Property disputes

Can Hindu Women Inherit Property From Their Parents? The SC Decision That Changed It All

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Indian Social System Has Historically Been Largely Patriarchal

India like most other countries of the world has traditionally been a conglomeration of various communities, which have practiced and patronized a patriarchal social order. Patriarchal system has unduly benefitted the men at the cost of women. However, that social injustice is being undone gradually under the influence of modernity, democracy and egalitarianism.

The HSA Was Amended In 2005

One aspect of the male-dominated order is that inheritance has largely been patriarchal i.e. only sons can inherit through the father. A major change in this took place when Hindu Succession Act was amended in the year 2005.  

A Hindu Daughter’s Right to Property Takes Shape

In the year 2005, amendments were made in Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) of 1956. This amendment gave substantial equality to the daughters and tried to bring them at par with the sons in a Hindu joint family. It was intended to benefit the Hindu women who made up 80 percent of female population in India.

Also read How Can A Woman Change Her Name In The Aadhar Card After Marriage?

The Supreme Court Order Changed It In A Big Way

As per a landmark Supreme Court order on January 21, 2005, it was made clear that Hindu daughters will be eligible to inherit their parent's property if there were no other legal heir; they would be preferred over other family members in acquiring the property even if the father has not left behind any will.

The court verily ruled that the self-acquired property of a Hindu man shall not pass on by the practice of survivorship but by virtue of succession and women successors—wife and daughter—are eligible to inherit or succeed even before 1956, the year when the Hindu Succession Act was made into a law.

What this implied was, “In the cases, even those before 1956, where girls and women were not being given succession by virtue of survivorship, they will now become entitled to such a succession. This brought a lot of relief to female heirs, various law experts had stated.

Among other things, the court observed the right of an only daughter to acquire the property of her father who died intestate before the Hindu Succession Act was enacted.

What did the court order say?

If a Hindu man dies intestate (without writing a will) and he has some self-acquired property or say he has a property which was obtained in the division of a coparcenary or a family property, this would pass on by inheritance and not survivorship. Consequently, the daughter of such a deceased man would inherit and acquire this property vis-à-vis other survivors (like the sons/daughters of the brothers of the deceased man), the 51-page order of the court had stated.

The bench had added that if a Hindu woman dies without writing a will and without any legal child (son or daughter) then the property that she acquired from her father or mother would pass on to the successors of her father. On the other hand, the property that she acquires from her husband or father-in-law would pass on to the successors of her husband.

Daughters Get Their Due

Further, in January 2022, the Supreme Court, through its decision in Arunachala Gounder (deceased) v. Ponnuswamy’s, put the last nail on male superiority while setting the provision for the division of Hindu ancestral property. The Supreme Court removed the confusion by declaring that daughters will have inheritance rights at par with the sons from the properties acquired from fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers ever since the codification of the law in 1956.

Also read Know About Daughter's Rights in Mother's Property.

After these legislations, daughters are now treated equally with tbe sons of coparceners. They are also given equal coparcenary rights in the property of their father from their birth itself. Also, daughters are now coparcener all through their life, whether their father is alive or not. Thus, even if they get married it won’t affect the rights given to them by any amendment, and so they will continue to be part and parcel of their father’s Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) even post-marriage.

Daughters Substantially At Par With Sons

Daughters are now entitled to ask for the division of their father’s coparcenary property. They can claim their equal share at par with other siblings & other coparceners which cannot be denied to them on the grounds of an oral family settlement. Once they acquire a part in the coparcenary property, a woman coparcener can bequeath her share in the HUF property under her Will to any other beneficiary she chooses.


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