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Evaluation of Women's Right to Property under the Hindu Law

The objective of this article is to give the readers an overview of Women's succession rights and examination of the same and comparing the difference of status of women before and after the marriage. In general, women have been treated less favorably than men over the world, and India is no different.

Following independence, the struggle to advance women's rights gained considerable importance, and several international conventions had a bigger impact on its improvement. The Hindu Law of Inheritance Act of 1929 was the first legislation in the country which has conferred inheritance rights on three female heirs.

And For the first time, Hindu widows were granted succession rights under the terms of a "Hindu Woman's Estate" under the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act of 1937. Under the old regime of Hindu law, the widow had a single, unfettered claim to ownership, possession, and alienation known as "Stridhan".

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 was the first piece of legislation to be passed following independence to give Hindu women property rights, and section 6 of the act discusses the transfer of interest in the event of a co-owner passing away intestate. And it is because of this statute that women now have a full ownership interest in property. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 introduced additional amendments to section 6 of the act, including the elimination of the doctrine of survivorship and the creation of equal coparcenary rights for daughters and sons in the family.

No matter what stage of civilization they lived in-developed, developing, or underdeveloped-women had a special place in every community. This is a result of the different roles that women play throughout their lives, including those of daughter, wife, mother, sister, etc. Despite her numerous contributions to the family, she nonetheless falls into the category of the underprivileged in society because of a number of societal norms and beliefs that have persisted since ancient times. The situation of women in India has always been in the hands of males; they have been dominated by men in every way and are under their authority.

In terms of property rights, women in Indian society are treated no differently from their male counterparts. On the one hand, they are revered and seen as the epitome of virtue and tolerance, and they are held in high regard; on the other hand, they were dominated by men in society, and even their rights were disregarded, including the right to an education, the right to own property, and the right to receive a share of the property as men do, and they do not have the same rights as men in society.

The unmarried women in the family had no rights to property because it was previously believed that women couldn't be independent and needed someone to care for them; nevertheless, when they got married, they received some moveable and immovable property in the form of Streedhan. Also, her husband is the real estate's owner, not she. The husband will use the property he received as a streedhan during his difficult period, and he has no need to give it back. According to the Dayabhaga school of Hindu law, only sonless spouses were permitted to participate in the property during the partition.

The disparity in giving the property rights between both the genders is being present from the ancient times. Under the mitakshara school of law the son gets the entitlement to the property right from the birth in the family and according to this concept no women is a coparcener in the property.

The very first legislation which brought the women right to inheritance in the property was "The Hindu Law of Inheritance Act of 1929", which has conferred inheritance rights on three female heirs they are son's daughter, daughter's daughter, and sister.[1] After this legislation came into existence there is other legislation that has given women ownership right in the property that was "The Hindu Women's right to Property Act, 1937", this act has enabled the widow to get the share in the property of the husband that is equal to that of a son[2]. Even though women were a member of the Joint Hindu family she is not a coparcener in the Joint Hindu family.

Before the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 went into effect, women's property was divided into two categories: Stridhan and Hindu Woman's Estate. In the instance of Stridhan, the woman has an absolute claim to the property, which will pass to her heirs after her death. In contrast, the woman in the Hindu Woman's Estate case has a restricted stake in the land and is not permitted to alienate it to a third party.

And following the start of the Hindu Succession Act in 1956, the act has made an effort to equalize the rights of son and daughter over their father's separate property but however, The son by birth receives an interest in the property and becomes a coparcener in the Joint Hindu Family property, but daughters do not have the same rights to become a coparcener in the Hindu Family, which causes a slight disadvantage for women.

As it has been said, only sons in a Hindu joint family were granted coparcenary privileges under the Mitakshara School of law; daughters were not. This was done because of long-held customs and practices. Even though courts were not interested in family concerns since they are private in nature and the British were not concerned in people's personal affairs throughout the time of British rule in India. But in some cases when the individual's rights are at risk the court will interfere in order to protect the individual's right. And from this it can be inferred that no personal law will prevail over the Constitution of India and any such personal law will be held void and will not be made applicable.

However, even before the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 there were several states which were way advanced than the whole nation and came up with certain legislations which gave the women the property rights equal to that of the men in the Joint Hindu Family. States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra are the pioneers in giving the equal rights to both males and females in the property rights.

And on the other hand the state of Kerala has abolished the concept of the Joint Hindu Family and giving the rights to male's coparcenary rights in the property by birth itself by making the state legislation, Kerala Joint Family System (Abolition) Act, 1975. But in the right sense of equality was only brought after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005, both the daughters and sons have the equal right in the property and this changes were brought by the recommendations of the 174th Law commission report. In this research article includes certain statutes and provisions related to the Women's succession rights and includes the case laws to support this article.

The researcher has also taken certain case studies to show the evolution of the Laws in the country with respect to the Women's succession rights. The scope of the present research article is subjected to India and Indian Laws.

Research Questions
  1. What are the Laws dealing with Women's Succession rights and how the laws have been evolved since inception?

    In India there are many laws dealing with Women's Succession Rights as per then matters of the Hindu Law. The following ate the laws that are being dealt with these rights and some are still existent in the present India:
    • Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929
    • Hindu Women's Right to Succession Act, 1937
    • Hindu Succession Act, 1956
    • Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005
    And there is much other state legislation which was brought by several states and they were enacted before the 2005 act by this we can say that these stated are way advanced to the Central government in order to provide the females property rights. Previously these laws show disparity between the genders but after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 there are many changes have been made to the existing laws and this has provided the equality between the genders.
  2. What changes have been taken after the amendment of the Hindu Succession Act and examine the status of women?
    Lacunae in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956
    Given that the aforementioned lines make clear that there is a significant gap in the existing laws' treatment of gender equality, it was agreed that amendments should be made to those laws. The suggestions of the 174th Law Commission report led to the women's right to the estate. The main purpose of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 was to benefit the daughters by giving them a share of the father's property.

    And following this change, daughters in the family would be entitled to receive an equal portion of the joint family property to that of the sons, whether or not they were married. And the daughters were now treated in the household like coparceners. The Supreme Court has further dispelled any remaining concerns about the retroactive applicability of the Amendment Act of 2005 by ruling that daughters had a claim to coparcenary property regardless of whether the father was alive at the time of the 2005 Amendment, advancing gender equality. Women have greatly benefited from the approaching shift that will make all daughters co-owners of joint family property, both monetarily and metaphorically.

    In the case of Income Tax v. G.S. Mills 1966, the Supreme Court debated whether woman has a right to hold the role of family head, here the court has determined that widow could not be a member of family, but does not exclude them from being a part of the Joint Hindu Family. And in this case it was held that these provisions were applicable as it was made before the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005[3]. In the case of Vaishali Satish Ganorkar v. Satish Keshaorao Ganorkar, 2012

    It was decided that the Hindu Succession Amendment would not apply in this case until the daughter was born after 2005, in accordance with the ruling of the Bombay High Court. The need that the girl and her father be alive on the day of the modification was specifically mentioned by the Court as a result of a later, more recent, addition, larger bench judgment taking the opposite position on this matter.[4]

    In the case of Badrinarayan Shankar Bhandari v. Om Prakash Shankar Bhandari, 2014, although it is explicitly stated that the Hindu Succession Act should have a prospective impact rather than a retroactive one, the key question in this case is whether the Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 should apply to events that occurred before the amendment[5].
  3. Has the status of wives, widows, and daughters changed with reference to previous laws and with those of the current laws?
    After the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 the shares of other Class I female heirs, such as the deceased's mother and widow, will decrease as a result of making daughters coparceners because the coparcenary portion of the deceased male from whom they receive will decrease. In places where the wife receives a share upon division, such as Maharashtra, the widow's future share will now be equivalent to the shares obtained by the son and daughter.

    The widow's potential share will be smaller than the daughter's in situations where the wife is not given a share of the division, such as in Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh. Although the amendment has brought about some beneficial results, it still has certain faults. The amendment has created a lot of confusion and disturbance and has not been able to fully achieve its goals. The amendment made a mistake by including Section 15, which calls into question the issues of gender parity and women's empowerment.

    Only women who are in relationships with men, such as wives, daughters, etc., are recognized by Section 15. It thus dilutes a woman's distinctiveness and originality. The amendment's primary focus on daughters and wives, daughters-in-law, and sisters-who are not covered by its scope-is another issue. Lack of specificity regarding whether the aforementioned legislation will trump and overturn is another issue with the amendment.

Historical Overview On Women's Succession Rights

The HAS, 1956 was passed on the lines with the Constitution of India by understanding the equality rights should be given to women, as mentioned under article 14 and 15. It resulted in changes to the property rights of women, granting them full ownership of the limited rights in the property they inherited. Sections 6 and 8 of the Act dealt, respectively, concept of survivorship, as well as the son's birthright in joint family property, were to be eliminated under the Hindu Succession Act, which was actually written by the B.N. Rau Committee and guided by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Instead, the principle of inheritance by succession was to be implemented.

There were two different kinds of stridhan: the sauadayika, which were gifts from both her parents' and her husband's families, over which she had complete ownership and disposal rights, and the non-sauadayika, which included gifts from strangers and property obtained through self-exertion, mechanical art, and other means as a married woman, over which she had restricted rights and could not alienate it without her husband's permission.

Analysis Of The Hindu Succession Act

The Hindu rule of Succession was first modified by the Caste Disabilities Removal Act of 1850, a comprehensive act that applied to all communities and made conversion no longer a disqualification. The Act only applied to those who had either forsaken their religion or were casteless, and it did not allow their descendants to profit from the provision. This is also the case under the 1956 Hindu Succession Act.

In response to recommendations given in the Law Commission's 174th report respecting Hindu women's property rights, the Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 was passed. The commission has observed since the earlier times women were made dependent on their male counterparts. This injustice was brought to the Commission's attention, and it was claimed that it constituted constitutional fraud. Based on these findings, the Commission recommended changing Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956.

And after this Hindu Succession Amendment bill was passed in the year 2004 with an aim to change the earlier law of 1956 by the way of making changes to section-6 of the act, that is give the females same rights as of males and the other change is that the deletion of section-23 of the act, which denies the right of woman to ask for a partition.

Status Of Women Before And After The Amendment

The following were the changes brought after the amendment:
  • Section-4(2):
    This section has been omitted as it does not include agricultural lands as the means of the property under the Hindu Law.
  • Section-6:
    Here the deletion of the older provision of the 1956 act and addition of the newer provision has been taken place in the form of amended act of 2005 that is by giving the equal rights to both males and female in the property. And the daughter became a coparcener in the property and she has got the right to ask for a partition.
  • Section-23:
    This is can be said as a landmark change brought by the amendment and this provision was omitted because it clearly discriminates women as they need to seek partition from the dwelling house which the intestate left for the male heirs chose to do so.
  • Section-24:
    This section has also been omitted due to fact that it discriminates the three categories of women related to intestate they are widow of a predeceased son, the widow of a predeceased son of a predeceased son or the widow of the brother.
  • Section-30:
    This section has been slightly altered in order to achieve the gender-neutrality sought by this amendment, the words "disposed by him" were changed to "disposed by him or by her" under Section 30 of the Act.

Land Mark Judgement On Women's Right In The Property

For many years women's basic rights were denied such as Right to Life, Right to Equality, Right to Education, and Right to be heard, whereas the counterparts are enjoying the rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution. Women were compelled to live in a situation of subjection and squalor while having their basic human rights violated. The Ancient Greeks once had a position of immense prominence in society.

The most powerful factions in Athens frequently ignored women. They did not have any political or individual rights and were socially ostracized. The situation for women today might not be as dire as it was in the past. However, discrimination and inequality against women still exist in our culture. Being denied the right to equal opportunity, equal pay, or the right to be heard, etc.

The world is slowly but surely overcoming the evil of inequity. We are gaining the ability to value people more for who they are as opposed to their gender. Those times are changing across the globe and women are being given value in today's world and various initiatives are being taken by the nations for women empowerment.

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 was amendment by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005, and by this amendment it is clear that the daughters will have an equal share in the property irrespective of living status of the person who owns it and just as sons, daughters are also coparceners in the joint family property as stated in section-6 of the Act.

Vineeta Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma, 2020
The facts of the case are that Vineeta Sharma, the appellant, brought a claim for a portion of the family's ancestral property against her relatives, including her brother Rakesh Sharma. Mr. Dev Dutt Sharma, their father, had passed away prior to September 9, 2005. According to the 2005 change to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the High Court of Delhi ruled that the appellant was not entitled to the property. Later, the Supreme Court received an appeal.[6]

The facts in issue are the following:
  • Whether the Daughter can claim the coparcenary rights in the property according to the 2005 amendment when the father is not alive?
  • Whether the amendment to Section-6 of the Amended Act is retrospective, prospective or retroactive?

The Supreme Court in this case has held that the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act's Section 6 underwent retroactive revision. The daughter was likewise found to have an equal birthright to the property. Only sons had access to this privilege in the past. The decision equalizes the daughter and the son.

The daughter is privileged in her own right whether or not the father is still living. The Supreme Court's decision has contributed to a better understanding of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act. Women will be able to obtain the rights they deserve if the nature of the conduct is questioned. The prohibition on using gender as a justification for discrimination was emphasized. The importance of women's equality cannot be understated. The verdict is a victory for women's empowerment and has opened the door for such verdicts in the future.

Whereas in the similar case of Prakash v. Phulavati, 2016 it was held that the daughters were born with coparcenary rights. However, it was determined in this decision that the Hindu Succession Act was not prospective in nature. The Amendment Act of 2005 is inapplicable in this case. It was determined that the daughter could only claim equal property rights if the coparcener died after September 9, 2005.[7]

By this case of Vineeta Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma, the Supreme Court's bold and vehement decision establishes supremacy over various national customs and traditions. All other practices are superseded by constitutional morality. Such decisions should be celebrated and encouraged in our societies.

This research article necessitates a thorough covering the difference in the position of women in the earlier times with the current times in the sphere of the succession rights with the relevant case laws, statutes and legal provisions. This article compares the difference in status of wives, daughters, and widows with respect to the succession rights. The objective of this article is to show that both the genders are at par with each other.

I believe that India is a vastly different country. Traditions and cultural practices have been around for a very long time. Is it right to deny women's rights simply because of centuries-old practices? As a woman, I strongly oppose this heinous practice. Women make incalculable contributions to society. She is considered someone's "sister," "mother," or "daughter." However, we often forget that she is "someone" in and of herself. She has every right to live her life as she wishes. Such acts of inequality and discrimination are demeaning in a country where women are revered. The infringement of rights is not the only issue here.

It is also a matter of a woman's self-esteem and dignity in her society. And from the above analysis we can observe the situation how the ancient India is used to be and how the changes were brought to the present India and it shows the analysis of the laws prevalent in the nation dealing with the females succession rights and I would conclude that the Indians are deeply religious people, and religion can have a significant impact on how property is distributed.

After penning this research article I feel that the status of women is always dependent on the male members in the society because as per the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 it was the legislators who did not gave the equal rights to both the sons and daughters even though they can make changes to the legislation they haven't made any, this due to the reason that after the marriage the daughter will be a part of other family and there is no need to give a share in father's property.

But after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 I feel that these disparities have been almost ended and there is equality between the genders in the aspects of the entitlement of the property. But still there is certain ambiguity exists in relation to the adopted daughters in the family because nowhere in the amended act it has been mentioned about this term and their share in the father's property. And as per this new act the children of the daughters will be treated as same as the children of son and they get interest in the coparcenary property of the Hindu Joint Family[8].

And after this for better spread out of these new changes to the laws radio, newspapers, and television should be utilized to spread religious messages portraying women as respectable members of society, underlining tiny documentaries should be shown in them at schools, colleges, other government institutions, etc. And should be produced in the local newspapers and broadcast throughout towns, cities, and other localities.

By far Women must assume their full responsibility for implementing the legislation, which is a crucial prerequisite for possessing their rights and their rights shouldn't be a cause for concern. They can rap on the courthouse door for the sale of their family's property equity stakes. After the new Law of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005, it became an encouraging step to improve the position of women in society and their status has been made par with their counterparts.

Now it is the duty of the judiciary and the executive system to implement the provisions of the new law. Because the courts have a wider scope for the interpretation of the law and they provide property rights to the females and interest in the property of the Hindu Joint Family.

  1. Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929.
  2. Hindu Women's Right to Succession Act, 1937.
  3. Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
  4. Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.
  5. 174th Law Commission Report.
  6. Kerala Joint Family System (Abolition) Act, 1975.
  7. The Constitution of India, 1950.
  8. Hindu Succession (Andhra Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1986.
  9. Hindu Succession (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 1994.
  10. Hindu Succession (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 1989.
  11. Hindu Succession (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 1994.
  12. Kharat, Shital and Kharat, Shital, Effect of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005: Judicial Response (February 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: or
  13. Income Tax v. G.S. Mills, 1966.
  14. Vaishali Satish Ganorkar v. Satish Keshaorao Ganorkar, 2012.
  15. Badrinarayan Shankar Bhandari v. Om Prakash Shankar Bhandari, 2014.

  1. Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929.
  2. Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937.
  3. AIR 1966.
  4. AIR 2012.
  5. AIR 2014.
  6. 2020 9 SCC 1.
  7. (2016) 2 SCC 36.
  8. Section-6, Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

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