LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More

Sheetal Dixit (home maker)     23 April 2024

Share of second wife in husband's earnings when un-divorced first wife predeceased

Esteemed advocates and legal experts
In 1962, Mr. Dixit married Mrs. Sheela and had a son. In 1965, he married Mrs. Laxmi, Mrs. Sheela's younger sister, and they had two daughters. The family lived harmoniously, and all the children eventually married. After Mrs. Sheela passed away in 2002, Mr. Dixit died intestate in 2008, leaving no will for his children or surviving second wife. Mrs. Laxmi, the second wife, is alive but aged and unwell.

Now, there is a disagreement in the family regarding the property division. Mrs. Laxmi is asking for a share, pushed by her daughters. Some relatives say the second wife has no rights due to the illegitimate marriage without divorce, while others say she gained legal status after Mrs. Sheela's death in 2002.

What is true? What is the share of Mrs. Laxmi in Mr. Dixit's property from his own savings and earnings and the inherited property.  Where can one find the reference?

Your legal advice would be very helpful.


 21 Replies

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     23 April 2024

The second wife Mrs. Laxmi is very much entitled to a share out of her deceased husband's intestate property.

She was the wife of her husband when the succession to her deceased hubsand's properties opened upon his death, hence she is entitled to a share in that property as a right

kavksatyanarayana (subregistrar/supdt.(retired))     23 April 2024

I opine, that when the first wife was alive, the husband without divorce from 1st wife, could not marry another woman, the other woman (2nd wife) was not entitled to a share in her sister's husband.

1 Like

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     24 April 2024

The second wife is the one surviving as wife of deceased at the time of his death and when the succession opened. 

Therefore she is entitled to a share in his property as a right. 

Besides she has legally married him hence her marriage is not invalid or void especially when the family customs recognized this marriage and both the wives were living together harmoniously in the same house. 

Dr. J C Vashista (Advocate )     24 April 2024

Being a Hindu marriage of Mrs. Laxmi with Dixit is void since it is stated to have been solemanised during life time of Sheela, accordingly Laxmi can not be successor of deceased.

1 Like

Sheetal Dixit (home maker)     24 April 2024

Sirs, Thank you for your response. Why is there confusion and a difference of opinion? Is it due to a lack of clarity in the Hindu Succession Act or the result of varying interpretations by legal experts? Are there any references available?

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     25 April 2024

You posted the matter in s public domain and there were different opinions rendered by different eminent lawyers of this forum. 

It depends on how one interprets the law. 

You can choose your own interpretation too if you have a different opinion. 


Shashi Dhara   25 April 2024

The first wife has not challenged in any court of law who has legal right or obtained any decree , this shows that she has admitted it, she has pre deceased and husband has died intestate, so second  marriage has automatically legalised , she gets equal share, compromise amicabally.

P. Venu (Advocate)     25 April 2024

There is no statutory position or case-law to substantiate the proposition  that bigamous marriage to the second wife attains legal sanction on the demise of the first wife.

Sheetal Dixit (home maker)     25 April 2024

Sirs, I did not mean it that way. I'm nowhere in front of your great legal expertise and knowledge. As a common woman, I thought the law was straight and clear. But now I understand it is not. It looks like it varies on the argumentation and interpretation of the justice. 

Shashi Dhara   25 April 2024

It is act only, according to act the aggrivied has to challenge it in competent court of law and prove obtain decree or order which is document to show the  2 nd marriage is illegal and against law but in this case first wife has not challenged, after her death who has to challenge first wife son or second wife, so

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     25 April 2024

I endorse the views and opinion of advocate Mr. Shashi  Dhara.

As there was no dispute between first and second wife,  and after the death of first wife,  the second wife  becomes the wife. 

Besides the second marriage was solemnized as per rituals. 

Therefore the views expressed therein are justified. 

P. Venu (Advocate)     26 April 2024

Originally posted by : T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate

I endorse the views and opinion of advocate Mr. Shashi  Dhara.As there was no dispute between first and second wife,  and after the death of first wife,  the second wife  becomes the wife. Besides the second marriage was solemnized as per rituals. Therefore the views expressed therein are justified. 

With due respect to learned advocate Mr. Kalaiselvan, there is no statutory provision or case-law to substantiate the above proposition. Of course, there is an inherent element of equity in the said suggestion. Ms. Laxmi can certainly take a chance by filing a suit for partition. 

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     28 April 2024

With due respect to the views expressed by expert Advocate Mr P Venu, I have no intentions to dispute or contorvert it.

However a clarity towards the understanding the law in this regard:

The Hindu Marriage Act,1955 initially mandated that for a marriage to be valid, neither party should have a living spouse at the time of the marriage. The older law permitted a man to marry again while his first wife was alive, unless customs dictated otherwise for women. 

Under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, a person committing bigamy is liable to imprisonment. However, exemptions exist for second marriages after a prolonged absence of the spouse. Complaints for bigamy can only be filed by the aggrieved party (STATE OF ORISSA Vs. SHARAT CHANDRA SAHU.

Injunctions restraining second marriages are not maintainable, but civil suits for perpetual injunctions may be viable. Declaration petitions asserting the void nature of second marriages can only be filed by the involved parties.

The interpretation of maintenance provisions under Section 24, the Hindu Marriage Act, has been broadened by courts to encompass the rights of second wives. Additionally, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956 allows second wives to claim interim maintenance.

In conclusion, the discrepancy between legal provisions and social practices regarding second marriages in India underscores the need for comprehensive legal frameworks to safeguard the rights of women involved in such unions. Unambiguous legislation would alleviate the challenges faced by second wives, providing them with the necessary legal recourse and protection.

The social stigma attached to being a second wife, coupled with the lack of legal recognition and the emotional distress of being deceived into such a marriage, creates a challenging situation for women. While there is no explicit acknowledgment of second wives, judicial interpretations of existing laws provide them with some prospects of obtaining maintenance. However, without clear legal provisions, their ability to assert their rights relies heavily on judicial discretion.

Sudhir Kumar, Advocate (Advocate)     29 April 2024

The second marriage was void ab-initio and second wife was not legitimte. She cannot attain legitimacy merely due to death of the first original wife. he has no claim.


but her children cannot be denied claim.

Leave a reply

Your are not logged in . Please login to post replies

Click here to Login / Register