‘Remarried widow can’t get ex-husband’s property’-High Court in Chhattisgarh declares

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A widow would lose her right to property inherited from her deceased husband if she remarries, which has to be “strictly proven”, the Chhattisgarh high court has held.

The bench of Justice Sanjay K Agrawal said in the June 28 order, “The effect of a valid remarriage would be the widow losing her right to property inherited from her husband and unless the fact of remarriage is strictly proved after observing the ceremonies required, as per Section 6 of the Act of 1856, remarriage cannot be said to be established by which the right to property, which is a constitutional right, is lost, that too of a widow.”

Section 6 of The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act, 1856, says that all ceremonies and rites that make a marriage valid shall have the same ‘legal effect’ on a widow’s remarriage.

Additionally, Section 2 of the Act says rights of a widow on her deceased husband’s property would cease on her marriage.

Defence said Kiya never remarried.

The Chhattisgarh high court dismissed a suit filed against widow by her husband’s cousin who claimed that she had remarried in a local ritual — whereby a man had given her bangles — and therefore had no claim over the family property.

The circumstances of the case date to pre-Independence days. The property at the centre of the dispute originally belonged to a man named Sugriv, who had four sons — Mohan, Abhiram, Goverdhan and Jeeverdhan. Mohan died childless, Goverdhan had one son, Loknath, as did Abhiram, whose son Ghasi died in 1942.

The case centred around Ghasi’s share of the property. Loknath — who is now dead — had moved court, arguing that Ghasi’s widow Kiya Bai had entered into a second marriage in 1954-55 through the ‘chudi (bangles) ritual’, so she “ceased to have any interest in the property”. In certain sections of Chhattisgarhi society, it was the custom earlier that if a man gives bangles to an unmarried woman or widow, it was deemed to be marriage.

Opposing the suit, Kiya Bai and her daughter filed a joint statement that the tehsildar had entered their names on the revenue record in 1984 in accordance with the law, and there is no illegality therein. They said Kiya had never remarried and the civil suit should be dismissed.

The trial court partly decreed the suit.