A woman cannot claim right to ancestral property of her husband if she is not his legally wedded wife, the Bombay high court held on Friday.
Deciding a dispute between two wives of a resident of Mohol tehsil of Solapur district, justice RD Dhanuka also held that children of such a woman cannot claim inheritance in the ancestral property of their “father.”
The dispute before the court involved two wives of Namdeo Jadhav and their children, and both sides claimed right to ancestral property of the deceased.
Namdeo’s second wife, Yamunabai and her children, had approached a local court seeking a declaration that they were entitled to his agricultural property, and also sought injunction against Namdeo’s first wife, Kashibai and her children from interfering in the property.
Yamunabai had contended that since Namdeo had validly divorced Kashibai by a deed of divorce, in accordance with customs prevailing in the Maratha community, Kashibai and her lineage had no right in the property held by Namdeo.
After the trial court dismissed the suit, Yamunabai carried the matter in appeal before the district court where an additional district judge, on September 3, 1992, reversed the order of the magisterial court holding that Namdeo and Yamunabai had lived together for a considerably long period as husband and wife and therefore there was presumption in favour of validity of their marriage and legitimacy of their children.
Kashibai and her children then moved high court challenging the district court order. The high court held that since the custom of annulling marriages by deed of divorce in the Maratha community was not proved, the divorce of Kashibai and Namdeo was not legally valid.
Therefore, justice Dhanuka held as invalid the subsequent marriage of Namdeo with Yamunabai, as the later had divorced her first husband by a similar document, and therefore her separation from her first husband was invalid and since her first marriage continued in the eyes of law, her subsequent marriage to Namdeo was a nullity in the eyes of law.