The division of a father's property has been a household issue in India for decades. Even The Golden Age of Cinema in Bollywood (from the 1940s to the 1960s) and afterwards, films were dominated by the issues of property inheritance such as Trishul, Ghar Ek Mandir, Raam Lakhan, Karz, to name a few. Who has the right to claim it? Who doesn't have the right to claim it? Can only sons inherit the property? What about the daughters? And the widow?
After the enactment of The Hindu Succession Act in 1956, these questions were answered by the law only to raise new questions. Here is a complete understanding of what the Act says and who it applies to.
The Hindi Succession Act, 1956 is an act of law as provided by the Parliament of India that lays down a uniform and comprehensive system of succession to the property of a Hindu male. In simple words, the Act codifies how a Hindu male's property can be lawfully divided between the successive generations. There are a couple of things to note here:
(a) It applies to all Hindus including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
(b) There are two types of properties - ancestral and self-acquired. Ancestral property is defined as one that is inherited up to four generations of male lineage and should have remained undivided through this period. Self-acquired property is bought and not inherited from forefathers.
(c) It does not apply to the property of a Hindu who is married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to a non-Hindu.
(d) If a coparcener (a person who shares equally with others in the inheritance of an undivided estate) converts from Hinduism, he or she is still eligible for the inheritance of property.
The Section 6 of the Act was amended in 2005 with an extremely important modification. Here's what it is:
Only the male heirs (sons) were allowed right to ancestral property under the Act.
Female heirs (daughters), too, have an equal share in ancestral property now.
Not just that, the daughter also has an equal right to ask for partition of the property. For instance, if a father has two children - a son and a daughter - all of his ancestral property will be equally divided between the two. Now, if the daughter wants to claim her share and request the partition of the property, she can do so. If she is not allowed to request partition until her brother chooses to divide their respective shares, she can raise an objection. Since both have an equal right over the property, they also have an equal right to ask for partition.
According to a report by the United Nations, there are 39 countries where daughters and sons don't have equal inheritance rights. India is not one of those countries any more, thanks to the amendment of 2005. The financial dependency of women on their father, brother or husband has been the root cause of economic troubles for women in India. Hence, the amendment was introduced in 2005 to level the playing field.
But there are still cases where women can't stake claim to their father's property or where the father can deny a share of the property to his daughter. Here's when you can/cannot claim your right.
For heirs, be it a daughter or a son, an equal share in such a property accrues by birth itself. So, a father cannot will this property to anyone he wants or deprive a daughter, married or unmarried, of her share in it. All his legal heirs are entitled an equal share in the ancestral property by birth.
Inference: Can claim
In this case, the father has the right to gift the property or will it to anyone he wants. If he doesn't want to give it to his daughter, she will not be able to raise an objection or challenge him in court. If a father has bought a piece of land or house or other assets with his own money, he decides who to give his property to.
Inference: Cannot claim
If a father dies without a will (meaning intestate), then all his heirs have an equal right to the property be it ancestral or self-acquired. The Act defines the heirs of a Hindu male under four categories - class I heirs, class II heirs, agnates and cognates, and government. The inheritable property goes first to Class I heirs which includes the deceased's widow, mother, daughters, sons, among others. Each one is entitled to an equal part in the property by law.
If the property is registered in the mother's name, after her intestate demise, the said property will be devolved to all her legal heirs including her widower and children.
Inference: Can claim
After the 2005 amendment, the daughter has been recognised as a coparcener and her marital status makes no difference to her right over the father's property be it ancestral or self-acquired. So, as mentioned in case 1 above, the married daughter can claim her right to the property just as well as an unmarried daughter or a son.
Inference: Can claim
Since the Act was amended on 9 September 2005, it is required for the father to be alive on 9 September 2005 for his daughter to stake a claim in his property. If he had died on/before 8 September 2005, she will have no right over the ancestral property, and self-acquired property will be distributed as per the father's will. On the other hand, a daughter, living or dead, on the date of the amendment will be entitled a share in father's property, thus making her children entitled too to claim this right.
Inference: Can claim depending on the father's date of death
If any person commits murder, he/she is disqualified from receiving any form of inheritance from the victim. Meaning, if you murder to inherit property and are pleaded guilty by a court of justice, you have no claim on the property - ancestral or self-acquired - anymore.
Love all things colourful and cute? Take it up a POP with POPxo Shop's collection of super fun mugs, phone covers, cushions, laptop sleeves and more!