Case Study: Vallikannu v. R. Singaperumal and another

By Sahil Kumar 10 Minutes Read

Citation: AIR 2005 SC 2587

Date of Judgement: 6th May, 2005

Bench: A.K. Mathur (J), Ashok Bhan (J)


  • The appellant and respondent were both residents of Melur taluk within the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. The respondent had married the appellant in 1970 and they were living in the respondent-husband’s home when 2 years later, on 10.10.1972, the respondent murdered his father, Ramasami Konar. He was convicted under S. 302 of the Indian Penal Code for life imprisonment as per S. 26 of CrPC, 1973 by the Additional Sessions Judge of Madurai. The conviction was subsequently confirmed after an appeal but the sentence was reduced. Due to this reason, the plaintiff was released from prison in July 1975. The appellant then lived with the respondent for some time, but was then driven out of the house. Thereafter, a divorce had taken place between the two parties and the appellant was remarried to another person.
  • The bone of contention in the case arose when the appellant, before her second marriage, filed a suit before the Court of the District-Munsif claiming that she was entitled to the properties of Ramasami Konar. She had argued that by virtue of Section 25[1] read with section 27[2] of the Hindu Succession Act, the respondent had been deemed to be predeceased and therefore, only she had a right to claim the properties as the widow of first defendant and the only coparcener.
  • First defendant alleged that property acquired by Ramasami were joint family properties and he acquired them by survivorship.

Trial Court’s Decision:

The trial court in its decision delivered on 1980, held that properties are joint family properties of the deceased Ramasami Konar and first defendant. The second defendant is a cultivating tenant. The first defendant having murdered his father is not entitled to claim any right u/s. 6 read with Ss. 25 & 27 of the Act but as per proviso to S. 6 of the Hindu Succession Act plaintiff(wife) is entitled to a decree for half share.

Lower Appellate Court’s Decision:

The lower appellate court confirmed the finding of the trial court and held that first defendant must be treated as non- existent. The plaintiff became a Class I heir under Schedule 1 of the Hindu Succession Act and she was entitled to a share in the property.

High Court’s Decision:

Court allowed the appeal of the first defendant and decree of the Courts below were set aside. It was held by the learned Single Judge that plaintiff cannot claim as a widow of the son of Ramasamy Konar. It was observed that plaintiff cannot claim one half share in the property being coparcenary property under Proviso to S. 6 of the Hindu Succession Act. She is entitled to half share so long as the deceased father and son had not partitioned the property. The first defendant cannot be said to have inherited any share from the Ramasami Konar and the Plaintiff can claim as a widow only if there is a succession to the estate of Ramasami. If there is no succession, the deeming provision that the first defendant shall be deemed to have died before the victim (his father) also will not apply and she cannot claim as a widow of his pre-deceased son.

It was also held that S. 6 of the Hindu Succession Act will also not apply. The principle of justice, equity and public policy will apply and the plaintiff cannot be treated as a fresh stock of descent and first defendant shall be treated as a non-existent as if he never existed.

Therefore, the plaintiff also cannot claim as his widow. Since plaintiff claims as a widow of the first defendant and he is disqualified, same disqualification equally applies to her  she cannot claim through murderer husband.


When the sole male survivor had incurred the disqualification can he still claim the property by virtue of Mitakshara School of Hindu Law? If he cannot get the property by way of survivorship, then the question is whether his wife who succeeds through the husband can succeed to the property?



Court observed that prior to the amendment of the Hindu Succession Act, Sections like 25 & 27 were not there but the murderer of his own father was disqualified on the principle of justice, equity and good conscience and as a measure of public policy. This position of law was enunciated by the Privy Council in the case of Kenchava Kom Sanyellappa Hosmani & Anr. v. Girimallappa Channappa Somasagar[3] wherein it was held that the theory of legal and equitable estates is no part of Hindu law. The murderer should be treated as non- existent and not as one who forms the stock for a fresh line of descent.

Court rejected the reasoning of Gangu v. Chandrabhagabai[4] case as in that case, the wife of a murderer was held entitled to succeed to the estate of the murdered man but that was not because the wife deduced title through her husband, but because of the principle of Hindu family law that a wife becomes a member of her husband’s gotra, an actual relation of her husband’s relations in her own right, as it is called in Hindu law a gotraja-sapinda. The decision therefore had no bearing in the present case.

Court held that, “A murderer must for the purpose of the inheritance, be treated as if he were dead when the inheritance opened and as not being a fresh stock of descent; the exclusion extends to the legal as well as beneficial estate, so that neither he can himself succeed nor can the succession be claimed through him.”

S. 27 of the Hindu Succession Act makes it further clear that if any person is disqualified from inheriting any property under this Act, it shall be deemed as if such person had died before the intestate. That shows that a person who has murdered a person through whom he wants to inherit the property stands disqualified on that account. That means he will be deemed to have predeceased him. The effect of S. 25 read with S. 27 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is that a murderer is totally disqualified to succeed to the estate of deceased.


Court dismissed the appeal with no cost as son was disqualified from inheritance and wife who succeeds to the property through the husband cannot also lay a claim to the property of her father-in -law.

[1] Section 25 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956: Murderer disqualified. A person who commits murder or abets the commission of murder shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of the person murdered, or any other property in furtherance of the succession to which he or she committed or abetted the commission of the murder.

[2] Section 27: Succession when heir disqualified. If any person is disqualified from inheriting any property under this Act, it shall devolve as if such person had died before the intestate.

[3] AIR 1924 PC 209.

[4] (1908) 32 Bom. 275.

Related Posts