Disqualification as to Succession: Hindu Succession Act 1956

Disqualification as to succession: Hindu succession act 1956

The Hindu law of succession is much simpler law than the old Hindu law. The Hindu law of succession lays down uniform law of succession for all the Hindu. The Hindu succession act preserves the dual mode of devolution of the property under mitakshara school.

The Hindu succession act, 1956 bases its rule of succession on the principle of propinquity, i.e. preference of heirs on the basis of proximity of relationship.

The Hindu succession act, 1956 deals only with intestate succession among the Hindus. The Succession open at the time of the death of the person whose estate is in question and is governed by this law in force at that time.

DISQUALIFICATION :

Before 1956, several disqualification were recognised which prevented an heir from inheriting property not merely the disqualified heir could not take property in inheritance but he or she also did not transmit any interest to his or her own heirs as a disqualified person was treated as having  predeceased the propositus. However, if the disqualified heir recovered from his disqualification subsequent to the opening of the inheritance he could not recover his share and divest the state already vested in other heirs. Section  27 Hindu succession act 1956 lays down that if a person is disqualified from inheriting any property under this act it shall devolve as if such person had died before then intestate this mean that no title or right to succeed can be traced through the disqualified person.

  • For instance “P” a Hindu dies leaving behind a widow “W” and a widow of pre predeceased son “SW” who had remarried before “P” died. “W” will take the entire property as if as W was dead. Or suppose, “P” dies leaving behind two brother A and B and nephew “AS” son of “A”. A is disqualified heir. AS will not inherit anything. B will take the entire property.
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Disease And Deformity And Intensity:

Disease and deformity and Intensity are no longer disqualification(“Chandi V/s bhagyadhar, AIR 1976”)

Section 28 runs: “no person shall be disqualified from succeeding to any property on the ground of any disease defect or deformity save as provided in this act or any other ground whatsoever”.

Remarriage:

The marriage of 3 widows  before succession open disentitles them from inheritance. These widows are sons widow’s, son’s son’s widow and brother’s widow.  The widowed mother and widowed stepmother are not disqualified from inheritance even if they have remarried.(“Kasturi devi V/s Deputy Div. Commr., AIR 1976   SC 2595”)

The question of the remarriage propositus, own window does not arise. If she has remarried during the lifetime of her husband, her second marriage is void and therefore she would not be considered to have been remarried. If she has remarried after divorcing her husband, she has ceased to be his wife and therefore will not be his widow when propositus dies. But the subsequent marriage of the widows is no disqualification.

Note: Remarriage was deleted by amended act of 2005.

Conversion:

Conversion of an heir is not a bar to succession but the children of   Hindu who convert to non Hindu religion cannot inherit. So also the descendant of the children cannot inherit, unless such children or descendant are Hindu at the time when the succession open. Succession to the property of a convert is governed by the personal law of the community to which he converted. (“P. Patharakh V/s. Subbiah, AIR 1981”)

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For instance succession to the property of a Hindu convert to Islam is governed by Muslim law. Section 26 provides for a Converse case. The children and descendant of a convert cannot inherit to the propositus, unless they are Hindu. We may illustrate the rule with the following examples;

  • P dies leaving behind three son, A, B, C. B had earlier converted to Islam. Even though B had converted to Islam he will take his 1/3 share as conversion is not a disqualification of the heir.
  • P dies leaving behind two son A and B and three son CS1 CS2 CS3 of a predeceased son C who had converted to Islam. All the three son were born to C after his conversion. CS, CS1, CS2 are disqualified and will not take any property. A and B will take ½ each.

Murderer :

Section 25 of Hindu succession act disqualifies two set of murderer:

  • If an heir himself murder or abetted the murder of the propositus in furtherance of succession.
  • If an heir has murdered or abetted the commission of murder of someone other than the propositus in the furtherance of the succession. It is the principal of general policy. In such case the murderer should be treated as non-existent and not as one who forms the stock for a fresh line of descent.

Where husband had murdered his wife, neither he nor his parents were held entitled to inherited property her property.(“Janak Rani Chadha V/s State, AIR 2007”)  This is also what Section 27 of the act lays down. If an heir is not convicted under section, 302 IPC, but by giving him the benefit of doubt, he is convicted under Section 324 the disqualification attaches. But if he is acquitted of the charge of murder even on the basis of benefit of doubt and the disqualification does not attach to him.

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Under the provision, murder must be in “Furtherance Of Succession”

For example: There was a faction-fight among five brothers A, B, C, D and E. The  father tried to intervene and was killed by an accidental sword blow from A. In this case A will succeed to the property of his father along with B, C, D and E, as A did not kill his father in furtherance of the succession.

Under Section 25, The Murderer as well as the abettor of murder are disqualified.

For instance: P has two sons A and B. A himself murders P so that he may inherit his properties. Or it may be that he abets B to murder P. In both cases A will not entitled to inherit. In the second case, B  will also not inherit. The murder may be of the propositus or of someone else in furtherance of the succession.

For instance: P has a daughter D and predeceased daughters son’s DS, P is on death bed. In  furtherance of the succession, DS kill D,  so that when P dies, he may take the inherence. DS will not be entitled to inherit when P dies.

The rule is that if murder is committed with a view to accelerate succession, the murderer will not be entitled to reap the harvest of the crime. The section applies to both testamentary and intestate succession.

Author: vivek khandelwal,
Amity University Jaipur, 2nd Year/BBA.LL.B(Hons.)

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