Report No. 110
8.8. Dr. Derrett's comment.-
It is unfortunate that Syrian Christians, whose homes and lands were transferred from Kerala to Tamil Nadu by the reorganisation that took place in 1956, should (as to succession) be governed by a law different from that of Syrian Christians (or, indeed, any other Christian) domiciled and having lands in other talukas of Tamil Nadu. As observed by Dr. Derrett1 this kind of chaos, fruitful for lawyers, is anachronistic.
1. Derrett The Personal Law of Syrian Christians in Tamil Nadu in (1974) 2 MLJ (Journal).
8.8A. Position regarding Travancore and Cochin areas.-
In the Working Paper on the Act, the Law Commission had occasion to point out the anomalous position that now prevails on the question whether the Indian Succession Act, 1925, applies to the areas that formed part of the State of Travancore-Cochinitself a successor to the princely States of Travancore and Cochin respectively. The conflict of views that exists on the subject makes the position very awkward and the Commission had drawn attention to the need for settling the position in this respect. Case law on the subject relates to the Travancore Christian Succession Regulation; but the same uncertainty would seem to prevail regarding the Cochin Christian Succession Act also.
8.8B. Discriminatory treatment against women.-
Apart from the question of uncertainty in the law, there is the need to consider the merits of the case. The legislation enacted in the two princely States on Christian succession fails to give equal rights to women, and its provisions are heavily weighted against women, as contrasted with the provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, as applicable to Christians dying intestate.
In this situation, Government may well consider whether it should not straightaway adopt the course of specifically repealing the Travancore and Cochin legislation, and of making it clear that the Indian Act extends to the areas in question-of course, with such consequential and transitional provisions as may be appropriate. The Commission has an apprehension that the present position, if challenged in the courts on the scope of conflict with the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution, may not stand scrutiny.
Incidentally, it may be mentioned that the Commission has also come across an article in a women's magazine1 which has drawn attention to the discrimination against women arising from the situation mentioned above in Travancore and Cochin2.
1. Shri C.A. Achutha Menon's article in Eve's Weekly, (Bombay), 21-27 July, 1984.
2. See also M. Stanley Fernandez Christian Women in Kerala, AIR 1984 Journal (October).