2005 Act’s Equal Property Rights to Daughters Applies in All Cases
The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not: SC
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 11 August, held that a daughter will have equal rights over the property of her father in a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), as guaranteed by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, irrespective of whether she or her father were alive at the time of that landmark amendment.
Holding that a daughter’s right over her father’s property is absolute, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that:
“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 Arun Mishra, as reported by Live Law
Why is the life-status of father important?
This simply means that even if the father of a woman in a Hindu Undivided Family had passed away prior to the amendment in 2005, she would still be entitled to an equal share of her father’s property.
There had been conflicting judgments from the courts as to whether the 2005 amendment applied even in cases where the father had died prior to its coming into force on 9 September 2005. This new judgment puts to rest the conflict, and clarifies that it applies in all cases.
This also means that the law applies in retrospect to all daughters before the 2005 amendment, who by birth birth would become equal share holders.
What happens if the daughter died prior to the amendment?
Even if the daughter had died before the amendment, she would be the rightful claimant to the property of her father in a Hindu Undivided Family. In this specific case, the children of the daughter would be the entitled to the property.
What is the effect of the 2005 Amendment?
Under the old law of Hindu succession, daughters did not have rights in the family property of their fathers, and could only inherit property from their husbands’ side. These gender-discriminatory rules continued into the Hindu Succession Act 1956, which codified the Hindu personal law on inheritance.
Prior to 2005, there were several amendments to the Hindu Succession Act to give inheritance rights to women, but even after these, daughters did not have equal rights as sons.
The 2005 amendment finally brought daughters at par with sons, by holding that the daughter of a coparcener (ie, someone who has a right to ancestral property), would become a coparcener in her own right, just like a son, and have the same rights in the ancestral property of an HUF as a son.
Two other gender-discriminatory aspects of Hindu inheritance law were also repealed by the 2005 amendment:
- Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act, which prevented female heirs from asking for partition of the ancestral property unless the male heirs had agreed to do so – now they can also get a partition done even if the other heirs don’t want it.
- Section 24 of the Hindu Succession Act, which stopped a widow from inheriting her husband’s property if she remarried.
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