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Women's Property Rights

India isn't an exception in having a subordinate position for girls compared with men, even though the girl rights movement gained steam after Independence and several other International Conventions played a vital role in ameliorating their status. The Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 provided the Hindu widow with succession rights for the primary time, giving her a limited interest in her "Hindu Woman's Estate."

Before this, the "Stridhan" was the widow's absolute property, and she or he had exclusive and unlimited rights to possession, ownership, and alienation concerning it. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was the primary post-independence statute to grant property rights to Hindu women. Section 6 of the Act concerns the devolution of interests of a coparcener who dies intestate. The Act transformed the woman's Limited Estate into absolute ownership. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 has introduced variety of important changes.

Introduction Women are fighting for hundreds of years to get family property rights. Across cultures, the notion that girls don't permanently remain in their birth families has led people to disapprove giving them property rights. After they marry, they enter their marital family and become an element of it, so only male members have rights to family property. However, women's property rights have changed significantly in recent decades.

They play during various stages of their life, as a daughter, wife, mother, and sister etc. Despite her contribution within the lifetime of every individual. soul she still belongs to a category or group of society which is during a Disadvantaged position on account of several social barriers and Impediments. She has been the victim of tyranny at the hands of men who Dominates the society.

The position of Indian woman isn't any better compared to their counterparts in other parts of the globe. The earliest legislation which brought females into the scheme of inheritance was 'The Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929', which conferred inheritance rights on three female heirs, i.e., son's daughter, daughter's daughter, and sister. During this era another landmark legislation conferring ownership right a girl was 'The Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937'.

This Act of 1937 enabled the widow to succeed together with the son and to require the identical share because the son. The widow wasn't a coparcener, while she possessed a right like coparcener's interest within the property and was a member of the joint family.

However, before the commencement of 'The Hindu Succession Act, 1956', the property held by a Hindu female was classified under two heads:
  1. Stridhan and
  2. Hindu Women's estate.
The previous was considered her absolute property over which she had full ownership and on her death, it devolved upon her heirs. The latter was her limited estate with reference to which her powers of alienation were limited. The enactment of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 got all the Hindus under the one quite joint family coparcenary system, i.e., Mitakshara coparcenary.

This law was designed to put down a law of succession whereby sons and daughters would enjoy equal inheritance rights. y, another important fiction i.e., the fiction of identity between the Husband and wife also gave females right to inheritance.

Females Who Are Entitled To Get A Share

The status of a woman in terms of relationships has been further analysed in terms of the major law categories.
  • Wives
    Whenever a partition takes place between her husband, then the father's wife is entitled to induce a share capable the share of son. she will be able to hold this share and revel in it separately from her husband. If there's quite one wife, then each wife is entitled to require a share equal to the share of a son. it's immaterial that whether a wife has her own son or not. If no share is allotted to her then she features a right to induce the partition re -opened. Under the Dayabhaga School she has no such right.
  • Grandmother
    When partition takes place between her grandsons (son's son) her son being dead, she is entitled to a share up to the share of a grandson. When partition takes place between her son and sons of a predeceased son, she is entitled to a share adequate to the share of a grandson.

    When partition takes place between her sons and their sons, in line with the Allahabad and Bombay High Courts, she isn't entitled to a share, but in step with the Calcutta and Patna High Courts, she is entitled to a share up to the share of a Grandson. In Ramdhan v. Balathe Nagpur court has evolved a fresh scheme. during this case there is a partition suit, between an uncle and nephew.

    The mother of the uncle, as grand-mother and also the mother of the nephew as mother were allowed to participate in the distribution of properties. Mother was allowed to require 1/6 and therefore the grandmother taking 1/3 share. up to now because the decision relates to the uncle's mother, the choice is correct, because the case comes under the rule (2) began here.

    But to this point because it relates to nephew's mother, it's curious since there's no partition among her son, and therefore the rule being that 'mother' takes a share only there's partition 'among her sons'. Probably the court was compelled to require This view on equitable basis, because the nephew's mother would otherwise get nothing. Here it is submitted that there's No authority in support of that view, and it's obviously wrong according to the Shastr.
  • Mother
    Whenever a partition takes place among the sons, a widowed mother encompasses a right to require a share equal to the share of son. This right accrues to her only partition by metes and bounds takes place. Under the Mitakshara School the mother, including the stepmother whether she is childless is entitled to require a share when ever partition takes place after the death of the daddy among sons. Mother and stepmother each take a share capable the share of son. Under the Dayabhaga School a childless stepmother is excluded from taking a share on partition.
  • Daughter
    The daughters now have equal right of inheritance to their father's estate as sons. The daughters have a right to receive a share in mother's property. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 removes discriminatory gender that was within the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and now it gives the varied rights to the daughters that are as follows: In the context of coparcener.

    The daughter will have same rights because the son have to bear the identical liability within the property because the son be allotted the identical share on the son The married daughter doesn't have the proper to elicit maintenance or to shelter in her parent's home But if the married daughter is deserted, widowed or divorced she has the correct of residence.

    A female has all the rights on any property that she has been gifted or has earned it, or that has been willed to her, that too if she has achieved a majority. she will be able to eliminate the property by selling, gifting or willing to others as she deems fit.
  • Widow
    Now, it seems to be settled law that after Partition their husband then each widow acquires a right of survivorship together with this either widow also gets the correct to partition with or without the consent of the opposite or others. Thus, coparcener widow can put an end to joint status of the family. Even when a father's Widow succeeds together with her sons, she also acquires right to Partition. Similarly, if a partition takes place among the brothers, after the death of the brother his widow is entitled to a share.


Concept Of Stridhan

The subject of Stridhana occupies an outsized place within the Sanskrit law Books. Woman's separate property was, from the foremost times of yore, called Stidhana. This term 'Stridhana' first occurred amongst the Smritis within the Dharmasutra of Gautama which accurately means woman's Property. The Mitakshara and also the authorities that follow it take the term in its etymological sense as including all types of property of which a girl has become the owner, whatever the extent of her rights over it. Jimutavahana restricts the term thereto property of woman over which she has absolute control even during the lifetime of her husband.

As the word denotes, Stridhan comprises of two words Stri+Dhan. Thus, it means Dhan of the 'Stri' i.e., women's property. The term'Stridhana,' first occurs within the Smritis and literally means woman's Property but various sages use the word in numerous senses. Some extend the scope of the word, others attempt to restrict it, sort of a text of Manu states that a wife, a son and a salve can have no property which the wealth which they earn is acquired for him to whom they belong.

According to Manu's commentators, this didn't mean that they may not own property, but they could not lose their property per their own wishes.

This view also receives support from Gautama who specifically admits the proper of a lady to hold separate property and provides for its succession. Apastamba also hold the identical view and mentioned that the share of the Wife consists of the ornaments and therefore the wealth, which she may have received from her relations the texts referring to Stridhana, except within the matter of succession, are adequate and clear. The principal definition of Stridhan consists of 'what was given before the nuptial fire, what was given at the bridal procession, what was given in token of affection and what was received from a brother, a mother or a father, are considered because the six -fold property of a girl.

The Hindu Act To Property Right 1937

To confer better, equal, and significant inheritance rights to the ladies, the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act was passed in 1937 basically to amend the Hindu law of succession amongst all the faculties. It made innovative changes within the Mitakshara law. In fact, it affected the law of coparcenary, partition, alienation, and succession.

It conferred upon the Widow of a person, whether governed by the Mitakshara or the Dayabhaga Law, right to inheritance to the property even when he dies forgoing a Male issue. Similar rights were conferred upon the widows of his pre - deceased son and therefore the widow of pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son.

After this Act, within the Mitakshara undivided family the widow of a deceased coparcener was entitled to require his interest within the joint family. all told cases, widows were entitled to assert partition. All the females took a limited estate. Prior to the passing of this Act the widow in respect of the separate property left by her deceased husband had no right of inheritance.

If the deceased husband had left a son, grandson, or great grandson then the widow had only right of maintenance. She could inherit as an heir to her husband in respect of his separate property only when he had not left any son, grandson, or great grandson. Even when within the absence of these persons she inherited as an heir, she would be divested of the identical, the instant she adopted a son to her husband.

This Act conferred better rights on the above-mentioned widows in times of the devolution of separate property of the deceased dying intestate yet as within the joint family property within which the deceased had an interest at the time of his death.

By the Act of 1937 new rights of inheritance are conferred on her and he or she had been given the correct to inherit her deceased husband's property within the same manner because the son. In other words, the Act has made her co-heir with the sons and entitled her to inherit in her husband's property the same share as that of a son. within the case of over one widow.

The Act together gave them a share capable that of a son. Similar rights were conferred on the widow of a predeceased son and the widow of a predeceased son of a predeceased son. Thus, the Act had its applicability when a Hindu dies intestate either partially or wholly.

Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005

Under the Act of 1956, daughters of a male dying intestate had Rights to an equal share in separate property together with their brothers but not over joint family property. This created gender inequalities between Sons and daughters' rights. Daughters had a right over their share of Separate property and to the share of the joint family property.

Sons had the proper to their share of separate property, their share of joint family Property and an extra independent share on joint family property by Virtue of birth. Sons would run this extra share by being a part of The Hindu male coparcener. The Hindu male coparcener consisted of male Members of sophistication I, II and III heirs which were, by virtue of birth, entitled to a private share within the joint family property.

Consequently, sons would additionally to the number of the daughters' inheritance, inherit a personal share because they were a part of the male coparcener. Mr. Roy suggests that this might imply that sons would inherit twice the maximum amount as Daughters. additionally, to the present source of discrimination, a father could declare His separate property as a {part of} the joint family property and this is able to will out the daughter during this part of the property.

Furthermore, a male Coparcener could renounce his rights within the coparcener. This would not have any repercussions for his son, which might still have his independent Share of the ancestral property. However, this might exclude daughters and sophistication I female heirs during this share of the property.

The three recognized classes of heirs of Sapindas, Samanodaks And Bandhus cease to exist after the coming into Force of the Act. Now the heirs are divided into four classes under the Act:
  1. Heirs in class 1 of the schedule,
  2. Heirs in class II of the schedule,
  3. Agnates, and
  4. Cognates.
Similarly, section 15 is the first statutory enactment that deals with succession of Hindu female's property when she dies intestate before the Act the property of women dying intestate was governed by customary Hindu law. She had only limited interest which would be terminated on her death.

It is heartening to note that the Act provides two different laws based on the sex of the intestate. This double scheme is the traditional method intended to protect the family property.

The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the rules set out under Section 16:
  1. Firstly, sons and daughters (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter)
  2. Upon the heirs of the husband
  3. Upon the mother and father
  4. Upon the heirs of the father and
  5. Lastly upon the heirs of the mother

Any property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother shall devolve within the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the youngsters of any predeceased son or daughter) not upon the heirs brought up in sub section (1) within the order specified there in, but upon the daddy.

So also, any property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or from her father �in �law shall devolve within the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (Including the youngsters of any pre -deceased son or daughter) not upon the opposite heirs referred to in sub section 1 but upon the heirs of the husband. This separate scheme of succession reflects a powerful patriarchal and orthodox outlook.

Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) was enacted to get rid of gender discriminatory provisions within the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Under the amendment, the daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her claim within the same manner because the son. The daughter shall now have the identical rights within the coparcenary property (ancestral property of the Hindu undivided family) as a son.

This amendment also repeals Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act which disentitled a female heir to fire partition in respect of a homestead, wholly occupied by a joint family, until the male heirs opt to divide their respective shares. Section 24 of the Act which denied rights of a widow to inherit her husband's property upon her re-marriage has been repealed. This Act has led to a central amendment which is applicable to any or all the state governments.

Case Law
  • Madhu Kishwar & Ors. v. State of Bihar & Ors. (1996)
    In this case, the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Chota Nagpur Act, 1908 was challenged. It was contended that the provisions favoured males belonging to the Scheduled tribes in the succession to property. The court held a few of the impugned provisions unconstitutional; however, it also held that the tribals, who are governed by their customs and the custom vary from people to people and religion to religion, codified Hindu Law does not apply to them.
  • Prakash v. Phulavati (2016)
    In this case, the respondent (Phulavati) had initially filed a partition suit before the court in 1992, after her father's death. She claimed 1/7th share within the properties that her father acquired from his mother. While the suit was still pending, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was made effective. The Amendment gave coparcenary rights to the daughters also. Phulavati used the opportunity; she amended her previous claim as per the 2005 Amendment. The court only partly allowed her suit.

    Following the Trial Court's order, Phulavati approached the supreme court stating that she, being a coparcener as per the 2005 Amendment, has share adequate to her brothers in the father's property. The appellant (Prakash, Phulavati's brother) contended that the 2005 Amendment won't apply in the present case, because the father died prior to 2005. The supreme court ordered in Phulavati's favour and allowed the retrospective effect of the 2005 Amendment.

    Aggrieved by the High Court's decision, Prakash approached the Supreme Court. Finally, the Supreme Court overruled the High Court's decision and held that the 2005 Amendment won't apply to any partition which was affected before its enactment.
  • Veenita kumar vs rakesh kumar (2020)
    In this case, the appellant's father died in 1999. She had three brothers and a widowed mother. One of her brothers died unmarried in 2001, after which she filed a suit claiming coparcener ship and one-fourth share in her father's property. But the High Court rejected her claim stating the fact that her father died before the 2005 Amendment.

    The High Court's decision brought confusion to the retrospective effect of the 2005 Amendment because of the two previous contradicting decisions in the cases Danamma v. Amar Singh (2018) and Prakash v. Phulavati (2016).

    Clarifying this chaos, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Arun Mishra gave a landmark verdict on the 11th of August 2020. The bench upheld its decision in the case of Danamma v. Amar Singh and overruled Prakash v. Phulavati. It held that a daughter is considered a coparcener by birth, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not. Further, the retrospective effect of the 2005 Amendment was also upheld and well-settled in this case.
  • Danamma v. Amar Singh (2018)
    In this case, the appellants were the two daughters of Late Shri Gurulingappa Savadi and his widow, Sumitra. The couple also had two sons, Arun Kumar and Vijay. Amar Singh, the son of Arun Kumar, filed the partition suit claiming a one-fifteenth share in Savadi's property. His claim was based on the fact that the property was in the possession of the two sons and the widow.

He contended that the two daughters were not the coparceners, as they were born prior to the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 as amended in 2005 (the Act. The Hon'ble Supreme Court after giving due appreciation to the facts and also the matters of law involved within the case opined that Mitakshara law has undergone tremendous amount of change and also the said changes are brought forward to deal with the growing must merit equal treatment to the closest female relatives.

Namely daughters of a coparcener, the bench further opines that the section 6[1] of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 no doubt secures the choice of the difficulty within the favour of the Appellants as because of the 2005 amendment, the act now endows the status of coparcener both on the daughter of the coparcener and also the same on the daughter of the propositus further.

This status is of the identical manner because the son of the propositus and provides the identical rights and liabilities within the coparcener properties as she would have had if it had been son.

The world is changing. Gone are the times when patriarchy ruled women's rights and needs. Women have become more independent than ever before. due to education and technology, today women needn't depend on the age-old tradition of Stridhan to satisfy their post-marital needs. And that's why Stridhan is slowly disappearing from the face of contemporary Indian societies. The eradication of the archaic tradition is empowering women to be entitled to property rights just like that of their male counterparts.

The recent judicial developments within the recognition of property rights of Indian women that we discussed above are a positive movement towards a gender-equal India. They can also consider court for their shares within the family Property. The new Amendment of 2005 within the law of succession is an Encouraging step to boost the proprietary position of Hindu females. Now, it's the turn of executive and judiciary to implement the supply of latest Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

After the Legislative efforts the role of courts is of great importance and it's expected that courts will give broader and wider interpretation to the Laws providing property rights, to the feminine within the interest of the Society.

  1. Puja Mondal, Essay on Property Rights of Women in India (625 Words)
  2. Usaid, Study On Women Property Rights, Oct 2006
  3. Danamma vs. Amar 2018, Team@Law Time Journal, May 30th 2022
  4. Madhu Kishwar and others v. The State of Bihar and others (AIR 1996 5 SCC 125) , EQUALRIGHT TRUST
  5. Prakash & Ors. V. Phulavati & Ors., (2016), Admin Lb, 8th May 2020 5:14am
  6. Shonee Kapoor, Stridhan, Sep 20th 2022, 7:30AM
  7. Nri Legal Service, Property Ownership & Inheritance Rights of Women in India,
  8. Indian Kanoon, The Hindu Succession Act, 1956,
  9. Bare Act Live, The Family Courts Act, 1984 (66 of 1984),
  10. Legislative Department, The Code Of Criminal Procedure Act, 1973,

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Anshika Bansal, Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune, BBA.LLB, 3rd Year
Awarded certificate of Excellence
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