Putting the last nail on male primacy in division of Hindu ancestral property, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, cleared the legal cobwebs to declare daughters will have inheritance rights equal to those of sons from properties of fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers right from the codification of the law in 1956.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah ironed out the confusion arising from the apex court’s conflicting interpretations of the amended Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, which came into force on September 9, 2005.
The bench said irrespective of whether the father was alive or not, daughters born before September 9, 2005, too could claim equal right in inheritance.
However, daughters, while claiming co-parcenary rights, won’t be able to question disposal or alienation of ancestral properties by the existing co-parceners prior to December 20, 2004, as provided in the amended Section 6.
The provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, confer status of co-parcener (equal rights in inheritance) on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with same rights and liabilities. The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from September 9, 2005,” Justice Mishra said in the 121-page judgment.
The court asked other co-parceners in a Hindu joint family not to be alarmed by the judgment. “It is only a case of enlargement of the rights of daughters. The rights of other relatives remain unaffected as prevailed in the proviso to Section 6 as it stood before the amendment,” the Supreme Court said.
Co-parcenary property is one which is inherited by a Hindu from his/her father, grandfather or great-grandfather.
Justice Mishra quoted a common saying noted in a 1996 judgment of the SC to sum up the bench’s view towards daughters, “A son is a son until he gets a wife. A daughter is a daughter throughout her life.”