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Property rights of women under Hindu Law in India

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Property and inheritance acts in India are governed as per the Hindu Succession act. There have been several times when property rules based on this act were on the question of justice. Women have to struggle for their long-ago property rights. The basic ideology that works behind keeping women away from property rights is that they’re not to stay in their birth family. After marriage, moving to their marital families, they become part of it. This way, only males have rights over the properties of their family. 

However, Breaking such philosophy and barriers, in the past two decades rights of women’s property evolved significantly. 

Here we discuss property laws and rights of women in India as per Hindu law.

What does Hindu law say about women’s property rights? 

Hindu women’s property rights in India are governed by the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act of 1937. Hindu women’s property rights were the main focus of the 1937 Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act. It made it possible for a Hindu widow to inherit the same amount from her intestate husband’s estate as her sons. However, it did not address the problems with women’s property rights as a whole, nor did it grant Hindu women coparcenary rights.

Following the 174th Law Commission Report’s recommendations, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was passed and made significant changes to the 1956 Act. It represents a significant step toward eliminating gender inequity in India.

Understanding Coparcenary Property 

It is important to first understand the meaning of coparcenary property before learning about a Hindu woman’s interest in it. Any intestate ancestral property acquired by the members of a Hindu Undivided Family is referred to as coparcenary property. Before the amendment in 2005, son, grandson, and great-grandson, only three male descendants had the right to inherit the intestate ancestral property.

Hindu Succession Act 1956, 2005 amendment

The 2005 Amendment repealed the long-standing discriminatory practice of excluding women from the coparcenary system. It was done by amending Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956. As per Section 6(1) of the 1956 act, like sone,  the daughter of a coparcener will by birth become a coparcener in her own right. 

This way Section 6(1) of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 gives equal rights and liabilities to both sons and daughters of the coparcener.

Share in coparcenary property

According to Section 6(3) of the 1956 Act, a deceased coparcener’s stake in the assets of a Hindu Undivided Family will pass through testamentary or intestate succession. The devolution must occur in a manner that:

  • The daughter has the same share as that of a son 
  • Pre-deceased woman coparcener’s share goes to her surviving children similarly in the same way it was given to her.

What does Full Ownership mean?

Every Hindu woman has complete ownership rights over any movable or immovable property she has acquired, according to Section 14 of the 1956 Act. 

She could have gotten it in any of the following ways, either before or after her marriage:

  • Inheritance
  • Partition
  • Instead of paying for maintenance or arrears
  • Any gift, whether from a relative or not
  • Own ability or effort
  • Buy or get a prescription

Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956

Section 14 of the 1956 Act grants any Hindu woman the ability to use her property without the husband’s, father’s, etc. approval or consent. She is free to transfer her property at any time, and she is free to spend the proceeds in any way she chooses.

According to Section 30 of the 1956 Act, any Hindu lady has the entire legal authority to sell her belongings either through intestate or testamentary succession as per the right to full ownership. Previously only Hindu men were permitted to make a will to dispose of their possessions. Hindu women now have the same right. 

Right of a woman in property of son, father, and husband’s property

The general guidelines for the devolution of any intestate Hindu male’s property are laid out in Section 8 of the 1956 Act. It specifies that the heirs listed in class I of the Schedule have priority rights to the dead male’s shares. 

The general guidelines for the transfer of an intestate Hindu woman’s property are covered in Section 15 of the 1956 Act. 

It specifies how the devolution will occur: 

1-The husband, followed by the sons and daughters (including the children of any deceased son or daughter)

2-The husband’s heirs

3-Focus on the mother and father, followed by fourth, the father’s heirs, and finally, the mother’s heirs.

Therefore, the 1956 Act’s Section 15 clarifies that daughters, mothers, and husbands, in that order, have rights over the assets of their intestate mothers, daughters, and spouses.

Conclusion:

The era when patriarchy dictated women’s rights and desires is long gone. More than ever before, women are becoming independent. Today’s women don’t need to rely on the antiquated tradition to fulfill their post-marriage demands due to increasing knowledge and technology. This traditional change has given women the power to enjoy property rights like men. Recent judicial reforms giving property rights to Indian women is a step in the right direction toward achieving gender equality in India.

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