Can daughters inherit their father's property?

14 Feb 2022  Read 16207 Views

Wondering if daughters have a right to inherit property? Or Are daughter’s coparceners in father’s ancestral property like sons? In India, daughters' rights on their father’s property have always been in controversy and even after several judgments, dilemmas on the same haven’t been resolved whether it’s the landmark case of Vineeta Sharma or any other. It’s a known fact that women have always been treated inferior to men, both in terms of inheritance rights and the capacity to hold property independently and many restrictions were imposed on both inheritance and woman’s property rights in our country. 

Today, the succession and inheritance laws in India have undergone several modifications and reforms via amendments and legislations. As a consequence of which daughters now have an equal share in the property like sons. To be more specific gender is now hardly any factor to be taken into consideration because of the daughter’s right on both coparcenary and self-acquired property. That is:

  • A daughter can acquire, hold, and dispose of property at par with any other man. 

  • Today, there are practically no restrictions on a woman's capacity to acquire, hold, and dispose of, her property. 

  • Daughters have an equal share in their father's self-acquired property as well as ancestral property. 

  • Coparcenary or ancestral property is the one inherited from one’s ancestors since birth whereas self-acquired property is the property not inherited from ancestors rather bought on our own.

Daughters after the Supreme Court judgment of 2005 have become coparceners. Hence, they have equal rights in all Property, including agricultural lands. Both men and women are equally capable of holding their own, separate Property. Any restrictions on property rights are the same for all genders. Hence, daughters today have equal rights in Property as a son does.

Role of Judiciary in determining daughters right in property

Let’s go ahead one by one with each case. Firstly, Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma (2020), This case dealt with the question of retrospective effect of the 2005 amendment done to the 1956 Succession Act. Section 6 of this Act was amended that conferred full coparcenary rights to the daughters as same as that of sons. The amendment act was enacted on 09-11-2005. But this section 6(1(a)) conferred coparcenary rights on daughters by birth. 

  • The question before the court was whether a daughter born before 2005 (before this amendment) will get the coparcenary rights or not? 

  • The other question was whether the daughter and father both need to be alive on 9 November 2005 to effectuate the provisions of the amended provision or not?

  1. These two questions were answered in Prakash & Ors. V. Phulavati and Ors. (2015) case wherein the Supreme court held that the amended Section 6 have a prospective effect and the coparcenary rights will be conferred to a living daughter of a living coparcener, meaning both father and daughter had to be alive on 9 November 2005.

  2. Whereas, this judgment was contradicted in Danamma @ Suman Surpur & Anr. V. Amar & Ors. (2018) case stating that even if the father is not alive on 9th November 2005, the daughter will have the right to inherit her father’s coparcenary property. Hence, in this case, the daughter’s, sons and the widow were given 1/5th share each. This judgement was not in alignment with the Phulavati’s judgment and hence a contradiction in law arose.

Both these judgements were dictated by a divisional bench (2- judges bench). So, a three- Judges bench was constituted in Vineeta sharma v. Rakesh Sharma the issues and give the correct interpretation of section 6 of the amended 2005 Act which held that even if the father is not alive on 9th November 2005 or died on or before the date of the amendment, the daughters will be the coparceners and have birth right over the coparcenary property.

This judgment was limited to coparcenary property and not the self- acquired property, therefore dilemma with regards to daughter’s right yet prevailed. Then came Arunachala Gounder (dead) v. Ponnuswamy’s case (2022) where Supreme Court held that the self-acquired property of a Hindu male dying intestate would devolve by inheritance and not succession and a daughter would be entitled to inherit such property, or property obtained in the partition of a coparcenary or a family property. 

Also, it was held in this case that if a female dies intestate then if the ancestral property devolved on her was inherited from her father, then after she dies issueless (no children) and intestate the property will devolve upon the father’s heirs and if the property is devolved on her from husband’s side, then after she dies intestate and issueless the property will devolve upon the husband’s heirs.

 Legislative intent behind Hindu Succession Act

 With regard to the enactment of the 1956 Act, the main objective of the HSA was to establish complete equality between male and female with regard to property rights, and the rights of the woman were declared absolute, completely abolishing all notions of a limited estate.

  • Dealing with amended Act of 2005 in detail, the court gave observations with respect to sections 14 (property of a female Hindu to be her absolute property) and 15 (general rules of succession in the case of female Hindus).

  • Court deliberated that the legislative intent of enacting Section 14(1) was to remedy the limitation of a Hindu woman who could not claim an absolute interest in the properties inherited by her but only had a life interest in the estate so inherited i.e.; her property will be considered as her absolute property.

  • Section 15(1) of the HSA goes to show that the property of Hindu females dying intestate is to devolve on her own heirs, as per the given list in this sub-section. 

  • Section 15(2) carves out exceptions to this, that is this rule is only with regard to property acquired through inheritance (ancestral property) and is confined to the property inherited by a Hindu female either from her father or mother, or husband or father-in-law and where she dies without any heirs.

Conclusion

One is free to write a will and exclude one's offspring (sons and daughters) from inheriting their self-acquired property but in case of a male dying intestate, daughters like sons have the right to inherit her father’s ancestral or self- acquired property. Under the 1956 Act, women had absolute ownership over their property but had no coparcenary rights over the ancestral property. This Act discriminated on sole basis of gender. But 2005 amendment gave daughters equal rights as sons therefore, 2005 amendment proved to be a great advantage for daughters.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 110 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Curator at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) & she is a patent analyst. She has pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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