26 April 1996
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 5473 of 1995






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       26/04/1996


CITATION:  1996 AIR 1963            1996 SCC  (4)  76  JT 1996 (4)   656        1996 SCALE  (4)131



JUDGMENT:                       J U D G M E N T S. SAGHIR AHMAD, J.           "A million million spermatozoa           All of them alive :           Out of their cataclysm but one poor           Noah           Dare hope to survive.           And among that billion minus one           Might have chanced to be           Shakespeare, another Newton, a new           Donne           But the one was me "      So said  Aldous Huxley,  perhaps,  in  desperation  and despondency. And,  that is  how a person would feel on being bastardized  by  a  court  verdict.  disentitling  him  from inheriting the  properties left  by his  father. This is the theme of  the present  judgement which  we are  required  to write in view of the following facts :- 2.   Parayankandiyil Kanhirakunnath  Kurungodan  Raman  Nair was the  proud father  of 14  children from  two wives,  the first being  Ammu Amma, who is the mother of the respondents 1 to  9, and  the second  being a lady of equally long name, namely, Smt.  Parayankandiyal  Eravath  Kanapravan  Kalliani Amma (appellant No. l), who is the mother of appellants 2 to 6. He  had a flair for two; two wives, two sets of children, two sets  of properties,  in two  different  States.  P.K.K. Raman Nair  died on  9th January,  1975, and  since he  left behind considerable  movable and immovable properties in the States of  Kerala and  Tamil Nadu,  litigation was the usual and destined  calamity to  befall the  children for settling the question of inheritance. 3.   The litigation  started with  the filing of O.S. No. 38 of 1976  and O.S. No. 39 of 1976 in the court of Subordinate Judge at  Badagara, Kerala,  by the respondents for a decree for possession over certain properties, which allegedly were



in the  possession of  the appellants, and for half share by partition in  the tenancy land held in common by late P.K.K. Raman Nair with his second wife, namely, appellant No.1. The appellants did  not lag  behind and  they filed a suit (O.S. No. 99  of 1977)  for partition  of the  properties of  late P.K.K. Raman  Nair, which  were said to be in the possession of the respondents. 4.   Respondents had  instituted the  suits on  the basis of their title,  with the allegations that the appellant Nos. 2 to 6 and their mother, namely, appellant No. 1, were not the legal  heirs   of  Raman  Nair,  while  the  appellants  had instituted their suit (O.S.No. 99 of 1977 ) for partition of the properties indicated in schedules A,B & C to the plaint, on the  ground that they being the legal heirs of Raman Nair were entitled to a share in the properties left by him along with the respondents. 5.   All the  three suits  were tried  together by the trial court and  were dismissed  with the  finding that the second marriage of  Raman Nair with appellant No. 1 had taken place at a  time when  his first  wife, Ammu  Amma, was alive and, therefore,  it   was  invalid,  with  the  result  that  the appellant nos.  2 to  6, who  were the  children born of the second marriage  would not  inherit any  share in properties left by Raman Nair. 6.   Three appeals were consequently filed in the High Court and the  only question  urged before the High Court was that the second  wife and  children were  also the legal heirs of Raman Nair,  but the High Court by its impugned judgment and order dated  22.6.1989 dismissed  the appeals  with  littled modification that  the house in the plaint schedule property in O.S.  No. 39  of 1976 was directed to be allotted. as far as possible.  to appellant  No. 1  as she was living in that house with her children. Hence these appeals. 7.   Mr. P.  S .  Poti, Sr. Advocate. appearing on behalf of the appellants.  has contended  that the trial court as also the High  Court were  in error in dismissing the suit of the appellants for  partition of  their share in the properly as the appellants  were the  legal heirs  of Raman Nair and the inheritance could not be denied to them merely on the ground of his second marriage with appellant  No.1. particularly as Section 16  of the  Hindu Marriage  Act,  1955  specifically provides that,  notwithstanding that  a marriage is null and void, any  child of  such  marriage,  who  would  have  been legitimate  if   the  marriage  had  been  valid,  shall  be legitimate and  get an  interest  in  the  property  of  his parents, but not in the property of any other person. 8.   The  contention   of  the   learned  counsel   for  the respondents, on  the contrary, is that benefit of Section 16 can be  given only  to such  marriages as  are null and void under Section  11 of the Hindu marriage Act. 1955 and not to any  other  marriage.  His  contention  further  is  that  a marriage would  be null and void under Section ll only If it is performed  after the  coming into  force of  the Act and. therefore, all  other marriages  which  were performed prior to the  Hindu Marriage   Act,  1955, would not be covered by Section 16  and children  born of such marriage would not be entitled  to   the  benefit   of  statutory   legitimacy  or inheritance. 9.   It may  be mentioned that one of the contentions raised before the  High Court was that if the benefit of legitimacy contemplated by  Section 16  of the  Act is  not extended to children born  of the second or invalid marriages held prior to the  Act, the  provisions would have to be struck down as violative of  Article 14  of the  Constitution, inasmuch  as they purport to create two classes of illegitimate children,



namely. those born of the invalid marriages prior to the Act and those  born of  the void  marriages performed  after the enforcement of  the Act.  This was  not accepted by the High Court which  was of  the  opinion  that  the  provisions  of Section  16   were  not  violative  of  Article  14  of  the Constitution. 10. Marriage, according to Hindu Law, is a holy union. It is not a contract but a Sanskara or sacrament. 11. The  religious  rites  solemnizing  a  marriage  include certain vows and prayers by the parties           "In the  three mantras of Laja      (parched paddy)  Hawan,  the  bride      says :-           "I give  oblation to  the Fire      God, the  destroyer of     enemies.      With  the   grace   of   the   said      destroyer of  enemies, may  I never      be  separated   from  my  husband’s      house.           Other  unmarried   girls  have      worshipped  the   Fire   God,   the      sustainer of  the  earth,  for  the      fulfillment   of    their   desire.      Knowing  that   their  desire  were      fulfilled,  I  have  also  made  an      oblation, may  the same  Fire  God,      sustainer of  the earth, be pleased      and with  his grace  may I never be      separated from my husband’s house.           I worship  Shankar in the form      of Fire God, the god of good repute      and the  protector of  husband. May      by the  grace of  Shankar, the Fire      God, I and my husband be freed from      death as  the ripe  melon is  freed      from its  knot in the creeper. With      His grace  may I never be separated      from my husband’s house.           May    this     oblation    be      acceptable to  the  Fire  God.  May      sacred fire  separate me  from this      (my father’s) house but  never from      my husband’s.           May my  husband live  long and      my kinsmen  be prosperous. May this      oblation be  acceptable to the Fire      God.           I cast  this parched  paddy in      fire. May it make you (the husband)      and  me  prosperous.  The  boon  be      granted by agni."           Similarly, bridgroom,  says to      the bride:-           "O bride  ! trace  your  first      step, by  this may  our  foodstuffs      increase. May  God let me keep your      company till I live.           O bride  ! trace  your  second      step.  by  this  may  our  strength      grow, may  God  let  me  keep  your      company till I live.           O bride  !  trace  your  third      step,  by   this  may   our  wealth      increase. May  God let me keep your      company till I live.



         O bride  ! trace  your  fourth      step, by this may our  comforts and      pleasures increase.  May God let me      keep your company till I live.           O bride  !  trace  your  fifth      step. May our progeny increase. May      God let me keep your company till I      live.           O bride  !  trace  your  sixth      step. May  we always get the fruits      and flowers of the six seasons. May      God let me keep your company till I      live.           O bride  ! trace  your seventh      step. By  this may we live long and      our relations  be loving.  may  God      let me  Keep your  company  till  I      live." 12. The  effect of  these promises  and prayers  is that the marriage becomes  indissoluble and  each party  becomes  the complementary half  of the  other so that separation becomes unthinkable. 13. The terms prescribed by the Dharam Shastras, Secure to the wife a high and strong position. as is indicated, by the dialogue  between   the  bride  and  the  bridegroom  during Saptapadi   which again  have been quoted in his book by Mr. K.P. Saksena  on being supplied to him by Sahityacharya Shri Pandit Rameshwar Dwivedi. They are as under:-           "The bridegroom says:-           "Madhupark has  destroyed sins      in the  fire of Laja Hawan, so long      as the  girl does  not sit  on  the      left side she is unmarried.           Madhupark have  been performed      first and oblation of parched paddy      having been offered to the fire, so      long as  the girl  does not  sit on      the left side she is unmarried.           The  bridegroom  says  to  the      bride:"  Do   not  go   without  my      permission, to a park to one who is      drunk, to  king’s court and to your      father’s house."           "The bride says "Perform along      with me the Bajpeya, Ashwamedha and      Rajsuya      Yagas,tuladan      and      marriage."           "With my consent and long with      me consecrate  Beoli,well and  tank      etc.,and  God’s  temples  and  take      bath during  the  months  of  Magh,      Kartik, and Baisakh."           Select a  friend or  enemy,  a      place worth  a visit  or not, go on      pilgrimage, and  perform a marriage      and engage  in framing and commerce      after  obtaining   my  consent  and      along  with me.           Render unto  my hands what you      earn by the grace of God whether it      be hundred,  a thousand,  a hundred      thousand, a  thousand million,  and      ten billion.           After  obtaining  may  consent



    purchase, sell or exchange a cow, a      bull  or  a  buffalo,  a  goat,  an      elephant a horse or camel.           My  Lord,  you  should  be  my      friend in  the same  way as Krishna      is of Arjun, Brahaspati is of Indra      and as Swati is of Chatak." 14. Once  "Saptapadi" is  completed the marriage tie becomes unbreakable. 15. The  legal position  of  a  second  marriage  under  the original Hindu Law is described in ’Principles of Hindu law’ by Jogendra Chunder Ghose, 1903 Edition, as under:      "Polyagamy   was    not   allowable      according to the spirit of the law,      but   it    was   very    generally      practised, though  the second  wife      could   not    be   associated   in      religious   sacrifices,   and   was      styled a  wife not for duty but for      lust." 16. Sir Gooroodas Banerjee in his book Hindu Law of Marriage and Stridhana,  4th Edition  (re-Printed in  India in 1984)" lays down as under :           "A  Hindu  husband  is  always      permitted to marry again during the      lifetime of  his wife,  though such      marriage,  if   contracted  without      just     cause,     is     strongly      disapproved. "The first is the wife      married from  a sense of duty," and      the others  are regarded as married      from   sensual    motives.    "With      sorrow,"  says   Daksha  feelingly,      "does   he    eat   who   has   two      contentious   wives;    dissension,      mutual enmity,  meanness, and  pain      distract   his    mind;   but   his      commentator, Jagannath,  who  lived      at  a   time  when   kulinism   and      polygamy  were   widely  prevalent,      tries to  soften the  effect of the      text, by  showing that if the wives      be complacent,  none  of  the  evil      consequences  would   follow.   The      causes which  justify  supersession      of the  wife and re-marriage during      her lifetime,  are barrenness, ill-      health, ill-temper,  and misconduct      of the wife.           It  should  be  observed  that      supersession (which  is  adhivedana      in   sanskrit)   here   means,   as      explained in the Mitakshara and the      Subodhini, merely  the  contracting      of  a  second  marriage  while  the      first wife  lives; and  it does not      imply  that   the  first   wife  is      actually  forsaken,   or  that  her      place is  taken by  the second,  in      respect  of   any   matter   except      perhaps the husband’s affection. It      is true  that Vijnaneswara  in  one      place   uses    supersession    and      desertion   as    synonymous,   but      Sulpani,  another  high  authority,



    uses the  term in  the sense  given      above, and  Jagannatha  appears  to      follow the  latter.  This  view  is      further  confirmed   by  the  rules      regarding precedence  among  wives,      which is settled by law with a view      to prevent disputes." 17. Mr.  K.P. Saksena,  in his  Commentary on Hindu Marriage Act. 1955, 3rd Edition (1964), writes as under           "According   to    the   Hindu      Jurisprudence, a  husband is always      permitted to marry again during the      lifetime of the first wife but such      marriage,  if   contracted  without      just     cause,     is     strongly      disapproved. Manu has justified the      supersession  of   the   wife   and      remarriage during  her lifetime  on      the  following   grounds,   viz.(i)      barrenness, (ii)  ill-health, (iii)      ill-temper and  misconduct  of  the      wife, vide, manu (IX, 80-81).           He further  maintains that (1)      the first  wife is  married from  a      sense of  duty and  (2) the  others      are regarded as married from sexual      motives, vide, Manu (III, 12-13).           Supersession     has      been      explained   in    Mitakshara    and      Subodhini as  a contract  of second      marriage while  the first  wife  is      alive and  not the desertion of the      wife,  for   in  desertion  she  is      deprived  of  her  rights  such  as      association   in   performance   of      religious rites,  religious duties,      adoption, etc.  In  Ranjit  Las  V.      Bijoy Krishna,  it  has  been  held      that adoption  by  a  senior  widow      though  lat   in  time   is   valid      notwithstanding an earlier adoption      by  a   junior  widow  without  the      consent of  the senior  widow whose      adoption   was   declared   to   go      invalid,    though     both    wire      authorized   to    adopt   by   the      deceased. The Rishis do not approve      of  unrestricted   polyagamy.  They      permit men to take a second wife in      the  lifetime  of  the  first  only      under special  circumstances.  Thus      Manu says;  "A wife, who drinks any      spurious    liquors,    who    acts      immorally, who  shows hatred to her      lord, who  is incurably disease who      is  mischievous,   who  wastes  his      property,  may   at  all  times  be      superseded    by  another  wife.  A      barren wife  may be  superseded  by      another in  the 8th  year; she  who      brings forth still born children or      whose children  all infants  die in      the tenth;  she  who  brings  forth      only daughters, in the eleventh and      she who   speaks  unkindly, without



    delay," It is, therefore, incorrect      of  suppose   that  the  Hindu  Law      permits a  man to  espouse a second      wife during  the life  of the first      except       under       particular      circumstances.  Manu   appears   to      present  the   perfect   ideal   of      conjugal fidelity by requiring both      the husband  and  the  wife  to  be      faithful to  each  other.  thus  in      conclusion on the subject of mutual      duties of  husband  and  wife,  the      sage ordains:  Let mutual  fidelity      continue till  death: this,  in few      words, may  be  considered  as  the      supreme  law  between  husband  and      wife; let  a man and a woman united      by  marriage,   constantly  beware,      lest at  any time  being  disunited      they    violate     their    mutual      fidelity." (Manu  IX,  101-102;  V,      162-168).  This   passage   clearly      implies monogamy  to  be  essential      condition of  the  supreme  law  of      conjugal duties.  But it  should be      observed that  the  sages  did  not      prohibit   polygamy    which    was      prevalent  at   the  time   by  the      tendency of  their legislation  was      to  discourage   that  practice  by      investing the first marriage with a      religious   character,    and    by      permitting   the    marriage    for      religious purposes of a second wife      in the  lifetime of the first, only      in certain contingencies when there      was a  failure  of  the  object  of      marriage. 18. From  the above,  it would  be seen that though polygamy was not  permitted, a  second  marriage  was  allowed  in  a restricted   sense,    and   that   too,   under   stringent circumstances, as  for  example,  when  there  was  a  total failure of  the object  of marriage.  Monogamy was  the Rule and Ethos  of the  Hindu  society  which  derided  a  second marriage and  rejected it  altogether. The touch of religion in all  marriages did  not allow  polygamy to become part of Hindu culture.  This was the effort of community. Otherwise, this Court  in Bhaurao  V. State  of Maharashtra AIR 1965 SC 1564 observed:-           "Apart       from        these      considerations, there is nothing in      the Hindu  Law,  as  applicable  to      marriages till the enactment of the      Hindu  Marriage  Act,  1955,  which      made a  second marriage  of a  male      Hindu, during  the lifetime  of his      previous wife, void." 19. Therefore, if a second marriage did take place, children born  of  such  marriage,  provided  it  was  not  otherwise invalid,  were   not  illegitimate  and  in  the  matter  of inheritance, they had equal rights. 20. In  every community, unfortunately, there are people who exploit even  the smallest  of liberties available under Law and  it  is  at  this  stage  that  the  law  intervenes  to discipline  behaviour.  Various  states,  therefore,  passed



their separate,  though almost  similar,  laws  relating  to marriages by  Hindus restricting the number of wives to only one by  providing specifically  that any marriage during the lifetime of the first wife would be void. 21. There  is no  dispute that  Mr. Raman  was a  ’Nair’ and belonged to Malabar Tarwad family. The personal law by which he was  governed  was  the  Marumakattayam  Law  of  Malabar comprising of  a body  of judicially  recognized customs and usages, which  prevailed among a considerable section of the people  inhabiting  the  West  Coast  of  south  India.  The essential  difference   between  Marumakattayam   and  other schools of  Hindu Law was that the Marumakattayam school was founded on  the matriarchate  while others  are founded upon the agnatic  family. In  the  Mitakshara  joint  family  the members claim through descent from a common ancestor, but in a Marumakattayam  family, which  is known as the Tarwad, the descent is  from a common ancestress. Mr. Sundara Ayyar, who was a Judge of the Madras High Court, has already written an excellent treatise  on the  customary laws  of Malabar which has been  recognized as  an authoritative  word by the Privy Council in  Kochunni Vs.  Kuttanunni AIR  1948 PC  47.  This Court had  also had an occasion to refer to broad aspects of this law  in a  few decision  (see :  Balakrishna Menon  vs. Asstt.  Controller   of  Estate   Duty  AIR  1971  SC  2390; Venugopala Ravi  Varma vs.  Union of India AIR 1969 SC 1094; Achuttan Nair  vs. C.  Amma AIR  1966 SC  411). In  A recent decision in Padmavathy Amma vs. Ammunni Panicket AIR 1995 SC 2154 = 1995 (Supp.) 3 SCC 352, it was indicated that:           "In the Marumakkathayam system      of law  succession to  property  is      traced through  females, though the      expression Marumakkathayam strictly      means   inheritance   by   sister’s      children. It  is  because  of  this      that a man’s heirs are not his sons      and daughters,  but his sisters and      their children  the mother  forming      the   stock    of    descent    and      inheritance  being  traced  through      mother  to   daughter,   daughter’s      daughter    and     so    on.     A      Marumakkathayam family  is known as      a Tarwad and consists of a group of      persons,  males  and  females,  all      tracing  descent   from  a   common      ancestress.  An   ordinary   Tarwad      consists   of   the   mother,   her      children,  male   and  female,  the      children of  such females and their      descendants  in  the  female  line,      how-low-soever,  living  under  the      control  and   direction   of   the      Karnavan, who  is the  eldest  male      member. The junior male members are      also  proprietors  and  have  equal      rights.  The   Tarwad  is   thus  a      typical matriarchal family." 22. Marumakattayam  law was  modified and  altered by madras Marumukattayam Act,  1932 (XXII  of 1933).  This Act  was on force when  Raman Nair married his first wife, Ammu Amma, in 1938. Section 5 of the Act provides as under:      "5(1) During  the continuance  of a      prior marriage which is valid under      section 4,  any marriage contracted      by either of the parties thereto on



    of after  the date,  on which  this      Act comes into force shall be void.           (2) On of after the said date,      any marriage  contracted by  a male      with  a   marumuakkattayi   female,      during the  continuance of  a prior      marriage of  such  male,  shall  be      void,  notwithstanding   that   his      personal law permits of polygamy. It thus  contained a  specific prohibition  that during  the continuance of  a prior marriage, any marriage contracted by either of the parties thereto shall be void. 23. But Heart has its own reasons. In spite of the statutory prohibition, Raman  Nair contracted  a second  marriage with respondent no.1 in 1948. 24. The  Marumakkattayam Act,  1932 was  repealed by Section 7(2) (read  with the  schedule) of  the Kerala  joint  Hindu Family system  (Abolition) Act,  1975 (Act  30 of 1976) with effect from  1.12.1976. Obviously with the repeal of the Act in 1976,  the prohibition  in  Section  5  that  the  second marriage would be void, ceased to be operative. 25. Learned  counsel for the appellant, therefore, contended that Madras  Act XXII  of 1933 which contained a prohibition against second  marriage having  been repealed by the Kerala joint  Hindu   Family  system  (Abolition)  Act,  1975,  the original Hindu  law, based on Shastras and scriptures, would revive and consequently Raman’s marriage with appellant No.1 would become valid particularly as the repeal would have the effect of  obliterating the Madras Act XXII of 1933 from the statute Book  from its inception as if it never existed. The contentions are  without  substance  and  deserve  immediate rejection, on  account of  the reasons  which we are setting out hereinbelow. 26. Section  7 of  the  Kerala  Joint  Hindu  Family  system (Abolition) Act,  1975 (Act  No. 30  of 1976)  is reproduced below:      "7. Repeal--(1)  save as  otherwise      expressly provided in this Act, any      text,  rule  or  interpretation  of      Hindu Law or any custom or usage as      part   of   that   law   in   force      immediately before the commencement      of this  Act  shall  case  to  have      effect with  respect to  any matter      for which provision is made in this      Act.           (2) The  Acts mentioned in the      Schedule, in  so far  as they apply      to the  whole or  any part  of  the      state   of   Kerala,   are   hereby      repealed." 27. In  the schedule  appended to the Act, the Madras Act is mentioned at serial No. 1. 28. Section  4 of  the  Kerala  Interpretation  and  General Clauses Act provides, inter alia, as under:      "4. Effect  of repeal  --Where  any      Act repeals  any enactment hitherto      made or hereafter to be made, then,      unless   a    different   intention      appears, the repeal shall not--      (a) revive anything not in force or      existing at  the time  at which the      repeal takes effect; or      (b) affect  the previous  operation      of any  enactment  so  repealed  or



    anything  duly   done  or  suffered      thereunder, or      (c) affect  any  right,  privilege,      obligation or  liability  acquired,      privilege, obligation  or liability      acquired,accrued or  incurred under      any enactment so repealed; or      (d)..  ..      (e)..  .. 29. In  view of these provisions, it is necessary to examine Whether a  different intention  is expressed  in the  Kerala joint Hindu  Family System  (Abolition) Act,  1975 and  what actually is the effect of repeal. 30. The  provisions of Section 7(2), by which the Madras Act has been repealed, have been quoted above. The repealing Act does not  indicate any  intention contrary to the provisions contained in  the Kerala  Interpretation and General Clauses Act which,  therefore, will  apply with  full vigor  on  the principle that  whenever there is a repeal of any enactment, the consequences indicated in Section 4 would follow, unless there was  any saving  clause in  the repealing enactment or any other  intention was expressed therein. In the case of a simple repeal,  there is  hardly any room for the expression of a contrary view. 31. The  instant case,  as would  appear from  a perusal  of Section 7(2)  of the  repealing enactment, is case of repeal simplicitor.  In   view  of   Section  4(b)  of  the  Kerala interpretation  and   General  Clauses   Act,  the  previous operation of Madras Act XXII of 1933 will not be affected by the repeal nor will the repeal affect any thing duly done or suffered thereunder.  So also,  a liability  incurred  under that Act  will remain unaffected and will not be obliterated by the repeal as indicated in clause (c) of Section 4. 32. Raman  had contracted a second marriage, in the lifetime of his  first wife, in 1948 when madras Act XXII OF 1933 was in force, which prohibited a second marriage and, therefore, the consequences  indicated in  the Act that such a marriage would be  void would  not be  affected nor will the previous operation of  the Act  be affected  nor  will  the  previous operation of  the Act be affected by the repeal of that Act. The repeal  does not mean that Madras Act XXII of 1933 never existed on  the statute  Book nor  will the  repeal have the effect of  validating Raman’s second marriage, if it already a void marriage under that Act. 33. Learned  counsel for  the appellant  then contended that appellant nos. 2 to 6 shall, for purposes of inheritance, be treated legitimate  sons  under  Section  16  of  the  Hindu Marriage Act,  1956 and, therefore, their suit ought to have been  decreed.   He  also   contended  that  if  benefit  of legitimacy cannot  be given  to the appellants on the ground that Section  16 does not apply to them and applies to those illegitimate children  who were  born  of  a  void  marriage performed after the Act came into force, the provisions will have to be struck down as discriminator and violative of the rule of   equality before law contained in Article 14 of the Constitution. We shall examine both the contentions. 34. Whenever  an enactment  is attacked  on  the  ground  of discrimination, it  becomes the duty of the Court to look to the legislation  as a  whole  and  to  find  out  why  class legislation was  introduced and  what was  the nexus between the classification  and the  object sought to be achieved by it. In  order to  decipher this  question we  have to have a peep into the background. 35. Before  the enactment  of the  Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, there existed  general Hindu  Law, based upon scriptures and



Shastras, including  their  exposition  by  scholars,  which regulated marriages  amongst Hindus.  There  were  different customs and  usages prevalent  in  different  parts  of  the country. 36. In  the Malabar  area with which we are concerned in the instant case  and which  now forms part of the Kerala State, there were  different customs  regarding marriage  prevalent among different  groups of people. Local laws were also made regulating marriages among people in the  Malabar area there was the  Madras Marumakkattayam  Act  (No.  XXII  of  1933). Section 5  of this  Act prohibited  a second marriage during the lifetime of a spouse and specifically provided that such a marriage would be void. It laid down as under:      "5. (1) During the continuance of a      prior marriage which is valid under      section 4,  any marriage contracted      either or the parties thereto on or      after the  date on  which this  Act      comes into force shall be void.           (2) On or after the said date,      any marriage  contracted by  a male      with a marumakkattyi female, during      the continuance of a prior marriage      of  such   male,  shall   be  void,      notwithstanding that  his  personal      law permits of polygamy. 37. In  the same  area, there  was the  Madras Nomboodri Act (No.XXI of  1933) which was applicable to Namboodri Bragmans not governed by Marumakkattayam law of inheritance. This Act also prohibited  bigamy but  it was only partial prohibition as it  was provided  by Sections  11 and  12 of  the Act  as under:      "11. No Nombudri who has a Nambudri      wife  living  shall  marry  another      Nambudri  woman   except   in   the      following cases:-           (a)   Where    the   wife   is           afflicted  with  an  incurable           disease  for  more  than  five           years,           (b) Where  the  wife  has  not           borne him any child within ten           years of her marriage,           (c) where  the wife has become           an outcaste."      "12.  (1)  Any  Nambudri  male  who      contracts       a    marriage    in      contravention of  section 11  shall      be punished  with  fine  which  may      extend to  one thousand rupees, but      a marriage  so contracted shall not      be deemed to be invalid.           (2) Any  person who  conducts,      directs or abets the performance of      any marriage  in  contravention  of      section 11  shall be  punished with      fine  which   may  extend   to  one      hundred rupees." 38. Thus,  a second  marriage was  permissible under certain circumstances  enumerated   in  Section   11.  It  was  also indicated that  the second marriage would not void. Thus, in the same  region, in  respect of different groups of people, different laws  were made, although both consisted of people professing Hindu  religion.  This  anomaly  was  removed  by repealing Sections  11 and 12 of the Act by Section 8 of the



Madras Hindu  (Bigamy  prevention  and  Divorce)  Act,  1949 (Madras Act  VI of  1949) with  the result that Section 9 of the namboodari Act, which provide as under:      "9. Notwithstanding  any custom  or      usage to  the contrary  every major      male Nambudri shall, subject to the      provisions  of  section  5  of  the      Madras Marumakkattayam  Act,  1932,      and any  other  law  for  the  time      being in  force, be  at liberty  to      marry in his own community." became operative  with full force and vigor. Since section 9 was to operate subject to the provisions of section 5 of the Tamil Nadu  (Madras) Marumakkattayam Act, 1932, a Namboodari could not,  after deletion  of sections  11 and  12, marry a second  wife during the lifetime of the first wife. 39. The  evil of  bigamy  was  sought  to  be  prevented  by regional laws made either prior to or after the Constitution of India.  Since the  attempt of these laws was to introduce social reforms in the community at regional levels, the High Courts, in  which the  validity of such laws was challenged, particularly after  the enforcement  of the Constitution. On the ground  of violation   Articles  14, 15  and 25,  upheld those laws  with the finding record in strong terms that the laws were  neither  discriminatory  nor  did  they  infringe Article 25 of the Constitution. 40. The  Bombay High  Court in state Vs. Narsu Appa Mali ILR (1951 )  Bocbay 775  = 55  Bombay Law Reporter 779= AIR 1952 Bombay 84, rejected the argument that the Bombay (Prevention of Hindu  Bigamy Marriage)  Act, 1946  discriminated between Hindus and Muslims by enforcing monogamies on Hindus and not on muslims  as the  Court was  of the opinion that the state was free  to embark  upon social  reforms in  stages. It was pointed out by the Court that penalties provided in the Act, which were  more stringent  than those provide in the Indian Penal Code,  were rightly  prescribed and  were justified on the ground  that having regard to the outlook of the Hindus, it may  have been  considered necessary  to  impose  severer penalties in order to implement the law effectively. 41. The  Madras High Court in Srinivasa lyer Vs.  Saraswathi Ammal ILR (1953) Madras 78 = AIR 1952 Madras 193, upheld the validity of the Madras Hindu (Bigamy prevention and Divorce) Act, 1949  and held  that the Act did not violate Article 15 or 25  and there  was no  discrimination between  Hindus and Mahammedans on the ground of religion. 42. The  Full Bench  of the  Andhra Pradesh High Court in G. Sambireddy vs. G. Jayamma AIR 1972 A.P., considered both the Bombay and  madras decisions referred to above and held that sections 11  and 17  of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 did not violate Article  15(1) as  sections 5(1),  11  &  17  merely introduced a  social reform for the class of persons to whom the Act applied. 43. Parliament  consisting of  the  representatives  of  the people knew, and the Courts can legitimately presume that it knew, the situation prevailing all over India with regard to the different  laws, customs and usages regulating marriages among Hindus  and that  it further  knew their  problems and their need for a uniform codified law concerning marriages. 44. It  was in this background that Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was enacted  by Parliament  to  amend  and  codify  the  law relating to  marriage among Hindus. The Act applies to every Person who  is a  Hindu by  religion in  any of its forms or developments, indicated  in Section  2 thereof,  including a person who  is a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion. Besides other categories  of  persons  who  are  to  be  treated  as



"Hindus", the  explanation appended  to Section  2  provides that any  child, legitimate  or illegitimate,  both of whose parents are  Hindus, Buddhists,  Jains or Sikhs by religion, shall     also be  a Hindu. it also provides that any child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain  of Sikh and who is brought up as a member of the tribe,  group, community  or family to which such parent belongs, will be a Hindu. 45. Other relevant provisions of the Act also be noticed. 46. Section 4 of the Act provides that the Act shall have an overriding effect. It provides as under:      "4. Overriding effect of Act-- save      as otherwise  expressly provide  in      this Act:-      (a)    any     text,    rule     or      interpretation of  Hindu law or any      custom or usage as part of that law      in  force  immediately  before  the      commencement  of   this  Act  shall      cease to  have effect  with respect      to any  matter for  which provision      is made in this Act.      (b)  any   other   law   in   force      immediately before the commencement      of this  Act shall  cease  to  have      effect  in   so  far   as   it   is      inconsistent  with   any   of   the      provisions contained in this Act." 47. Conditions for Hindu marriage are indicated in Section 5 which is quoted below:      "5.   Conditions    for   a   Hindu      marriage--A   marriage    may    be      solemnized between  any two Hindus,      if  the  following  conditions  are      fulfilled, namely----      (i)  neither  party  has  a  spouse      living at the time of the marriage;      (ii) at  the time  of the marriage,      neither party--           (a) is  incapable of  giving a           valid   consent   to   it   in           consequence of  unsoundness of           mind; or           (b) though capable of giving a           valid   consent,    has   been           suffering from mental disorder           of such  a kind  or to such an           extent  as  to  be  unfit  for           marriage and  the  procreation           of children; or           (c)  has   been   subject   to           recurrent attacks  of insanity           or epilepsy;      (iii) the  bridegroom has completed      the age  of (twenty  one years) and      the  bride  the  age  of  (eighteen      years) at the time of the marriage;      (iv) the parties are not within the      degrees of prohibited relationship,      unless   the    custom   or   usage      governing each  of them  permits of      a marriage between the two."      (v) the parties are not sapindas of      each other,  unless the  custom  or      usage  governing   each   of   them



    permits of  a marriage  between the      two." 48.Section 16, as originally enacted, provides as follows:      "16. Legitimacy of children of void      and voidable marriages:           Where a  decree of  nullity is      granted in  respect of any marriage      under Section 11 or Section 12, any      child begotten  or conceived before      the decree  is made  who would have      been the  legitimate child  of  the      parties to  the marriage  if it had      been dissolved  instead  of  having      been  declared  null  and  void  or      annulled by  a  decree  of  nullity      shall  be   deemed  to   be   their      legitimate child  be deemed  to  be      their  legitimate  child  not  with      standing the decree of nullity:           Provided     that      nothing      contained in  this section shall be      construed as  conferring  upon  any      child  of   a  marriage   which  is      declared null  and void or annulled      by a  decree of  nullity any rights      in or to the property of any person      other than  the parents in any case      where, but  for the passing of this      Act, such  child  would  have  been      incapable    of    possessing    or      acquiring any such rights by reason      of his  not  being  the  legitimate      child of his parents." 49. Sections  11 and  12 which are referred to in section 16 above are also quoted below:      "11.   Void    marriages----    Any      marriage   solemnized   after   the      commencement of  this Act  shall be      null  and   void  and   may,  on  a      petition presented  by either party      thereto (against  the other party),      be  so  declared  by  a  decree  of      nullity if  it contravenes  any one      of  the   conditions  specified  in      clauses  (i),   (iv)  and   (v)  of      section 5."      "12. Voidable  marriages---(1)  Any      marriage solemnized, whether before      or after  the commencement  of this      Act, shall  be voidable  and may be      annulled by  a decree of nullity on      any  of   the  following   grounds,      namely:           (a) that  the marriage has not           been consummated  owing to the           impotence of  the  respondent;           or           (b) that  the marriage  is  in           contravention of the condition           specified in  clause  (ii)  of           section 5; or           (c) that  the consent  of  the           petitioner,   or   where   the           consent  of  the  guardian  in           marriage of the petitioner was



         required under section 5 as it           stood immediately  before  the           commencement  of   the   Child           marriage Rastraint (Amendment)           Act,  1978  (2  of  1978)  the           consent of  such guardian  was           obtained by  force or by fraud           as  to   the  nature   of  the           ceremony or as to any material           fact      or      circumstance           concerning the respondent; or           (d) that the respondent was at           the  time   of  the   marriage           pregnant by  some person other           than the petitioner.      (2)    Notwithstanding     anything      contained in  sub-section  (1),  no      petition for annulling a marriage--      (a)  on  the  ground  specified  in      clause  (c)   of  sub-section  (1),      shall be entertained if---           (i)  the   petition  presented           more than  one year  after the           force had  ceased  to  operate           or, as  the case  may be,  the           fraud had been discovered; or           (ii) the  petitioner has, with           his or her full consent, lived           with the  other party  to  the           marriage as  husband  or  wife           after the  force had ceased to           operate or,  as the  case  may           be,   the   fraud   had   been           descovered;      (b)  on  the  ground  specified  in      clause (d) of sub-section (1) shall      be entertained  unless the court is      satisfied:           (i) that the petitioner was at           the  time   of  the   marriage           ignorant of the facts alleged;           (ii)  that   proceedings  have           been instituted in the case of           a marriage  solemnized  before           the commencement  of this  Act           within  one   year   of   such           commencement and  in the  case           of marriages  solemnized after           such commencement  within  one           year  from  the  date  of  the           marriage; and           (iii) that marital intercourse           with  the   consent   of   the           petitioner has not taken place           since  the  discovery  by  the           petitioner of the existence of           the said ground." 50. the requirements for the applicability of section 16 (as originally enacted), which protected legitimacy, were that:      (i) there was a marriage;      (ii) the  marriage was  void  under      section  11   or   voidable   under      section 12.      (iii) there  was a decree annulling      such marriage  either under Section



    11 or under Section 12.      (iv)  the  child  was  begotten  or      conceived  before  the  decree  was      made. 51. A  marriage would  be null and void if it was solemnized in contravention  of clauses  (i),(iv) and (v) of Section 5. clause (i) prohibits a marriage if either party has a spouse living at  the time  af marriage.  Clause (iv)  prohibits  a marriage if  the parties  are  not  within  the  degrees  of prohibited  relationship   while  clause   (v)  prohibits  a marriage between  parties who  are the  ’sapindas’  of  each other. A  marriage it any of the above situations was liable to be  declared null  and void by a decree of nullity at the instance of  either party  to the  marriage. Section  16 was intended  to   intervene  at   that  stage  to  protect  the legitimacy of  children by  providing that children begotten of conceived  before the  making  of  the  decree  would  be treated  to   be  legitimate  and  they  would  inherit  the properties of their parents,though not of other relations. 52. Similarly,  a marriage solemnized either before or after the commencement  of the  Hindu Marriage  Act, 1955 was made statutorily voidable  if it  was found  that the husband was impotent at the time of marriage and continued to be so till the institution  of the  proceedings  or  that  a  party  to marriage was  either idiot  or a lunatic or that the consent of the  party to  the marriage  or that  the of the guardian required under  section 5  of the Act, was obtained by force or fraud  ori that  the girl  at the  time of  marriage  was pregnant by  some other  person. In  such a  situation,  the marriage was  label to be annulled by a decree of nullity at the instance of either party to the marriage. The legitimacy of children of such a marriage was also protected by Section 16 by  providing  that  for  purposes  of  inheritance,  the children would be treated to be legitimate and would inherit the properties of their parents. 53. Now,  Legitimacy is  a matter  of  status.  In  Ampthill Peerage case  (1976) 2  All England  Reports 411  (424),  HL (Committee  for   privileges),  Lord   Simon  of   Glaisdale observed:      "Legitimacy is a status : it is the      condition of  belonging to  a class      in society the members of which are      regarded as having been begotten in      lawful matrimony  by the  men  whom      the law  regards as  their fathers.      Motherhood, although  also a  legal      relationship, is  based on  a fact,      being   proved    demonstrably   by      parturition.       Fatherhood,   by      contract, is a presumption. A woman      can have  sexual intercourse with a      number of  men any  of whom  may be      the father  of her child; though it      is true  that modern  serology  can      sometimes enable the presumption to      be  rebutted  as  regards  some  of      these men. The status of legitimacy      gives the child certain rights both      against  the   man  whom   the  law      regards as his father and generally      in society." 54.   In  an Australian  case, Barwick,  CJ  in  Salemi  vs. Minister for  Immigration and  Ethnic Affairs  (1977) 14 ALR 1(7). stated:      "I  cannot   attribute  any   other



    meaning in the language of a lawyer      to the  word  "legitimate"  than  a      meaning which expresses the concept      of entitlement  or  recognition  by      law." 55. Illegitimate  children, on the contrary, are children as are not born either in lawful wedlock, or within a competent time after  its determination. It is on account of marriage, valid or void, that children are classified as legitimate or illegitimate. That  is to say, the social status of children is determined  by the  act of  their parents.  If they  have entered into  a valid marriage, the children are legitimate; but if  the parents  commit a  folly, as a result of which a child is  conceived, such  child who comes into existence as an  innocent   human  baby   is  labelled  as  illegitimate. Realising  this  situation,  our  parliament,  and  we  must appreciate the  wisdom of  the legislators then adorning the seats in  the august  hall, made  a law  which protected the legitimacy of  such innocent  children.  This  was  a  bold, courageous and  dynamic legislation  which  was  adopted  by other advanced countries. 56. The concept of illegitimacy was abolished in New Zealand by the  status of  Children Act 1969 (NZ). Under s.3 of this Act, for  all purposes  of  the  law  of  New  Zealand,  the relationship between  every person and his father and mother is to  be determined  irrespective of whether the father and mother are or have been married to each other, and all other relationships are to be determined accordingly. 57. In  England also,  social  reforms  were  introduced  to supplement or  improve upon  the Matrimonial  Clauses Act by enacting Family  Law Reform Act, 1969 as also the Family Law Reform Act,  1987 to give limited right of succession to the illegitimate children  in the  property of  their parents or allowing the  parents to  succeed to  the property  of their illegitimate children. 58. In  spite of the foresightedness of the legislators, the intention of  the parliament could not be fully reflected in the Act which unfortunately suffered at the hands of persons who drafted  the Bill  and the  various provisions contained therein. The  results were  startling.  Since  the  Rule  of Legitimacy was  made dependant  upon the  marriage (void  or voidable) being  annulled by  a  decree  of  annulment,  the children  born  of  such  marriage,  would  continue  to  be illegitimate if  the decree  of annulment  was  not  passed, which, incidentally,  would  always  be  the  case,  if  the parties did  not approach  the Court.  The other  result was that the  illegitimate children  came to  be divided  in two groups; those  born of  marriage held  prior to  the Act and those  born   of  marriage  after  the  Act.  There  was  no distinction  between   these  two   groups  of  illegitimate children,  but  they  came  to  suffer  hostile  legislative discrimination on  account of the language employed therein. Indeed,  language   is  an   imperfect  instrument  for  the expression of human thought. 59.   The object  of Section 16 was to protect legitimacy of children born  of void of voidable marriages. In leaving out one group of illegitimate children from being as legitimate, there did  not appear  to be  any nexts  between the  object sought to  be achieved  by Section is and the classification made in  respect of  illegitimate children similarly situate or  circumstanced.   The  provisions  of  Section  16  were, therefore, to  that extent,  clearly violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. 60.   The legislature,  as a  matter of  fact, committed the mistake of borrowing in this Section the language of Section



9 of  the Matrimonial  Clauses Act, 1850 made by the British parliament which  dealt with  the legitimacy  of children of only voidable  marriages did  not the  children of  marriage void ipso jure. 61.   The defect  in the language employed in Section 16 was noticed by  some High  Courts also. The Madras high Court in T. Ramayammal  vs. T.Mathummal  AIR 1974 (Madras) 321, which was a  decision rendered  prior to  the amendment of section 16, laid down that unless a decree of nullity was granted in respect of  a marriage which was void, the legitimacy of the children born  of such  carriage would not be protected. The High Court further observed as under:           "The wording  of Section 16 so      far as it is relevant to a marriage      void under  Section 11  leads to an      anomalous  and  startling  position      which  could   have   hardly   been      contemplated  by  the  legislature.      The position and status of children      of void  marriage should  obviously      be the  same either the marriage is      declared a nullity under Section 11      or otherwise.  It is  seen that the      legislature has  borrowed  in  this      section the  language of  section 9      of the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1950      which deals  with the legitimacy of      children of only voidable marriages      and does  not refer  to children of      marriages void  ipso jure  and made      the section  applicable to cases of      both voidable  and  void  marriages      annulled  by  a  decree  of  court.      Though the  language of the section      is  more  appropriate  to  voidable      marriages, it  has been  applied to      void marriages  as well, presumably      with the  object of  ensuring  that      where  a   marriage  was   in  fact      solemnized but  was void for any of      the grounds  mentioned  in  section      11, the  children of  such marriage      should not be bastardized whether a      decree of nullity is passed or not.      But the  above obvious intention of      the Legislature  has not  been duly      carried out  by a proper wording of      the section." 62. The High Court was of the opinion that:           "In view  of the  language  of      the   section   being   plain   and      unambiguous, it is not possible for      the court to construe the same in a      different manner having in mind the      presumed    intention     of    the      legislature even  if it  appears to      be obvious.  I am therefore, of the      view that this is a casus omissions      which the  Courts cannot  reach for      no  canon   of  construction   will      permit the  court to supply what is      clearly a lacuna in the statute and      it is  for the  legislature to  set      right  the  matter  by  a  suitable      amendment of the section."



63. It  may also be pointed out at this stage that the Joint Committee which  was constituted to look into the provisions of the  Hindu Marriage  Act, indicated in its Report that in no case  should children  be regarded  as  illegitimate  and consequently it followed the principles contained in Section 26 of  the special  Marriage  Act,  1954,  to  provide  that children born of void or voidable marriages shall be treated to be  legitimate unlike  the English  law which  holds  the child of  a voidable marriage alone to be legitimate but not that of  a void  marriage (see: Section 9 of the Matrimonial Clauses Act, 1850). 64. In  order, therefore,  to give  full effect  to what was intended to  be achieved  by enacting  Section 16 by Act No. LXVIII of  1976 pointing  out in the Notes to the Clauses of the Bill and the Amending Act, 1976 that:      "this clause  seeks  to  substitute      Section 16  so as  to  clarify  the      intention   and   to   remove   the      difficulties in interpretation." 65. The Amended Section 16 is quoted below"      "16. Legitimacy of children of void      and     voidable     marriages.-(1)      Notwithstanding that  a marriage is      null and void under section 11, any      child of  such marriage  who  would      have   been   legitimate   if   the      marriage had  been valid,  shall be      legitimate, whether  such child  is      born   before    or    after    the      commencement of  the marriage  Laws      (Amendment) Act, 1976 (68 of 1976),      and whether  or  not  a  decree  of      nullity is  granted in  respect  of      that marriage  under this  Act  and      whether or not the marriage is held      to be  void  otherwise  than  on  a      petition under this Act.           (2) Where  a decree of nullity      is granted in respect of a voidable      marriage  under   Section  12,  any      child begotten  or conceived before      the decree  is made, who would have      been the  legitimate child  of  the      parties to  the marriage  if at the      date of  the  decree  it  had  been      dissolved    instead    of    being      annulled, shall  be deemed to their      legitimate  child   notwithstanding      the decree of nullity.           (3) Nothing  contained in sub-      section  (1)   or  sub-section  (2)      shall be  construed  as  conferring      upon any  child of a marriage which      is  null   and  void  or  which  is      annulled by  a  decree  of  nullity      under Section  12, any rights in or      to  the  property  of  any  person,      other than the parents, in any case      where, but  for the passing of this      Act, such  child  would  have  been      incapable    of    possessing    or      acquiring any such rights by reason      of his  not  being  the  legitimate      child of his parents." 66. The  question now  to  be  considered  is  the  question



relating to the ’vires’ of the Section its present from, or, to put it differently, if Section 16, as originally enacted, contravened, any  way, Article  14, for  the reason  that it discriminated between  two groups  of illegitimate  children similarly  circumstanced,   does  the   Section,  after  its amendment by  Act No.  LXVIII of  1976 continue  to be still violative of Article 14. 67. There  is always  a presumption  that an Act made by the parliament or  the state Legislature is valid; so also there is a  strong  presumption  in  favour  of  the  validity  of legislative classification.  It is  for those  who challenge the Act  as constitutional  to show  and  prove  beyond  all doubts  that   the  legislature   arbitrarily  discriminated between  different  persons  similarly  circumstanced.  this presumption, however,  can be  displaced by showing that the discrimination was  so apparent  and manifest that any proof was hardly required. Section 16, as originally enacted, fell under this  category and  we have  already geld  that to the extent it  discriminated between  two groups of illegitimate children  in   the  matter   of  conferment   of  status  of legitimacy, it  was violative of Article 14. The vice or the mischief from  which unamended  Section 16 suffered has been removed or not is our next concern. 68. Hindu  Marriage Act,  1955 is  a beneficent  legislation and, therefore, it has to be interpreted in such a manner as advances the  object of  the legislation. The Act intends to bring about  social reforms.  conferment of social status of legitimacy  on   a  group  of  innocent  children,  who  are otherwise treated  as  bastards,  is  the  prime  object  of Section 16. 69. Learned  counsel for the appellant tried, at this stage, to  invoke   Heydon’s  Rule   which  is   a  sound  rule  of construction of  a statute  firmly established in England as far back  as in  1584 when Heydon’s case (1584) 3 Co Rep. 7a was decided that for the true interpretation of all statutes in general, four things are to be discerned and considered:      (1) What  was the common law before      the making of the Act,      (2)  What   was  the  mischief  and      defect for which the common law did      not provide,      (3) What remedy the parliament hath      resolved and  appointed to cure the      disease of the commonwealth, and      (4) the  true reason of the remedy;      and then  the  office  of  all  the      judges  is   always  to  make  such      construction as  shall suppress the      mischief,    and     advance    the      remedy.... 70. Heydon’s  rule was  approved in  In re  Mayfair Property Company (1898)  2 Ch  28 (CA),  Wherein Lindly, M.R observed that the rule was "as necessary now as it was when Lord Coke reported Heydon’s  case". This rule was also followed by the Earl of  Halsbury in  Eastman Photographic  Material Company Ltd. vs.  Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade- Marks (1898) AC 571, 576 (HL) in the following words:-           "My Lords,  it appears  to  me      that to construe the statute now in      question, it is not only legitimate      but highly convenient to refer both      to  the   former  Act  and  to  the      ascertained  evils   to  which  the      format Act  had given  rise, and to      the latter  Act which  provided the



    remedy.  These  thee  things  being      compared,  I   cannot   doubt   the      conclusion. 71. Heydon’s  case has also been followed by this Court in a number of decisions, all of which need not be specified here except K.P.  Verghese vs.  Income-tax Officer, Ernakulam and Anr. 131  ITR 597  = 1982  (1) SCR  629 =  1981(4) SCC  173; Bengal Immunity  Co. Ltd. vs. state of Bihar AIR 1955 SC 661 and m/s  Goodyear India Ltd. vs state of Haryana AIR 1990 SC 781. Heydon’s  Rule is  generally invoked where the words in the statute  are  ambiguous  and  /or  are  capable  of  two meanings. In  such a situation, the meaning which avoids the mischief and advances the remedy, specially in the case of a beneficial statute,  is adopted.  There is  some controversy whether Heydon’s  rule can be invoked in any other situation specially where  the words  of the  statute  are  clear  and unambiguous. In C.I.T., M.P.& Bhopal vs. Sodra Devi AIR 1957 SC 832,  it was  indicated that the rule in Heydon’s case is applicable only when the words in question are ambiguous and capable of more than one meaning. That is what was expressed by  Gajendragadkar,   J.  in  Kanailal  Sur  vs.  Paramnidhi Sadhukhan AIR  1957 SC  907. In  Maunsell vs. olins (1975) 1 All ER  16 (HL)  P-29, Lord  Simon explained  this aspect by saying that  the rule  in Heydon’s  case is available at two stages; first  before ascertaining  the  plain  and  primary meaning of  the statute  and secondly  at the stage when the court reaches  the conclusion  that there  is no  such plain meaning.      Be that  as it may, we are not invoking the Rule but we have nevertheless  to keep  in mind the principles contained therein to  examine and  find out  whether the mischief from which the  earlier legislation suffered on account of use of certain  words  has  since  been  removed  and  whether  the subsequent legislation  is constitutionally  valid  and,  on account of  use of  new phraseology,  implements effectively the intention of the legislature in conferring the status of legitimacy on children, who were, otherwise, illegitimate. 72. Keeping  these principles in view, let us now proceed to examine the amended provisions of Section 16. 73. Section  16 was  earlier linked with Sections 11 and 12. On account  of the language employed in unamended Section 16 and its  linkage with Sections 11 and 12, the provisions had the effect  of dividing  and   classifying the  illegitimate children into  two groups  without there  being any nexus in the  statutory  provisions  and  the  object  sought  to  be achieved thereby. It is to be seen whether this mischief has been removed. 74. Section 16(1) begins with a non obstante clause. 75. "Non  Obstante clause is sometimes appended to a Section in the  beginning, with  a view to give the enacting part of the Section, in case of conflict, an over-riding effect over the provision  or  Act  mentioned  in  that  clause.  It  is equivalent to  saying that  in spite of the provision or Act mentioned  in   the  non   obstante  clause,  the  enactment following it,  will have  its full  operation  of  that  the provision indicated  in the  non obstante clause will not be an impediment  for the  operation of  the enactment."  (See: Union of  India vs. G. M. Kokil (1984) (Supp.) SCC 196 = AIR 1984 SC  1022; Chandavarkar  Sita Ratna  Rao vs. Ashalata S. Gurnam (1986)  (4)   SCC 447(477) R.S Raghunath vs. state of Karnataka (1992)  1 SCC  335;  G.P.  Singh’s  Principles  of statutory Interpretation). 76. The  words "notwithstanding  that a marriage is null and void under  section 11"  employed in  Section 16(1) indicate undoubtedly the following :-



    (a) Section  16 (1) stands delinked      from Section 11.      (b)  Provisions  of  Section  16(1)      which intend  to confer  legitimacy      on children  born of void marriages      will operate  with  full  vigor  in      spite of Section 11 which nullifies      only those marriages which are held      after the  enforcement of  the  Act      and in  the  performance  of  which      Section 5 is contravened.      (c) Benefit  of legitimacy has been      conferred upon  the  children  born      either before  or after the date on      which Section 16(1) was amended.      (d) Mischief  or the vice which was      the basis of unconstitutionality of      unamended  section   16  has   been      effectively removed by amendment.      (e) Section 16(1) now stands on its      own    strength     and    operates      independently  of   other  Sections      with  the   result   that   it   is      constitutionally valid  as it  does      not      discriminate       between      illegitimate   children   similarly      circumstanced and  classifies  them      as  one  group  for  conferment  of      legitimacy.      Section 16,  in its  present from  is.  therefore,  not ultra vires the Constitution. 77. Section  16 contains a legal fiction. It is by a rule of fictio  juries   that  the  legislature  has  provided  that children,  though   illegitimate,  shall,  nevertheless,  be treated as  legitimate notwithstanding that the marriage was void or voidable 78. When  an  Act  of  parliament  or  a  state  Legislature provides that  something shall  be deemed  to exist  or some status shall  be deemed  to have  been acquired, which would not have  been so  acquired or  in  existence  but  for  the enactment, the  Court is  bound to ascertain the purpose for which the  fiction was  created and the parties between whom the fiction was to operate, so that full effect may be given to the  intention of  the legislature and the purpose may be carried to  its logical conclusion. (See: M/s JK Cotton Spg. & Wvg.  Mills Lte.  vs. Union  of India  AIR  1988  SC  191; American Home  Products  Corporation  vs.  Mac  Laboratories (1986) 1 SCC 456= air 1986 SC  137).      Lord Asquith in Bast End Dwellings Co. LTD. V. Finsbury Borough Council,  (1952) AC  109 B:  (1951)  2  All  ER  587 observed that when one is bidden to treat an imaginary state of affairs  as real,  he must surely, unless prohibited from doing  so,   also  imagine  as  real  the  consequences  and incidents which  inevitably have  flowed from  it-- one must not permit  his imagination  to boggle’  when it come to the inevitable corollaries of that state of affairs. (See also : M. Venugopal vs. Divisional Manager, LIC (1994) 2 SCC 323. 79. In  view of  the legal  fiction contained in Section 16, the  illegitimate  Children,  for  all  practical  purposes, including succession  to the  properties of  their  parents, have to  be treated  as legitimate.  They  cannot,  however, succeed to the properties of any other relation on the basis of this  rule, which  in its  operation, is  limited to  the properties of the parents. 80. Obviously, appellants 2 to 6 were born prior to the date



on which  amendments were  introduced in  Section 16(1), and consequently they  would, notwithstanding  that the marriage between their  parents had  taken place at a time when there was a  legislation prohibition  on the  second marriage,  be treated as  legitimate, and  would, therefore,  inherit  the properties of  their father, Raman Nair, under Section 16(3) of the Act. 81. In   the  result, all  the three  appeals  are  allowed. Respondents’ suit No. 38 of 1976 for exclusive possession of certain items  of property  is dismissed.  The  other  suit, namely, O.S.  No 39  of 1976 for  partition of half share in the tenancy land, filed by the respondents against appellant No. 1 alone, is also dismissed. It will, however, be open to them to  seek such  relief as may be available to them under law. O.S.  No 99  of 1977 filed by the appellants is decreed with the  finding that  the appellant  no.1 being widow  and appellant no.  2 to 6 being sons of Raman nair, are entitled to their  share in the properties left by him. It is on this basis that the trial court shall now proceed to complete the proceedings in  this suit for partition. Appellants shall be entitled to their costs.