue which has been raised  in  this  batch  of  matters  is
whether Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (‘the  Amendment  Act’)  will
have retrospective effect.   In the impugned judgment (reported in AIR  2011
Kar. 78 Phulavati vs. Prakash), plea of restrospectivity has been upheld  in
favour of the respondents by which the appellants are aggrieved.

2.    Connected matters have  been  entertained  in  this  Court  mainly  on
account of the said legal issue particularly  when  there  are  said  to  be
differing views of High Courts which makes it necessary that  the  issue  is
decided by this Court.  It is not necessary to go  into  the  facts  of  the
individual case or the correctness of the findings recorded  by  the  courts
below on various other issues. It was made clear  during  the  hearing  that
after deciding the legal issue, all other aspects may be decided  separately
in the light of the judgment of this Court.

3.    Only for the purpose of deciding the above legal  question,  we  refer
to the brief facts  in  Civil  Appeal  No.7217  of  2013.   The  respondent-
plaintiff, Phulavati filed suit  being  O.S.  No.12/1992  before  Additional
Civil  Judge  (Senior  Division),  Belgaum  for   partition   and   separate
possession to the extent of 1/7th share in the suit properties  in  Schedule
‘A’ to ‘G’ except property bearing CTS No.3241 mentioned in Schedule ‘A’  in
which the share sought was 1/28th.

4.    According to the case of  the  plaintiff,  the  suit  properties  were
acquired by her late father Yeshwanth  Chandrakant  Upadhye  by  inheritance
from his adoptive mother Smt. Sunanda Bai.  After the death  of  her  father
on 18th February, 1988, she acquired the share in the property  as  claimed.

5.    The suit was contested mainly with the plea that the  plaintiff  could
claim share only in the self acquired property of her  deceased  father  and
not in the entire property.  During pendency  of  the  suit,  the  plaintiff
amended the plaint so as to claim share as per the Amended Act 39  of  2005.
The trial court partly decreed the suit to the extent  of  1/28th  share  in
certain properties on the basis of notional partition on the  death  of  her
father and in some of the items of  property,  no  share  was  given,  while
1/7th share was given in some other properties as  mentioned  in  detail  in
the judgment of the trial court.

6.    The respondent-plaintiff preferred first appeal before the High  Court
with the grievance that the plaintiff became coparcener under the  Amendment
Act 39 of 2005 and was entitled to inherit the  coparcenary  property  equal
to her brothers, apart  from  contentions  based  on  individual  claims  in
certain items of property.

7.    The stand of the defendants-appellants was that  the  plaintiff  could
not claim any share in self acquired property of the members  of  the  joint
family and that the claim of the plaintiff had to be dealt with  only  under
Section 6 of the Hindu Succession  Act,  1956  as  it  stood  prior  to  the
amendment by Act 39 of 2005.  The defendants relied upon  a  division  bench
judgment of the High Court in M. Prithviraj vs. Neelamma N.[1]  laying  down
that if father of a plaintiff had died prior to commencement of  Act  39  of
2005, the  amended  provision  could  not  apply.    It  was  only  the  law
applicable on the date of opening of succession which was to apply.

8.    The High Court framed following question  for  consideration  on  this
aspect :

“(ii) Whether the plaintiff is entitled to a share in terms of Section 6  of
the Hindu Succession Act as amended by Act No.39 of 2005?”

9.    It was held that the amendment was applicable to  pending  proceedings
even if it is taken to be prospective.  The High Court held that :
“61. The law in this regard is too well settled in terms  of  the  judgment
of the Supreme Court in the case of G. Sekar Vs. Geetha and others  reported
in (2009) 6 SCC 99.  Any development of law inevitably applies to a  pending
proceeding and in fact it is  not  even  to  be  taken  as  a  retrospective
applicability of the law but only the law as it  stands  on  the  day  being
made applicable.

62.         The suit, no doubt, might have been instituted in the year  1992
and even assuming that it was four  years  after  the  demise  of  Yeshwanth
Chandrakant Upadhye, the position so far as the parties  are  concerned  who
are all members of the joint family, in terms of Section  6  as  amended  by
Act No.39 of 2005 is that a female member is, by a fiction  of  law  created
in terms of the amended provision also becomes a coparcener and has a  right
in joint family property by birth.  They are  also  sharer  members  of  the
coparcenary property at par with all male members.  When a  partition  takes
place, coparceners succeed to the property in equal measure.   Such  is  the
legal position in terms of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act as  amended
by Act No.39 of 2005 and as declared by the Supreme Court  in  the  case  of
G.S. Sekar (supra).  The only exception carved out to the applicability  and
operation of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act as amended by  Act  No.39
of 2005 being a situation or a factual position where there was a  partition
which had been effected by a registered partition deed or  by  a  decree  of
the court which has attained finality prior to 20.12.2004 in terms  of  sub-
section (5) to Section 6.

63.         In the present case such being not  the  factual  position,  the
exception available under sub-section (5) to Section 6 cannot be  called  in
aid by the defendants and therefore, the liability in terms of  the  amended
provisions operates.  It is not necessary for us to  multiply  the  judgment
by going into details or discussing other judgments referred to  and  relied
upon by the learned counsel for the parties at the Bar as  one  judgment  of
the Supreme Court if clinches the issue on the point, it is good enough  for
us, as a binding authority to apply that law and  dispose  of  the  case  as
declared in that judgment.”

10.   The respondent-plaintiff was accordingly held entitled to 1/7th  share
in all items in Schedules ‘A’ to ‘D’.   In respect of  Schedule  ‘F’,  first
item was given up by the plaintiff.  Out of the other  two  items,  she  was
held entitled to 1/7th share in Item No.2 and 1/7th share in  40%  ownership
in Item No.3.

11.   The defendants-appellants have questioned the judgment  and  order  of
the High Court with the contention that the amended provision of  Section  6
has no application in the present case.  Father of  the  plaintiff  died  on
18th  February,  1988and  was  thus,  not  a  coparcener  on  the  date   of
commencement of the Amendment Act.  The plaintiff  could  not  claim  to  be
“the daughter of a coparcener” at the time of commencement of the Act  which
was the necessary condition for claiming  the  benefit.   On  the  death  of
plaintiff’s father on 18th February, 1988,  notional  partition  took  place
and shares of the heirs were crystallized which created vested right in  the
parties.  Such vested right could not have been taken away by  a  subsequent
amendment in absence of express provision or necessary  intendment  to  that
effect.  Moreover the amending provision itself was expressly applicable  “on  and  from”  the
commencement of the Amendment Act, i.e.,  9th  September,  2005.   The  High
Court held that even if the provision was prospective,  it  could  certainly
apply to pending proceedings as has been held  in  some  decisions  of  this
Court.  It is  pointed  out  that  the  amendment  could  apply  to  pending
proceedings, only if the amendment was applicable at all.

12.   Learned counsel for the respondents would support the  view  taken  by
the High Court.

13.   We have heard learned counsel for the parties in  the  present  appeal
as well as in connected matters for the rival  view  points  which  will  be
noticed hereinafter.

14.   The contention raised on behalf of the appellants  and  other  learned
counsel supporting the  said  view  is  that  the  2005  Amendment  was  not
applicable to the claim of a daughter when her father who was  a  coparcener
in the  joint  hindu  family  died  prior  to  9th  September,  2005.   This
submission  is  based  on  the  plain  language  of  the  statute  and   the
established principle that  in  absence  of  express  provision  or  implied
intention to the contrary, an amendment dealing with a substantive right  is
prospective and does not affect the vested rights[2].  If such a  coparcener
had died prior to the commencement of the Amendment  Act,  succession  opens
out on the date of  the  death  as  per  the  prevailing  provision  of  the
succession law  and  the  rights  of  the  heirs  get  crystalised  even  if
partition by metes and bounds does not take place.  It was pointed out  that
apparently conflicting provision in Explanation  to  Section  6(5)  and  the
said Section was required to be given harmonious construction with the  main
provision.  The explanation could not be read  in  conflict  with  the  main
provision.  Main provision of Section 6(1) confers right of coparcener on  a
daughter only from commencement of the Act and not for any period  prior  to
that.  The proviso  to  Section  6(1)  also  applies  only  where  the  main
provision of Section 6(5) applies. Since Section 6(5) applies  to  partition
effected after 20th December, 2004, the said  proviso  and  the  Explanation
also applies only when Section 6(1) applies.  It is also submitted that  the
Explanation was merely a rule of evidence and not  a  substantive  provision
determining the  rights  of  the  parties.   Date  of  a  daughter  becoming
coparcener is on and from the commencement of the Act.  Partitions  effected
before 20th December, 2004 remain  unaffected  as  expressly  provided.  The
Explanation defines partition, as partition made by  a  registered  deed  or
effected by decree of a court.  Its effect is not to wipe out  a  legal  and
valid partition prior to the said date, but to  place  burden  of  proof  of
genuineness of such partition on  the  party  alleging  it.   In  any  case,
statutory notional partition remains valid and effective.

15.   On the contrary, stand on  behalf  of  the  respondents  is  that  the
amendment  being  piece  of  social  legislation  to  remove  discrimination
against women in the light of  174th  Report  of  the  Law  Commission,  the
amendment should be read as being retrospective as interpreted by  the  High
Court in the impugned judgment. A daughter acquired right by birth and  even
if her father, who was a coparcener, had died prior to coming into force  of
the amendment, the shares of the parties were required to be redefined.   It
was submitted that any partition which may have taken place  even  prior  to
20th December, 2004 was liable to be ignored unless it was by  a  registered
deed of partition or by a decree of the Court.  If no  registered  partition
had taken place, share of the daughter will stand enhanced by virtue of  the

16.   We have given due consideration to the  rival  submissions.    We  may
refer to the provision of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act as it  stood
prior to the 2005 Amendment and as amended :

17.   The text of the amendment  itself  clearly  provides  that  the  right
conferred on a ‘daughter of a coparcener’ is ‘on and from  the  commencement
of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005’.  Section  6(3)  talks  of  death
after the amendment for its applicability.  In view  of  plain  language  of
the statute, there is no scope for a different interpretation than  the  one
suggested by the text of the amendment.    An  amendment  of  a  substantive
provision is always prospective unless  either  expressly  or  by  necessary
intendment it is retrospective[3].  In the present case,  there  is  neither
any express  provision  for  giving  retrospective  effect  to  the  amended
provision  nor  necessary  intendment  to  that  effect.    Requirement   of
partition being registered can have no  application  to  statutory  notional
partition on opening  of  succession  as  per  unamended  provision,  having
regard to nature of such partition  which  is  by  operation  of  law.   The
intent and effect of the Amendment will be considered a  little  later.   On
this finding, the view of the High Court cannot be sustained.

18.   Contention of the respondents that the Amendment  should  be  read  as
retrospective being a piece of social legislation cannot be  accepted.  Even
a  social  legislation  cannot  be  given  retrospective  effect  unless  so
provided for or so intended by the legislature.  In the  present  case,  the
legislature has expressly made the Amendment  applicable  on  and  from  its
commencement and only if death of the coparcener in question  is  after  the
Amendment.  Thus, no other interpretation is possible  in  view  of  express
language of the statute.  The proviso keeping  dispositions  or  alienations
or partitions prior to 20th December, 2004 unaffected can also not  lead  to
the inference  that  the  daughter  could  be  a  coparcener  prior  to  the
commencement of the Act.  The proviso only means that the  transactions  not
covered thereby will not affect the extent  of  coparcenary  property  which
may  be  available  when  the  main  provision  is  applicable.   Similarly,
Explanation has to be read harmoniously with the  substantive  provision  of
Section 6(5) by being limited to a transaction of partition  effected  after
20th December, 2004.   Notional  partition,  by  its  very  nature,  is  not
covered  either  under  proviso  or  under  sub-section  5  or   under   the

19.   Interpretation of a provision depends on the text and the  context[4].
Normal rule is to read the words of a statute in ordinary sense.   In  case
of ambiguity, rational meaning has to be  given[5].   In  case  of  apparent
conflict,  harmonious  meaning  to  advance  the  object  and  intention  of
legislature has to be given[6].

20.   There have been number of occasions when a proviso or  an  explanation
came up  for  interpretation.   Depending  on  the  text,  context  and  the
purpose, different rules of interpretation have been applied[7].

21.   Normal rule is that a proviso excepts something out of  the  enactment
which would otherwise be within the purview of  the  enactment  but  if  the
text, context or purpose so require a different rule may apply.   Similarly,
an explanation is to explain the meaning of words of the section but if  the
language or purpose so require,  the  explanation  can  be  so  interpreted.
Rules of interpretation  of  statutes  are  useful  servants  but  difficult
masters[8].  Object of  interpretation  is  to  discover  the  intention  of

22.   In this background, we find that the proviso to Section 6(1) and  sub-
section (5)  of  Section  6  clearly  intend  to  exclude  the  transactions
referred to therein which may have taken place prior to 20th December,  2004
on which date the Bill was introduced.  Explanation cannot permit  reopening
of partitions which were valid when effected.  Object of giving finality  to
transactions prior to 20th December, 2004 is not to make the main  provision
retrospective in any manner.   The  object  is  that  by  fake  transactions
available property at the introduction of the Bill is  not  taken  away  and
remains available as  and  when  right  conferred  by  the  statute  becomes
available and is to  be  enforced.   Main  provision  of  the  Amendment  in
Section 6(1) and (3) is not in  any  manner  intended  to  be  affected  but
strengthened in this way.  Settled principles  governing  such  transactions
relied upon by the appellants are not intended to  be  done  away  with  for
period prior  to  20th  December,  2004.   In  no  case  statutory  notional
partition  even  after  20th  December,  2004  could  be  covered   by   the
Explanation or the proviso in question.

23.   Accordingly,  we  hold  that  the  rights  under  the  amendment  are
applicable to living daughters of living coparceners as  on  9th  September,
2005  irrespective  of  when  such  daughters  are  born.   Disposition   or
alienation including partitions which  may  have  taken  place  before  20th
December, 2004 as per law applicable prior to  the  said  date  will  remain
unaffected.  Any  transaction  of  partition  effected  thereafter  will  be
governed by the Explanation.

24.   On above interpretation, Civil Appeal  No.7217  of  2013  is  allowed.
The order of the High Court is set aside.  The matter  is  remanded  to  the
High Court for a fresh decision in accordance with law.  All  other  matters
may be listed for hearing separately for  consideration  on  24th  November,

25.   The view which we have taken above  is  consistent  with  and  not  in
conflict with any of the  earlier  decisions.   We  may  now  refer  to  the
decisions cited by the parties.  Main decisions  cited  by  the  respondents
are:  Prema  vs.  Nanje  Gowda[9],   Ganduri   Koteshwaramma   vs.   Chakiri
Yanadi[10], V.K. Surendra vs. V.K. Thimmaiah[11], Ram Sarup vs.  Munshi[12],
Dayawati vs. Inderjit[13],  Amarjit  Kaur  vs.  Pritam  Singh[14],   Lakshmi
Narayan Guin vs. Niranjan Modak[15], S. Sai Reddy vs. S. Narayana  Reddy[16]
and State of Maharashtra vs. Narayan Rao[17].  Many of these decisions  deal
with situations where change in law is held  to  be  applicable  to  pending
proceedings having regard to intention of legislature in a  particular  law.
There is no dispute with the propositions laid down in the  said  decisions.
Question is of  application  of  the  said  principle  in  the  light  of  a
particular amending law.  The decisions relied upon  do  not  apply  to  the
present case to support the stand of the respondents.

25.1. In Ram Sarup case (supra),  the  question  for  consideration  was  of
amendment to the Punjab Pre-emption Act, 1930  by  Punjab  Act  10  of  1960
restricting  the  pre-emption  right.    Section  31  inserted  by  way   of
amendment prohibited passing of a decree which  was  inconsistent  with  the
amended provisions.  It was held that the amendment  was  retrospective  and
had retrospective operation  in  view  of  language  employed  in  the  said

25.2.  In  Dayawati  case  (supra),  Section  6  of  the  Punjab  Relief  of
Indebtedness Act, 1956 expressly gave  retrospective  effect  and  made  the
statute applicable to all pending suits on  the  commencement  of  the  Act.
The Act sought to reduce the rate of interest  in  certain  transactions  to
give relief against indebtedness to certain specified persons.

25.3.  In  Lakshmi  Narayan  Guin  case  (supra),  the   question   was   of
applicability of Section 13 of the West Bengal Premises  Tenancy  Act,  1956
which expressly provided  that  no  order  could  be  passed  by  the  Court
contrary to the scheme of the new law.

25.4. In Amarjit Kaur case (supra), Section 3 of the Punjab
Pre-emption (Repeal) Act, 1973 was  considered  which  expressly  prohibited
the Court from passing any pre-emption decree after the commencement of  the

25.5. There is also no  conflict  with  the  principle  laid  down  in  V.K.
Surendra case (supra) which deals with a presumption about the nature  of  a
joint family property and burden of proof being on the person claiming  such
property to be separate.  The  said  decision  only  lays  down  a  rule  of

25.6.  In S. Sai Reddy case (supra),  the  question  for  consideration  was
whether even after a preliminary decree is passed determining the shares  in
partition, such shares could be varied on account of intervening  events  at
the time of passing of the final decree.  In the said case,  partition  suit
was filed by a son against his father in  which  a  preliminary  decree  was
passed determining share of the  parties.   Before  final  decree  could  be
passed, there was an amendment  in  the  Hindu  Succession  Act  (vide  A.P.
Amendment  Act,  1986)  allowing   share   to   the   unmarried   daughters.
Accordingly, the unmarried daughters applied to the court for  their  shares
which plea was upheld.  The said judgment  does  not  deal  with  the  issue
involved in the present matter.   It was not a  case  where  the  coparcener
whose daughter claimed right was not alive on the date of  the  commencement
of the Act nor a case where shares of the parties stood already  crystalised
by operation of law to which the amending law had no application.   Same  is
the position in Prema and Ganduri cases (supra).

25.7. In Narayan Rao case (supra), it was observed that even after  notional
partition, the joint family continues.  The proposition laid  down  in  this
judgment is also not helpful in deciding the question involved herein.   The
text of  the  Amendment  itself  shows  that  the  right  conferred  by  the
Amendment is on a ‘daughter of a coparcener’ who is member of a  coparcenary
and alive on commencement of the Act.

25.8. We also do not find any relevance of decisions in State  of  Rajasthan
vs. Mangilal Pindwal[18] and West U.P.  Sugar  Mills  Asson.  vs.  State  of
U.P.[19] or other similar decisions for deciding the issue involved  herein.
The said decisions deal with the effect of repeal of a  provision  and  not
the issue of restrospectivity with which  the  Court  is  concerned  in  the
present case.

26.   We now come to the decisions relied upon by  the  appellants.   In  M.
Prithviraj case (supra), the view taken appears to be consistent  with  what
has been said above.  It appears that this was a  binding  precedent  before
the Bench of the High Court which passed the impugned  order  but  does  not
appear to have been referred to in  the  impugned  judgment.   Judgments  of
this Court in Sheela Devi vs. Lal Chand[20]  and  G.  Sekar  vs.  Geetha[21]
and the judgment of Madras High Court  in  Bagirathi  vs.  S.  Manivanan[22]
have been relied upon therein.  In Sheela  Devi  case  (supra),  this  Court

21. The Act indisputably would prevail  over  the  old  Hindu  Law.  We  may
notice that the Parliament, with a view to  confer  right  upon  the  female
heirs,  even  in  relation  to  the  joint  family  property,  enacted Hindu
Succession Act, 2005. Such a provision was enacted as far back  in  1987  by
the  State  of  Andhra  Pradesh.  The  succession  having  opened  in  1989,
evidently, the provisions of Amendment Act, 2005 would have no  application.
Sub-section (1)  of Section  6 of  the  Act  governs  the  law  relating  to
succession on the death of a coparcener in the  event  the  heirs  are  only
male descendants. But, the proviso appended to  Sub-section  (1)  of Section
6 of the Act creates an exception. First son of Babu Lal, viz.,  Lal  Chand,
was, thus, a coparcener. Section 6 is exception to  the  general  rules.  It
was, therefore, obligatory on the  part  of  the  respondents-plaintiffs  to
show that apart from Lal Chand, Sohan  Lal  will  also  derive  the  benefit
thereof. So far as the Second son, Sohan Lal is concerned, no  evidence  has
been brought on records to show that he was born prior to coming into  force
of Hindu Succession Act, 1956.”

Full Bench judgment of Bombay High Court in  Badrinarayan  Shankar  Bhandari
Vs. Ompraskash Shankar Bhandari[23]  also appears to be consistent with  the
view taken hereinabove.

26.1. In Gurupad Khandappa Magdum vs. Hirabai Khandappa  Magdum[24],  Shyama
Devi vs. Manju Shukla[25] and  Anar  Devi  vs.  Parmeshwari  Devi[26]  cases
this Court interpreted the Explanation  1  to  Section  6   (prior  to  2005
Amendment) of the Hindu Succession  Act.   It  was  held  that  the  deeming
provision referring to partition of  the  property  immediately  before  the
death of the coparcener was to be given due  and  full  effect  in  view  of
settled principle of interpretation of a provision incorporating  a  deeming
fiction.   In Shyama Devi and Anar Devi cases, same view was followed.
26.2. In Vaishali Satish Ganorkar vs.  Satish  Keshaorao  Ganorkar[27],  the
Bombay High Court  held  that  the  amendment  will  not  apply  unless  the
daughter is born after the 2005 Amendment, but on this  aspect  a  different
view has been taken in the later larger Bench judgment.  We  are  unable  to
find any reason to hold that birth of the daughter after the  amendment  was
a necessary condition for its applicability.  All that is required  is  that
daughter should be alive and her father should also be alive on the date  of
the amendment.

26.3. Kale vs. Dy. Director of Consolidation[28] and  Digambar  Adhar  Patil
vs. Devram Girdhar Patil[29] have been  cited  to  submit  that  the  family
settlement  was  not  required  to  be  registered.   Santosh   Hazari   vs.
Purushottam Tiwari[30] lays down that the Appellate  Court  must  deal  with
reasons of the trial court while reversing its findings.

26.4  Kannaiyan vs. The Assistant Collector of Central  Excise[31],   C.I.T.
Gujarat vs. Keshavlal Lallubhai Patel[32], Umayal Achi vs. Lakshmi  Achi[33]
and  Shivappa Laxman  vs.  Yellawa  Shivappa  Shivagannavar[34]   have  been
cited to canvass that partition was recognition of pre-existing  rights  and
did not create new rights.

26.5  This would normally have ended  our  order  with  the  operative  part
being in para 24 which disposes of Civil Appeal No.7217 of 2013 and  directs
listing of other matters for being  dealt  with  separately.   However,  one
more aspect relating to gender discrimination  against  muslim  women  which
came up for consideration needs to be gone into as Part II of this order.

                                                               Part II

27.   An important issue of gender discrimination which though not  directly
involved in this appeal, has been raised by some of the learned counsel  for
the parties which concerns rights to muslim women.   Discussions  on  gender
discrimination led to this issue also.  It was pointed out that  inspite  of
guarantee   of   the   Constitution,   muslim   women   are   subjected   to
discrimination.  There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and  second
marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting  in
denial of dignity and security  to  her.   Although  the  issue  was  raised
before this Court  in  Ahmedabad  Women  Action  Group(AWAG)  vs.  Union  of
India[35],  this Court did not go into  the  merits  of  the  discrimination
with the observation that the issue involved state policy  to be dealt  with
by the legislature[36].  It was observed that challenge to the Muslim  Women
(Protection  of  Rights  on  Divorce)  Act,  1986  was  pending  before  the
Constitution Bench and there was no reason to multiply proceedings  on  such
an issue.

28.   It is pointed out that the matter needs consideration  by  this  Court
as the issue relates not merely  to  a  policy  matter  but  to  fundamental
rights of women under Articles 14, 15 and 21 and  international  conventions
and covenants.  One of the reasons for the court having not  gone  into  the
matter was pendency of an issue before  the  Constitution  Bench  which  has
since been decided by this Court  in Danial Latifi vs. Union  of  India[37].
The Constitution Bench did not address the said issue  but  the  Court  held
that Article 21 included right to live with dignity[38] which  supports  the
plea that a muslim woman could invoke fundamental rights  in  such  matters.
In  Javed vs. State of Haryana[39], a Bench of three  judges  observed  that
practice of polygamy is injurious to public morals  and  can  be  superseded
by the State just as practice of ‘sati’ [40].  It was further observed  that
conduct rules providing for monogamy irrespective of religion are valid  and
could not be struck down on the ground  of  violation  of  personal  law  of
muslims[41].  In John Vallamattom vs. UOI[42], it was observed that  Section
118 of Indian Succession Act, 1925 restricting right of christians  to  make
Will  for  charitable  purpose  was  without   any   rational   basis,   was
discriminatory against christians and violated Article 14[43]. Laws  dealing
with marriage and succession are  not  part  of  religion[44].  Law  has  to
change  with  time[45].  International  covenants  and  treaties  could   be
referred to examine validity and reasonableness of a provision[46].

29.   In Charu Khurana vs. UOI[47],  this  Court  considered  the  issue  of
gender discrimination in  the  matter  of  denial  of  membership  of  “Cine
Costume Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers  Association”  in  film  industry.
It was held that such discrimination violates basic constitutional rights.
30.   It was thus submitted that this aspect of the matter may be gone  into
by separately registering the matter as Public  Interest  Litigation  (PIL).
We are of the view that  the  suggestion  needs  consideration  in  view  of
earlier decisions of this Court. The issue  has  also  been  highlighted  in
recent Articles appearing in the press on this subject[48].

31.   For this purpose, a PIL be separately registered  and  put  up  before
the appropriate Bench as per orders of Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India.

32.   Notice be issued  to  learned  Attorney  General  and  National  Legal
Services Authority, New Delhi returnable on 23rd November, 2015.    We  give
liberty to learned counsel already appearing in this matter  to  assist  the
Court on this aspect of the matter, if they wish to  volunteer,  for  either
view point.


OCTOBER  16, 2015

ITEM NO.1A               COURT NO.3          SECTION IVA
(For judgment)

               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Civil Appeal No(s).7217/2013

PRAKASH & ORS.                                     Appellant(s)


PHULAVATI & ORS.                                   Respondent(s)


S.L.P.(C)No......../2015 (CC No.15560/2015)

Date : 16/10/2015 These appeals were called on for pronouncement
                  of judgment today.

For Appellant(s) Mr. Anil C. Nishant,Adv.
                       Mr. S.N. Bhat,Adv.
                       Mr. A.K. Joseph,Adv.
                       Mrs. Sudha Gupta,Adv.
                       Mrs. S. Usha Reddy,Adv.
                       Mr. Nanda Kishore,Adv.
                       Mr. P.R.Kovilan,Adv.
                       Ms. Geetha Kovilan,Adv.
                       Mr. Shanth Kumar V. Mahale,Adv.
                       Mr. Amith J.,Adv.
                       Mr. Rajesh Mahale,Adv.
                       Mr. Raghavendra S. Srivatsa,Adv.
                       Mr. Charudatta Mohindrakar,Adv.
                       Mr. A. Selvin Raja,Adv.
                       Mr. Aniruddha P. Mayee,Adv.
                       Mr. P.R. Ramasesh,Adv.
                       Mr. Ankolekar Gurudatta,Adv.
                       Mr. K.N. Rai,Adv.
                       Mrs. Vaijayanthi Girish,Adv.
                       Mr. G. Balaji,Adv.

For Respondent(s)
                       for M/s. S.M. Jadhav & Company,Advs.
                       Mr. Rauf Rahim,Adv.
                       Mr. Sumeet Lall,Adv.
                       Mr. Balaji Srinivasan,Adv.
                       Mr. Mayank Kshirsagar,Adv.
                       Ms. Srishti Govil,Adv.
                       Ms. Vaishnavi Subrahmanyam,Adv.
                       Mr. Tushar Singh,Adv.
                       Mr. Virendra Sharma,Adv.
                       Mr. Manjunath Meled,Adv.
                       Mr. Vijaylaxmi,Adv.
                       Mr. Anil Kumar,Adv.
                       Mr. Somiran Sharma,Adv.
                       Mr. B. Subrahmanya Prasad,Adv.
                       Mr. Anirudh Sanganeria,Adv.
                       Mr. Chinmay Deshpande,Adv.
                       Mr. Amjid MaQBOOL,aDV.
                       Mr. Shashibhushan P. Adgaonkar,Adv.
                       Mr. T. Mahipal,Adv.
                       Mr. G.N. Reddy,Adv.
                       Mr. Rajinder Mathur,Adv.
                       Mr. Shankar Divate,Adv.
                       Mrs. K. Sarada Devi,Adv.
                       Ms. Garima Prashad,Adv.

Hon'ble Mr. Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel pronounced  the  reportable  judgment
of the Bench comprising Hon'ble Mr. Justice Anil R. Dave and  His  Lordship.
Civil appeal No.7217/2013 is allowed, all  the  pending  applications  stand
disposed of and the connected  Special Leave Petitions  may  be  listed  for
hearing separately for consideration on 24th November,  2015,  in  terms  of
signed Reportable Judgment.

All the pending applications stand disposed of.

   (Anita Malhotra)                    (Sneh Bala Mehra)
     Court Master                    Assistant Registrar

(Signed Reportable judgment is placed on the file)

[1]    ILR 2009 Kar. 3612
[2]    Shyam Sunder vs. Ram Kumar (2001) 8 SCC 24, Paras 22 to 27
[3]    Shyam Sunder vs. Ram Kumar (2001) 8 SCC 24, Paras 22 to 27
[4]    RBI vs. Peerless (1987) 1 SCC 424, para 33
[5]    Kehar Singh vs. State (1988) 3 SCC 609
[6]    District Mining Officer vs. Tata Iron and Steel Co. (2001) 7 SCC 358
[7]     S. Sundaram Pillai vs. R. Pattabiraman (1985) 1 SCC 591
[8]    Keshavji Ravji & Co. vs. CIT (1990) 2 SCC 231
[9]    (2011) 6 SCC 462
[10]   (2011) 9 SCC 788
[11]   (2013) 10 SCC 211, para 18
[12]   (1963) 3 SCR 858
[13]    (1966) 3 SCR 275
[14]   (1974) 2 SCC 363
[15]   (1985) 1 SCC 270
[16]   (1991) 3 SCC 647
[17]   (1985) 2 SCC 321, paras 8 to 10
[18]   (1996) 5 SCC 60
[19]   (2002) 2 SCC 645
[20]   (2006) 8 SCC 581
[21]   (2009) 6 SCC 99, para 30
[22]   AIR 2005 Mad 250 (DB)
[23]   AIR 2014, BOM 151. paras 40-57
[24]   (1978) 3 SCC 383, paras 6,11 and 13
[25]   (1994) 6 SCC 342, para 7
[26]   (2006) 8 SCC 656, paras 10,11
[27]   AIR  2012, BOM 101, paras 13 to 37
[28]   (1976) 3 SCC 119, para 9
[29]   (1995) Supp. 2 SCC 428 at page 430
[30]   (2001) 3 SCC 179, para 15.
[31]   1969 (2) MLJ 277,
[32]   (1965) 2 SCR 100
[33]   AIR 1945 FC 25 at 31(d)
[34]   AIR 1954 BOM 47, para 4
[35]   (1997) 3 SCC 573
[36]   This Court referred to the observations of Sahai, J. in Sarla  Mudgal
vs. Union of India (1995) 3 SCC 635 that a climate was required to be  built
for a uniform civil code.  Reference was also made to observations in  Madhu
Kishwar vs. State of Bihar (1996 (5) SCC 125 to the effect  that  the  court
could at best advise and focus attention to the problem instead  of  playing
an activist role.

[37]   (2001) 7 SCC 740

[38]   “ Para 33……. This Court in Olga Tellis  v.  Bombay  Municipal  Corpn.

[1985(3) SCC 545] and Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India  [1978  (1)  SCC  248]
held that the concept of “right to life  and  personal  liberty”  guaranteed
under Article 21 of the Constitution would include the “right to  live  with
dignity”. Before the Act, a Muslim woman who was  divorced  by  her  husband
was granted a right to maintenance from her husband under the provisions  of
Section 125 CrPC until she may remarry and such a right, if deprived,  would
not be reasonable, just and fair. Thus the provisions of the  Act  depriving
the divorced Muslim women of such a right to maintenance  from  her  husband
and providing for her maintenance to be paid by the former husband only  for
the period of iddat and thereafter to make her run from pillar  to  post  in
search of her relatives one after the other and ultimately to knock  at  the
doors of  the  Wakf  Board  does  not  appear  to  be  reasonable  and  fair
substitute of the provisions of Section 125 CrPC. Such  deprivation  of  the
divorced Muslim women of  their  right  to  maintenance  from  their  former
husbands under the beneficial provisions of the Code of  Criminal  Procedure
which are otherwise available to all other women in India cannot  be  stated
to have been effected by a reasonable, right, just  and  fair  law  and,  if
these provisions are less beneficial than the provisions of  Chapter  IX  of
the Code of Criminal Procedure, a divorced Muslim woman has  obviously  been
unreasonably discriminated and got out of the protection of  the  provisions
of the general law as indicated  under  the  Code  which  are  available  to
Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian women or women  belonging  to  any
other community.  The  provisions  prima  facie,  therefore,  appear  to  be
violative of Article 14 of the Constitution  mandating  equality  and  equal
protection of law to all persons otherwise similarly circumstanced and  also
violative  of  Article  15  of  the   Constitution   which   prohibits   any
discrimination on the ground of religion as the Act  would  obviously  apply
to Muslim divorced women only and solely on the ground  of  their  belonging
to the Muslim religion.”

[39]   (2003) 8 SCC 369
[40]   Para 46
[41]   Paras 54 to 59
[42]   (2003) 6 SCC 611
[43]   Paras 28 and 29
[44]   Para 44
[45]   Paras 33 to 36
[46]   Paras 30 to 32
[47]   (2015) 1 SCC 192

[48]   “The Tribune” dated 24.09.2015 “Muslim Women’s quest for equality”
by Vandana Shukla and “Sunday Express Magazine” dated 04.10.2015 “In Her
Court” by Dipti Nagpaul D’Souza.

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