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WlJESEKERE v. FERNANDO.P. C., Colombo, 38,805.
Reporting death to Court—Eetate of deceased under Rs. 1,000—Marriage intommunity—Civil Procedure Code, as. 542 and 543.
Upon the death of a husband who had been married in communityof property which in value was less than one thousand rupees, no dutydevolves on the widow to report such death to Court, under sections 542and 543 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Meaning of estate left by deceased explained.
HE facts of the case sufficiently appear in the followingjudgment of the Chief Justice.
Sampayo, for appellant.
RdmanAthan, S.-G., for respondent.
In this case the appellant is the widow of one W. JoronisAponsu, who died in 1893, intestate. Now section 542 of theCivil Procedure Code enacts that “ when any person shall die in“ Ceylon without leaving a will, it shall be the duty of the widow,“ widower, or next of kin of such person, if such person shall“ have left property in Ceylon amounting to or exceeding in value“ one thousand rupees, within one month of the date of his death“ to report such death to the Court of the district in which he" shall have so died,” and also to supply an affidavit as to thecircumstances of his death and the nature and value of his estate;and the next section provides that “ every person made liable“ to report any death under, or to furnish any information“ required by, section 542, who shall wilfully omit to report such“death or to furnish ;uch information within the time therein“ prescribed therefor, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a“ fine not exceeding one thousand rupees.”
The facts were that Joronis and the appellant were married incommunity of property, and therefore the Ordinance No. 15 of1875 did not apply to their case; that the joint estate amounted toRs. 1,360 in value; and that the widow did not report the death ofher husband to the District Court. On these facts Mr. Moor, theActing Police Magistrate of Colombo, found the appellant guiltyof an offence under section 543 of the Civil Procedure Code' andsentenced her to pay a fine of Rs. 30. There does not appear tobe any evidence that the omission to report the death was a wilfulone. But, apart from that, I am of opinion that the facts showthat no offence was or could have been committed in this case.The duty only arises in case the deceased leaves property amounting
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to at least Es. 1,000. Now, as I understand the law of communityof property, the deceased did not leave this estate of Bs. 1,360:it not was his estate. He was entitled to one-half and the wifeto the other half; but, because women were supposed to beincapable of managing property, the Eoman-Dutch Law gave thehusband the entire management of the joint estate. He was thepredominant partner. But this does not make the estate his, andwhen he dies his widow gets no fresh title to her portion of thatestate. She re-enters into the enjoyment of her share which hadbeen temporarily suspended during the coverture, and, therefore,what the husband left was his moiety of the estate, which it wasagreed was worth only Es. 680. That being so, there was no dutyto report the death and, therefore, no offence was committed.
September 18.Bouses, C.J.
WIJESEKERE v. FERNANDO