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  • In the case of Arunachala Gounder vs Ponnusamy the Hon’ble SC has held that any property acquired by a female hindu dying intestate and without any children would go back where it came from, that is, to its source.
  • In the instant case, the devolution of the self acquired property of Late Marappa Gounder was in question. The Court was called upon to adjudicate whether the sole surviving daughter of Marrapa, Kupayee Ammal would inherit the same by inheritance or whether the property would devolve by way of survivorship. Another question that was raised was regarding the order of succession after the death of such a daughter.
  • The Court had delved deep both into the judicial pronouncements as well as ancient Hindu texts, and as a consequence observed that the right of a widow or a daughter to inherit the self acquired property as well as in the shared ancestral property has been long recognised not just under the judicial pronouncements but under the old religious texts as well.
  • The same right was given statutory recognition when the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was enacted by our Legislature. Section 15 of the Act has dealt with the general rules of succession in case of a female Hindu dying intestate. While section 15(1) specifies who will inherit the property of a female hindu dying intestate, section 15(2) deals with the fate of the inherited property when the Hindu woman dies intestate and childless.
  • In case of a woman dying intestate and issueless, according to section 15(2), the property that she inherited would go back to the source. What is meant by this is that the property that the woman inherited from her father or mother, would not go to the heirs enumerated in section 15(1), but upon the heirs of the father.
  • Similarly, the property acquired by the female from her husband would also go back to the heirs of the husband.
  • Thus, the Court observed that the aim of the legislature in enacting the said provision is that the inherited property of a female Hidu would go back where it came from, and not devolve upon those who originally had no rights over it.
  • The Court also referred to the case of State of Punjab vs. Balwant Singh (1992) and Bhagat Singh vs. Teja Singh (2002) wherein the Apex Court held that the source from which the woman inherits the property is always important and that would govern the situation, else the persons who were not even remotely related to the people who owned the property would acquire rights over it. This would completely defeat the intent of the legislature.
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