Changes made by Hindu Succession Act, 1956
Women’s economic independence has been a long-held belief necessary to achieve true equality. When it came to the independence fight, both Nehru and Gandhi saw that women’s economic disadvantage was the fundamental cause of social inequities. When the constitution was drafted, women had no substantial advantages.
Intrinsically unequal people are subjected to “sameness treatment” as a result of the Western democratic ethos’ impact on Indian leadership. Religiously motivated personal rules controlling Indians’ familiar status and subdividing Indians based on religious affiliation replaced the Uniform Civil Code, which had been lauded for its secularism and mandate for directed policy.
(1) Changes in the Hindu joint family:
Firstly, a coparcener in a Hindu joint family was prohibited from writing about his stake or property in the family under the existing legislation. Section 30 of the Hindu Succession Act, on the other hand, allows a co-heir to make a will for his property. Second, the idea of survivorship was recognised upon the death of a coparcener.
So that other co-owners might benefit from the property. The pre-deceased coparcener’s widow, daughter, or daughter’s daughter cannot receive his part of the joint family estate. Survivorship is implicitly eliminated because widows, daughters, and other heirs are allowed to inherit under section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act (HSA).
(2) Abolition of Sapindas Relationship:
It has been repealed by the current law. These changes result in a wholly distinct set of regulations. The bond between the two sapindas in the past has been dissolved. As a result, both males and females may inherit the deceased’s property. It is founded on fairness.
In this way, the Act has made an essential contribution to society. In the ancient legislation, male and female heirs were treated differently. Females were denied the ability to inherit and were completely shut out of the process. But widows were allowed a restricted privilege, called a widow’s estate or a limited estate. As a result, they were unable to sell or give away the property.
It is not the widow’s daughter or close family member who will inherit the property after her death; it is the spouse’s family members. Property inheritance is now open to both males and females.
(3) Separate Property of Male Propositus:
According to the ancient legislation, it was illegal to have multiple categories of heirs inherit simultaneously, e.g., when the father had a son, the daughter had a son, and so on. To a certain extent, the succession of distinct sorts of heirs is acknowledged. Now, the deceased’s son, daughter, widow, and mother, all of whom are members of class I heirs, can inherit the deceased’s property simultaneously and in equal shares.
For instance, the only class I heirs are eligible for simultaneous succession. When Class I heirs are present, the Agnates and Cognates cannot inherit. When it comes to class successions, we may see the ancient preferred succession.
(4) Changes in Illegitimate Sons:
Illegitimate son succession rights differed from school to school under the old legislation. Other factors were parents’ caste and ethnicity. Father’s property is no longer considered for determining the legitimacy of an illegitimate son.
Consequently, illegitimate sons are not entitled to inherit anything. Also, the illegitimate son of the legal son is not entitled to any of the property of his grandfather or grandmother. Nevertheless, only the legitimate son of an illegitimate son has a claim to the grandmother’s possessions.
Hindu succession amendment act 2005
There were two significant amendments proposed to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, in the 2004 Hindu Succession Amendment Bill (hereinafter referred to as the Act). First, replace Provision 6 with a new section that gives daughters the same rights as boys, and second, removes Section 23, which denies women the ability to seek for a division of a dwelling house held by an intestate family, unless the male heirs initiate the request for partition. By way of this modification, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was amended in 2005.
According to the aforementioned clause, this act shall not override any other law’s requirements to prevent division or fragmentation of the agricultural sector or to prevent a ceiling from being set on tenancy rights despite such holding. The fact that this provision omitted agricultural land rights, which were governed by state-level tenure rules, created a biassed environment in favour of women, as women had no rights or interests in agricultural land. Because this restriction was removed, women’s access to agricultural land is now equal to men’s.
Depending on the woman’s familial background and her marital status, Hindu women’s property rights might vary widely. In addition, it depends on the type of property being considered, such as whether it is inherited, purchased, or marital. By birth, the daughter becomes a co-owner of the Joint Hindu Family’s property, with the same rights and responsibilities as a boy. As a result of Hindu law’s alienation and fragmentation, women’s property rights were severely restricted.
In other words, women were not allowed to inherit anything from their husbands or fathers, but they might own the stridhan instead if they so desired. Secondly, there were gifts from strangers and property acquired by self-exertion as a married woman, over which she had limited rights of disposal. The sauadayika were gifts from both parents and husband, over which she had full ownership and disposal rights.
The Hindu Women’s Property Rights Act of 1937 was the first piece of legislation to establish women’s property rights. When a Hindu man dies intestate and leaves her behind, she is entitled to partition as a male owner. The Privy Council clarified that a woman’s rights as a restricted owner only applied to specific items.
The Hindu Succession Statute, 1956, was passed by the legislatures to correct the problems produced by the above-mentioned act. It was not enough to accept that there were two sets of girls in the Hindu joint family. A disadvantage has been established for her as she has no legal right to seek a divorce. A change made by the amendment of 2005 changed it so that the daughter became a co-owner of the joint Hindu property, with all of the privileges that go along with that and It will not affect any alienation or split that took place before December 20, 2004, under this new clause.
As a result of this revision, section 23 of the statute was removed, which plainly discriminated against female heirs who sought a share of the dwelling place that the intestate had left before a male successor did. As a result of the Hindu Succession Act, which was in place before 2005, women’s rights were severely curtailed and were dependent on the whims and fancies of male members of the family.
Similarly, the 2005 amendment removed a provision that discriminated against three categories of intestate women: the widow of a predeceased son, the widow of a predeceased son’s son, and the widow of a sibling. On the basis that she was the surviving half of her spouse, she was no longer considered a widow after her second marriage. Consequently, her entitlement to the property was taken away. Even after remarriage, certain widows, such as an intestate’s own wife, retain their rights to her late husband’s property. Because of this, the judiciary and legislative systems are based on equality, as outlined in the constitution. Inequality remained, though, even after the 2005 amendment.
The first two categories of differentiated widows, namely the widow of a predeceased son and the widow of a predeceased son, belong to Class I heirs, whereas the third type, namely the widow of a brother, belongs to an agnate. That is because they are intestates, they inherit the property immediately following the intestate’s death, and their rights are invested appropriately and as per section 15, once the right is invested in that property, she becomes an absolute owner, and that property cannot be dispossessed by any subsequent occurrence. As a result, it was deleted to rectify the problematic condition that was causing disadvantage to certain groups of women under section 24 of the Act.
Hindu women’s status was always subordinate to that of male family members, even in the Dharmashastras. As a result of this, when the Hindu Succession Act was passed in 1956, the lawmakers did not believe that it was necessary for daughters to receive anything from their father’s property.
Author: Shreyas Nair,
Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur / First Year / Law