Brijendra Singh vs. State of MP Case Summary 2008 SC

Brijendra Singh vs. State of MP Case Summary 2008 SC

Brijendra Singh vs. State of MP case revolves around the issue of whether a separated Hindu woman has the right to adopt under Section 8 of the Hindu Adoptions and Marriage Act, 1956. Supreme Court shed light and clarified certain aspects related to adoption laws and the right to adopt in India while delivering the judgement of this case.

EQUIVALENT CITATIONS: Appeal (Civil) 7764 Of 2001

DATE OF JUDGEMENT: January 11th, 2008

COURT: The Supreme Court of India

BENCH: Hon’ble Justice Arijit Pasayat, Hon’ble Justice P. Sathasivam


  • Mishri Bai had returned to her parent’s house after being abandoned by her husband, Padam Singh, a day after their marriage, because of her physical disability. She never returned to her in-laws’ house.
  • Her parents had granted her a 32-acre plot of land from their agricultural holdings for her subsistence. In 1970, after almost 22 years of her marriage, Mishri Bai claimed to have adopted the appellant, Brijendra Singh. Her estranged husband, Padam Singh, passed away in 1974.
  • Mishri Bai was served a notice by the Sub-Divisional Officer, Vidisha, under Section 10 of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960, showing that her holdings of agricultural land exceeded the prescribed limit.
  • Mishri Bai filed a reply, claiming that Brijendra Singh is her adopted son and that the two of them formed a joint family, giving them the right to keep 54 acres of land. In December 1981, the Sub-Divisional officer dismissed the adoption argument, citing that the adoptive father’s name was not registered in educational institution records.
  • Mishri Bai filed a civil suit seeking a declaration that Brijendra Singh is her adopted son and the court ruled in her favour. She executed a registered will on July 19, 1989, bequeathing all of her assets to Brijendra Singh. Mishri Bai passed away in 1989.
  • The State of Madhya Pradesh challenged the order in the High Court. The first appellate court rejected the appeal and upheld the trial court’s judgement and decree. It was decided, under the trial court’s findings, that Mishri Bai had adopted Brijendra Singh and that the fact of adoption was stated in Mishri Bai’s will.
  • The High Court heard the Respondents’ Second Appeal and overturned the trial court’s decision. It was observed that the Court would deem the adoption invalid in the absence of consent of Mishri Bai’s husband. The adoption was deemed invalid in the absence of Mishri Bai’s husband’s consent, according to one argument.
  • The High Court upheld the appeal, noting that Section 8(c) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 stipulated that only those who fit into the enumerated categories would adopt a son as a female Hindu.
  • The High Court stated that there is a significant difference between a divorced Hindu woman and one who lives her life as a divorced woman.
  • As a result, the High Court ruled that the alleged adoption was not adoption and lacked legal sanctity. Brijendra Singh appealed against the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court before the Supreme Court.


  • Was the adoption of Brijendra Singh by Mishri Bai legally valid?


  • The appellant argued that there was no consummation of marriage since the parties lived apart for a significant amount of time after their marriage. The appellant claimed that the law was framed inaccurately regarding whether the husband’s consent was required. The laws concerned imposed no such stipulation.
  • The respondents argued that since Mishri Bai did not fit into any of the enumerated categories in Section 8 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, she could not have legitimately adopted Brijendra Singh.


Justice Arijit Pasayat: Only a female Hindu who is married and whose marriage has been dissolved — that is, who is a divorcee — has the capacity to adopt.

There was no dissolution of marriage in this case. The evidence indicates that the husband and wife were separated for a long time and that Mishri Bai was living as a divorced woman.

A divorced woman and a woman who is living like a divorced woman are conceptually and contextually distinct. Both cannot be compared. Hence, Mishri Bai was not legally entitled to the declaration she requested.


The Supreme Court ruled that a married Hindu woman cannot adopt a child without her husband’s consent, even if the couple is separated.

The division bench stated that if the couple was divorced, consent for adoption was not required. It was observed that any adoption made by a female Hindu who lacks the capacity or right to adopt is void.

The Court while dismissing the appeal permitted the appellant to remain in possession of the land for six months before the state government took action.


The social and legal aspects of the Brijendra Singh vs. State of MP Case are, somewhat, in a juxtaposition. If viewed from a social perspective, a woman lived away from her husband for a long time, starting from the day of marriage, on being abandoned by her husband because of her physical deformity. She lived like a divorced woman and adopted a son.

However, in the eyes of the law, they remained husband and wife, since there was no separation of marriage or divorce and hence the woman did not have the legal right to adopt, without the consent of her husband, under Section 8(c) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

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