SC gives equal inheritance right to daughters from 1956

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SC gives equal inheritance right to daughters from 1956


NEW DELHI: Putting the last nail on male primacy in division of

Hindu ancestral property

, the Supreme Court in a

landmark judgment

on Tuesday cleared the legal cobwebs to declare that daughters will have

inheritance rights equal

to those of sons from properties of fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers right from the codification of the law in 1956.

A bench of

Justices Arun Mishra

, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah ironed out the confusion arising from the apex court’s conflicting interpretations of the amended Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, which came into force from September 9, 2005. The bench said whether the father was alive or not, daughters born before September 9, 2005, too could claim equal right in inheritance.

“The provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, confer status of coparcener (equal rights in inheritance) on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with same rights and liabilities. The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from September 9, 2005,” Justice Mishra said in the 121-page judgment.

However, daughters, while claiming coparcenary rights, will not be able to question disposal or alienation of ancestral properties by the existing coparceners prior to December 20, 2004, as provided in the amended Section 6. The court also asked other coparceners in a

Hindu joint family

not to be alarmed by the judgment.

“It is only a case of enlargement of the rights of daughters. The rights of other relatives remain unaffected as prevailed in the proviso to Section 6 as it stood before the amendment,” the SC said.

The three-judge bench also examined the retrospective application of Section 6 and ruled that daughters would get the rights from 1956 when the law came into being. However, it clarified that the newly-conferred rights through the judicial interpretations would not be available to reopen alienation of ancestral property done so earlier through existing coparceners.

Coparcenary property is one which is inherited by a Hindu from his/her father, grandfather or great-grandfather. Only a coparcener has the right to demand partition of property. Share in a property increases or decreases by death or birth in a family.

Analysing the Mitakshara system applicable in various forms to property owned by Hindu families, Justice Mishra quoted a common saying noted in a 1996 judgment of the SC to sum up the bench’s view towards daughters, “A son is a son until he gets a wife. A daughter is a daughter throughout her life.”

The Centre, through solicitor general

Tushar Mehta

, had unequivocally conveyed that coparcenar

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