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A Study On The Property Rights Of Illegitimate Children In India

"There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents."-Leon R. Yankwich.

This research study examines the illegitimate children's property rights in relation to their parents' assets. The researcher seeks to understand what rights illegitimate children have when it comes to receiving their parents' assets. On the basis of the findings, the researcher stated that personal laws of the parents play a vital role in determining these rights since there is no particular law regulating property rights of an illegitimate child.

Despite the fact that they were not acknowledged, children born out of wedlock now have rights under Hindu law that are on par with those of children born to legitimate parents. They are denied these rights since, contrary to Muslim and Christian law, the term "illegitimate" is not recognized.

The judiciary has the power to alter the law to suit the demands of the society, even if the legislation itself remains unchanged. In order to control the illegitimate children's ownership rights over their parents' property, it is vitally necessary to establish a single regulatory framework. Even though the youngster in the current situation is innocent, it needs to be adjusted that he is burned himself.

In both historical and contemporary societies, there has been much discussion about the difference between an illegitimate and legitimate kid. In addition to never getting to enjoy the rights associated with a legitimate child born out of legal wedlock, being born as an illegitimate child is a social embarrassment. Illegitimate children have historically faced discrimination in all communities, which can take many different forms, from the restriction of their legal rights to the social stigma associated with not being a legitimate kid. The Latin phrase "not in conformity with the law" is the source of the word "illegitimacy,".

Since the relationship between the parents affects the legality of the offspring, a child born out of wedlock is regarded as an illegitimate child. As a result, an illegitimate kid is regarded as nullius filius, which simply indicates that they have no legal connection to their parents. Illegitimate offspring are not recognised as children, so the personal laws of the parents govern this matter.

When determining the parent's property rights, their individual laws are taken into account. However, there have been attempts made to provide illegal children the same property rights as legitimate children.

Research Question:
  • Do Illegitimate Children have a right on their Parents Property?
  • What are the rights conferred to an illegitimate child under various personal laws?

  • To understand the meaning of an Illegitimate Child.
  • To analyse the property rights of Illegitimate Children.
  • To study the various personal laws governing the right to inherit property of parents by an Illegitimate Child.

Research Methodology
The research paper employs a doctrinal approach, and the researcher's goal is to determine if an illegitimate kid has a claim to the parents' assets. For the aim of the study, secondary data was acquired from a range of sources, including books, journals, magazines, papers given at seminars and conferences, thesis reports, website reports, published books, articles, published interviews, newspapers, and more. The goal of the study is to comprehend the courts' logical and liberal approach to the issue of illegitimate children's property rights and the role played by personal laws that serve as a constraint.

Significance of the Study
Due to the participation of personal laws based on religious communities and the ideals they defend, India places a high value on a child's legitimacy. Since the legitimacy of a kid is judged by the type of relationship the parents have, a child born out of wedlock is said to be illegitimate.

However, the law must adapt to the changing dynamics of society in order for it to be effective, and it is the judiciary's duty to do so. Although a child born outside of wedlock is considered to be illegitimate, the infant is innocent in this case and must bear the social stigma. Though there are a substantial number of illegitimate child cases in India, they are not often publicized.

Through this study paper, the researcher hopes to gain a better understanding of the rights that children have in relation to their parents' property as well as the role that courts play in addition to personal laws. A uniform code that would be implemented regardless of how the parents' personal laws were applied has become more necessary as a result of the inconsistent personal laws of many communities.

Limitations of the Study
The type of relationship between the parents and the relevant personal laws determines how the law relates to an illegitimate child's property rights. The rights of children born outside of marriage cannot be defined consistently or with sufficient clarity because there is no uniform code. Even though the child involved in this case is innocent, it is impossible to overlook how society and religion view children's rights. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the phrase, the researcher drew on important cases in the field. The conflicting opinions expressed in the court rulings, however, have presented a challenge.

Illegitimacy and Property Rights of Illegitimate Children under Hindu Law: According to Hindu law, a child's legitimacy is determined by the union of its parents. The prerequisites for a valid marriage are outlined in Sections 5 and 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, and children born from a lawful marriage are considered legitimate, respectively.

The marriage is deemed void or voidable depending on the reasons, and any children born as a result are considered to be illegitimate, though, if the standards provided in the Act are not followed. The relationship and behaviour of the parents determine the child's social status.

In the case of Jinia Koetin v. Kumar Sitaram Manjhi, the Supreme Court ruled that an illegitimate child-one born of a legally unlawful marriage-is entitled to the same inheritance rights as a legitimate child. Children born out of void and voidable marriages are now considered genuine as a result of the revision to Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, which recognised the problem.

The court ruled in SPS Balasubramanyam v. Sruttayan that a kid born out of a long-term cohabiting relationship shall be legitimate. The interpretation of section 16(3) was intended to reshape society's perception of the taboo associated with the term "illegitimate." When interpreting Section 16(3) of the Hindu Marriage Act in the case of Revansiddappa and Others v. Mallikarjuna and Others, the Supreme Court determined that a child born out of a null marriage is innocent and has a right to their parents' property.

What was formerly considered to be illegitimate may no longer be so due to the evolving standards of society because legitimacy is determined by societal consensus. The Court emphasized that the main goal of Section 16 is to give honest children financial security because the Act's goal is to bring about social improvements.

In contrast to Revansiddappa's decision, the Supreme Court decided that, in accordance with the Hindu Marriage Act, an illegitimate child has a right to inherit both ancestral and self-acquired property from their parents. The Bench decided that even while the parents' relationship might not be legal, the birth of a child in such a relationship needed to be assessed independently of the parents' relationship. The child of such a connection is an innocent person and has the same legal rights as children born of valid marriages. The core of Section 16 (3) is this.

Illegitimacy and Property Rights of Illegitimate Children under Muslim Law:

Given that there is no Muslim legal provision that tackles illegitimacy and illegitimate children, an illegitimate child has no right to their parents' property. Despite having varying ideologies, Muslim law applies to several schools. A legitimate child has a claim to the property of the mother and any relatives to whom the mother is linked, while an illegitimate child does not have a claim to the property of either the father or any of his or her relatives, according to the Hanafi School. Muslim law forbids the father from supporting his illegitimate offspring, despite Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code in India mandating so.

Even though Islamic law does not contain any requirements for the father to support an illegitimate child, the Supreme Court declared in the case of Sukha v. Ninni that Section 125 of the CrPC's legislative provisions makes the father's support of such children legally compulsory. The Shia School states that an illegitimate kid has no claim to either parent's property. According to this system, the mere fact that an unrelated person exists results in their complete exclusion from family property.

Illegitimacy and Property Rights of Illegitimate Children under Christian Law: An illegitimate child has no status or validity under Christian law because there are no clearly established religious or civil laws in India that grant rights to illegitimate children born to Christians.

Christian law regulates property rights under the Indian Succession Act. Under this law, which exclusively recognizes children born through valid marriages, illegitimate children are not considered to be children. According to the court's ruling in Jane Anthony v. V.M. Siyath, children under the law of succession are defined as legitimate offspring and do not include illegitimate children, who do not have any claim to the parents' property. This is true because Christian law is quite precise in its treatment of property rights.

In order to serve the needs of everyone in society, it is important to recognize that the Indian judicial system must deal with a variety of dynamic concerns. Illegitimate children's right to inherit property has been hampered by a number of social problems as a result of which they are denied their rights.

When discussing illegitimate children, it's critical to remember that the child is always innocent, regardless of the relationship between the parents. The child is yet susceptible to societal criticism and social disgrace. There is discrimination that the child must endure because the laws governing an illegitimate child's property rights are based on personal laws.

The Supreme Court has regularly taken into account the relationship between the parents, the father's acknowledgement of the child, and tried to maintain a consistent approach with the child's best interests, even while considering personal laws. The judiciary must immediately create a uniform code that would supersede the personal laws.

Regardless of their religious convictions, the Central Government must establish legislation regarding the rights to property of illegitimate children. Due to Section 125 of the CrPC, personal laws of the parents are not taken into account when determining maintenance for illegitimate children. Therefore, universal application of the same laws would be very helpful in solving many issues.

Even if illegitimate children have a claim to their parents' property, personal laws are always important in determining whether they do. Independent of today's multicultural environment, ill-conceived children experience societal shame that affects their reputation. Such youngsters continue to be victimized by society in places like ours. Although illegitimate offspring have rights under Hindu law, other personal laws make no mention of this.

There will be some discrimination based on the parents' personal laws and religious beliefs because there isn't a universal code that addresses the issue. The Supreme Court has endeavoured to defend the rights of innocent illegitimate children born out of wedlock, notwithstanding the lack of legislation in the current situations. The laws must occasionally be updated to fulfil the demands of the populace due to societal development.

What was legal decades ago might not be legal now, thus the Supreme Court has made adjustments to reflect the changing nature of society. Illegitimate children now have the same legal right to a share of their parents' property as legitimate children due to people's liberal and rational thinking.

  1. Ester, John W. (1961), "Illegitimate Children and Conflict of Laws", Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 36, Issue 2, Article 2.
  2. Harry D. Krause (1967), "Equal Protection for the Illegitimate", Michigan Law Review, Volume 65, Issue 3.
  3. J. Venkatesan (April 8, 2011), "Illegitimate children entitled to ancestral property: Bench",
  4. Jay Parikh, "Right to Property and Maintenance of Muslim and Christian Illegitimate Children", hts.htm
  5. Khushi Rastogi (June 30, 2020), "Property Rights of an Illegitimate Child: Hindu law and Muslim Law", -child-hindu-law-muslim/
  6. Prachi Dutta, "Illegitimate Children and the Law: A Primer on the Rights of Children Born Out of Wedlock in India",
  7. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  8. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  • Jane Anthony v. V.M Siyath, 2008
  • Jinia Koetin v. Kumar Sitaram Manjhi, 2002
  • Revansiddappa and Others v. Mallikarjuna and Others, 2011
  • SPS Balasubramanyam v. Sruttayan, 1993
  • Sukha v. Ninni, 1965

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