Hindu law does not confer any property rights upon “illegitimate” children, holds Bombay High Court

The Bombay high court has ruled that an “illegitimate” child must provide evidence of marriage between her biological parents to claim protection conferred by Sec. 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act. In this case, the petitioners, children from the second ‘marriage’ of the deceased, sought a share in his property. However, the first wife of the deceased contested their claim on the grounds that Sec. 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, which confers legitimacy upon children born in void or voidable marriages, can be invoked only if evidence of solemnisation of marriage is produced.

While the court accepted this argument, it considered the fact of prolonged cohabitation between the biological parents of the petitioners, and the fact that the petitioner’s birth certificates bore the name of the deceased as sufficient evidence of his ‘marriage’ with their mother. The decision of the court is significant, in that it broadens the scope of section 16 by relaxing its evidentiary requirements, thus bringing within its fold intimate relationships in the nature of marriage.

Indubai Jaydeo Pawar v. Draupada @ Draupada JaydeoReview Petition No. 19 of 2016 in First Appeal No. 577 of 2015 [High Court of Bombay]