What are the rights of reversioners in a widow’s estate under the prior Hindu law?

He may, therefore, use a widow to restrain her from commit­ting waste or injuring the property.

A reversioner may bring suit for a declaration that an aliena­tion made by the widow is not binding upon him. The reversioner is not obliged to take action in the life-time of the widow. He may wait until the estate vests in him on her death and then sue the alienee for possession of the property.

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The period of limitation is 12 years for immovable and 6 years for movables from the date of the death of the widow when the suit is for possession. When the suit is for the declaration, the period is 12 years from the date of alienation.

Rangaswaini v. Nachiappa.

Facts:

The last male owner Rangaswami died leaving his mother, Marakammal and a paternal cousin, R. Marakammal, the mother, succeeded to his estate as his heir. The mother M, exe­cuted a deed of gift a portion of her son’s property to R who Marakammal) M = F (Rangaswami) (deceased) was the nearest reversioner. R died and he was succeeded by his nephew A. A mortgaged the property of the plaintiff, which was given by M to R.

After M’s death the plaintiff Rangaswami who was then the actual reversioner claimed the property given by M to R and mortgaged by A to him.

The suit was resisted on the grounds: (1) that the deed of gift was valid, (2) that even if it was not, the plaintiff has ratified the deed by reason of his taxing the mortgage or at least he was estopped from saying that the deed was bad.

The Madras High Court dismissed the suit holding that the plaintiff was estopped from denying its validity.

The plaintiff appealed to the Privy Council.

Judgment:

The Privy Council allowed the appeal hold­ing:

(1) That the deed of gift could not stand as it could not possi­bly be held to be evidence of alienation for the value for purpose of necessity, (alienation must be for consideration);

(2) The mere fact that the plaintiff took a mortgage of the property did not preclude him from claiming it as a reversioner.

“At the time of the mortgage the plaintiff did not know whether he would ever be such a reversioner in fact as would give him a practical interest to quarrel with the deed of gift.”

The following propositions were laid down by their Lordships of the Privy Council:

(1) An alienation by a widow of her deceased husband’s es­tate held by her may be validated if it can be shown to be a surrender of her whole interest in the estate in favour of the nearest reversioner or reversioners at the time of alienation. In such cases the question of necessity does not fall to be consid­ered. But the surrender must be a bona fide surrender and not a device to divide the estate with the reversioner.

(2) When the alienation of the whole or part of the estate is to be supported on the ground of necessity, then if such necessity is not proved ali unde and the alienee does not prove injury on reversioner as might fairly be expected to be interested or dis­puted the transaction will be held to afford a presumptive proof which, if not rebutted by contrary proof, will validate the transac­tion as a right and proper one.