DEVOLUTION OF INTEREST IN COPARCENARY PROPERTY (SECTION 6 OF HSA, 1956)

by | Dec 20, 2023

INTRODUCTION

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, stands as a landmark legislation addressing property inheritance among Hindus, with a particular focus on intestate or unwilled properties. This discussion delves into the Act’s historical context, significant amendments, and the evolving status of females concerning property rights.

BACKGROUND

Before 1956, Hindus were governed by diverse property laws, varying across regions and communities. The Mitakshara school predominantly favored male heirs, while the Dayabhaga system and the Marumakkattayam law had their own nuances. The impetus for change came from Jawaharlal Nehru’s advocacy for women’s property rights, leading to the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act on June 17, 1956.

Despite early reforms, women were still denied significant coparcenary rights. States like Kerala pioneered their own laws, abolishing the concept of coparcenary and granting equal rights to daughters. Amendments in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra followed suit. In 2000, the 174th report of the Law Commission proposed revisions to address gender injustice, setting the stage for subsequent amendments.

RECENT AMENDMENTS IN HINDU SUCCESSION ACT, 1956

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 aimed to uphold women’s rights, but certain provisions fell short. Sections 6 and 8 dealt with the transfer of ownership in Mitakshara coparcenary property and individual male Hindus’ ownership, respectively. Despite initial intentions to eliminate the Mitakshara coparcenary, conservative opposition led to its retention with male coparceners.

The 174th Report of the Law Commission highlighted gender discrimination in Mitakshara coparcenary, prompting the enactment of the Hindu Succession Amendment Act in 2005. This amendment recognized daughters as coparceners by birth, granting them equal rights, responsibilities, and ownership in ancestral property.

FINDINGS OF THE 174TH REPORT OF THE LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA

The Law Commission’s 174th Report emphasized the need for reform, noting the historical discrimination against women in Mitakshara coparcenary. The Commission considered it a constitutional fraud and recommended amending Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act,1956 to rectify the gender bias.

AMENDMENTS MADE IN 2005

The amendment in 2005 brought a paradigm shift by recognizing daughters as coparceners with birth rights. It bestowed upon them the same rights, liabilities, and ownership as sons. However, this transformation was not without limitations. The retrospective application of the amendment raised questions, especially concerning daughters’ rights when the coparcener had died before the enactment.

SECTION 6 OF HINDU SUCCESSION (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2005

  • Devolution of Interest in Coparcenary Property
  •  The daughter of a coparcener in a Joint Hindu family governed by Mitakshara law becomes a coparcener by birth, with rights and liabilities equal to that of a son.
  • The amendment applied prospectively from September 9, 2005, but with retroactive effects on certain events.
  • Coparcenary Property and Testamentary Disposition
  • Property obtained by a female Hindu through the amendment is held with coparcenary ownership incidents, allowing her to dispose of it by testamentary disposition.
  • Devolution of Property After Death
  • Upon the death of a Hindu after the amendment, the devolution of property in a Joint Hindu family follows testamentary or intestate succession.
  • The coparcenary property is considered divided, with daughters allotted shares equivalent to sons.
  • Protection from Ancestral Debt
  • The Act shields sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons from liability for ancestral debts, eliminating the pious obligation under Hindu law.
  • Exceptions exist for debts contracted before the amendment, preserving creditors’ rights and enforcing existing alienations related to such debts.
  • Non-application to Pre-2004 Partitions
  • The section does not apply to partitions executed before December 20, 2004, defining ‘partition’ as either a registered deed or one decreed by a court under the Registration Act, 1908.
  • Retroactive Application and Vested Rights
  • Despite being applicable from September 9, 2005, the section operates retrospectively, impacting events preceding its enactment.
  • It introduces benefits retroactively, challenging vested rights acquired under previous laws.
  • Equal Rights with Conditions
  • While granting equal rights to females, the conditions for asserting these rights include both the daughter and the coparcener being alive at the time of property partition.

  AMENDMENT MADE IN 2020: VINEETA SHARMA V. RAKESH SHARMA

  The judgment in ‘Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, 2020, ‘shed light on the interpretation of the 2005 amendment. It clarified that a daughter could       claim a share in coparcenary even if the coparcener had died before the enactment, provided the daughter was alive on September 9, 2005. This             ruling addressed potential ambiguities and ensured the intended benefits of the amendment.

   CONCLUSION

While the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act have undoubtedly improved the property rights of women, certain challenges and discrepancies persist. The dual entitlement of females to property from both their father and husband raises questions about fairness. Additionally, limitations on claiming rights during the mother’s lifetime introduce complexities.

As we reflect on the evolution of women’s property rights in India, it becomes imperative for legislators to address these issues comprehensively. Balancing gender equality without inadvertently introducing new forms of discrimination remains a crucial task. The journey of reform initiated in 1956 continues, and further amendments should aim for a more inclusive and equitable legal framework for property inheritance among Hindus.

REFERENCE 

1-https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hindu-daughter-has-equal-right-in-property-says-sc/story-bn6Ho4gMpXD9O6kN30M4PI_amp.html – HINDUSTAN TIMES

2-https://m.timesofindia.com/india/sc-gives-equal-inheritance-right-to-daughters-from-1956/amp_articleshow/77493244.cms- THE TIMES OF INDIA

3-https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/daughters-have-equal-coparcenary-rights-in-joint-hindu-family-property-supreme-court/amp_articleshow/77484056.cms -THE ECONOMIC TIMES

4-https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/one-error-rectified-many-to-go/article32507629.ece/amp/ -THE HINDU

 

 

Written By Archana Singh

I am Archana Singh, a recent law master's graduate with a strong aspiration for the judicial service. My passion lies in elucidating complex legal concepts, disseminating legal news, and enhancing legal awareness. I take immense pride in introducing my new legal website - The LawGist. Through my meticulously crafted blogs and articles, I aim to empower individuals with comprehensive legal insights. My unwavering dedication is to facilitate a profound comprehension of the law, enabling people to execute judicious and well-informed choices.

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