In India, daughters did not always have property rights. Women have always been treated inferior to men, both in terms of inheritance rights and the capacity to hold Property independently. There were many restrictions on both inheritance rights and women's property rights, which did not exist for men.
Today, the Law of Inheritance's entire body has undergone significant reforms through subsequent legislation and amendments. Daughters now have an equal share in Property.
Daughter's Right in Property
Today, your gender as a woman is of little consequence for your property rights. Hence, the property rights of daughters are almost entirely the same as the property rights of sons.
A daughter can acquire, hold, and dispose of, Property at par with any other man. Today, there are practically no restrictions on a woman's capacity to acquire, hold, and dispose of, her Property. Daughters have an equal share in their father's self-acquired Property as well as ancestral property. Daughters after the Supreme Court judgment of 2005 have become coparceners. Hence, they have equal rights in all Property, including agricultural lands. Both men and women are equally capable of holding their own, separate Property. Any restrictions on property rights are the same for all genders. Hence, daughters today have virtually equal rights in Property as a son does.
Equal Property Share for Daughters
Your gender as a woman does not place you at any significant disadvantage in the arena of inheritance rights.
As a daughter, you have the same inheritance rights as a son of your generation. Thus, a daughter has the same inheritance rights as a son; a granddaughter has essentially the same inheritance rights as a grandson, and so on. In most cases, the daughter is entitled to inherit the same share of her ancestors' Property as a son of the same generation is. Marriage does not affect a daughter's inheritance rights. A married daughter has the same right to Property as an unmarried daughter.
In India, the Law of Inheritance varies based on religion. The religion of the deceased governs, which Law of Inheritance will apply. Thus, Hindu Inheritance Law applies to the death of a Hindu, Christian Inheritance Law applies to the death of a Christian, Muslim Inheritance Law applies to a Muslim's death, etc.
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Hindu Property Law for Daughters
Both sons, and daughters, are equally capable of acquiring, holding, and disposing of their own property. There is almost complete equality between sons and daughters in this regard.
In the inheritance arena, the Hindu Law of Succession has undergone a great transformation over the past century. Classically, the property rights of daughters were significantly inferior to the property rights of sons. Subsequent legislation and amendments have nullified discrimination against daughters. After enacting the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, sons and daughters now enjoy virtually the same property rights.
Equal Rights of Daughters in Joint Family Property
In Hindu Law, for the purpose of inheritance, Property is classified into two types: (1) Joint Family Property and (2) Self-Acquired Property. Essentially, all Property inherited by a son from their father, paternal grandfather, and paternal great-grandfather is considered Joint Family Property. All other Property is considered Self-Acquired Property. Depending on where you reside in India, the character of these types of properties is either the same or different. In regions where this distinction is followed:
Joint Family Property is inherited differently (compared to Self-Acquired Property).
Multiple persons have rights over the Joint Family Property by birth. This is unlike Self-Acquired Property, over which rights can be acquired only if you have acquired them yourself.
The rights of both sons, and daughters, to inherit, acquire, hold, and dispose of the Self-Acquired Property of their ancestors is essentially the same everywhere.
However, in regions where this distinction is maintained, daughters did not enjoy the same rights as sons in Joint Family Property for a long time. Daughters were at a disadvantage compared to sons in terms of both their rights to control the property and their rights to inherit it. Legislation after legislation has gradually diluted this inequality over the past century. Finally, with the enactment of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, sons and daughters now have equal rights to inherit the Joint Family Property of their ancestors.
In 2020, the Supreme Court decision on property rights of daughters, Vineeta Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma, confirmed that sons, and daughters, indeed have exactly the same rights in the Joint Family Property. The inheritance rights of the daughter do not change on her marriage, the death of her husband, the death of her father, or anything else for that matter. Hence, the case used what has now become a famous expression: "once a daughter, always a daughter." Thus, an unmarried daughter and a married daughter are all entitled to the same property rights in the Joint Family Property of their parents. A daughter-in-law is too entitled to inherit her father-in-law's Property. This rule holds true for a widowed daughter-in-law as well. As long as the daughter is alive, she is entitled to control and inherit her ancestors' Joint Family Property at par with a son.
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