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Finally! SC Declares That Daughters Have Equal Birthright To Inherit Parental Property

khushboo sharmakhushboo sharma  |  Aug 11, 2020
Finally! SC Declares That Daughters Have Equal Birthright To Inherit Parental Property

This is 2020. We live in a millennial world where more often than not the idea of gender equality is assumed to be a ‘given’. This explains the heavy backlash against ‘modern feminism‘ and how feminists are often called out for making a mountain out of a molehill, for asking for something that they already have. I mean, women can now vote and are no longer legally a man’s property, so what more could they want, right? *eye roll*

But does gender equality really exist? Well, let me burst that bubble for you: Hindu women in India didn’t even have the right to inherit their father’s property until 2005!

Also, the law that was amended in 2005 depended on the living status of the father from whom the property was inherited, thus making it almost impossible for women whose father had already died. Consequently, a series of amendment proposals followed, cases pertaining to the same were raised in the Supreme Court, and now 15 years, later a landmark judgment has finally been made. 

A 3-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra declared on Tuesday, “Daughters must be given equal rights as sons, daughter remains a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not.”

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Hindu Succession Act: A Timeline 

The Mitakshara school of Hindu law, codified as the Hindu Succession Act dates back to 1956. Back then, the law declared inheritance of property and succession as a legal right, only for the male heirs though. The law applied to Hindus as well as the followers of Arya Samaj, and Brahmo Samaj in the country. 

However, the law was revisited in 2005 and section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act was amended, thus giving Hindu women the right to be coparceners or joint legal heirs of father’s property in the same way as a male heir does. As a result, the daughter of a coparcener also became a coparcener by birth “in her own right in the same manner as the son.” 

However, following the amendment, while the law was “applicable to living daughters of living coparceners as on 9-9-2005,” it was constantly questioned if could have a retrospective effect i.e. if it could be applied in cases when the father had died before 2005. 

The same premise led to the current verdict, thus making daughters legal heirs to their parent’s property irrespective of the latter’s living status pre or post-2005. As Justice Mishra has stated, “If a daughter is alive on the date of enforcement of the Amendment Act, she becomes a coparcener with effect from the date of the Amendment Act, irrespective of the date of birth earlier in point of time… daughters cannot be deprived of their right of equality conferred upon them by Section 6.”

Netizens Rejoice

Though much delayed, this a great step towards equality and is being widely appreciated by netizens. Here’s what they have to say:

Equality wins

A welcome move

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Progressive judgement

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A remarkable move

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Now, let’s move on to other important issues

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Thoughts on this?

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However, there also exists widespread contention among the netizens as they discuss the repercussions of the law, with many of them raising the slogan of ‘equal rights, equal responsibilities’ when it comes to taking care of one’s parent. Well, the fact is that the law was long amended or abolished in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala even before the 2005 amendments. The family structure has been working just fine in these states, with daughters happily taking care of their parents whenever needed or if desired by the parents. It is also important to note that the act applies when succession happens through law, and not through a will as directed by the parent.  

But we do agree with the netizens as they raise the need for extending the law across the country irrespective of anyone’s sect or religion. That said, today’s a day about celebrating wins and we extend great accolades to the Supreme Court for this landmark judgment. 

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