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Report No. 66

4.2. Sections 5 to 8.-

Section 5 declares that any married woman may effect a policy of insurance on her own life, or on her husband's life on her own behalf, and that the amount shall be her separate property. As the law stood then, if a wife effected such a policy otherwise than out of her separate estate and died in the husband's life time, then the husband became the owner of the policy in the capacity of her administrator. Hence the need for the provision.

Section 6, which we shall have occasion to consider in great detail1, broadly corresponds to the second paragraph of section 10 of the English Act of 1870. It provides for a statutory trust in regard to a policy for wife's benefit, but with an important difference, namely, that while the English Act mentioned the trustee appointed by the Court of Chancery or the County Court, this section mentions the official trustee under Act 17 of 1864. There are other differences also between the Indian section and the English law, to which we shall revert when we shall consider section 6 in detail.

The section provides that an insurance effected by her husband on his life and expressed to be for the benefit of the wife or children or both, shall be deemed to be a trust for the benefit of the wife and the children, and shall not be subject to the claim of the creditors of the husband, except where the transaction was intended to defraud the creditors. But for the section, such an arrangement made by the husband would have suffered from the weaknesses from which voluntary settlements suffered in England.2

Section 7 deals with legal proceedings by married women, and broadly corresponds to section 11 of the English Act of 1870. Section 8, in effect, declares that the law as to the liability of a wife for bet post-nuptial debts is the same as was laid down in the decision of Justice Phear3 of the Calcutta High Court. That decision was binding only in Bengal, while section 8 extends its authority throughout the territories to which the Act extends.

1. See discussion as to section 6, infra (Chapter 8).

2. Paras. 8.4 and 8.5, infra.

3. Archer v. Vatkins, 8 Bengal Law Reports 372.

Married Womens Property Act, 1874 Back

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