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Sunday, April 11, 2021

SC rules in favour of women’s rights in parental property: Here’s what it means

Indeed a historical judgment by the Supreme Court of India. Ages of women’s rights movements proved to be fruitful on Tuesday with this ruling by India’s top court. In this article, we shall discuss what the Supreme Court said in its judgment and what are the nuances of the new ruling.

Here we explain the latest big news of the SC backing women’s share on the parental property in 5 points

1. What does the Supreme Court rule say?

In a historic judgment, the SC ruled that daughters, just as sons, will have equal rights on their parental property even if their father died before the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 came into force. As per a report, A three-judge bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra said, “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.” The top court also maintained that “rights under the amendment are applicable to living daughters of living coparceners as on 9-9-2005, irrespective of when such daughters are born”.

2. When or how was the ruling given?

The court was hearing some appeals on the legal issues regarding the Hindu Succession (Amendment) that gives equal rights to daughters in ancestral property. The court dealt with the disputed portions of the existing law. It set aside the previous decisions that a daughter would get her coparcenary right only if both the father and the daughter were alive as on September 9, 2005, when the amendment was notified. Following this, the significant ruling was delivered, said PTI in a report.

3. The court used a term, ‘coparcenary’, what does it mean? 

As per a legal analysis, a joint Hindu family is everyone lineally descending from a common ancestor, including unmarried daughters and wives. A Hindu coparcenary includes the propositus (the person from whom a line of descent is traced) and three of his descendants. The property that a Hindu man inherits from his father, grandfather, or great grandfather is known as coparcenary property. The property is considered as having joint owners. Only a coparcener has the right to claim the property’s partition.

India property rights women
The ruling at a glance. Photo: Twitter/Economic Times

4. What was the coparceners’ status before 2005?

The coparceners included only sons, grandsons and great grandsons before 2005. But the 2005 amendment to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act provided equal rights to daughters in ancestral property. The amendment allowed daughters to be recognised as coparceners too by birth just as sons.

5. Three major shifts from the old law

A) The court said Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act gives an “unobstructed heritage” (right by birth) to daughter. It added that a coparcener’s father need not be alive on 9 September 2005. The court also stated that daughters born before 9 September 2005 can only claim their rights from the date of the amendment. It means any transaction of the property before the amendment will follow the earlier rules.

B) Before 2005, the partition of properties through verbal discussions within families was a permissible practice. But according to the amended Section 6 (5) of the Hindu Succession Act, a partition should be documented by a registered deed. “The court has to keep in mind the possibility that a plea of oral partition may be set up, fraudulently or in collusion, or based on an unregistered memorandum of partition which may also be created at any point of time. Such a partition is not recognised under section 6(5),” the SC said on Tuesday. The top court ruled that an oral partition plea will be accepted.

C) As per the earlier law, the property share had to be calculated by imagining that a partition took place before a man’s death. This was a practice as women were not considered eligible for having coparcenary property rights. Women could only claim the interest of the dead coparcener, such as father or husband, in the property. But now the Supreme Court has ruled that irrespective of any statutory fiction of partition taken place before the amendment, the new provision must be implemented in case of all pending proceedings. The court also directed that all matters pending in trial courts on this issue be decided in six months.

This remarkable ruling ensured a major exit from the complicated and hazy previous legal system about property division among daughters in a Hindu family. Various political leaders, legal experts, human rights activists among others hailed SC’s ruling and viewed it as a step ahead towards social justice.


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