The Supreme Court on Friday observed that the children who were born to an adoptee before his adoption are also entitled to inherit his property in the adoptive family.
The two-judge bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta was hearing the petition which contended that the children born to the adoptee before his adoption, have no right, title or interest in the properties left behind by the adoptee.
As per the facts of the case, Laxman and his wife Padmavati already had three sons namely, Gangadhar, Dattatraya, and Manohar when Laxman was given in adoption to one Saraswathi in the year 1935. After adoption, a girl child namely Kalindi, was born to them.
Followed by the death of Laxman and his wife, a suit for partition was filed by one of the sons. The issue before the High Court was that whether the three sons of Laxman who were born before adoption in 1935, are entitled to inherit the property in the adoptive family of Laxman, after his death.
The High Court relied upon Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and held that the son born before the adoption is entitled to succeed to the property of their father. The bench further held that there is no provision of denying the rights of succession to the natural-born son of an adoptee father.
However, the contention of Kalindi, the daughter born to Laxman and Padmavati after Laxman was given in adoption were that the sons born before adoption have no right, title or interest in the properties left behind by Laxman. Kalindi further held that she being a daughter born to Laxman after his adoption, would have the right to inherit the entire property along with Padmavati, her mother. Nonetheless, the contention was rejected.
Kalindi then filed an appeal in which she relied on a Bombay HC judgment of Kalgavda Tavanappa Patil v. Somappa Tamangavda Patil, which held that though the wife of an adoptee passes with her husband to the adopted family but not the sons born to an adoptee before his adoption. They continue to be members of the family in which their father was naturally born.
However, the bench said that the judgment in Kalgavda Tavanappa Patil has not been accepted even under the Hindu Law. It further observed that since the succession has opened after the death of Laxman on 10 January 1987, succession has to be in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act and not as per Hindu law as all text, rule or interpretation of Hindu law prior to commencement of the Act have ceased to have any effect unless expressly provided for in the said Act.