In India, daughters were not coparceners. Hence, daughters did not have rights in ancestral property. A daughter is a member of the family but not a coparcener. Till the time the daughter was not married, she was to be looked after by her parents. After marriage, she went to her husband’s house and was no longer even a member of her birth family. Many feared that the husband or the husband’s family would claim the property, and hence, daughters were not given a right to the ancestral property. After 2005, this position changed. The Supreme Court gave daughters equal rights in ancestral property.
Daughter’s Rights and Share in Ancestral Property
Before 2005, only a son was a coparcener. A coparcener is an heir who acquires interest in the property by birth. A daughter was a member of the family but not a coparcener. A coparcener is someone who can enforce the partition of the property.
In 2005, amendments were made to the Hindu Succession Act. These amendments made a daughter a coparcener and hence gave her an equal share in the ancestral property.
A daughter can now have two kinds of rights in the ancestral property:
1. Coparcenary rights:
Before 2005, daughters were not coparceners in the Ancestral Property of their Hindu Joint Family. Hence, they had no coparcenary rights over Ancestral Property. Post-2005, after the enactment of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, daughters are now considered coparceners in the Ancestral Property of their Hindu Joint Family. Hence, daughters now have coparcenary rights over Ancestral Property.
By definition, the eldest three generations of sons, and daughters, of the same Hindu Joint Family are now the coparceners of the Ancestral Property of that family. Hence, as a daughter, you will be a coparcener in the Ancestral Property if the oldest coparcener in the family is your grandfather, grandmother, father, or mother. Your father himself will be another coparcener, and so will his brother[s] and sister[s]. Your brother would also be a coparcener. There may also be other coparceners, depending on how many of your ancestors and descendants are alive.
As a coparcener, you have certain rights to control the Ancestral Property. These are known as co-coparcenary rights. Two important co-coparcenary rights are:
Ancestral property cannot be disposed of without the consent of all the coparceners. Your consent will be necessary to dispose of the Ancestral Property.
As a coparcener, you have the right to unilaterally call for a partition of the Ancestral Property. No other coparcener can deny you of this right.
Though the Supreme Court had made daughters coparceners, there was still some confusion regarding whether a daughter whose father died before 2005 would inherit ancestral property. Supreme Court clarified by holding that even if the father has died before 2005, the daughter will still have coparcenary rights over the ancestral property.
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2. Inheritance Rights:
Even before 2005, daughters had the right to inherit a share of the Ancestral Property of their Hindu Joint Family. Although daughters were not coparceners, they nevertheless had inheritance rights in the Ancestral Property. After enacting the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, daughters retain the same inheritance rights in the Ancestral Property.
Similarly, your mother, as the daughter of your maternal grandparents, will be entitled to inherit a share of your maternal grandparents’ Ancestral Property. This will be considered Ancestral Property in the hands of your mother. A daughter can inherit her mother’s property after the mother’s demise.
Married Daughter’s Rights in Ancestral Property
Before marriage, a daughter is a member of the family, as well as a coparcener. After marriage, a daughter stops being a member of the family. She is only a coparcener. She can demand the partition of the family property as well as become the Karta of the family. After she passes on, her share in ancestral property moves on to her children. A married daughter has an equal share in the ancestral property, but she cannot gift her share in the ancestral property while alive. She can only bequeath her property by way of a will. The 2005 Supreme Court decision has made all daughters coparceners irrespective of their marital status.
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Daughter-in-Law’s Rights in Ancestral Property
Courts have not reached a consensus when it comes to daughter-in-law’s rights in ancestral property. But the general judicial opinion is that daughter-in-law does not have a right to their husband’s ancestral property on their own. They only have a right to their husband’s ancestral property through their husbands. Hence, the daughter-in-law would inherit her husband’s share of the ancestral property.
If the property is self-acquired by her in-laws, then a daughter-in-law has no right to such property. A daughter-in-law only has a right of residence in the self-acquired property.
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