Read Order: Mangli Devi @ Chemali through her legal heirs and Ors. v. Jagmal

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 19, 2022: While dealing with a regular second appeal filed by a female-plaintiff claiming one-fourth share in her father’s property, the mutation of inheritance of which was sanctioned in favour of the second wife of her father, and after his death, in favour of the second husband (plaintiff’s uncle) and son of such wife, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that as per Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887, the right of occupancy of a tenant devolves firstly upon his male lineal descendants, if any, in the male line of descent. 

The Bench of Justice Alka Sarin thus held,

“Mangli (the original plaintiff) being the daughter of Antu Ram was incapable of inheriting the occupancy rights qua the suit land in the wake of Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887. As per the said provision, the succession of occupancy rights is strictly to the male lineal descendants only and certainly a daughter is not an heir to such occupancy rights.”

The Court was dealing with a regular second appeal assailing judgments and decrees passed by the Courts of below dismissing their suit for declaration and possession with consequential relief of permanent injunction. 

Primarily, in this case there was a person by the name Chetu who had two sons (Antu Ram and Kura). Antu Ram was married to Smt. Punni and they had a daughter Mangli (the original plaintiff).  Smt.  Punni  died  in November, 1941 and Antu Ram married Smt. Ram Piari. Antu Ram died in October 1945 and thereafter his widow, Smt. Ram Piari married Antu Ram’s brother, Kura. Kura and Smt. Ram Piari had a son, Jagmal (the defendant). 

After the death of Antu Ram the mutation of inheritance of Marushi rights was sanctioned in favour of his second wife, Smt. Ram Piari, alone and after her death in 1949, the mutation of her inheritance was sanctioned in favour of her second husband (Kura Ram).  

After  the  death  of  Kura  Ram,  the  mutation  of his inheritance was sanctioned in favour of his son, Jagmal (the defendant). Accordingly, the present suit was filed praying that Mangli (the original plaintiff) be declared owner to the extent of one fourth share in the suit land and for possession of the same and for restraining the defendant from alienating or from changing the nature of the suit land.

The suit was contested by the defendant-respondent averring that Mangli (the original plaintiff) was not the daughter of Smt. Punni and Antu Ram. It was further pleaded that even if Mangli (the original plaintiff) is proved to be the daughter of Antu Ram, she had no right to inherit the occupancy rights and that mutation of inheritance was correctly sanctioned firstly in favour of Smt. Ram Piari and after her death in favour of Kura Ram being a collateral of Antu Ram. 

By way of additional pleas, it was pleaded that as per the custom of agricultural tribes of Punjab and Haryana, a female had only life interest in the ancestral or non-ancestral property of the deceased and the daughters were excluded and, therefore, Mangli had no right to succeed to inherit the property of Antu Ram.

During pendency of the suit Mangli died in July, 2012 and her legal heirs were brought on record (the present plaintiff-appellants). 

The Trial Court, dismissed the suit of the plaintiff-appellants holding that even if it was proved that Mangli was the daughter of Antu Ram, then also as per Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 she was unable to inherit the rights after the commencement of the Punjab Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of Proprietary Rights) Act, 1952 and that these rights had been converted in ownership after the death of Antu Ram and Smt. Ram Piari and the defendant-respondent being the son of Kura Ram inherited the occupancy rights being a male lineal descendant. 

Aggrieved, an appeal was preferred by the plaintiff-appellants which also met with the same fate. The cross- objections filed by the defendant-respondent challenging the finding qua the parentage of Mangli (the original plaintiff) were also dismissed by the lower Appellate Court. Hence, the present regular second appeal was filed. 

The Counsel contended that the Courts below erred in non-suiting them on the basis of Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 which was not at all applicable. According to the counsel, the estate of Antu Ram, after his death, ought to devolve upon his daughter Mangli (the original plaintiff) and the widow Smt. Ram Piari and after the death of Smt. Ram Piari even her share ought to devolve upon Mangli (the original plaintiff) alone. 

It was argued that since it stood proved that Mangli (the original plaintiff) was the daughter of Antu Ram, his estate should come to her after Antu Ram’s death. 

At the outset, the Court perused the provisions of Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 to observe that as per Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887, the right of occupancy of a tenant devolves firstly upon his male lineal descendants, if any, in the male line of descent. 

In view of the aove, the Court observed that in the present case, Kura Ram was the male lineal descendant of Antu Ram and he was entitled to succeed to his occupancy rights upon Antu Ram’s death. In the presence of Kura Ram, neither the widow of Antu Ram nor his daughter would be entitled to succeed to the occupancy rights of Antu Ram, the Court held. 

Justice Sarin further asserted that Mangli (the original plaintiff) being the daughter of Antu Ram was incapable of inheriting the occupancy rights qua the suit land in the wake of Section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 and that as per the said provision, the succession of occupancy rights is strictly to the male lineal descendants only and certainly a daughter is not an heir to such occupancy rights.

Therefore, the appeal accordingly was dismissed.

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