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Supreme Court verdict on Hindu women’s inheritance rights

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Supreme Court verdict on Hindu women’s inheritance rights:


Context:

Supreme Court has expanded on a Hindu woman’s right to be a joint legal heir and inherit ancestral property on terms equal to male heirs.

What is the ruling?

A Hindu woman’s right to be a joint heir to the ancestral property is by birth and does not depend on whether her father was alive or not when the law was enacted in 2005.

  • The ruling now overrules the verdicts from 2015 and April 2018.

 How did the case come about?

While the 2005 law granted equal rights to women, questions were raised in multiple cases on whether the law applied retrospectively, and if the rights of women depended on the living status of the father through whom they would inherit.

 About the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005:

  • It gave Hindu women the right to be coparceners or joint legal heirs in the same way a male heir does.
  • The amended act made a daughter of a coparcener also a coparcener by birth “in her own right in the same manner as the son”.
  • The law also gave the daughter the same rights and liabilities “in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son”.
  • Applicability of the law: It applies to ancestral property and to intestate succession in personal property — where succession happens as per law and not through a will.

Background of the case:

Different benches of the Supreme Court and various High Courts had taken conflicting views on the issue.

  • In Prakash v Phulwati (2015), the Supreme Court held that the benefit of the 2005 amendment could be granted only to “living daughters of living coparceners” as on September 9, 2005 (the date when the amendment came into force).
  • In February 2018, contrary to the 2015 ruling, the Court held that the share of a father who died in 2001 will also pass to his daughters as coparceners during the partition of the property as per the 2005 law.
  • Then in April that year, the Court reiterated the position taken in 2015.

These conflicting views by Benches of equal strength led to a reference to a three-judge Bench in the current case.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key provisions of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.
  2. Applicability of the law.
  3. Different benches of the Supreme Court.
  4. What is review petition? Who can file a review petition in the Supreme Court?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of latest supreme court judgement related to the Hindu Succession Act.

Sources: Indian Express.