by | Jan 10, 2024


Testamentary succession, also known as succession through will, grants individuals the power to distribute their property based on their wishes. The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 addresses primarily intestate succession, but it also includes provisions for testamentary succession. This discussion explores the evolution of the concept before and after the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, with a focus on the pivotal Section 30.


Recognition of Will in Hindu Law

Before the Hindu Succession Act came into force, Hindu law did not explicitly recognize the concept of a will. However, courts acknowledged a Hindu’s authority to bequeath separate and self-acquired properties even before the enactment of the Act.

Evolution of Legal Framework

In 1865, the Succession Act was introduced, but it didn’t apply to Hindus. The Hindu Wills Act of 1870 had limited application in the Madras region. It was only after the Indian Succession Act of 1925, effective from January 1, 1927, that the execution of a will by a Hindu gained legal recognition. This marked a significant shift, necessitating the attestation of such wills by a minimum of two witnesses.

Limitations on Bequeathing Coparcenary Property

Prior to the Hindu Succession Act, a Hindu could make a will for separate property but faced restrictions regarding coparcenary property. The Supreme Court, in V. Kalyanaswamy(D) v. L. Bakthavatsalam(D) (2020), outlined four situations where a Hindu had varying degrees of power and restrictions in bequeathing property:

  1. A member with separate property had the right to bequeath it.
  2. In a joint family with a coparcener, the joint family property couldn’t be part of the will.
  3. Severance due to status disruption allowed a coparcener to bequeath their share.
  4. Partition with metes and bounds granted separate property status to the coparcener.

In M.N. Aryamurthy v. M.D. Subbaraya Setty (1972), the court emphasized that a coparcener couldn’t dispose of joint family property through a will due to survivorship principles.


Statutory Recognition

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 brought statutory recognition to testamentary succession. Section 30 of Hindu Succession Act,1956 empowered any Hindu to dispose of property through a will or testamentary disposition following the Indian Succession Act.

Interpreting Section 30

Section 30 of Hindu Succession Act,1956 clarified that a Hindu could dispose of property, including coparcenary property, through a will. The interest of a male Hindu in a Mitakshara coparcenary property was recognized as disposable. This interpretation allowed a Hindu to bequeath their interest even without a partition or severance of status.

Judicial Interpretation

In Radhamma v. H.N. Muddukrishna (2019), the Supreme Court reinforced the idea that a Hindu’s undivided interest in joint family property could be disposed of by will under Section 30. The court acknowledged the exception that allowed the disposal of a male Hindu’s interest in Mitakshara coparcenary property through will, deviating from the general rule of survivorship.


Contrasting Situations

The contrast between pre and post-Hindu Succession Act scenarios lies primarily in the treatment of coparcenary property. Before the Act, a coparcener couldn’t bequeath joint family property without specific situations like severance. After the Act, Section 30 extended the power to dispose of coparcenary property through a will, even without a formal partition.

Devolution of Property

Regardless of these changes, the fundamental principle of devolving property through testamentary succession remains consistent. The Act introduced a crucial shift in allowing Hindus to express their wishes regarding joint family property, a power that was limited before its enactment.

In essence, the evolution of testamentary succession under Hindu law reflects a balance between tradition and modern legal principles. The Hindu Succession Act, by recognizing the evolving nature of family structures, provided a legal framework that accommodates individual autonomy in property distribution while preserving certain traditional principles of coparcenary property.


1-https://m.economictimes.com/wealth/legal/will/when-can-a-legal-heir-challenge-a-will-as-per-indian-succession-laws/amp_articleshow/105581197.cms -THE ECONOMIC TIMES 

2-https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-hindu-explains-what-is-coparcenary-property-in-hindu-law/article32364484.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.

Related Posts



INTRODUCTION The  maintenance under  Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act addresses various aspects  within the Hindu community. This comprehensive discussion...



EFFECTS OF ADOPTION UNDER HINDU LAW (SECTION 12 AND JUDICIAL INTERPRETATIONS) Section 12 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (Effects Of Adoption...