Report No. 136
4.14.2. A Contrary view that such an appeal would abate has been taken by the Madras High Court1 on the following reasoning:-
"On the passing of the ex parte decree of divorce the marriage between the respondent and deceased Ramanathan stood dissolved and on the death of Ramanathan, even on the footing that there had been no prior dissolution of marriage the matrimonial knot was once and for all irrevocably united on 3-6-1984. It is doubtful whether even in cases where the marriage has been dissolved by death there is a power in the Court to declare that it continued for some other reasons. It is necessary to remember that a man after the death can no more be divorced or secure a decree of divorce than he can be considered to be married or even condemned to death.
On the death of the husband, in this case, the matrimonial knot did not any longer subsist and thereafter there cannot be a decree of divorce dissolving the marriage. The so-called question of status on the basis of which the lower appellate Court was inclined to implead the petitioner as a legal representative does not carry any conviction. In this case, on the obtaining of the decree of divorce ex parte, the respondent became a divorcee and that status was unalterably fixed to her by the subsequent demise of Ramanathan.
It is difficult to understand how and by what process the respondent who was a divorcee on 24-10-1983, when the ex parte decree of divorce was passed and on 3-6-1984, when Ramanathan died, could claim the status of a widow. This would assume that despite the decree of divorce dissolving the marriage, the marriage had continued to subsist till the date of death of Ramanathan, for which there is no basis whatever in law. Further, when the marital knot had been untied by the decree of divorce, there is no basis whatever for assuming that the marriage had subsisted even thereafter in order to confer the status of a widow on the respondent herein on the death of Ramanathan.
On the facts of this case, it is seen that the respondent was only a divorcee from the date of passing of the decree and also on the date of death of her husband and she cannot lay any claim as the widow of Ramanathan unless she can report to some statutory provisions enabling her to do so. The Court below was, therefore, in error in holding that the question of the Statutes of the respondent would make some difference to the factual situation obtaining in this case."
1. Saraswathi Ammal v. Lakshmi, AIR 1989 Mad 216.