(ii) Widowed daughter-in-law;

(iii) Illegitimate daughter.

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On his death, this moral obligation ripened into a legal obligation against his property in the hands of his heirs.

What the Act of 1956 has done is to combine these classes of persons into one category described as dependants. All these dependants can claim maintenance against the property of the deceased Hindu whose dependants they are. The heirs of the deceased are bound to maintain these dependants of the deceased.

It is to be borne in mind that some of these dependants may themselves be heirs of the deceased. Thus the widow and the mother may have inherited the property. The father may claim maintenance as a dependant.

In such a case, first, we have to see whether by contributing to the maintenance, the shares of the widow or mother (each of whom is herself a dependant of the deceased), becomes so reduced as to be less than what would be awarded as maintenance if she herself had been treated only as a dependant. In such a case no contribution need be made.

If the reduction of the share does not reach that stage, then the contribution will have to be made by each heir in proportion to the share inherited. These contributions will be made available for the maintenance of the dependants.

In this way a comprehensive provision is made for all the “Dependants” of a deceased Hindu. Whether the original claim against the owner was a purely moral one or was a personal one irrespective of property owned, on his death the claim directed against his property is of the same kind and so a comprehensive provision has been made under the Act to provide for such claims.

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