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Know your Rights, Female Heirs!

Rules in India have troubled women by depriving them of equality since decades. In fact, India has been a patriarchal country with rules and regulations favoring males ever since independence. Females have always been looked upon as a liability to be disposed off by marrying them and their status remains unchanged even after their marriage. This inequality, however, is not the result of legal system but also of the mentality that has and continues to prevail in our society. At times, women themselves deprive them of their rights either by accepting the fact that they are meant to sacrifice for their families or just because they are unaware of their rights and powers. Despite of the changing mindset and laws, now favoring females, the traditional activities and brutalities are being imposed on women in many parts of India because tradition is deep rooted in our culture. In this article, I’ve tried to summarize various provisions that existed for women and some that has been changed to create a difference. Know your rights better and get informed by reading through.


Hindu Succession Act

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 was enacted to document succession and inheritance of properties, to list the sequence of heirs in which the property would be devolved and to frame the rules regarding the same.  However, it seems that the Act was much inclined toward the Mitakshara Law, stating that a Hindu Undivided Family consists of a family of a male member, sons, grandsons and great grandsons, who collectively form a coparcenary (joint ownership of heirs). This further means that males alone had the birth right to inherit the property by succession. This is also called devolution by survivorship.

By the way, there are two laws governing the Hindu Undivided Family:

  • Mitakshara Law (applies to whole of India except Bengal and Assam)
  • Dayabhaga Law (applies to Bengalis and Assamese all over the world)

Dayabhaga Law does not give the son a birth right in ancestral property. The son’s right arises only upon father’s death, just like a daughter’s right does. This law does not follow the concept of survivorship, unlike Mitakshara Law.

According to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, married/unmarried daughters were included in Class 1 heirs and were entitled to a share of property of anintestate (a person who has died without leaving a will), equal to the share of the son/sons and widow of the deceased father. However, the Act enforced inequalities on daughters by preventing them from claiming partition of dwelling house, after the death of mother/father intestate, until the sons decide and agree upon the partition. They only had the right to reside in the home if they were unmarried, deserted by their husbands or were widows.

Women Inequality

Women could also not dispose off a property in any way, which was given to them through will. However, after sub section 14 became effective, a female could dispose off the property under will or given as a gift, in any way she wants, making her the absolute owner of the property.

Amendment to Hindu Succession Act

The Hindu Succession Act 1956 was amended in 2005 to bring females at par with males. Accordingly, they were granted the rights in respect of partition of dwelling houses. Now they can claim for the partition the way the son of the family can.

Another regressive provision must be abolished to bring the aim of the 2005 amendment and social trend toward inter cast marriages in sync. This provision is still included in the Special Marriage Act and it states that solemnizing of civil marriage by any Hindu would result in his severance (the action of ending a relationship) from such family.

Although many regulations and provisions have been made to elevate the status of women in India and step toward a progressive nation, many more need to be reframed and formed to bridge the gender gap and encourage upcoming social trends, at large.

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