• Stepdaughter is not entitled to inherit any share in her stepmother's self acquired property

Stepdaughter is not entitled to inherit any share in her stepmother’s self acquired property.
respected sir
                  do you have any judgement of supreme court about above menstion subject .
Asked 8 months ago in Civil Law from Surat, Gujarat
Religion: None
1) step daughter is not entitled to any share in step mother self acquired property 

2) Supreme Court in  the case of  Kirtikant D. Vadodaria vs. State of Gujarat and another  [(1996 ) 4 SCC 479], wherein the Supreme Court has taken the view  that the expression "mother" in Section 125(1)(d) of the Code means  only the real or natural mother and does not include the stepmother.  The   Supreme   Court   took   the   view   that   stepmother   is   a   distinct   and  separate entity and cannot be equated with the natural mother who has  given birth to the child.

3) the Court could order a step­ parent to pay child support in  three contingencies: 

"The step­parent:
was either in a marriage­like (common law) relationship with the child's   parent for at least two years   OR married to the child's parent for any   length of time; AND contributed to the child's support or maintenance for   at   least   one   year;   AND   last   contributed   to   the   child's   maintenance   or   support within one y ear of the date that the child support claim was filed   with the court."
Ajay Sethi
Advocate, Mumbai
23264 Answers
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Gujarat High Court
5 Circulate The Judgment To All The ... vs State Of Gujarat & on 8 October, 2015
                R/SCR.A/2666/2015                                            CAV JUDGMENT




                     IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

             SPECIAL CRIMINAL APPLICATION (MAINTAINANCE) NO. 2666 of 2015



         FOR APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE:



         HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE J.B.PARDIWALA

         ==========================================================
1 Whether Reporters of Local Papers may be allowed to see the judgment ? YES 2 To be referred to the Reporter or not ?

YES 3 Whether their Lordships wish to see the fair copy of the judgment ? NO 4 Whether this case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution of India or any NO order made thereunder ?

         5     Circulate the Judgment to all the Judicial
               Officers across the State.

========================================================== MANJULABEN PRAKSHBHAI SARVAIYA....Applicant(s) Versus STATE OF GUJARAT & 1....Respondent(s) ========================================================== Appearance:

MS. BHAVINI H JANI, ADVOCATE for the Applicant(s) No. 1 MR ANKUR Y OZA, ADVOCATE for the Respondent(s) No. 2 MS HANSA PUNANI, APP for the Respondent(s) No. 1 ========================================================== CORAM: HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE J.B.PARDIWALA Date : 08/10/2015 HC-NIC Page 1 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 CAV JUDGMENT 1 By this petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the  petitioner calls in question the legality and validity of the order dated  30.03.2015   passed   below   Exhibit:6   by   the   learned   Principal   Judge,  Family   Court,   Bhavnagar   in   the   Criminal   Miscellaneous   Application  No.124   of   2014,   by   which,   the   learned   Judge   was   pleased   to   grant  interim   maintenance   in   favour   of   the   stepdaughter   for   an   amount   of  Rs.3,000/­  to be paid by the petitioner to the respondent No.2, who is  the grandfather of the stepdaughter of the petitioner.  2 An interesting question of law arises in this petition.   Whether a  minor stepdaughter is entitled to claim maintenance under Section 125  of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, 'the Code') from her  stepmother on the demise of the natural father of the stepdaughter.  3 The facts giving rise to filing of this petition may be summarized  as under:

3.1 The   son   of   the   respondent   No.2   herein,   namely,   Prakashkumar  Sarvaiya married with one Ashaben Manjibhai on 09.02.1998 and in the  wedlock, a baby girl, namely, Jahnvi was born. On account of marital  dispute, they preferred a Hindu Marriage Petition No.32 of 2003 under  Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act before the Court of the learned 2nd  Joint Civil Judge (SD), Bhavnagar, for dissolution of the marriage with  HC-NIC Page 2 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 consent, and pursuant to the decree of divorce   dated 16.12.2003, the  marriage   was   dissolved   and   they   both   got   separated.   However,   the  custody   of   minor   daughter   Jahnvi   was   taken   by   her   father,   namely,  Prakashkumar. 

3.2 After divorce, Prakashkumar married for the second time with the  petitioner herein on 18.12.2005 according to the Hindu rites and rituals.  Unfortunately, on 25.03.2006, the said Prakashkumar passed away and  the custody of Jahnvi remained with the petitioner herein.  3.3 The respondent No.2, the  father of Prakashkumar, preferred an  application being the Miscellaneous Criminal Application No.75 of 2008  in the   Court of the District Judge, Bhavnagar under Section 7 of the  Guardian   and   Wards   Act   for   the   custody   of   Jahnvi.   The   learned  Additional   District   Judge,   Bhavnagar   was   pleased   to   allow   the   said  application  and handed over the custody of Jahnvi to the respondent  No.2 herein (the grandfather) till she attains majority. The responsibility  of her upbringing and education  was agreed to be shouldered by the  respondent No.2 herein. 

3.4 Thus, after the order, referred to above, the custody of Jahnvi is  with the respondent No.2 herein (parental grandfather).  3.5 It appears that the respondent No.2 herein filed an application on  HC-NIC Page 3 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 behalf   of   Jahnvi   being   Criminal   Miscellaneous   Application   No.124   of  2014 (Exhibit:1) before the learned Family Court at Bhavnagar under  Section   125   of   the   Code,   praying   for   an   amount   of   Rs.12,500/­   per  month for the maintenance of Jahnvi from the petitioner. Along with the  said application, the respondent No.2 herein also filed an application for  interim   maintenance   (Exhibit:6)   for   an   amount   of   Rs.11,000/­   per  month. 

3.6 The learned Principal Judge, Family Court, Bhavnagar, vide order  dated 30.03.2015, partly allowed the said application and directed the  petitioner herein to pay an amount of Rs.3,000/­ per month towards the  interim maintenance from 05.06.2014. 

3.7 Being dissatisfied with the order passed by the Court below, the  petitioner has come up with this petition. 

4 Ms.   Bhavini   Jani,   the   learned   advocate   appearing   for   the  petitioner submitted that the learned Judge committed a serious error in  passing the impugned order. She submitted that under Section 125 of  the   Code,   a   stepmother   is   not   obliged   to   maintain   or   pay   the  maintenance   to   her   stepdaughter   born   in   the   wedlock   of   the   first  marriage of her husband. Ms. Jani submitted that while handing over  the custody of Jahnvi to the respondent in the proceedings under the  Guardian and Wards Act, the learned Judge had observed that all the  HC-NIC Page 4 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 benefits, which had accrued in favour of the deceased Son, should be  given  to the  respondent herein, and pursuant thereto, the  respondent  had received an amount of Rs.23 lac from the L.I.C. 

5 Ms.   Jani   submitted   that   the   Biological   mother   of   Jahnvi   is   still  alive and she has also sought for the custody of Jahnvi. The Biological  mother is ready and willing to maintain Jahnvi in all respect. For some  reason  or   the   other,  Jahnvi  is  not  ready  and  willing   to  live   with   her  mother by consanguinity. 

6 Ms. Jani placed reliance on the decision of the Supreme Court in  the case of  Kirtikant D. Vadodaria vs. State of Gujarat and another  [(1996 ) 4 SCC 479], wherein the Supreme Court has taken the view  that the expression "mother" in Section 125(1)(d) of the Code means  only the real or natural mother and does not include the stepmother.  The   Supreme   Court   took   the   view   that   stepmother   is   a   distinct   and  separate entity and cannot be equated with the natural mother who has  given birth to the child. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that having  regard to the purpose behind the benevolent provisions of Section 125,  childless stepmother is entitled to claim maintenance from her stepson  provided she is a widow or her husband, if living, is also incapable of  maintaining her. 

7 Drawing   analogy   from   the   above,   she   submitted   that   if   the  HC-NIC Page 5 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 provisions of Sub­clause (a) to (d) of Section 125(1) are read together  harmoniously,   it   is   enviable   that   a   stepdaughter   cannot   claim  maintenance from her stepmother, after the demise of the father unless  there is an obligation to maintain. In the absence of any legal obligation,  there   cannot   be   any   refusal   or   neglect   to   do   it.   In   the   case   of   a  unmarried minor daughter, there is no obligation upon her stepmother  and, therefore, the stepdaughter cannot claim any maintenance from her  stepmother under Section 125(1)(b) of the Code. 

8 Ms. Jani submitted that since maintenance is being claimed under  Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it goes without saying  that the case of the respondent No.2 must fall within the four corner of  the said provisions. Reference to the Hindu Marriage Act or to the Hindu  Adoption   Act,   1966,   therefore,   will   not   be   appropriate,   particularly,  when there is no ambiguity in the provisions of Sub­section(1) of Section  125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 

9 Ms. Jani submitted that perusal of the Section 125 of the Code  reveals   that   the   legislative   stress   is   "on   his   wife,   his   legitimate   or  illegitimate   child   or   his   father   or   mother".   When  the   stress  is   on   the  word "his", it obviously means that it would include only the person who  procreates, begets or brings forth offspring. It will not include a child of  another father or mother of another person. 

HC-NIC Page 6 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 10 She   submitted   that   the   impugned   order   could   be   termed   as   a  nullity. 

11 On the other hand, this petition has been opposed by Mr. Ankur  Oza, the learned advocate appearing for the respondent No.2 and Ms.  Hansa Punani, the learned Additional  Public Prosecutor appearing for  the respondent - the State of Gujarat. They both submitted that no error,  not to speak of any error law could be said to have been committed by  the Court below, warranting any interference at the hands of this Court  in   exercise   of   supervisory   jurisdiction   under   Article   227   of   the  Constitution   of   India.   They   submitted   that   along   with   the   words  "legitimate or illegitimate" the step minor child should be read in under  Sub­clause (b) of Section 125(1) of the Code. 

12 They submitted that the different Clauses of Section 125 (1) of the  Code  will have  to be  read independently since they  covered different  areas and fields. The expressions  used in  various  the  sub­clauses  will  take in their ambit even a minor stepchild, if the biological father of the  child has passed away and such child is totally at the mercy of his or her  stepmother. They submitted that if the interpretation suggested by the  petitioner is accepted, then on the demise of the natural father, if the  stepmother  throws  out the   minor  stepchildren, then  they could never  claim maintenance from the stepmother although the stepmother might  HC-NIC Page 7 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 have inherited everything of the biological father of the stepchildren.  13 Having heard the learned counsel appearing for the parties and  having gone through the materials on record, the only question that falls  for my consideration is whether the Court below committed any error in  passing the impugned order. 

14 The issue falling for my consideration should also be looked into  keeping in mind the Hindu Law. Of course, it is true that Section 125  should be construed strictly although the same is not penal in nature.  However, in the peculiar facts of the case, I deem it necessary to look  into the same. 

15 In   the   case   of  Khetramani  Dasi   vs.   Kashinath   Das,   (1868)   2  Bengal Law Reporter 15, the father­in­law was sued by a Hindu widow  for maintenance. Deciding  the  right of a widow  for maintenance, the  Calcutta High Court referred to the Shastric law as under: 

"The duty of maintaining one's family is, however, ciearly laid down in the   Dayabhaga, Chapter II, Section XXIII, in these words: ' The maintenance  of the family is an indispensable obligation, as MANU   positively declares.' Sir Thomas Strange in his work on Hindu Law Vol. I page 67, says:
'Maintenance by a man of his dependants is, with the Hindus, a primary   duty. They hold that he must be just, before he is generous, his charity   beginning at home; and that even sacrifice is mockery, if to the injury of   those whom he is bound to maintain. Nor of his duty in this respect are his   children the only objects, co­extensive as it is with the family whatever be   its composition, as consisting of other relations and connexions, including   HC-NIC Page 8 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 (it   may   be)   illegitimate   offspring.   It   extends   according   to   Manu   and   Yajnavalkya to the outcast, if not to the adulterous wife; not to mention   such as are excluded from the inheritance, whether through their fault, or   their   misfortune;   all   being   entitled   to   be   maintained   with   food   and   raiment."

At page 21,  the  learned  Judges  have  also referred  to a situation  where   there is nothing absolutely for the Hindu widow to maintain herself from   the   parents­in­law's   branch   by   referring   to   the   following   texts   from   NARADA:

"In Book IV, Chapter I Section I, Art. XIII of Celebrooke's Digest, are the   following texts from NARADA:

'After   the   death   of   her   husband,   the   nearest   kinsman   on   his   side   has   authority over a woman who has no son; in regard to the expenditurte of   wealth,   the   government   of   herself,   and   her   maintenance,   he   has   full   dominion. If the husband's family be extinct, or the kinsman be unmanly,   or destitute of means to support her, or if there is no Sapindas, a kinsman   on   the   father's   side   shall   have   authority   over   the   woman;   and   the   comment   on   this   passage   is   :   "'Kinsman   on   the   husband's   side;   of   his   father's or mother's race in the order of proximity. 'Maintenance' means   subsistence. Thus, without his consent, she may not give away anything to   any person, nor indulge herself in matters of shape, taste, small, or the   like,   and   if   the   means   of   subsistence   be   wanting   he   must   provide   her   maintenance. But if the kinsman be unmanly (defecient in manly capacity   to discriminate right from wrong) or destitute of means to support her, if   there  be no such  person  able  to provide  the means  of subsistence,  or if   there   be   no   SAPINDAS,   then   any   how,   determining   from   her   own   judgment on the means of preserving life and duty, let her announce her   affinity in this mode : 'I am the wife of such a man's uncle; 'and if that be   ineffectual,   let   her   revert   to   her   father's   kindred;   or   in   failure   of   this,   recourse may be had even to her mother's kindered" (Empha­sis supplied.) In Book III, Chapter II, Section II, Art. CXXII, of Colebrooke's Digest, we   have the following texts and comments:

"She  who  is deprived  of her  husband  should  not  reside  apart  from  her   father, mother, son, or brother, from her husband's father or mother, or   from hermaternal uncle; else she becomes infamous."" As per the above texts and comments, a Hindu widow if the parents­in­ law's branch is unmanly or destitute of means to support her is entitled to   be with the father or the kinsman on the father's side." 16 In  Janki  v.  Nand  Ram,  (1889)  ILR  11  All  194  (FB),   a   Hindu  HC-NIC Page 9 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 widow after the death of her father­in­law sued her brother­in­law and  her father­in­law's widow. The Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court  held   that   the   father­in­law   was   under   a   moral,   though   not   legal,  obligation not only to maintain his widowed daughter­in­law during his  life time, but also to make provision out of his self­acquired property for  her maintenance after his death; and that such moral obligation in the  father became by reason of his self­acquired property having come by  inheritance   into   the   hands   of   his   surviving   son,   a   legal   obligation  enforceable   by   a   suit   against   the   son   and   against   the   property   in  question.   While  so  deciding,  the  learned  Judges   at  page   210  made   a  reference to a passage from Dr. Gurudas Banerjee's Tagore Law Lectures,  thus:

"We have hitherto been considering the claim of a widow for maintenance   against   the   person   inheriting   her   husband's   estate.   The   questio'n   next   arises   how   far   she   is   entitled   to   be   maintained   by   the   heir   when   her   husband leaves no property and how far she can claim maintenance from   other relatives. The Hindu sages emphatically enjoin upon every person the   duty of maintaining the dependant members of his family. The following   are a few of the many texts on the subject:­­ MANU:  'The  ample  support of those who are entitled  to maintenance  is   rewarded with bliss in heaven; but hell is the portion of that man whose   family is afflicted with pain by his neglect: therefore let him maintain his family with the utmost care.' NARADA: 'Even they who are born, or yet unborn and they who exist in   the   womb,   require   funds   for   subsistence;   deprivation   of   the   means   of   subsistence is reprehended.' BRIHASPATI: 'A man may give what remains after the food and clothing   of his family, the giver of more who leaves his family naked and unfed,   may taste honey at first, but still afterwards find it poison.'"
The text of MANU as added reads:
HC-NIC Page 10 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 "He who bestows gifts on strangers, with a view to worldly fame, while he   suffers his family to live in distress, though he has power to support them,   touches his lips with honey, but swallows poison; such virtue is counterfeit:   even what he does for the sake of his future spiritual body, to the injury of  those whom he is found to maintain, shall bring him ultimate misery both   in this life and in the next."

Having   so   quoted   the   texts,   the   Full   Bench   based   its   judgment   on   the   proposition:

"......under the Hindu law purely moral obligations imposed by religious   precepts   upon   the   father   ripen   into   legally   enforceable   obligations   as   against the son who inherits his father's property." 17  In  Kamini Dassee v. Chandra Pode Handle, (1890) ILR 17 Cal  373, it is held by the Calcutta High Court that the principle that an  heir succeeding to the property takes it for the spiritual benefit of the  late proprietor, and is, therefore, under a legal obligation to maintain  persons whom the late proprietor was morally bound to support, has  ample basis in the Hindu law of the Bengal School and accordingly  decreed the suit for maintenance laid by a widowed brother against  her husband's brothers.

18 In Devi Prasad v. Gunvati Koer, (1894) ILR 22 Cal 410, deciding  an   action   brought  for   maintenance   by   a   Hindu   widow   against   the  brothers and nephew of her deceased husband after the death of her  father­in­law, the Calcutta High Court held that the plaintiff's husband  had a vested interest in the ancestral property, and could have, even  during his father's life time, enforced partition of that property, and as  HC-NIC Page 11 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 the Hindu law provides that the surviving coparceners should maintain  the   widow   of   a   deceased  coparcener,   the   plaintiff   was   entitled   to  maintenance.

19 In   Bai   Mangal   v.   Bai   Rukmini,   (1899)   ILR   23   Bom   291,   the  statement of law of MAYNE that  "After  marriage,  her  (meaning  the  daughter's)  maintenance  is a charge   upon her husband's family, but if they are unable to support her, she must   be provided for by the., family of her father." 

was understood to have been one of monetary character than laying down   any   general   legal   obligation.   The   learned   Judge,   Ranede,   J.,   after   examining   all   the   authorities   has   broadly   laid   down   the   law,   as   he   understood, thus:

"In   fact,   all   the   text   writers   appear   to   be   in   agreement   on   this   point,   namely, that it is only the unmarried daughters who have a legal claim for   maintenance   from  the  husband's  family.  If  this  provision  fails,  and  the   widowed  daughter  returns  to live with her father  or brother,  there  is a   moral and social obligation, but not a legally enforceable right by which   her maintenance can be claimed as a charge on her father's estate in the   hands of his heirs." (page 295)."

20 However, the same learned Judge, Ranede, J., in a later case in  Yamuna Bai v. Manubai, (1899) ILR 23 Bom 608, expressed his absolute  concurrence   with   the   law  laid   down   by   the   Allahabad   High   Court   in  Janaki's case, (1889 ILR 11 All 194) (supra), as regards the right of the  widow of a predeceased son to maintenance against the estate of the  deceased father­in­law in the hands of his heirs.

21 The view of Ranede, J., in Bai Man­gal's case, (1899 ILR 23 Bom 

291)  (supra),  was  further  conditioned   by Ammer  Ali,  J., in  Mokhoda  HC-NIC Page 12 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 Dassee v. Nundo Lall Haldar, (1900) ILR 27 Cal 555, by holding that the  right of maintenance is again subject to the satisfaction of the fact that  the widowed sonless daughter must have been at the time of her father's  death maintained by him as a dependant member of the family. 22 But, both the views of Ranede, J., in Bai Mangal's case, (1899 ILR  23   Bom   291)   (supra),   and   Ameer   Ali,   J.,   in   Mokhode   Dassee's   case,  (1900 ILR 27 Cal 555) (supra), did not find acceptance of A. K. Sinha,  J.,  of   the   Calcutta   High  Court  in  Khanta   Moni  v.  Shyam  Chand.   The  learned Judge held that a widowed daughter to sustain her claim for  maintenance need not be a destitute nor need be actually maintained by  the father during his life time... All that she is required to prove to get  such maintenance, the learned Judge held, is that at the material time  she   is   a   destitute   and   she   could   not   get   any   maintenance   from   her  husband's family. 

23 The next important case on the subject is that of the Madras High  Court in Venkatrazu v. Kotayya, (1912) 23 Mad LJ 223. In this the view  of Ranede, J., in Bai Mangal's case, (1899 ILR 23 Bom 291) (supra) was  dissented from by holding that there is a legal obligation on the father  and his  family to support a destitute  daughter  (though  she  had  been  married   away)   if   she   could   not   get   sufficient   provision   from   her  deceased   husband's   family   for   her   maintenance.   The   learned   Judge,  HC-NIC Page 13 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 Sadasiva Aiyar, J., also noted that according to Bhattacharya under the  Hindu Law Texts widowed daughters are entitled to maintenance and  'justice requires that their right should be recognised'. Referring   to   the   argument   that   'by   marriage   she   becomes   member   of   another   family   and   becomes   so   to   say,   "dead"   to   her   own   family,   the   learned Judge held, is merely carrying legal fictions to absurd lengths. The   learned Judge illustrated this absurdity thus:

"A wife is half her husband's  body but you cannot  on that ground  give   double rations to the husband for his meals and give none to the wife; nor   does   the   daughter   lose   her   consan­guineness,   blood   relationship   to   her   father and her right of inheritance to him and other similar rights, simply   because   she   becomes   attached   by   Pinda,   Gotra   and   Sootake   to   her   husband's family by marriage."

Adverting to the question, namely 'has not a widowed destitute daughter   whose husband's family is unable to give her anything has she not a legal   claim on her father for her maintenance atleast when she lives with him as   a member of his family? Has she not, at least, a social and moral claim   against her father which ripens into a legal right against his estate after   his death just as in the case of a daughter­in­law who has only a social   and moral claim against her father­in­law if he has no ancestral property   and whose moral claim becomes a legal claim after his death?' the learned Judge, Sadasiva Aiyar, J., observed:

"The authorities are all in favour of the existence of such a right in the   destitute married daughter except one doubtful decision in Bai Mangal v.   Bai  Rukhmini,  (1899  ILR 23  Bom  291),  J. C.  Ghose  says (Hindu  Law  pages 295 and 296) "The law of Narada is clear, that when the husband's   family is in destitute circumstances, the father's family has to maintain a   female.  It is difficult to see how it is only a moral duty. .. .. When the   father's family marry a girl to a poor man... how can it be said that when   she becomes helpless on account of the indigence of the husband's family   the father's family can turn her out without a maintenance?.... According   to the strict letter of the Hindu Law and also according to the nature of the   Constitution of Hindu Society, it is a clear legal duty on the part of the   father's   family   to   maintain   a   woman   under   the   circumstances   noted   above."

24 In Mt. Bholi Bai v. Dwarka Das, AIR 1925 Lahore 32, the Lahore  HC-NIC Page 14 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 High Court held that the sister is entitled to maintenance against the  properties of her deceased father in the hands of her brother. 25 In  the   decision  of  the   Full  Bench  of   the   Madras  High  Court   in  Ambu Bai v. Soni Bai, AIR 1940 Madras 804, the daughter filed a suit  against her step­mother for her maintenance from out of the property of  her   father   inherited   by   her   step­mother,   on   the   ground   that   she   is   a  widow with no means and that her husband's family is unable to support  her.   Considering   the   claim   the   Full   Bench   examined   whether   the  principle laid down in Janki v. Nand Ram's case, (1889 ILR 11 All 194)  (supra) of the Allahabad High Court could be extended to the case of a  widowed   daughter,   who   has   no   means   of   subsistence.   While   so  examining, it recalled that the Allahabad High Court held that the father  was   under   a   moral,   though   not   a   legal,   obligation   to   maintain   his  widowed daughter­in­law during his life time and to make provision out  of his self­acquired property for her maintenance after his death. This  moral obligation becomes legal one by reason of the fact that the son  inherits the property. The basis for this change of character into legal  one was that the son took the estate, not for his own benefit but for the  spiritual benefit of his  father as has been stated in Khetramani Dasi's  case, (1868­2 Bengal LR 15) (supra). The Full Bench also referred to two  cases reported by Strange (1830 Edition pages 83 and 90) and one case  in Macnaghten (Vol. II pp. 117 and 118). 

HC-NIC Page 15 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 In one of the two cases reported by Strange: 

A Hindu left two widows, a widowed sister who had lived with him after   the  death  of her  husband,  and  his  mother.  The  question  was  to whom   should   his   estate   go.   The   answer   given   was   that   the   mother   must   be   maintained and so must be the sister, if left destitute by her husband. In the second case:

A Hindu left two wives, his mother and sister. The answer was that the   mother of the deceased Hindu, being otherwise unprovided for, sufficient   allowance must be set apart from his estate for her maintenance, and if   the deceased's sister derived nothing from her husband, the widows should   jointly contribute towards her support.

In the case reported in Macnaghten:

The   deceased   left   two   sons   by   one   wife   (who   died   before   him),   and   a  widow and her two daughters. Subsequent  to his death, one of the two   sons died. There thus were (i) a son of his first wife, (ii) a widow and (iii)   two daughters of the widow. The question there was if the widow received   no portion of the property from her step­son, whether she is entitled to any   share   in   the   estate.   The   answer   was   that   the   widow   was   entitled   to   maintenance from her step­son; and if her two daughters have not been   disposed of in marriage, they will also have some share of their father's   wealth to defray their nuptial expenses. Should they, after marriage, be in   want   of   maintenance,   in   consequence   of   their   husband's   inability   to   support them, they must be provided with food and raiment by their half­ brother. This is conformable to Dayabhaga and other authorities.  If the sister of a deceased Hindu is entitled to maintenance from out of his   estate, the Full Bench held, it is impossible to imagine on what principle   maintenance  can be denied to his daughter. Having also referred to the   decision  of Sadastva  Aiyar,  J., in Venka­trazu's  case, (1912­23  Mad  LJ  

223) (supra), the Full Bench found no difficulty in extending the principle   embodied in Janki v. Nand Ram's case (1889 ILR 11 All 194) (supra) to   the case of a daughter. The Full Bench accordingly concluded that a Hindu   widow  is  bound  to maintain  out  of her  husband's  estate  her  husband's   widowed daughter when the daughter is without means and her husband's   family is unable to support her.

26 In   Appavu   Udayan   v.   Nallamrnal,   AIR   1949   Madras   24,   the  Madras   High   Court   had   to   deal   with   the   rights   of   daughter­in­law  against her father­in­law and his estate in the hands of his heirs. There it  HC-NIC Page 16 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 is held that the father­in­law is under a moral obligation to maintain his  widowed daughter­in­law out of his self­acquired property and that on  his   death   if   his   self­acquired   property   descends   by   inheritance   to   his  heirs,   the   moral   liability   of   the   father­in­law   ripens   into   a   legal   one  against his heirs.

27 A Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in  T.A. Lakshmi  Narasamba v. T. Sundaramma held: 

"The   moral   obligation   of   a   father­in­law   possessed   of   separate   or   self­ acquired property to maintain the widowed daughter­in­law ripens into a   legal obligation in the hands of persons to whom he has either bequeathed   or   made  a  gift  of  his  property.  Under  the   Hindu   law   there   is  a moral   obligation on the father­in­law to maintain the daughter­in­law and the   heirs who inherit the property are liable to maintain the dependants. It is   the   duty   of   the   Hindu   heirs   to   provide   for   the   bodily   and   mental   or   spiritual needs  of their  immediate  and  nearer  ancestors  to relieve  them   from  bodily  and  mental   discomfort  and   to  protect   their  souls  from  the   consequences of sin. They should maintain the dependants pf the persons   of property they succeeded. Merely because the property is transferred by   gift or by will in favour of the heirs the obligation is not extinct. When   there is property in the hands of the heirs belonging to the deceased who   had a moral duty to provide maintenance, it becomes a legal duty on the   heirs. It makes no difference whether the property is received either by way   of succession or by way of gift or will, the principle being common in either   case." [See - Kota Varaprasada Rao vs. Kota China Venkaiah (1992   AIR (AP)1] 28 A  Full  Bench  of   the  Andhra  Pradesh  High Court  in  the  case  of  Kota   Varaprasada   Rao   vs.   Kota   China  Venkaiah  [1992  AIR  (AP)1]  observed as under: 
[22] We   must   before   proceeding   further   mention   that   we   have   been   conscious  that  the  case   law  mostly  referred  to above  relates  to matters   pertaining to the rights of the daughter­in­law against her father­in­law   and his estate. The reason, still, for their reference is the unusual paucity   of case­law governing the rights of daughter against her father, brothers,   HC-NIC Page 17 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 etc.'for  her maintenance.  This scantiness  of case law is more due to the   devotional character and spiritual belief of the Hindu population and also   due to the fact that the law­abiding nature of the Hindus have precluded   brothers from disputing the right of maintenance of their widowed sister.  
More over, the analogy in the case­law with reference to the daughter­in­ law can be and in fact has been also extended to the destitute widowed   daughter by the Full Bench of the Madras High Court in Ambu Bai's case   (AIR 1940 Madras 804) (supra). 
It is also interesting to note that MANU says:
"The support of the group of persons who should be maintained ej.ka iks";oxZL;
is the approved means of attaining  heaven, but hell is the man's   portion if they suffer; therefore, he should carefully maintain them.'   (Cited in DAYABHAGA, II, 23) MANU goes on to describe the group of persons to be maintained:
"The   father,   the   mother,   the   Guru,   a   wife,   an   off­spring,   poor   dependents fnuk% lekfJrk% a guest and a religious mendicant are declared to be the group of   persons   who   are   to   be   maintained"   (cited   in   Sri   Krishna's   commentary on the DAYABHAGA.) MANU further says:
"A father is bound to maintain his unmarried daughters. On the   death of the father  they are entitled  to be maintained  out of his   estate.   A   daughter   on   marriage   ceases   to   be   a   member   of   her   father's family, and becomes a member of her husband's family.....   If she is unable to obtain maintenance from her husband, or after   his death from his family, her father, if he has got separate of his   own, is under a moral, though not a legal, obligation to maintain   her."
(MULLA's Principles of Hindu Law, 9th Edn. p. 584).
[23] KAMALAKARA, as cited by Dr. Jolly, in his VIVADATANDAVA says:

"It is incumbent on the sons and grandsons to maintain indigent   widows and daughter­in­law   though   no   wealth   of   the   father   may   be   in  existence."
HC-NIC Page 18 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 According to him :

"In reality the claim of the female family members of maintenance   does not become extinct either through the absence of assets, or in   the  somewhat  analogous  case  of a separation  of the  coparceners   having taken place."
[24] Even GHOSE states that a female is entitled to be maintained by her   father's family,   if   her   husband's   family   is   extinct,   or   incapable   on   account   of   extreme poverty, to support her. (Principles of Hindu Law, 10th Edn. Page  

305).

[25]  Again according to MEDHATITHI as cited by GHOSE at page 310,   the sonless widowed daughter and grand­daughter and sister come back to   the family of the father. MEDHATITHI's work as observed by M A YNE is   the earliest commentary extant on MANU and is frequently referred to as   of high authority.

[26] SARKAR expresses the opinion that a married daughter is ordinarily   to   be   maintained   in   her   husband's   family,   but   if   they   are   unable   to   maintain her, she is entitled to be maintained in her father's family. (8th   Edn. p. 534).

[27]  In view of the different texts cited and the case­law noted, we hold   that a destitute widowed daughter has a right of maintenance against her   brothers  after  the death of her father  when  she could  not  get sufficient   provision from her deceased husband's family for her maintenance." 29 I shall now look into the decision of the Supreme Court in the case  of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria (supra). In this case, the appellant was a child  of   tender   age   when   his   mother   expired   and   his   father   took   the  respondent   No.2   as   his   second   wife   from   whom   five   sons   and   two  daughters were born. All of them were major and at least three of them  were well­to­do and capable of maintaining their daughters. The father  was   also possessed of  sufficient  means.  The  respondent No.2  claimed  maintenance from stepson, the appellant, living out all her natural born  HC-NIC Page 19 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 sons and husband who were well­to­do. The Magistrate took the view  that in spite of the respondent No.2 being a stepmother of the appellant,  she had a right to claim maintenance from the appellant and awarded a  sum of Rs.400/­ per month as the maintenance allowance. This order  was upheld by the City Sessions Judge and the High Court. The matter  reached to the Supreme Court. Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court  made the following observations:

"10.  To resolve the controversy, it would be appropriate to reproduce the   relevant part of Section 125 of the Code which reads as under:­        "125.  Order  for  maintenance  of wives, children  and parents,­   (1)  If  any  person  Having  sufficient means  neglects   or   refuses   to maintain­
     (a) his  wife, unable  to maintain herself, or 
(b)   his     legitimate   or   illegitimate   minor   child,     whether   married or not, unable to maintain itself. or
         (c)  his   legitimate  of illegitimate    child  (not being  married   daughter)   who has   attained majority,   where   such child   is, by   reason of   any physical or   mental abnormality   or injury unable   to maintain  itself, or (d) his father or mother, unable to maintain   himself or herself,    a magistrate   of   the   first   class may, upon   proof   of  such   neglect   or  refusal,  order    such   person  to   make     a  monthly    allowance    for    the  maintains of   his  wife or  such   child, father   or mother, at   such     monthly   rate   not exceeding   five hundred rupees  in the whole,  as such Magistrate  thinks fit,   and to  pay the  same to such person as the  Magistrate may  from   time to  time  direct:
Provided that the Magistrate my order the father or a minor   female child referred to in clause  (b) to make such allowance, until   she attains  her majority, if  the Magistrate is  satisfied  that  the   husband of such minor female child, if Married, is not possessed  of   sufficient means.     
Explanation,­ For the purposes  of this chapter.­ HC-NIC Page 20 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015

     (a) "Minor"  means  a  person  who,  under the provisions of the   Indian     Majority Act,  1875 (9 of 1875), is   deemed not to  have   attained  his  majority:

      (b) "wife" includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has   obtained a  divorce from,  her husband and has  not remarried.  

    2. Such  allowance shall be payable  from the  date of the order,   on,   if   so   ordered,     from   the   date   of     the   application   for   maintenance.

    (3)­ (5)   xx    xx       xx   

11. Admittedly, the   expressions "mother" and "step­mother" have not   been defined either   in   the   Code   or   in   the   General   Clauses   Act.   These   expressions have also not been defined by the Hindu   Law or   the Hindu   Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 or   by any   other Law.   As stated   earlier.  all that the  explanation  attached    to Section    20  of the  Hindu   Adoptions and Maintenance   Act, 1956    provides  is   that the Expression   "parent" includes a childless step­mother. His  being  the position, we  have   to  resort to  the dictionary meaning and the  meaning   in  which   these   expressions     are   commonly   understood   in     the   popular     sense   .  In   the   Permanent Edition or WORDS  AND PHRASES, VOLUME  27A,    at page   348, the word "mother" has   been given   the meaning   to denote a   woman who has borne   a child or a female parent, especially one of the   human race.  In Volume 40 of  the said Permanent Edition of WORDS   AND  PHRASE. at page 145. the expression "step­mother" has been  given   the     meaning   as     to   be   the   'wife   of   one's   father   by   virtu   of   marriage   subsequent to that of which the person spoken  of is  the offspring.  It  has   been  further stated that  a "stem­mother"  is a  relative by affinity and the   relationship   continues   after   the   death   of   the   faster.   BLACK'S   LAW   DICTIONARY,   5th   Edition,   at   page   913,   has   given   the   meaning     of   "mother" as a woman who has borne a child, a female parent. Further, at   page 1268,  the meaning  of "step­mother"  is stated  to mean  the wife  of   one's   father   by   virtue   of   a     marriage   subsequent   to   that   of   which   the   person spoken of is  the  offspring Similarly, in THE SHORTER  OXFORD   ENGLISH   DICTIONARY,     volume   II,   at   page   1360,  the   meaning   of   the   word "mother" is given as a woman who has given birth to a child  or a   female parent,   and at page 12122, expression "stem­mother" has   been   assigned     the   meaning   as   The   wife   of   one's   father     by   a   subsequent   marriage.  According  to Webster  Dictionary (international    Edition),  the   expression "mother" means a  female parent and that which was produced   or   given   birth   to     anyone.   Thus.     on   a     conspectus   view   of   dictionary   meaning of   the two expressions ­ "mother" and "step­mother" in various   dictionaries, it  clearly emerges  that there is inherent distinction  between   the status of  a  mother  and 'step­mother'  and   they  are two  distinct   HC-NIC Page 21 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 and separate entities and  both could  not be assigned the same meaning .   The expression "mother"   clearly   means   only the   natural mother who   has given birth to the child and not the one who is the wife of one's father   by another marriage.

11. It may  be mentioned  here that  in The General Clauses Act though   the expression  "father"  has  been defined  in clause 20  of Section  3, out   the expression "mother has not been defined.  The expression  "father" as   defined   in the General Clauses   Act, 1656 means in the case of anyone   whose Personal Law permits adoption,  shall include an  adoptive father'.   Applying    the said analogy,  at   best. an   adoptive  mother  may also be   included   in   the   expression   mother   but   not   a   stepmother.   As   discussed   above, a step­mother is one who is taken as a wife by the father of the   child other than the one from  whom the is born or who has given birth to   the one from whom   he is   born or   who has   given birth to him. This   clearly goes   to show   that the woman  who   gives birth to a child and   another  woman   who is   taken by the father  as his other  wife are tow   distinct and separate entities in the eye of Law and   who   in   common   balance are know and recognized as real 'mother'  and step­mother. That   being so, another woman who is taken   as   a   wife   by   the   father   of   the   child   cannot   be   given   the     status   of     mother   to     the   child   born   from   another woman as there is no blood relation between the two.

13. We may  also here usefully refer to an old decision of an Division   Bench of  Bombay High Court in Baidaya v. Natha Govindalal [(1885) 9   Indian Law   Report 279], it was held that the   term 'mata'   stands for   'janani'   "genitrix",     and   sapatnamata   "noverca".   It   has   been   further   observed in the said decision  that 'mata'  and 'mata­pitrau'  are  Sanskrit   words which  are used  in the  text by Manu, Mitaksnara and Salamphatta   and   in both   the cases   discussion   proceeds on the supposition that the   primary  meaning  of  'mata' was 'natural mother'  and that  it was  only   in  secondary  and figurative sense  that it could mean a "step­mother". It   is, therefore, clear that even under the old Hindu Law also, the expression   mother  was referable  only to the natural mother who has given birth to   the child and not the step­mother. It would be   difficult   to assume that   the  legislature  was unmindful  of the   social   fabric   and   the  structure   of relationship in the families. The existence of various kinds of relatives   in our society was not some thing of which the Parliament may be said to   ignorant when it thought to enact the New Code of   1973 and   for the   first time not only the parents were  included amongst the persons entitled   to claim maintenance under  Section 125 (1)(d)   but   even   the   divorced   woman  had been  included  in the  expression  wife  to be  entitle  to claim   maintenance, who  were not  so included in Section 488 of the   "step­ father"  or "step­mother" are not included in the expression "his­father" or   mother" occuring in clause (d) of Section 125(1) of the code giving a clear   indication of the legislative intent.

HC-NIC Page 22 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015

14. In view    of  the    above  discussion  it follows    that  the  expression   mother, in clause (d) of section 125 (1) of Code, means and  is referable   only to the real or natural mother, who has   actually given birth to the   child   and   if   that   be   so   the   view   taken   by   the   Gujarat   High   Court   in   Havaben Beline's case (supra)   that the word 'mother' occuring in clause  

(d) of Section   125(1) includes   a woman who has the status of a step­ mother  by reason  of her lawful  marriage  with the  father  of the person   sought to be made liable for maintenance under Section 125.   cannot be   accepted. This  assumption  of  the meaning of the expression mother by   legal   fiction   would   mean   some   thing     which   is   not  so  intended   by   the   legislature. For the same  reasons the view taken by the Orissa High Court   in Petei Bewa's   case (supra).  cannot also  be accepted  as it adopts the   reasoning of the Gujarat High Court in preference to Bombay  High Court   which took  the view  that  the word 'mother' used in Section 125(1)(d) of   the Code, will have to be given  its natural  meaning and so construed it   will mean only the  natural mother  and will  not  include the step­mother,   who  in common parlance is  a distinct and separate entity and   cannot   be equated with one's  own mother. The High Court  of Allahabad  in case   of Ganga  Saran  Varshney (supra)   was    mainly  concerned    with the   question  of jurisdiction  with   reference  to the  place  where  maintenance   petition could be filed and there is no elaborate discussion on the question   whether     a   step­mother   would   include   in   the   expression   "mother'     in   Section 125(1)(d) of the Code is the correct view  and the  contrary view   of  the  Gujarat High Court, Orissa  High  Court  and the  Allahabad High   Court (supra) in not the correct view.

15. The pint  in controversy before us however is whether a 'stepmother'   can claim maintenance  from the step­son or not,  having regard   to the   aims and objects of Section 125 of the Code.   While   dealing   with   the   ambit and  scope  of  the provision contained in Section 125 of the Code, it   has to be borne in  mind that  the dominant  and primary object is to give   social  justice to  the woman, child and infirm parents etc. and  to  prevent   distitution and vagrancy by compelling those who  can support those  who   are  unable  to  support themselves  but  have a moral  claim  for  support.   The provisions in  section 125  provide a speedy remedy to those women.   children   and   destitute   parents   who   are   in   distress.   The   provisions   in   Section   125 are intended to achieve this special purpose. The dominant   purpose   behind   the   benevolent   provisions   contained     in   Section     125   clearly   is   that   the wife, child   and parents   should not   be left   in a   helpless state of distress, destitution and starvation, Having regard to this   social object the provisions of Section 125 of the Code have  to be  given   a   liberal   construction   to   fulfil   and   achieve   this     intention   of   the   Legislature.  consequently,  to achieve  this   objective,  in   out opinion,    a   childless step­mother may  claim maintenance from her step­son provided   she is widow  or her  husband, if  living, is  also incapable of supporting   and maintaining her. The obligation of the son to maintain his   father,   who   is unable to maintain himself, is unquestionable, When she claims   HC-NIC Page 23 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 maintenance from her natural born children, she does so in her status as  their 'mother'. such   an   interpretation    would    be in accord    with the   explanation   attached   to   Section   20   of   the   Hindu   Adoptions   and   maintenance  Act.1956  because    to  exclude   altogether   the  personal  Law   applicable to the parties from consideration in matters  of   maintenance   under  Section 125  of the  Code may not  be wholly  justified.   However,   no   intention  of Legislature can be read in Section 125 of the Code that   even though a  mother has  her real and natural born son or sons and a   husband   capable   of  maintaining   her,she  could   still  proceed   against   her   step­son to claim maintenance. Since, in this case   we are not concerned   with, we express no opining, on the question  of   liability,  if   any,  of   the   step­son to maintain the step­mother, out of the inherited family estate by   the step­son and leave that question to be decided in an appropriate  case.   Our  discussion is confined  to  the obligations under Section  125 Cr.P.C.   only.

16.   In   the     present   case,     as   discussed     above,   the     "step­mother'   respondent  No.  2 has got 5 natural  born  sons  who are all major    and   atleast 3 of them are well to do and capable of maintaining their mother.   This apart, as already noticed, the  husband   of  respondent  No.2  is also   possessed  of sufficient means  and property besides the  monthly  income   that the  derives from the business of Snuff anabling him to maintain and   support his  second wife. yet the step­mother respondent No.2 preferred  to   claim     the   maintenance   only   from   the     step­son.   the   appellant   herein   leaving   out   all   her   natural   born     sons   (from   whom   she   could   claim   maintenance  as  their  mother)  and  husband  who  are  well  to do. Prima   facie it appears that respondent No. 2 proceeded against her step­son with   a view to punish and cause harassment to the appellant, which is  wholly   unjustified. In the facts and circumstances of this case, we  are of  the view   that respondent No. 2 is not entitled  to claim any   maintenance     from   the   step­son, appellant herein.  In the  result the appeal succeeds and is   hereby allowed. The impugned  orders of  the High Court and the Courts   below are set aside and the petition of respondent No.2 for maintenance is   dismissed, but without any orders as to costs. We, however, wish to clarify   that in the interest  of justice  and to   balance the  equities, the amount   already   received   by   respondent   No.2   from the appellant shall not be   refundable by her to the appellant."

30 Thus, the Supreme Court, in the above referred decision, held that  the expression "mother" in Section 125(1)(d) of the Code would only  mean   real   or   natural   mother   and   would   not   include   stepmother.  According   to   the   Supreme   Court,   the   stepmother   is   a   distinct   and  HC-NIC Page 24 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 separate entity and cannot be equated with the natural mother who has  given birth to the child. However, an adoptive mother can be included in  the   expression   "mother".   It   further   held   that   having   regard   to   the  purpose   behind   the   benevolent   provisions   of   Section   125,   a   childless  stepmother is entitled to claim maintenance from her stepson provided  she is a widow or her husband, if living, is also incapable of maintaining  her. The question whether a stepson is liable to maintain his stepmother  out of the inherited estate was kept open. While taking the view that a  biological mother, when she claims maintenance from her natural born  children, she does so in her status as their "mother", the Supreme Court,  considered   the   explanation   attached   to   Section   20   of   the   Hindu  Adoptions   and   Maintenance   Act,   1956.   The   Supreme   Court   observed  that to exclude altogether the personal law applicable to the parties from  consideration in matters of maintenance under Section 125 of the Code  may not be wholly justified. The Supreme Court ultimately concluded  that no intention of the Legislature could be read in Section 125 of the  Code that even though a mother has her real and natural born son or  sons and her husband capable of maintaining her, she could still proceed  against her stepson to claim maintenance.

31 In the case in hand, the following facts are not in dispute: (1) The Son of the respondent No.2, late Shri Prakashkumar Sarvaiya,  had   married   with   Ashaben   Manjibhai   on   09.02.1998,   and   in   the  HC-NIC Page 25 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 wedlock, Jahnvi was born. Jahnvi, as on today, is fifteen years old. I am  told that she is studying at Vadodara. 

(2) On   account   of   matrimonial   dispute,   the   biological   parents   of  Jahnvi   decided   to   dissolve   the   marriage,   and   therefore,   they   filed   a  Hindu Marriage Petition No.32 of 2003 under Section 13 of the Hindu  Marriage   Act in  the Court of the  learned 2nd  Joint Civil  Judge (SD),  Bhavnagar, for dissolution of marriage with consent.  (3) The marriage was dissolved and a decree of divorce was passed on  16.12.2003. 

(4) Late Prakashkumar thereafter married with the petitioner herein  on 18.12.2005 according to the Hindu rites and rituals. After divorce,  Jahnvi   remained   in   the   care   and   custody   of   her   father   late  Prakashkumar. 

(5) On 25.03.2006, Prakashkumar i.e. the father of Jahnvi died.  (6) For   a   period   of   three   years   thereafter,   the   custody   of   Jahnvi  remained with the petitioner. 

(7) One Miscellaneous Civil  Application  No.75 of 2008 was filed in  the   Court   of   the   learned   Principal   District   Judge,   Bhavnagar   by   the  respondent No.2 herein under Section 7 of the Guardian and Wards Act  for the custody of Jahnvi. 

(8) The   learned   Additional   District   Judge,   Bhavnagar,   vide   order  dated 04.09.2010, was pleased to allow the said application and handed  HC-NIC Page 26 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 over   the   custody   of   Jahnvi   to   the   respondent   No.2   i.e.   her   parental  grandfather. 

(9) The above referred events would suggest that from 2005 onwards  till 2010, Jahnvi remained with the petitioner. 

(10) The natural mother of Jahnvi, namely, Ashaben Manjibhai is alive  as on today. She is also serving. I am told that Ashaben Manjibhai has  also claimed the custody of Jahnvi being the biological mother and is  ready and willing to take care of Jahnvi. For some reason or the other,  Jahnvi may not be ready and willing to live with her mother, namely,  Ashaben. It is also not in dispute that Jahnvi has not thought fit to claim  any maintenance from her biological mother, namely, Ashaben.  (11) Jahnvi has claimed maintenance through her grandfather i.e. the  respondent No.2 on the premise that the petitioner had married with her  father, and at the time of marriage, she had undertaken or rather it is  presumed that she had undertaken the responsibility of Jahnvi. Further,  the petitioner has inherited some of the assets of late Prakashkumar, and  therefore,   the   petitioner   is   duty   bound   to   maintain   Jahnvi,   although  Jahnvi may not be her own daughter. 

32 Having regard to the above referred facts, I have no hesitation in  coming to the conclusion that the petitioner should not be saddled with  the   responsibility   of   maintaining   Jahnvi,   more   particularly,   when   the  natural mother of Jahnvi, is very much alive and is ready and willing to  HC-NIC Page 27 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 take care of Jahnvi. Besides the same, it appears that a huge amount of  Rs.23 lac was received by the respondent No.2 from the L.I.C. on the  demise of Prakashkumar i.e. the father of Jahnvi. 

33 However,   the   larger   issue   still   remains   to   be   addressed.   What  would have been the position if there was none to look after and take  care of Jahnvi except the petitioner being her stepmother.  34 For   properly   appreciating   the   larger   controversy   raised   in   this  case, I may once again refer to the provisions of Section 125 of the Code  which reads as follows:

"125   (1)   If   any   person   having   sufficient   means   neglects   or   refuses   to   maintain­
(a) his wife, unable to maintain herself, or
(b)   his   legitimate   or   illegitimate   minor   child,   whether   married   or   not,   unable to maintain itself, or
(c) his legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who   has attained majority, where such child is, by reason of any physical or   mental abnormality or injury unable to maintain itself, or
(d) his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself,  a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal,   order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his   wife or such child, father or mother, at such monthly rate not exceeding   five hundred rupees in the whole, as such Magistrate thinks fit, and 10 pay   the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct :
Provided   that   the   Magistrate   may   order   the   father   of   a   minor   female child referred to in clause (b) to make such allowance, until   she   attains   her   majority,   if   the   Magistrate   is   satisfied   that   the   husband of such minor female child, if married, is not possessed of   sufficient means.
HC-NIC Page 28 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 Explanation :­For the purposes of this chapter,­
(a)   "minor"   means   a   person   who,   under   the   provisions   of   the   Indian   Majority   Act,   1875   is   deemed   not   to   have   attained   his   majority   (9   of   1875);
(b) "wife" includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a   divorce from, her husband and has not remarried.

(2) Such allowance shall be payable from the date of the order, or, if so   ordered, from the date of the application for maintenance.  (3) If any person so ordered fails without sufficient cause to comply with   the order, any such Magistrate may, for every breach of the order, issue a  warrant for levying the amount due in the manner provided for levying   fines, and may sentence  such person, for the whole or any part of each   month's allowance remaining unpaid after the execution of the warrant, to   imprisonment   for   a   term   which   may   extend   to   one   month   or   until   payment if sooner made: 

Provided  that no warrant  shall be issued  for the recovery of any   amount due under this section unless application be made to the   Court to levy such amount  within a period of one year from the   date on which it became due:
Provided further that if such person offers to maintain his wife on   condition of her living with him, and she refuses to live with him,   such Magistrate may consider any ground of refusal stated by her,   and may make an order under  this section notwithstanding  such   offer, if he is satisfied that there is just grounds for so doing.
Explanation.­ If a husband has contracted marriage with another woman   or keeps a mistress, it shall be considered to be just ground for his wife's   refusal to live with him.

(4)   No   wife   shall   be   entitled   to   receive   an   d   [allowance   for   the   maintenance  or the interim maintenance  and expenses of proceeding, as   the case may be], from her husband under this section if she is living in   adultery, or if, without any sufficient reason, she refuses to live with her   husband, or if they are living separately by mutual consent. (5) On proof that any wife in whose favour an order has been made under   this   section   is   living   in   adultery,   or   that   without   sufficient   reason   she   refuses   to   live   with   her   husband,   or   that   they   are   living   separately   by   mutual consent, the Magistrate shall cancel the order." HC-NIC Page 29 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 35 Prima facie though section 125 of the Code corresponds to section  488   of   the   old   Code   of   Criminal   Procedure   it   is   obvious   that   it   has  brought about major and substantial changes. It is further clear that the  said decision creates a statutory liability irrespective of the personal law  of the parties. As observed by the Supreme Court in  Nanak Chand v.  Chandra Kishore [AIR 1970 SC 446] there is no inconsistency between  the Maintenance Act and Section 488, Criminal Procedure Code. While  dealing with this aspect of the matter under the old Code of Criminal  Procedure, the Supreme Court observed as under:

"The learned Counsel says that Sec. 488, Criminal Procedure Code, in so   far as it provides for the grant of maintenance to a Hindu, is inconsistent   with Chapter  III of the Maintenance  Act,  and in particular,  Section  20,   which   provides   for   maintenance   to   children.   We   are   unable  to   see   any   inconsistency   between   the   Maintenance   Act   and   Section   488,   Criminal   Procedure Code. Both can stand together. The Maintenance Act is an Act to  amend and codify the law relating to adoptions and maintenance among   Hindus.   The   law   was   substantially   similar   before   and   nobody   ever   suggested   that   Hindu   Law,   as   in   force   immediately   before   the   commencement of this Act, in so far as it dealt with the maintenance of   children   was   in   any   way   inconsistent   with   Section   488,   Criminal   Procedure   Code.   The   scope   of   the   two   laws   is   different.   Section   488   provides a summary remedy and is applicable to all persons belonging to   all religions and has no relationship with the personal law of the parties.   Recently the question came before the Allahabad High Court in Ram Singh   v. State, AIR 1963  All 355, before the Calcutta High Court in Mahabir   Agarwalla v. Gita Roy, 1962 (2) Cri LJ 528 (Cal), and before the Patna   High Court in Nalini Ranjan v. Kiran Rani, AIR 1965 Pat 442. The three   High   Courts   have,   in   our   view,   correctly   come   to   the   conclusion   that   Section   4   (b)   of   the   Maintenance   Act   does   not   repeal   or   affect   in   any   manner   the   provisions   contained   in   Section   488,   Criminal   Procedure   Code."
36 The Supreme Court had also an occasion to consider the scope of  HC-NIC Page 30 of 41 Created On Fri Oct 09 02:11:56 IST 2015 proceedings under section 488 of the old Code of Criminal Procedure in  Mst. Jagir Kaur v. Jaswant Singh [AIR SC 1521].  In this context, the  Supreme Court observed as follows:

"The proceedings under this section are in the nature of civil proceedings,   the remedy is a summary one and the person seeking that remedy, as we   have pointed out, is ordinarily a helpless person. So the words should be   liberally construed without doing any voilence to
Ajay Sethi
Advocate, Mumbai
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No judgment is required for this as this is basic law known to every legal mind. 
Ashish Davessar
Advocate, Jaipur
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1. It has been specified in  the provision of the Hindu Succession Act,1956,

2. Section 15(a) of the above Act states that the sons and daughters and the husband of the deceased mother will inherit her properties firstly,

3. If there is no sons, daughters and mother of the deceased female is not available the secondly the legal heirs of her husband (which includes her step daughters and sons also) will inherit her property.
Krishna Kishore Ganguly
Advocate, Kolkata
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Hi 
If the step mother had her own children(son or daughter) then the step daughter will not get any share in the step mother's property. 
In the absence of any children born out of womb of the step mother, then the step daughter will be eligible
Case law : Supreme Court of India
Lachman Singh vs Kirpa Singh & Others on 14 April, 1987
Equivalent citations: 1987 AIR 1616, 1987 SCR (2) 933. 
In the above case law, the supreme court has clearly provided answer to your query. 

When once a property becomes the absolute property of a female Hindu it shall devolve	first on her children (including children of	the' predeceased son and daughter) as provided	in section 15(1)(a) of the Act and then on other heirs subject only to the limited change introduced in section 15(2) of the	Act. The step-sons or step-daughters will come in as heirs	only under clause (b) of section 15(1) or under clause (b) of section	15(2) of the Act
Rajgopalan Sripathi
Advocate, Hyderabad
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For the above situation the law is very clear that the step daughter is not the daughter nor the adoptive daughter, so naturally she is not entitled to claim any share out of a third person's property.  
You dont need any citation for this, despite this if you want any citation, you can browse in the internet. 
T Kalaiselvan
Advocate, Vellore
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