A Hindu widow is entitled to be maintained from the estate of her deceased husband, the Bombay high court has held recently while issuing Letter of Administration to a city resident, who had allegedly been thrown out of her matrimonial home by her in-laws immediately after her husband died in August 2001.
A Letter of Administration empowers a person to manage the estate of a deceased.
“She was legally bound to be maintained by her father-in-law as a Hindu widowed daughter-in-law, being the wife of a predeceased son, under Section 19 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956,” justice Roshan Dalvi observed, while granting reprieve to Kalpana Dave. “Instead she was shown the door.”
The woman had moved the court in 2005 seeking Letter of Administration of the estate of her husband, Dilip, alleging her in-laws had thrown her out of the matrimonial home immediately after her husband’s death.
Her mother-in-law contested her claim saying she had disqualified herself because of her conduct — that she had been separated from her husband during his lifetime, she had left the matrimonial home on her own and had not bothered to care about her minor daughter and instead withdrew the minor’s share from her husband’s pension.
Justice Dalvi, however, found substance in the woman’s allegation that her mother-in-law came to her matrimonial home only after her husband’s death and drove her out.
“The plaintiff's [widow’s] case against being thrown out of her home before the 12th day of the death of her husband is seen to be in expectations of the norms of our society and hence would have to be accepted as correct,” the judge concluded.
The judge held that the widow had not been separated from her husband from the fact that she had been nominated by her husband to receive his retirement dues, which none other could have claimed.
The court also found no weightage in the allegation that the widow had usurped the minor girl’s share in her husband’s pension after finding that the woman had been rendered helpless after the death of her husband and it was under those circumstances that she appropriated the death dues.
It has now directed the Prothonotory and Senior Master of the High Court to issue Letters of Administration of the estate of her husband – mainly a flat in Mumbai and some ancestral properties in Rajasthan.