The life of a girl is governed by the numerous roles she plays during her lifetime. Her rights and responsibilities vary according to the position she acquires in the family. Be it the daughter, daughter-in-law, mother or a wife, the uniqueness attached to each of the positions, demands a separate set of rules which govern her obligations and what all she is entitled to. Unlike sons, who have been bestowed with the inherited authority to claim the self-acquired property of their parents; the rights of their wives do not fall in the same bracket. To add to it, the rights of the daughter and daughter-in-law are also not the same when it comes to the self-acquired property of the in-laws.
Rights of Daughter-in-Law in Ancestral Property
A daughter-in-law has very few rights in her husband’s ancestral property. Personal laws govern inheritance in India. The Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) grants a daughter-in-law the status of a member of the family from the date of her marriage, but this does not make her a coparcener. The daughter-in-law acquires rights to the family's property through her husband’s share in the property (either willfully transferred by the husband or received after the demise of the husband). The daughter-in-law cannot claim any rights on the property which exclusively belongs to her in-laws, and such property shall not be treated as shared property. In the case of the deceased mother-in-law, her share will equally devolve amongst her children, and the daughter-in-law will acquire rights on her husband’s share only. The daughters-in-law do not have right over the self-acquired property of her in-laws. She acquires right over in-laws property only through the share of her husband in the property.
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Property Rights of Daughter-In-Law
The property passed on from one generation to the other comes under the category of ancestral property. But when the partition happens, the ancestral property gets converted into self-acquired property.
When there is a division of property in a Joint Hindu Family, the daughters enjoy equal right along with sons, the daughter in law has no right in the property of her in-laws. She acquires rights to the in-laws’ property only through her husband. The daughter of one family becomes the daughter-in-law of another family after her marriage. She has full rights in the property of her father even after marriage but limited rights in the property of her in-laws.
A married woman is a member of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) but is not a coparcener. The daughter-in-law has a right on the share of the property, which her husband has acquired in the HUF property. But she cannot claim anything over and above this. In case the mother-in-law dies, her share shall get divided amongst her children, and the daughter-in-law will be entitled to the part which has fallen in her husband’s share.
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Property Rights of Daughter-In-Law in India
After the death of her husband, i.e., as a widow, a daughter-in-law has the right to her husband’s property left behind by him. This property can be either ancestral or self-acquired. The right acquired by her is as a widow of the deceased husband.
The daughter-in-law has a right to residence only till the time matrimonial relationship exists with her husband. The right of residence is there even if the house is a rented accommodation. If the property is a self-acquired property of, her father-in-law, daughter in law has no right of residence as the said house is not a shared house because the husband has no share in it.
A widowed daughter-in-law has right of maintenance from her father-in-law under certain conditions only, as prescribed in Hindus Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.
Several court orders say that a daughter-in-law has a right of residence in a shared household under the Domestic Violence Act. Even if the house is not owned by her in-laws, and the husband has no ownership rights in the said house, a daughter-in-law has the right to reside. From time to time, courts have ruled that a woman has a right to residence in such a property as long as the matrimonial relationship between her and her husband remains intact. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that a married woman has no right on the self-acquired property of her in-laws, as this property cannot be treated as a shared property.
If the property happens to be a self-acquired property, the widowed daughter-in-law does not have any right on it. The court further says that she cannot even live in the house against the wishes of her in-laws.
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