Widow entitled to Husband’s Property even after Re-marriage

A widow has a right to her deceased husband’s property if she was not re-married when the husband passed away and if she has remarried after the death. Observed the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court.

Mr.  Anil Wankhade, the deceased husband of Mrs. Sunanda Anil Wankhade and son of Jaiwantabai Wankhade died on the 19th April, 1991. At the time of death, Mrs. Sunanda Wankhade and Mr. Anil Wankhade were living separately. However, the two were not divorced and Sunanda was also not remarried at the time of such death of Mr. Anil who worked with the Indian Railways as a pointsman. Eventually, Sunanda re-married a month after the death of Anil.

In the year 1993, Jaiwantabai claimed from the Indian Railways, the Retirement dues of Anil and also informed them about Sunanda’s re-marriage as a cause for the claims to be given to Jaiwantabai. The Railways however passed an order in the favour of Sunanda.

Jaiwantabai approached the Civil Judge (Junior Division) challenging the order passed by the Railways and claimed that Sunanda was not entitled to the retirement dues of Anil. The Court disagreed and directed that both Jaiwantabai and Sunanda were equally entitled to claim the money. Also, Jaiwantabai was directed to file separate proceedings against Sunanda in order to recover the amount of her share. However, a dissatisfied Jaiwanatabi challenged this order before the Bench of Justice S. Modak in the Bombay High Court.

Justice Modak observed that a widow was entitled to claim her share in the property even though she was remarried only if she was not remarried at the time of the death of the husband as per Section 24 of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956. “On the date when Succession opens” was the term used and emphasized on thereby directing that a widow would be disqualified from claiming a share in the deceased husband’s property if she would be re-married on the date when the succession opened i.e. the date when the husband died. “In other words, if the widow has not re-married when the succession opens, the disqualification under Section 24 of the Act of 1956 will not be applicable.” Ruled the Court.

The Bench of Justice S Modak upheld Sunanda’s rights by observing that “The status of the widow being re-married continuing to be widow must be on the date when succession opens,” However, the Court also directed her to share 50% of the dues received to Jaiwantabai.

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