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The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in a recent judgment has ruled that a widow, even after she has remarried, has the rights over her former husband's properties. The petition was filed by a man against his former sister-in-law who had claimed the right over her deceased husband’s properties after she married another man.

The brother of the deceased relied on the provisions of Section 2 of the the Hindu Widows' Re-marriage Act, 1856, which reads as under:

“2. Rights of widow in deceased husband's property to cease on her remarriage –

All rights and interests which any widow may have in her deceased husband's property by way of maintenance, or by inheritance to her husband or to his lineal successors, or by virtue of any will or testamentary disposition conferring upon her, without express permission to re-marry only a limited interest in such property, with no power of alienating the same, shall upon her re-marriage cease and determine as if she had then died; and the next heirs of her deceased husband, or other person entitled to the property on her death, shall thereupon succeed to the same.”

On the strength of this provision, the only argument  advanced was that the limited right and interest which a widow had in her deceased husband’s property would cease to exist if she remarries without express permission, and the next heirs of her deceased husband, or other persons entitled to the property, shall thereupon succeed to the same.

Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which provides the general rules of succession in case of males which reads as under:

8.General rules of succession in the case of males –

The property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the provisions of this Chapter -

(a) firstly, upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class I of the Schedule

(b) secondly, if there is no heir of class I, then upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class II of the Schedule;

(c) thirdly, if there is no heir of any of the two classes, then upon the agnates of the deceased; and

(d) lastly, if there is no agnate, then upon the cognates of the deceased.”

The Court ruled that provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 would prevail over the repealed Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act, 1856. There was no provision in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which was pari materia with section 2 of the Hindu Widows' Re-Marriage Act, 1856. The Court further observed the widow even after remarriage would qualify as Class I heir and the husband's kin would still be a Class II heir. Section 9 provides the order of succession among heirs and stipulates that among the heirs specified in the Schedule, those in Class I shall take simultaneously and to the exclusion of all other heirs

In the light of the observations above, the Court concluded that a woman doesn't lose rights over her dead husband's properties - moveable and immoveable even if she remarries.


Dominic Braganza


Abhay Nevagi & Associates, Advocates, Pune

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