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Denial of Property Rights to ST Women Under Hindu Succession Act


The Union government is examining whether to issue notification under the Hindu Succession Act to apply beneficial provisions to Scheduled Tribe (ST) women, who profess Hinduism, to enable them to inherit equal share over properties of father/ Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)


GS II: Issues related to women

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Issues Raised Regarding Inheritance Rights for Scheduled Tribe Women
  2. Hindu Succession Act, 1956

Issues Raised Regarding Inheritance Rights for Scheduled Tribe Women

  • Exclusion from Hindu Succession Act: Scheduled Tribe (ST) women who follow Hinduism have been specifically excluded from the beneficial provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
  • Unequal Inheritance Rights: This exclusion denies ST women equal rights to inherit ancestral property in comparison to women from other Hindu communities.
  • Inequality in Property Share: As a result, ST women do not have an equal entitlement to their father’s or Hindu Undivided Family’s (HUF) property, leading to ongoing gender disparities and hindrances in their financial empowerment.
  • Discrimination Based on Tribal Identity: Denying ST women equal inheritance rights based on their tribal identity goes against the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
  • Supreme Court Intervention: In the case of Kamla Neti Vs Special Land Acquisition Officer and Ors., the Supreme Court has directed the Central government to assess whether amendments are required to remove the exemptions provided under the Hindu Succession Act that affect Scheduled Tribes.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956

  • Scope and Applicability: The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is a codified law that governs the succession and inheritance of property among Hindus. It applies to individuals who are not Muslims, Christians, Parsis, or Jews. Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and followers of Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus under this law.
  • Male-Centric Tradition: Traditionally, the law recognized only male descendants as legal heirs in a joint Hindu family, along with their mothers, wives, and unmarried daughters. They held the family property jointly.
  • Amendment in 2005: The Act was amended in September 2005 to grant equal rights to women as coparceners. Section 6 of the Act was amended to make daughters of coparceners coparceners by birth, with the same rights and liabilities in the ancestral property as sons.
  • Class I Heirs: The Act categorizes relatives into different classes of heirs. Class I heirs include the deceased’s children, grandchildren, and their respective mothers. If there are no Class I heirs, the property passes to Class II heirs, which include the father, son’s daughter’s son, brother, sister, father’s widow, brother’s widow, etc.
  • Testamentary Succession: The Act recognizes testamentary succession, allowing individuals to dispose of their property through a valid will, subject to legal requirements and restrictions.
  • Rights of Widows: The Act acknowledges the rights of widows to inherit property from their deceased husbands. A widow has a share in the property left by her husband, along with other legal heirs.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023