Uttarakhand gives wife co-ownership of man’s ancestral property

The Uttarakhand government has brought an ordinance that will give co-ownership rights to women in their husband’s ancestral property. The landmark decision has been made keeping in mind the largescale migration of male members from the Himalayan state in search of work. Through this, the government aims to provide economic independence to the women who are left behind in the hills and are solely dependent on agriculture to meet their financial needs.

CM Trivendra Singh Rawat said Uttarakhand is the first state to do so. The amendment made to the Uttarakhand Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act is likely to benefit around 35 lakh women in the state. In revenue records, the name of the wife will now be mentioned as co-owner.

“This is the biggest reform of our government. I am confident that this reform will not be limited to Uttarakhand and other states will also follow it. We talk of equal partnership ...this ordinance provides that to women.”

According to the ordinance, in case a woman files for divorce and marries someone else, she will not be regarded as co-owner of the land owned by her first husband. But, if her divorced husband is unable to bear her financial expenses, she would be allowed co-ownership. Besides, if a woman divorces and does not have a child or her husband has been missing for over seven years, she can also become co-owner of land her father owns.

“It was unfair, despite performing the agricultural work, women could not take decisions or apply for loans” Rawat said.

Large-scale migration has remained a problem in Uttarakhand. In the past 10 years, close to 5 lakh people moved out – 50% in search of work. Several villages are left only with elderly couples and women. In such a scenario, the women are involved in household chores and working in the fields without any ownership rights.

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