Landmark Judgement on Equal Property Rights for Women
Recognising the importance of equal rights, the Supreme Court ruled that a daughter can claim equal share in parental property irrespective of when she was born and if her father was alive or not at the time of the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act.
Supreme court on Tuesday, 11th August 2019 ruled that daughters can claim equal shares in parental property irrespective of when they were born or if their father was alive or not during the Hindu Succession Act amendment in 2005. The Judgement also rules out top court’s earlier decision that stated daughters can claim equal property rights only if the father and daughter both are alive during the amendment of the act i.e. in 2005. Even before the amendment where in states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu already had made such changes in law.
The Hindu Succession act 1956 in brief was brought into affect to meet those situations where there is no will made by any Hindu male or female and govern succession or inheritance of property recognising only male as legal heirs, but when the law amended in 2005 it made women as equal heirs of the property giving them similar rights and liability. It applied to everyone who was not Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion. Under the Act the Hindu women can inherit all types of properties - movable or immovable. There are two ways women can inherit property under the law one is through will and other way is achieved through succession.
When in 2005 amendment granted equal rights, various questions were raised regarding whether the law applied retrospectively for the woman who were born before 2005, for the properties divided before 2005 and whether the rights of the women dependent on the living status of father. Now the new Judgement hereby says that even if the father in the Hindu Undivided family had passed away prior to the amendment in 2005 she would still be entitled to an equal share of the father’s property. In the case where daughter had died before the amendment she would still be the rightful claimant tothe property, in this case the children of the daughter would be entitled. Section 23 of the act was also revoked which stopped the female heirs from asking for partition of the property unless the male heirs agree to do so. Section 24 was also revoked which stopped a widow from inheriting her husband’s property if she remarried.
Justice ArunMishrapronounced the landmark Judgement after attending the 2018 case of Vinita Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma where the suit was filed by Vinita Sharma against her two brothers regarding the partition of their fathers property.
“Daughters must be given equal rights as sons, Daughter remains a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not", Justice Mishra said while pronouncing the Judgement . The bench also comprising of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah, overruled the contrary observations made in inPrakash v. Phulavati and Mangammal v. T.B. Raju. The court alsoheld thatsince the right in coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that father coparcener should be living as on 9.9.2005.
The court not only passed the significant Judgement but also overruled earlier conflicting Judgements in many cases by making a daughter an equal heir in her own right in the same manner as sons. The Judgement is not just the big step towards gender equality but it has also settled all kinds of confusions, the ambiguities surrounding the extend of a daughter’s right in a property and has put rest to the disputed question of the law.
By. Akshita Singh
Legal Eagles Eye
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