As per the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, neither ‘son’ nor ‘step-son’ has been defined; therefore the room for expressions have always been open to judicial interpretation. The expression ‘son’ has also been used in the list of Class I heirs, but here again, the phrase ‘stepson’ has not been specifically included. To begin with, it is generally accepted that the expression “son” undoubtedly includes natural, adopted and even illegitimate sons, though the rules governing succession of each to the shared or self-acquired property of the father would be quite different.
For example, a child born out of a void marriage, though in fact illegitimate, by a legal fiction (under Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956) is considered to be the legitimate son of his father. However, this legal fiction only allows him a share in the self-acquired property of the father and gives him no coparcenary interests that a legitimate child would get by virtue of birth in the family. Nevertheless, such a child would be considered a “son” under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
The inquiry concerning whether the outflow "child" in Section 15(1)(a) might incorporate "step-child" was managed in some subtle element on account of Lachman Singh v. Kripa Singh (AIR 1987 SC 1616) where it was contended that under the Act, a child of a female by her first marriage won't succeed to the bequest of her 'second spouse' on his diminishing intestate. The case draws an agreeable qualification between a tyke 'from the womb' and a stepson.
Under Hindu law as it remained preceding the coming into power of the Act, a stepson, i.e., a child of the spouse of a lady by an alternate wife did not naturally succeed to the Stridhana of the lady on her withering intestate. In such cases, the child resulting from her womb might have clear priority over a stepson. It was thusly held that Parliament might have made express procurement in the Act in the event that it expected that there ought to be such a radical flight from the past.
A stepson might in this way just have the capacity to stake a case under the classification of 'beneficiaries of the spouse' alluded to in statement (b) of Section 15(1).
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