In a peculiar case, the Bombay High Court has granted relief to an 80-year-old woman claiming inheritance in her father’s property and set aside two orders by a district judge and a civil judge who refused to accept her claim.
Jubeda Papabhai Inamdar claims to be the daughter of one Hussainbhai Mulani, who is the son of one Babanbhai Mulani. With this claim, she sought the agreement between other claimants (her cousins) to the suit property originally owned by Babanbhai Mulani, to be declared void to the extent of her share.
This plea was rejected by the district judge as well as the civil judge, Senior Division, Pune. Both the courts prima facie refused to accept that Jubeda was the daughter of Hussainbhai Mulani.
Following this, the writ petition was filed and heard by Justice Mridula Bhatkar.
Petitioner’s counsel Jaydeep Deo submitted that Shamshuddin Pappubhai Mulani, the main contesting party in the matter, has got his name alone mutated in the revenue record.
Deo also submitted Hussainbhai Mulani’s death certificate was in Jubeda’s possession. Apart from this he produced a copy of Jubeda’s wedding invitation card, which has Hussainbhai’s name as her father. Apart from this, he placed certain affidavits on record by Jubeda’s cousins, who support her claim.
Noting that Jubeda was 80 years old and uneducated, and that she was unable to produce her school records to prove that Hussainbhai Mulani was her father, Justice Bhatkar observed: “The learned trial Court and the appellate Court ought to have taken into account the practical difficulty of an uneducated married woman, to prove her maiden name in the absence of documents. However, prior to 60 to 80 years ago, if the female has not taken education in the school, then it was difficult to get proof of her maiden name. The trial Court ought to have also taken into account that prior to 60 to 70 years, all the girls were not sent to the school.
Similarly, some girls were deprived of education, as it was dependent on class, community and also religion. It is difficult for an uneducated old married woman to prove the fact of the name of her natural father, as the name of the woman is changed after her marriage due to patriarchal system in our country. Under such circumstances, the learned Judges ought to have prima facie accepted the genealogy given by the lady and heavy burden to prove this fact is not to be cast on her.”
Highlighting the double standards in our society, Justice Bhatkar observed: “On the other hand, an uneducated old man is accepted on face value as son of the father only because he carries his fixed name and surname throughout his life.”
Therefore, accepting the submissions made by the petitioner’s counsel, the court deemed both the lower court orders rejecting Jubeda’s claim as illegal and held that prima facie, there is an evidence to show that she is the successor of Babanbhai Mulani through her father and therefore, the orders passed by both the judges were set aside.
The defendants in the suit property have been directed not to create any third party rights.