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HINDU WOMEN’S INHERITANCE RIGHTS JUDGEMENT: EXPLAINED

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Supreme Court expanded on a Hindu woman’s right to be a joint legal heir and inherit ancestral property on terms equal to male heirs.

What is the ruling?

  • The Supreme court ruled that a Hindu woman’s right to be a joint heir to the ancestral property is by birth and does not depend on whether her father was alive or not when the law was enacted in 2005.
  • The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 gave Hindu women the right to be coparceners or joint legal heirs in the same way a male heir does.
  • The SC said that since the coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that the father coparcener should be living as on amendment date of 2005.

What is the 2005 law?

  • The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs.
  • The law applied to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.
  • Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus for the purposes of this law.
  • Women were recognised as coparceners or joint legal heirs for partition arising from 2005.
  • The law applies to ancestral property and to intestate succession in personal property — where succession happens as per law and not through a will.

How did the court decide the case?

  • The court looked into the rights under the Mitakshara coparcenary – and since it creates an “unobstructed heritage” or a right created by birth for the daughter of the coparcener, the right cannot be limited by whether the coparcener is alive or dead when the right is operationalised.
  • It was argued that “The Mitakshara coparcenary law not only contributed to discrimination on the ground of gender but was oppressive and negated the fundamental right of equality guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”

-Source: Indian Express

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September 2022
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