Inheritance Rights Of Daughters Are Equivalent To That Of A Son Under The Hindu Law
In India, women have always been the victim of a patriarchal society. As a developing country, their situation was conveniently overlooked by the rule makers for a very long time. Hence, they had to face oppression and discrimination in many sectors. The women had unequal rights which made the entire situation much more vulnerable. Inheritance of father’s property was one such quarter where women were never given the opportunity to have equal rights as that of their male siblings.
While discussing the topic of inheritance, it is essential to speak about the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 which governs the succession and inheritance rights of the Hindus in India. When the Act was first passed in the year 1956 it reflected the picture of a male chauvinist society. Section 6 of this Act made it very clear that a female Hindu cannot have any right over the ancestral property of her father. The luxury to inherit the father’s property was reserved only for the male child. The reason behind such an arrangement was the retarded thought process of the society that considered daughters as ‘paraya dhan’. It was always believed that a daughter would eventually grow up only to be married in some other household. Thus, it is useless to bequeath any share of the father’s ancestral property to her. Rather it is beneficial to divide the property amongst the male children of the family as they would take the lineage forward. Exclusion of daughters from being a part of the coparcenary ownership was not only a grave sort of discrimination that was meted out towards the female gender but was also against the ideals of right to equality that was envisaged under the Indian Constitution.
Over the years, modern concepts like social justice and feminism gained a lot of momentum. The outlook of the society towards women also underwent a huge change. As a result, women are no longer considered a burden for the family. They are now considered as equivalent to men. Such liberal perspectives called for an amendment in the existing legal measures in order to place women at an equal pedestal as that of men. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 came as a welcome break for scores of ladies who were previously not recognized as a sharer in their father’s property. According to section 6 of the new Act, a female Hindu shall be recognized as a coparcener in her father’s property with effect from 9th of September, 2005, and she shall have the same rights as that of a son. The restructured Act paved the way for the betterment of the women within the society. At this juncture, it is important to clarify the fact that this amendment is applicable to all-female Hindus whose father was alive at the time of the amendment. It must also be kept in mind that the inheritance rights of a Hindu daughter remain the same irrespective of her marital status.
We have come a long way since the Hindu Succession Act was revamped and rebranded with some liberal features for the Female Hindus. However, the question that arises here is how far the act has been successful in bringing about a change in the position of women with respect to their share in the ancestral property. Still today there are many instances where women are deliberately not allowed to inherit their father’s property. When they ask for their share, they are reminded that a huge amount of money has already been spent behind their marriage and dowry and hence they should not be having any other demands from their maternal home. This kind of problems are not only prevalent in the rural areas but are also quite common amongst urban households. The male siblings often conspire to exclude their sister from the family’s ancestral property. These incidents do not make it to the front page of the newspaper since the women are themselves oblivious of their own rights. Hence, it is high time that we as a society raise our voices against such discriminations. However, that would only be possible when we know our rights properly. As a law student, I would urge each and every individual to keep their legal knowledge updated so that the next time someone tries to oppress them or discriminate against them then they can firmly raise their voices against it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sanjana Saha is a 2nd Year BA LLB (H) student at Amity University Kolkata.
Edited by: Arushi Gupta
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