Indian society has predominantly been a highly patriarchal society. Women have always been considered lower to men, in terms of their rights and significance. The need to uplift the status of women through various impending legislations and inclusions in existing laws is a much required feat. One such progressive law, upheld and amended in 2005 by the Supreme Court of India for HUF, has provided for equal rights on the property for the daughter of the family, including a married daughter.
A ruling by the Supreme Court, has ensured equality between men and women clearing a common complex when it comes to rights of a women on ancestral property.
According to the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, Section 4, Section 6, Section 23, Section 24 and Section 30 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The revised rules on coparcenary property, give daughters of the deceased equal rights with sons as well as subjecting them to the same liabilities and disabilities as held by the deceased father.
Originally, The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, had not given daughters equal rights to claim the ancestral property. However, A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that the share in ancestral property could not be denied, to a woman, on the ground that she was born before the law was passed, and the law was applicable in all such property disputes filed before 2005 and pending in the court, when the law was framed.
As per the amendment in the law, a daughter (married or otherwise) would be a “coparcener” (one who shares equally in inheritance of an undivided property) since birth, and have the same rights and liabilities as a son.
In December 2015, the Delhi High Court’s decision, stated that a daughter can be the Karta of an HUF (Hindu Undivided Family). The root of this decision lies in the amendment passed to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, in 2005. The Hindu Succession Act is applicable to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. This amendment drastically changed the rights of daughters in the property of the parental HUF.
Position of women and daughter right in property after the amendment
With effect from September 9, 2005 Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which deals with coparcener’s right in the HUF property, has been amended to provide daughters and sons of a HUF on par for the coparcenary rights in a HUF property.
Consequently, the daughter gets all the rights attached with coparcenary, including the right to ask for partition of the property and to become a Karta of the HUF.
However, this law has been granted to only the daughters who are born within the HUF, other female members who have joined the family by virtue of marriage are still treated as members only. They are not entitled to ask for partition but are entitled for maintenance and shares, when so ever the partition takes place.
This makes the daughter a coparcener after marriage, although she will stop to be a member of the parental HUF. This gives the married daughter the following rights.
1. Ask for partition of the HUF property
2. Become the karta of the HUF, in case she happens to be the eldest coparcener of her father’s HUF.
In case the married daughter has died, her children/grandchildren are entitled to claim the shares that she would have received, on the date of partition.
One of the other laws for property rights of a daughter in a Hindu family state – the daughter cannot gift her share in the HUF property while alive, but can give away her share in the HUF property by way of a will.
If there is no will, on her death, the share in the joint property will be passed on to her legal heirs and not devolve on other members of the HUF.
However, all the above cases get nullified if the property has been partitioned and alienated before the ruling of this amended act, i.e. 20th December, 2004 and hence the daughter cannot ask for the share.
What also makes property rights of a daughter in a Hindu family interesting is, the right of a daughter in the share of mother’s property as well. A woman can claim total rights over any property that she has earned or on virtue of being received as a gift, provided she has attained majority. She can then dispose the concerned property by sale, gift or will as she deems fit.
These changes have been bought in to remove the prejudices of the Indian society when it comes to treatment of man and woman for property claims and legal heirs for ancestral property.