Disqualification as to succession under Hindu Succession Act, 1956
The family law covers a lot more topics regarding succession, marriage, divorce of several people of different religion. We know that when someone dies, his or her property passes on to his/her offspring. This topic we will discuss about the disqualification to succession mentioned in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. This Act basically came with the intent of providing an all-inclusive and uniform scheme of unrevised succession for Hindus.
As under the Hindu Succession Act 1956, there are laws related to disqualification which states that what an old Hindu law and a modern Hindu law briefly asseverate about it. There are numerous laws related to disqualification. According to Hindu law, the natural endowment rights of a person were not absolute. In spite of the nearness of the interconnection, a person could still be disqualified from inheriting the property, on the delineation of his certain physical or mental frailty, or specific comportment, this barring from inheritance was not on the basis of a religious ground, but rather depends on moral grounds.
As per the old Hindu law, the endowment rights of a person are not unmodified and there were certain disqualifications based on intellectual delicacy and physical defects. In spite of the nearness of the relationship, a person could still be disqualified from inheriting the property. This ostracism from the inheritance of the property does not solely on religious grounds, as in an incapability to perform certain religious rites, but rather be determined by the social grounds. But the new Hindu law relating to any concession for Hindu is overseen by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Under this act Section 24 to 28 deals with disqualification with the heir.
Section 28 states that no person shall be disqualified from acquiring any property on the basis of any perspective except those mentioned Act. The disqualification can be either in the case of remarriage by certain widows mentioned under Section 24 or in the case of murder mentioned under Section 25.
Since Hindu society has always been a patriarchal society, the property rights of a male member of the family have always considered being more important than the female member. Moreover, the restrictions being imposed on the women which were considered to be necessary by our traditional patriarchal setups. This was firmly believed by the members of the family that if the women were given equal rights, they would mistreat their marital obligations and household works.
Before the codification of Hindu law, there were different issues and commentaries that arose the inheritance issues among the Hindus, and with the spare of the time, these commentaries gradually gave them individual characteristics. As far as the rights of the sonless widow to inherit the property are considered, Mitakshara has simply laid down the principle that the sonless women can easily inherit the estate of his husband, which means that the properties will be acquired by her individually if she has been separated from the family.
Disqualifications as to succession
Section 24 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 states that “certain widows remarrying may not inherit as a widow. The person who is in a relationship with an intestate, as the widow of a predeceased son or widow of a brother may not be entitled to inherit the property of the estate as a widow if on the date of succession, she has remarried. On such a basis, it was disposed of the inheritance already which was vested on the widows on their remarriage.
As in law, remarriage incapacitates a widow of agotraja sapinda from succeeding to the property of a male Hindu on the date the succession arrives Under the law, some of the family’s state that if they had married before the succession had disqualified them from inheriting the property of the deceased instate. Under the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856 only three kinds of women are disqualified from inheriting the property if they remarried before death as of Son’s widow, Son’s Son’s widow and Brother’s widow in spite of all reasons, women cannot be disqualified from inheriting the property.
However, intestate women could also be disqualified as in intestate widow women remarriage could not also be disqualified before succession open arises, as if she married a person for the second time, her marriage would be stated as void and in a law void marriage is no marriage. In these sections, she still remains to be a member of the intestate family even if she had married before the intestate death.
Section 25 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 falls under this criteria. This Section states that any person who commits the murder or assists the murder shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of the person, or any property in the promotion to succession to which he or she committed the murder. So as, If any person found guilty for the murder of the deceased intestate must forfeit his or her rights to come up with the property of the deceased.
The provision of the statue of distribution is paramount and are forbidden any disqualification not containing any statue, was discombobulated by the Judicial Committee of Privy. As the Section definitely applies to an area where there is the inheritance of a property but this Act also applies to an area where the testator has left behind the will. A murderer who is guilty of murdering the testator cannot take any benefit under the will.
The Section applies to succession under the Act. It does not apply to any other enactment under any other statue. In the case of Kasturi Devi v. D.D.C AIR 1976 SC 2105, it was held by the Privy Council that on the principle of equity and justice the murderer should be disqualified from succeeding to the person whom he had murdered and would not be regarded as the fresh descent as he can be stated as the non-existent. Murder means to kill or assassinate someone which is broadly understood in a popular sense and not just to a technical resolute.
This goes beyond the reasonable doubt proof sense of the Indian Penal Code.In State v. Chetan Chauhan, the wife was accused of murdering her husband abetment to commit murder along with three other people and was clearly denied with the succession certificate as in the view of Section 25 of The Hindu Succession Act,1956.
In the view of the exoneration by the Criminal Court, the Bombay High Court stated that there is nothing that she could be involved in murdering her husband, she could be entitled to succeed to her property. A murder attempted during the propounding effects and sudden provocation, or to safe one’s own life or somebody else life is considered as more commiserating under the Criminal Law, Moreover, the Civil Court is not bounded by the decision or verdict of the Criminal Court, they can have their own independent decision.
In Janak Rani Chadha v. the State (NCT of Delhi), the husband was held guilty for committing the murder of his wife after a few years of his marriage. As she has leftover her property that she has purchased before her marriage. So, therefore according to the Hindu Provision Act, the property constituted her general property and as she died issueless, her husband would have normally succeeded to the property, but in accordance to the provision of Section 25, he was the one who murdered her, so he would be disqualified from inheriting the property.
Abetment of murder
The Commission of the murder of the intestate or the abetting of the commission of the murder has one or the same result.
Section 26 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 states about the Converted descendant’s disqualification. Before the initiation of this Act, Hindus ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to any other religion, after the conversion of the religion the descendants. Therefore, they will be disqualified from inheriting the property of any of their Hindu relatives in spite of any of those children being Hindu at the time of succession opens. Under the old Hindu law, conversion by a Hindu into some other religion was considered as disqualification which was further removed by the Caste Disability Removal Act,1850.
Under this Act as well when a Hindu converted his religion, he still might have a right to all the property of his or her relatives but descendants of a covert are disqualified from inheriting the property. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 clearly states that a Hindu ceased to be Hindu by converting to any religion whether before or after the implementation of this Act. If the child was born to them before or after the conversion of the religion, the descendants will be disqualified from inheriting the property unless those descendants are Hindu when the succession opens.
As the principle of “equality” is equated with the sameness treatment as essential in an unequal society. Law of disqualification under The Hindu Succession Act,1956 is dealt by the Section24 to 28 and with due respect to these sections, a person can be disqualified only in the case of remarriage by few widows expressly as mentioned under the Section, when a person commits a murder for the furtherance of the property and when a person is descendant of the convert. Only in such cases, a person can be disqualified to inherit the property, rest all come under all Hindu Law which is abolished by now.
Author: Sattwik Biswas,
2nd Year BBA LLB under IFIM Law School, Bangalore