Knight Set To Rescue Dames In Distress

Mar 18, 2010
The rich man’s son inherits cares;
The bank may break, the factory burn,
The breath may burst his bubble shares,
And soft white hands could hardly earn
A living that would serve his turn.

-James Russel Lowell, US poet (1819-1891).

In the case of Thomas (not the real name) the external factors factored in by Lowell didn’t do any damage to this scion of a high family of Mangalore with a large inheritence. But, Thomas made a name for himself for the wrong reasons as an incorrigible gambler, bottle-master and worse. When he came to the marriage market, search high and low, no gossip-prone and all-knowing Mangalorean parents would consider giving their daughters in marriage to Thomas. Finally, marriage brokers succeeded in locating a beautiful village lass, Maggie – like a lotus flower in muddy water - eventually leading up to the altar.

But, it was a marriage of convenience. The family of Thomas never came around to accepting her as a member of their “high family”. Thomas worked on his marital rights and in due course Maggie became pregnant and was sent to her parents, as was the custom in the case of first confinement. A chubby son, later named Charles, was born to Maggie and the happy tidings were conveyed to Thomas – only to be greeted by a wall of silence. Despite repeated pleas, Thomas’s family refused to take the mother and son back to Mangalore and, finally, made it clear that they would not be accepted.
Reconciling to the situation, Maggie went to work as a daily wage-earner and brought up Charles who grew up in age and wisdom. Thomas ceased to be a fading memory for Maggie who concentrated her life in bringing up Charles. He was good at studies and, with help from relatives and scholarships, graduated with distinction and landed a job in the Gulf. He climbed the corporate ladder double fast and sent money for the maintenance of his illiterate mother through the parish priest.
Then there was a cruel twist in the tale. Charles was literally riding in the fast lane. One day, as he was zooming in his Bentley on the Dubai- Abu Dhabi Expressway, he met with an accident and died on the spot. There was one more cruel twist in the tale because the law being the proverbial ass. When a man like Charles dies without leaving linear descendents, under the Indian Succession Act, as applicable to Indian Christians, the entire property goes to the father, to the total exclusion of the mother. So, in the case of Charles, his considerable assets went to Thomas the debaucher who had turned his wife out of her marital home and practically had his son Charles brought up as an orphan by his near-destitute mother – who is now left high and dry to fend for herself, despite her dead son’s accumulated fortune.
Into this setting enters our knight in shining armour, Chevelier Clarence Pais, leading veteran advocate of Mangalore. For him, the above story may be apocryphal, but the consequences are cruelly real and discriminatory against Christian women – as in the case of Maggie. The discrimination arises in Section 41 read with Section 42 of the Indian Succession Act.

These two sections read as follows:

Distribution where there are no lineal descendants Section 41: Rule of distribution where intestate has left no lineal descendants
 Where an intestate has left no lineal descendants, the rule for distribution of his property (after deducting the widow’s share, if he has left a widow) shall be those contained in Sections 42 to 48.

Section 42: Where intestate’s father living
If the intestate’s father is living, he shall succeed to the property.
According to Chev. Pais, two approaches are open to right this wrong. One is to approach the High Court, or Supreme Court in appeal, by way of a Writ or Public Interest Petition to highlight the injustice and seek relief which involves striking down Section 42 of the Indian Succession Act and or to recommend to the Indian Parliament to amend Section 42 of the Act. The other avenue is to approach the Law Minister bringing to his notice the public opinion among Indian Christians in support of the need to amend Section 42 of the Act. Under such amendment, the wife should be put on par with the husband so that the assets of the deceased bachelor son are shared equally by both parents. In other words, Section 42 should be amended to read as follows:

If the intestate’s father and mother are living they should succeed to the property in equal shares.
Chev. Pais has excellent credentials to pursue this matter. His earlier outstanding achievement, rightly recognized by the Pope by conferring on him knighthood, relates to an earlier amendment to the Indian Succession Act. Section 213 of the Act made it compulsory for Indian Christians to probate their wills before they could be acted upon – a case of discrimination. For example, if a Muslim or Hindu dies leaving assets under his will to his widow and children, his will does not require probate. This means, not only do his widow and children save about 10 to 15 per cent of the value of assets they have inherited, but also the will could be acted on the day following the death.
In contrast, if a Christian died leaving a will bequeathing a house and cash in a bank, the entire value of his assets was charged probate duty at the hands of his widow. Apart from the tax and expenses, there was uncertainty and mental trauma in this discriminatory procedure as, for instance, if there is any objection to the will, the process of laying hands on the willed assets could drag on for years. Chev. Pais contended that this glaring discrimination offended Articles 14&15 of the Indian Constitution and, therefore, he questioned the vires of the Indian Succession Act through the higher judiciary route up to the point of review petition in the Supreme Court – which was dismissed.
Undaunted by the failure, Chev Pais moved the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, through his childhood friend, George Fernandes, and the government moved a bill in Parliament and amended the Indian Succession Act. Section 213 of the Act was amended and the Act became law on May 27, 2002.
Having been frustrated in his last experience of moving through the judicial route  (time-consuming and expensive), Chev. Pais has now taken the political route by pinning his hopes on the good offices of the Law Minister Veerappa Moily. While his sympathies for the cause are not in doubt, he is presently enmeshed in a plethora of legislative initiatives of the UPA government. Chev Pais could have rested on his laurels (he is 80+ now)  instead of taking up a new cause. He has shot off letters to political bigwigs and so far he has only polite acknowledgments to show for his labour. It is only proper that large mass of people supported his altruistic fight by, for instance, responding on this site or emailing to him directly – - pledging support. These could be used as supporting documentation. In political lobbying, numbers count and you can make a difference! 

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By John B. Monteiro
John B. Monteiro, author and journalist, is editor of his website (Interactive Cerebral Challenger).
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Comment on this article

  • Vincent & Pressy., Muscat.

    Wed, Mar 24 2010

    Dear Clary baab,We fully support you in this endeavour. May God give you the strength & health do fight for the justice.

  • marjorie texeira, kadri

    Mon, Mar 22 2010

    Dear Uncle Clary, we are there with you in this cause. I know you will leave no stone unturned to accomplish your task.

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Sat, Mar 20 2010

    Dear Adv. Pais,

    I join too my voice to fight for this noble cause.

    May the success be ours.

  • Charles & Rita Sequeira, Mangalore/Edmonton, Canada

    Sat, Mar 20 2010

    Congratulations Clarence, and all the best in your efforts towards the emanicipation of the disadvantaged women. Wish I were there,back in my gown, fighting the good fight with you, all the way. Charles

  • Marie & Leo Pinto, Mangalore/KSA

    Sat, Mar 20 2010

    Dear Mr. Clarence Pais we fully support you for this noble cause. We are proud of you and wish all the best. You are a brilliant Lawyer with a simple personality. It is nice knowing you for all these years.

  • Hilda D silva, Kallianpur

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    This is a noble cause. I fully support you.May God give you strength to pursue the case

  • Elsie Jane DSouza, Bangalore

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    This matter has to be supported by all Christian women as there is disparity between other religions.Under the Indian Succession Act, for Christians, the mother of the deceased son/daughter has no share while the father is entitled for the share.We need to support Chev C.Pais in his endeavour to give justice to christian mothers thro, amendment of Sec 42.

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore - U.S.A.

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    I have known Chevalier Clarie Pais for several decades - a person of determination and character. If he is convinced that some one has been wronged he will go to any extent to obtain justice. He is present strategy to approach political stalwarts for a redress of grievance will certainly be result oriented.

    Clarie - kudos to you for your effort to help a poor widow and for showing your spirit of helpfulness to people in need.

    Joe Gonsalves

  • Peter Pais, Mangalore / Oman

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    Dad, it is great to see you fight for all these just causes. You took the initiative on the probate issue and only relaxed once your project was done, despite all the odds faced along the way. You have now taken up this worthy cause and we are with you in whatever support that you feel is required, to once again be successful, so that the affected families are rescued. Overcoming challenges have always been part of your life and this stronge urge has helped you acheive, so many milestones, which we, are proud of !! All the best Dad, in your latest endeavour !! We reassure you of our support, to this cause !!

  • Irene Sequeira, Derebail/Kuwait

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    Our full support to this cause which Chev. Clarance Pais has taken at this age. Wish you Good Luck, health and long life.

  • Godwin D'Souza, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    I pledge my support to you Chevelier Clarence Pais

  • Eric Fernandes, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Fri, Mar 19 2010

    I wholeheartdly support your cause, Mr. Pais.

  • Rakesh Dsouza, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 18 2010

    I pledge my support to you Mr.Pais. What you have stated is right.

  • Abraham Coutinho, Mundkur/Bombay

    Thu, Mar 18 2010

    Advaocate Pais, I support your cause. The Christian Succession Act shold be changed to read
    "If the intestate’s father and mother are living they should succeed to the property in equal shares."
    All the best.

  • Anita, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Thu, Mar 18 2010

    I support you uncle Chev. Clarance Pais in this endeavour.

  • V.Baretto, Bantwal-Bangalore

    Thu, Mar 18 2010

    I am supporting you Chev.Pais uncle in your efforts to bring forward the amendments, possibly with the help of Mr.Veerappa Moily the Law Minister,who has a soft corner for Dakshina kannada/Udupi Districts, in particular

  • Prasad Karkada, Udupi / Dubai

    Thu, Mar 18 2010

    I pledge my support to you Mr. Pais

  • Francis Lobo, Bejai,Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 18 2010

    Chev. Clarance Pais is a excellent lawyer and a humble person.I had experience of meeting him with my mother in the year 1982 for a similar case.My father had left the family when I was born and his where abouts were not known.But when i was joining professional degree,the college wanted the father to be present to sign the papers.During this time Chev.Pais helped us by applying the Indian law that if the father is absconding for more than 14 years ,then he is presumed dead and the mother is responsible for the child.We made a affidavit for same and I saved my engineering seats.Thank to his knowledge i was able to complete my degree.Thank you Chev. Pais and wish you long life.

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