In our Indian society it is very common that the men is dominating in terms of rights given to them in respect of property whether it is movable or immovable. Earlier in our Indian culture women’s are treated equally with men. Women’s enjoy equal share in the property. In the very recent time before the amendments, daughters were also the victims of the gender discrimination along with the wives when it came to inheritance of property. It was mostly the male centric society. Giving women’s and daughters right to property is a recent happening. So this submission will focus on the rights of the women’s on the ancestral property.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In this case it is the time of the year 1944, a matter came up before the court in which a man dies leaving behind three of its family member- wife, daughter and son. Due to this, the alone son’s name was mentioned for the rights to be given on the disputed parents property. Then the age factor comes in between which means there was a minor age issue due to which his mother has to become his natural guardian. Soon after in the year 1972 the mother of the son become mentally sick due to insanity and left the house. The daughter of the mentally sick mother files a case after the death of her mother. In the suit it was mentioned and claimed that the she also has a right in the ancestral property of the parents. Later the trial court dismissed the claim because in their opinion they mentioned that the women i.e. Widow, wife or daughter has no right in the coparcenary so they cannot claim any share. Property and was reversed by the district judge of pune. Justice Sandeep k shinde who was the listener of this case heard the appeal and observe that the appellate court was right and worked accordance with the law and dismissed the order given by the trial court. Disturbed by the said decision the brother filed the present appeal.
ISSUES IN THE CASE
The issue in this case is that whether the property of the mother would devolve upon her sons and daughters or whether the interest should be limited or absolute. There is also a question that whether females does have the right to inherit the property or not and their share with the other members.
In the judgement given in this case, there are two questions of law discussed by the Bombay high court. First is the Section 3 of the devolution of the property of the Hindu women’s right of property act, 1937. According to this section as per “ Section 3(2) and (3), if a Hindu governed by any school of law other than Dayabhaga dies, his right in Hindu Joint family property devolves on his wife with limited interest which is known as the Hindu woman’s estate”.
Secondly, as per Section 14 (property of a female Hindu to be her absolute property) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 “a Hindu female is a full owner of any property possessed by her, and this includes all modes of acquisition including inheritance or device”.
So by relating both the sections and provisions, the court observed that the “Hindu women’s estate or may be known as limited interest can be occupied by the widow (the deceased wife) as a full owner as according to the provision of section 14 of the Hindu succession act, 1956.
The court also stated “it is not in dispute that mother of the plaintiff and the defendant had died after 1956 and, therefore, her interest in the property would devolve as per the scheme in terms of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Thus, her property will devolve upon her sons, daughters and husband.”
Hence, the court does not find any wrong in the decision of first appellate court, the son claiming the right over the whole ancestral property of his deceased parents was denied and the court ruled in favor of daughter who filed a suit for his right in the property of his parents by dismissing the present appeal.
If we talk about the women empowerment, the Hindu women right to property 1937 came as a blessing for the right of the women. Prior to the act, there were no serious provisions or codified laws which can deal with the property rights of the Hindu women. In the ancient period or in the 19th and 20th century, disputes were solved according to the customary rules and common laws and practices of the given area. But we can say that the most of the time women have to sacrifice. The “Hindu women’s right to property act” was passed due to the unhappiness,
Displeasure and unacceptable situation of the rights of the women and it given as a big ray of hope to the supporters and the women’s itself. The given case and its judgment is the best example of it as it shows gender equality. The Hindu women who is in the possession of the estate is provided with the full enjoyment estate as long as she is not guilty of any part. But she is entitled to a limited interest only which is known as the Hindu women’s estate. In a coparcenary system the widow of a Hindu man, the widowed daughter and granddaughter in law are entitled to inherit his estate irrespective of the existence of male heirs. The doctrine of survivorship is also defeated. I am not in the support of the provision because as a class 1 heir of the family they should be given absolute share in the property.
But after some time, this idea of limited estate provided by the above act was abolished by the “the Hindu succession act, 1956”. This act brought about many changes, the most important of it is the allocation of absolute rights over the property to the women. The disability of the women to hold absolute property was removed by the apex court inspite of the fact that the formation of the estate at a time before the enactment of the given legislation which was retrospective in nature.
It has been said that this Act, “abrogates all the rules of the law of succession hitherto applicable to Hindus whether by virtue of any text or rule of Hindu law or any custom or usage having the force of laws in respect of all matters dealt with in the Act. Therefore no woman can be denied property rights on the basis of any custom, usage or text and the said Act reformed the personal law and gave woman greater property rights.
As we know that most of the part of property rights in family law legislation in predominantly male centric but it now has evolved over time and give first limited then absolute property rights to the women. But the sad part is that, most of the women’s still does not know or aware about the rights they can claim. And also the framers of the constitution of India has taken a responsible and significant steps to end gender discrimination. As we are living in the modern world it is our duty to ensure and provide the women’s every possible remedy.
Author: Raman Saxena,
Delhi metropolitan education affiliated to GGSIPU (2nd year/law student)