The top court today conferred daughters with equal right to father’s property even prior to codification of Hindu personal laws and enactment of the Hindu Succession Act in 1956 and said that the law of inheritance would apply to partition of properties even if the father had died intestate before 1956.
In a significant verdict, the court said the daughters of a male Hindu, dying intestate, would be entitled to inherit the self-acquired and other properties obtained in the partition by the father and get preference over other collateral members of the family.
The apex court’s verdict came on an appeal against a Madras High Court verdict and deals with the property rights of Hindu women and widows under the Hindu Succession Act.
Delivering the verdict, a bench of justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari said that if a property of a male Hindu dying intestate is self-acquired or obtained in the partition of a coparcenary or a family property, the same would devolve by inheritance. The top court said that a daughter of such a male Hindu would be entitled to inherit such property in preference to other collaterals (such as sons/daughters of brothers of deceased father).
Justice Murari, writing the 51-page judgment for the bench, also dealt with the question of whether such property will devolve on to the daughter upon the death of her father, who died without a will, by inheritance or shall devolve on to “father’s brother’s son by survivorship”.
“Right of a widow or daughter to inherit the self-acquired property or share received in the partition of a coparcenary property of a Hindu male dying intestate is well recognized not only under the old customary Hindu Law but also by various judicial pronouncements…,” the verdict said.
Referring to the legal provision, it said the legislative intent was to remedy the limitation of a Hindu woman who could not claim an absolute interest in the properties inherited by her but only had a life interest in the estate so inherited.
In case a female Hindu dies without leaving a will, the court said, the property she inherited from her father or mother would go to the heirs of her father while the property she inherited from her husband or father-in-law would go to the heirs of the husband.
“The basic aim of the legislature in enacting Section 15(2) (of the Hindu Succession Act) is to ensure that inherited property of a female Hindu dying issueless and intestate, goes back to the source,” it said.
Finally today The Supreme Court (SC) ruled the daughters of a male Hindu, who dies without writing a will, would be entitled to inherit the self-acquired and other properties of the father and get preference over other collateral members of the family in the absence of any other legal heir.