Mar 11, 2022

A daughter’s right to property

In 2005, Hindu family law was changed to give Hindu daughters a right to the joint family’s ancestral property. The change was brought about through the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005. In an important judgement today, the Supreme Court has said that a daughter belonging to a Hindu joint family will have a right in the family property even if her father was not alive when the law was changed in 2005.

Hindu succession law

For Hindus (including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs), the legal issues regarding succession and inheritance of property are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. This Act deals with succession when a person has died without making a will, or a declaration about who should inherit his property i.e., the heirs of the property.

In relation to the ancestral property commonly owned by a Hindu joint family, a coparcener is a person who has a right in the ancestral property by birth.

Before the 2005 Amendment, only sons had a birthright in the joint family property. Due to the change in law in 2005, under Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, daughters are also given equal rights like sons in the joint Hindu family property. Upon birth, a daughter of a coparcener has the same ancestral property rights as a son. She has her own right to a share of the joint family property. Since she has an equal right to the property, she also has to share the responsibilities and liabilities associated with the joint family property like debts and other dues.

The Supreme Court judgement

The Supreme Court said that daughters must be given an equal share of rights in the Hindu joint family property like sons. It does not matter if the daughter was born before the 2005 amendment of the law. This means that the law has retrospective effect and gives inheritance rights even to daughters who were born before the law was changed. Further, the daughter has rights to the ancestral property even if her father was not alive at the time of the 2005 amendment.

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