Rules Laid Down in the Adoption Act for Determining Maternal Relationship to an Adoptive Child

When a bachelor adopts and then marries, the subsequently married wife becomes only a step mother. There is no adoptive mother in such a case. Similarly when a widower adopts and then marries subsequently, married wife becomes a step mother. There is no adoptive mother in such a case also for the predeceased wife does not become adoptive mother. These are the principles relating to maternal affiliation laid down in s. 14 of the Act.


(1) A man dies leaving two widows directing that an adoption be effected by both of them acting together. The widows jointly take part in the ceremony of adoption. Is the adoption valid? If the boy dies, which of them will inherit the property?

The husband may confer upon his widows a joint power of adoption. The Madras High Court has held that such a power should not be construed as a joint and separate power and that on the death of one of the widows, the other joint donee of the power cannot validly exercise it. Devasenapath v. Visalakshi, ILR 1964 (2) Mad. 454.

When such a power is exercised by two widows, the senior widow becomes adoptive mother and the other widow becomes step-mother. So when the boy dies the senior widow as adoptive mother will inherit his property. Thiruvengadam v. Butchayya, 52 Mad. 373.

(2) Can a son adopted by a widower succeed to the property of the father of the pre-deceased wife of the adopter?

The pre-deceased wife of the widower does not become the adoptive mother, AIR 1956 Mad. 456 (FB). So the adopted son cannot inherit to her father.

(3) A bachelor adopts and then marries. The wife dies leaving Stridhana property. The adoptee and the husband are the only claimants.

When a bachelor adopts and subsequently marries, the wife becomes only the step-mother of the adoptee and not the mother. So the husband inherits her stridhana in preference to the adoptee.

(4) A widower makes an adoption. The brother of his former wife dies leaving the adoptee and a maternal uncle’s son.

When a widower makes an adoption, his pre-deceased wife is not treated as adoptive mother. So the adopted son cannot inherit to her and through her. So as her son he cannot inherit her brother’s property.

(5) A Hindu having more than one wife living makes an adoption by himself without associating any wife with him. The junior most wife dies leaving her husband and the adoptee.

Though no wife is associated by the adopter in the ceremony of adoption, the senior most wife is treated as the adoptive mother and the other wives as step-mothers of the adoptee. So when the junior most wife dies, it is the husband and not the adoptee that takes her property.

(6) A has a daughter Â. Â and her husband’s adopt C. A dies and is succeeded by his widow D for a limited estate. Then D dies. Can Ñ claim the property as heir of A?

The facts of the problem are based upon Kali Komul v. Uma Sunker, 101.A. 138. The adopted son can inherit not only to his adoptive parents but also to other relations connected through them. He can claim the property in this case as daughter’s son just as if he was the aurasa son of B.

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