Section 19 of the Act does not laydown a personal obligation upon the father-in-law to maintain his son’s widow. It lays down only a moral obligation upon the father-in-law to maintain his daughter-in-law, but after the death of the father-in-law, whosoever inherits his self acquired property, is legally bound to maintain the daughter-in-law of such deceased person. According to Section 19, any Hindu whether her marriage took place either before the commencement of the present Act or thereafter, on the death of her husband, would be entitled to maintenance from her father-in-law to the extent and so long (a) She is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property; or (b) She is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her husband; Or (c) She is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her father; or (d) She is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her mother; or (e) She is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her son; or (f) She is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her daughters; or (g) She is unable to obtain maintenance from the estate of her son or daughter; (h) If the father-in-law has no coparcenary property in his possession out of which she has not obtained a share, and (i) She has remained unmarried. Where the father-in-law has coparcenary as well as self acquired property to his credit and the amount of earning from self acquired property is sufficient enough to enable him and his wife to maintain themselves, the widowed daughter-in-law acquires a right to get herself maintained out of the earnings of the coparcenary property.
In such a case there would be not any obligation upon the earnings of coparcenary property with respect to the maintenance of father-in-law and wife. In Smt. Balbir Kaur v. Harinder Knur, the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that Section 19 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 deals with the right of maintenance of a widowed daughter-in-law.
Whether married before or after the commencement of the Act, she can claim maintenance only if she is unable to maintain herself from her own sources or out of the estate of her husband or her father or mother or from her son or daughter, if any or his or her estate. The right to claim maintenance from the father-in-law, in the circumstances stated above, is however conditional upon the father-in-law having in possession of coparcenary property out of which widowed daughter-in-law has not obtained any share. Though under the Act, the right to claim maintenance by widowed daughter-in-law against her father-in-law is limited to the extent of coparcenary property in the hand of father-in-law, out of which widowed daughter-in-law has not taken any share but under the old Hindu law, prevailing before the enactment of the Act, this right of maintenance to the widowed daughter-in-law against the self acquired property of her father-in-law, was available. This right is still available to the widowed daughter-in-law of the pre-deceased son against the self acquired property of her father-in-law as this right shall not cease to be in force because the same is not inconsistent with any provision contained in the Act. Thus the widowed daughter-in-law of a pre-deceased son is entitled to claim right of maintenance against the self acquired property of her father-in-law, whether it is in his hand or iii the hand of his heir or donee. Section 19(2) lays down those conditions in which the liability to maintain the daughter-in-law comes to an end.
These conditions are as follows:— (1) Where the father-in-law does not have any means for maintenance out of coparcenary property which was owned by her deceased husband; (2) Where the widowed daughter-in-law received any share in the coparcenary property; (3) Where she has remarried; (4) Where she has converted into other religion. The widowed daughter-in-law could claim maintenance in the property notwithstanding the fact that she does not live in her father-in-law’s home. In Kanailal v. Pushparani Pramanik, the Calcutta High Court held that sub-section (2) of Section 19 applies only to parties governed by Mitakshara law. There is no question of a widow inheriting the share of her husband in any coparcenary property under the Dayabhag school of Hindu law.
The provision of sub-section (2) of Section 19 cannot, therefore, apply when the parties belong to the Dayabhag school of Hindu law. But sub-section (1) of Section 19 confers a right on a widowed daughter in-law to claim maintenance from her father-in-law irrespective of whether they are governed by Mitakshara or the Dayabhag school of Hindu law. Recently in S.V.
Parthasaratliy Battachariar and others v. S. Rajeswari and others, Madras High Court observed that father-in-law is liable to pay maintenance to widowed daughter-in-law if husband of widow is not known for more than seven years and deemed to have been died. However, there is no provision for maintenance of grandson by the paternal grandfather. But where considering the commitment of a widow to maintain her children and minors being sharers in joint family properties not deriving any income, paternal grandparents being in possession of joint family property are liable for maintenance of minor grandsons with widowed daughter-in-law.