The Law relating to intestate succession among Hindus is codified under Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The Act brought about changes in the Law of Succession among Hindus and gave rights which were till then unknown in relation to women’s property. Earlier landmark legislation was Hindu Womens’ Right to Property Act (XVIII of ) 1937, which conferred ownership rights on women. The widow was entitled only to a limited estate in the property of the deceased with a right to claim partition. A daughter had virtually no inheritance rights. Later, Hindu Womens’ Rights to Property (Extension to Agricultural Lands) Act, (Madras Act 26 of 1947 was enacted). The two enactments were considered in L.Bappu Ayyar Vs. Ranganayaki & others AIR 1955 Mad. 394 (DB). So also, the Hindu Inheritance (Removal of disabilities) has laid down that a lunatic or idiot by birth shall be excluded from Inheritance. The Act lays down the uniform and Comprehensive System of inheritance and applies, interalia, to persons governed by the Mithakshara and Dayabhaga Schools and also to those governed previously by the Murumakkattayam, Aliyasantana and Nambudri Laws. These enactments were changed by introducing Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Section 6 of the Act, deals with the devolution of interest of a male Hindu will coparcenary property and recognizes the rule of devolution by survivorship among the members of the coparcenary. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is not retrospective in it’s operation, but Section 14(1) is one of exceptions to this and thereby absolute rights are conferred in property acquired by a female Hindu, even before the Act came into force. Section 16 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is amended on 27.05.1976 in respect of rights of the legitimacy of children of void and voidable marriages. Apart from State Laws, regarding creation of coparcenary right to the daughters, the Hindu Succession Act is amended by introducing amendment Act, 39 of 2005.
The Honourable Supreme Court of India in DANAMMA @ SUMAN SURPUR & ANR.VERSUS AMAR & ORS. Held the changes of section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956
Case Facts: The appellants are two daughters of one, Gurulingappa Savadi, propositus
of a Hindu Joint Family. Apart from these two daughters, he had two sons, namely, Arunkumar
and Vijay. Gurulingappa Savadi died in the year 2001 leaving behind the aforesaid two
daughters, two sons and his widow, Sumitra. After his death, Amar, S/o Arunkumar filed the
suit for partition and a separate possession of the suit property that the two sons and
widow were in joint possession of the aforesaid properties as coparceners and properties
in Schedule B was signature not verified digitally signed by ASHWANI KUMAR acquired out of
the joint family nucleus in the name of Gurulingappa Savadi. Case set up by him was that the
appellants herein were not the coparceners in the said joint family as they were born prior
to the enactment of Hindu Succession Act, 1956. It was also pleaded that they were married
daughters and at the time of their marriage they had received gold and money and had, hence,
relinquished their share. The appellants herein contested the suit by claiming
that they were also entitled to share in the joint family properties, being daughters of
Gurulingappa Savadi and for the reason that he had died after coming into force the Act of
1950. The trial court, while decreeing the suit held that the appellants were not entitled
to any share as they were born prior to the enactment of the Act and, therefore, could not
be considered. In this case, the trial court also rejected the alternate contention that the
appellants had acquired share in the said properties, in any case, after the amendment in
the year 2005 to the Act, 1950. This view of the trial court has been upheld by the High
Court in the impugned judgement dated January 25, 2012 thereby confirming the decree dated
August 09, 2007 passed in the suit filed for partition. The controversy now stands settled
with the authoritative pronouncement in the case of Prakash & Ors. v. Phulavati & Others
which has approved the view taken by the aforesaid High Courts as well as Full Bench of the
Bombay High Court. The law relating to a joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law
has undergone unprecedented changes. The said changes have been brought forward to address
the growing need to merit equal treatment to the nearest female relatives, namely daughters
of a coparcener. The section stipulates that a daughter would be a coparcener from her
birth, and would have the same rights and liabilities as that of a son.
The daughter would hold property to which she is entitled as a coparcenary property, which would be construed as property being capable of being disposed off by her either by a will or any other testamentary disposition. These changes have been sought to be made on the touchstone of equality, thus seeking to remove the perceived disability and prejudice to which a daughter was subjected. The fundamental changes brought forward about in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by amending it in 2005. The Ideal Element in Law, that the law must be stable and yet it cannot stand still. In the present case, no doubt, suit for partition was filed in the year 2002. However, during the pendency of this suit, Section 6 of the Act was amended as the decree was passed by the trial court only in the year 2007. Thus, the rights of the appellants got crystallised in the year 2005 and this event should have been kept in mind by the trial court as well as by the High Court.
The appeals are allowed and thus Honourable Supreme Court has clarified that the Hindu Succession Act ( 2005 ) includes daughters who were born prior to the date o’f the introduction of the law as well.
In Ganduri Koteshwaramma & Anr. v. Chakiri Yanadi & Anr. held that the rights of daughters in coparcenary property as per the amended S. 6 are not lost merely because a preliminary decree has been passed in a partition suit. So far as partition suits are concerned, the partition becomes final only on the passing of a final decree. Where such situation arises, the preliminary decree would have to be amended taking into account the change in the law by the amendment of 2005.
In B.Chandrakala Vs. A.Anuradha Judgment dated 31.12.2014, their Lordships of Honourable High Court considered the nature of amended Act of 2005 of Hindu Succession Act and thoroughly examined the daughters’ share in coparcenary property. The Bar under section 23 of the Act was also considered, since deleted by the Act, 2005. The Prosepctive nature and Scope of the amended provision of section 6 of the amended Act of 2005 was examined The same view was taken by the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Vs Phulavati.
In M.Sujatha W/O Late M.Bhupati vs M.Surender Reddy & Others Judgment dated 1st April, 2015, the Honourable High Court of A.P., made observations that in a suit for partition, the daughter being coparcenar, is entitled to share in the joint family property. The restrospective nature of the amended Act of 2005 of Hindu Succession Act was examined. Till today in recent judgment in Kunchakurthy Veera Sangayya and others vs. G.Sakunthala (died) per Lrs, 2018 (6) ALT 66 (DB) their lordships have considered the the amended section 6 of Act, 2005 in respect of the daughter being coparcenar, is entitled to share in the joint family property.
The Gender justice and equality of daughter with the son has been checked from time to time by the legislature and the Honourable Apex Court has been expressing its progressive outlook considering Articles 14 & 15 of the Constitution. But, however, declaring Father as Class-I heir, has become a forgotten aspect, though the son-in-law and daughter-in-law are added as protectors of father and mother or father-in-law and Mother-in-law under the provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (Amended Act, 2018).