Being aware of women’s legal claims to property is the first step towards achieving a more equitable and just society
India doesn’t have a uniform law, it has different personal laws among other other religions pertaining to inheritance and thus, inheritance is governed by the different customary laws based on religion.
The Hindu Succession Act, 2005 and the Indian Succession Act, 1925 can be resorted to in order to analyse the rights relating to inheritance by Hindu women in India.
Over the years, the role of a woman has changed in society and it is still evolving – not just from an economic and financial standpoint, but also from a legal right’s viewpoint.
According to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (HSA), daughters, widows, and mothers are considered Class I heirs.
“This means that they have the first right to the property of a Hindu male dying intestate together with the son and other heirs. However, in the case of a Hindu female dying intestate, daughters (together with the son and the husband) have the first right to the property, while the mother is placed lower on the list,”.
“Post amendment of the Hindu Succession Act in 2005, a daughter has an equal right to that of a son in the property of the parents. The daughter is a coparcener in the ancestral property and shares an equal amount of liability as well. A daughter attaining adulthood shall have complete rights over any property that is gifted to her. As per the Hindu Succession Act, a married woman has complete rights over her personal property, which she can transact freely. In the event of division of property, a woman gets an equal share of property just like other members. A widowed woman is entitled to an equal share of the late husband’s property, which is equally divided amongst other Class I heirs,”.
For other religions, “Indian Succession Act, 1925, governs the inheritance and succession laws applicable to Parsis, Christians, and Jews and the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 governs the inheritance and succession laws applicable to Muslims,”.
Succession Rights Under The Muslim Law
- The right to property arises on a person’s death and not by birth. A Muslim woman gets a share as per the personal laws;
- A Muslim woman is entitled to one-fourth of her deceased husband’s property if she does not have any children, but one-eighth of the share if she has children;
- The daughter receives half the share of her brother in her father’s property;
- A Muslim mother is entitled to one-sixth of her deceased son’s property if he has children, and if the son dies issueless, the share of a mother is one-third.
Under The Christian Law
- A Christian daughter and son have equal rights in the property of their father;
- A Christian wife gets one-third or half of the property of her husband, depending upon the presence of lineal descendants.