Monday, May 11, 2009

SC Judgement - Is it a bad precedence?

I read this article a couple of days back and wanted to do a post immediately. The Times of India carried this article on 8th May, '09.

SC gives widow's wealth to in-laws who drove her out.

NEW DELHI: Law is blind. Nothing illustrates this phrase better than a recent Supreme Court judgment in which the court upheld the law but, perhaps, failed to deliver justice.

It was a dispute related to the self-earned money of a woman, Narayani, who had been widowed within three months of marriage. Almost immediately, Narayani had been driven out by her in-laws. She fell back on her parents, who educated her and helped her get a job. She died without a will but left behind considerable savings in her PF and bank accounts

Who should inherit her money — relatives from her parents’ side or the in-laws with whom she had had no relations after being driven out of her matrimonial home? That was the question before the court. Read further:

How should we take this judgement?
The Court did not take into account the traumatic experience of the widowed Narayani nor the cruel indifference of her in-laws, nor even the support given by her parents to make her self-sufficient. It was just focused on Section 15(1) of the Hindu Succession Act that permitted the in-laws to inherit the properties of a woman who dies without having made a will. Only property given by her parent would be inherited by her relatives from the parents' side. Now the sons of her late husband's sister would get Narayani's money and not her brother's children.

Will this case become a bad precedence for the future cases like these?


Anonymous said...

This is such a sad case, isn't it? SC apparently had to follow the rules - and there was no provision for the wealth that was earned by the woman..

Manju has also blogged about this here..
Very sad and a very bad precedence..

Solilo said...

Sandhya, I read the same on Manju's. Sad isn't it? Some of our laws need immediate overhaul.

Sandhya said...


Sometimes I wonder why we have got a judiciary with learned judges. If they are not permitted to take decision according to what is right and what is wrong, but just has to abide by the rules, the modern computer also can do that job. I am sorry, I am not finding fault with the judge, in this case. He was not very happy to give this judgement, I know.

This is the reason all the murderers and other culprits escape with the loopholes in our 'rules of the law'. Even Kasab might come out of the grave crime he has done. Now itself, he feels so comfortable in the jail and asking for more amenities.

This is the reason why ordinary people think twice before filing a case against any atrocities done to them.

I read Manju's article and hers had more details. Thanks for giving me the link. I will have one more friend!

Saritha said...

Very sad case and i think there are many such cases in india,take the case of khasab,he shuld be hanged but now the case will go for president pardon than god knows when he will be hanged :(

Sandhya said...

Varunavi: Yes, Saritha, they are common here. But worse in Pakistan and the Arab countries. Woman is not a human being at all in those countries.

Hmmm, who knows, Kasab might come out of Jail, in flying colours and we will write posts about the incident.

Renu said...

This is really sad and reflects on the state of judiciary...any commom sense can decide what should be done and here learned people take decisions like this...really frustrating

Sai Charan said...

Well yes, definitely it is a bad precedence and the judgement is not from any lower courts, it's given by the highest court of the country.

Such incidents will force people to drop even that little bit of trust, hope and faith they have on the law.

Shilpa said...

Hindu Laws in India are based on archaic Indian traditions.

You know how they say, whatever the bride wears during Kanyadaan and later belongs to her husband's family.

It is unfortunate and more so 'coz in spite of all these happening over so many years, e hve not yet woken up to it.

Sandhya said...

Renu:They go according to the books, Renu. They expect the public to be aware of the rules.

This rule is a lesson for us. We should write a will for all the things we own - jewellery, money, whatever. Maybe this will stop the people who inherit these things, from going to court or fighting among themselves. My husband says that he read somewhere that each and every piece of jewellery and expensive sarees should be listed, in the will. I am thinking of doing this as soon as I reach 60!

Sai: Yes, you are right, Sai. This type of law, will stop people from seeking justice.

Shilpa: Yes, the bride can wear any borrowed jewellery, when she enters the wedding Mantap, but she has to remove everything and wear only her own jewellery, during kanyadaan.

Earlier, the girls were not going out and earning and the parents used to give them jewellery, land, money etc. which they thought would get respect for their daughters. It is not the case now. The girls earn and if by any chance they lose their husbands, they live alone, earn their bread and live normally like anybody else. So the old rules should not apply for the current situation. The in-laws have no part in their lives.

In Narayani's case, her husband died in 1955 and she was sent to her mother's place, where she started working until her death. In those days, even SSLC was enough education for getting a government job. Some people say that she must have written a will before she died...but she may not have been taking important decisions on her own. She must have been dependent on some male member of her family - brother or anybody, to take steps to do it.

It is really disgusting to know that the in-laws fought for her money and won it. Somebody should take steps to change these laws according to the current situation. Who will do it?

Destination Infinity said...

If a woman marries a man and he dies within 3 months, then his property goes to her or?

I am against the whole concept of inheritance. Sadly, I am alone in this thought! I am not saying that there should be anti-inheritance laws or Govt. should take all the money but people should come forward and donate such inherited wealth to some good cause by themselves. This society of ours seems to encourage free money through inheritance totally! People won't understand the value of free money or get happiness out of it. At best, they can just survive!

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

Destination Infinity: Yes, his property will go to her - i.e. the property which is already in his name will go to her. Here, the in-laws fought for her hard earned money after she died. They did not help her in any way when she was alive. She was just discarded when her husband died.

Inheritance of the property - the owner should write a will as per his wish. You must be knowing that the European and US governments charge a hefty sum as tax, by the name of 'inheritance tax'. It is not in vogue here. It is as per the individual's wish - they can write sum amount for some charities, if the amout is too huge. I feel the successors will not have any aim in life but just sit and spend the money and deteriorate.

Well, you cannot deny the hard earned money of the father going to his children, right?

Anonymous said...

This is so unreasonable! A married girl and everything that belongs to her are automatically her in laws right. And then we wonder why nobody wants to have daughters in this country.

The law needs to be changed, but this is also a warning to everybody to make their wills.

I know of another case where family died in a road a accident leaving behind an 8 year old and some wealth. The child was close to his maternal grand parents and unfamiliar with his father's family (they ill-treated the mother)but now two sets of grand parents were fighting for the traumatized child. I think it is best to make a will and make all this clear too - even if it is difficult to imagine doing this.

kanagu said...

see... how our laws are.. and following anything blindly will result in madness only... a sickening judgement I could say :(

Sandhya said...

IHM: This section of our Hindu law is most unreasonable. It never bends according to the situation. The judge should be given the authority to decide, not only as per the rules but as per the situation of a case. The judge was not very happy while announcing the judgement in this case. But rules are rules. Emotions will not be considered!

When should we decide to write a will? This is a BIG question mark, IHM.

I feel sorry for the child, you mentioned. It is not his fault at all. Apart from the trauma of losing the parents, he has to face the world without any moral/financial support also. He cannot question if he doesn't get his parent's money - the people who take care of him will say, the money was spent on your schooling or give any silly reason. I feel we are living in a hollow world. Any minute, anything might happen - good or bad. huh, let me stop now.

Sandhya said...

kanagu: Are you back? Yes, you are right.

kanagu said...

yes.. I am back :)

Destination Infinity said...

//hard earned money of the father going to the children//

It is not about denying that point. How can I? But everyone else looks at that aspect as a huge advantage or bonus and I look at inherited wealth as a dis-advantage. I have seen families living with inherited wealth for 3-4 generations. If they had not inherited the money, they would have worked for it.

Inheritance tax is an excellent concept. I like a whole society like Japanese or the US adopting such policies. I think people will have to work for their money. Otherwise it will not be spent wisely. It will just lead to bad habits like sitting and eating and destroy a person/family slowly.

The biggest wealth that a father can give a son is not the gold or notes, but make the son capable of earning more than he did. And I believe in this staunchly.

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

D.I.: Yes, the children should be responsible and earn their own money. But it is not their fault if they inherit money, right? You take P.Chidambaram. He has inherited so much money, but still he is hard-working, whether in the political field or anyother field. These things depend on individuals, I feel.

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