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Question: What is the nature of property of a female Hindu under the present law? Is it subject to restriction applicable to stridhan or the Widow's Estate in respect of succession and power of disposition?[BJS 1978]Find the question and answer of Hindu Law only on Legal Bites. [What is the nature of property of a female Hindu under the present law? Is it subject to restriction applicable to stridhan or the Widow's Estate in respect of succession and power of disposition?]AnswerThe...

Question: What is the nature of property of a female Hindu under the present law? Is it subject to restriction applicable to stridhan or the Widow's Estate in respect of succession and power of disposition?[BJS 1978]

Find the question and answer of Hindu Law only on Legal Bites. [What is the nature of property of a female Hindu under the present law? Is it subject to restriction applicable to stridhan or the Widow's Estate in respect of succession and power of disposition?]


The contemporary Hindu law of property inheritance is largely influenced by ancient rules and regulations. In ancient India, property inheritance rights were largely influenced by two Hindu law schools as enforced in different parts of the country respectively Dayabhaga School of law and Mitakshra school of law. Both of these schools did not provide many property rights to women, but they were given somewhat greater rights under Dayabhaga than Mitakshara.

In the modern era the first major legislation recognizing women's rights to inheritance of property came into existence in the year 1956 named the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, since then with the passage of time women's right to property inheritance is getting evolved and has come a long way, the most recent and significant rule for women's right to property inheritance was introduced in the year 2005 when an amendment was done in Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and daughters were given equal right compared to the share of the son's in the father's property, the provision set out the rule that daughter acquires right in the father's property by birth and continues to have an interest even when the father disposes of his own interest through a will.

The Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937

Hindu women's rights to property were not officially addressed by codified laws prior to 1937, and any resulting disputes were resolved in line with customary customs. Under the said Act a widow was entitled to a limited interest over the property of her husband – what was to be termed a Hindu widow's estate. Furthermore, a Hindu man's widow, his widowed daughter-in-law, and his widowed granddaughter-in-law are entitled to inherit his estate, not only in default of but along with, his male issues.

The changes made by the Act in the area of inheritance to separate property were in the nature of modifications of earlier laws and accorded a legislative recognition of the right of a widow. The introduction of the widow in place of her husband did not make her a coparcener but enabled her to enjoy his share in her own right [Beni Prasad v. Puranchand, (1896) ILR 23 Cal 262]. The Act is prospective in the application and is applied to Hindus governed by the Mitakshara, the Dayabhaga, and customary law but not where the death of an undivided coparcener took place prior to 1937 [Faguni Mehto v. Reli Mehto, AIR 2016 Jhar 51].

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956

The idea of the limited estate as propagated by the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act was abolished in 1956 by the introduction of the Hindu Succession Act. After the 2005 amendment under the Hindu Succession Act 1956 a daughter, irrespective of her marital status has been made a primary Class I heir to the property of her father. By virtue of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 a daughter of a coparcener in a Hindu joint family governed by Mitakshara law can now become a coparcener in her own right and thus enjoys rights equal to those hitherto enjoyed by a son of a coparcener.

Position of Daughter as coparcener

Section 6 (1) of the Act accords the daughter of a coparcener membership of the coparcenary in a Mitakshara-governed Hindu joint family. Parliament has raised her position and brought it equal to that of a son. The act provided the daughter with:

● Right by birth to become a coparcener

● Rights in the coparcenary property

● Liabilities in respect of the coparcenary property

Furthermore, where a suit of partition is pending amongst male siblings before the Amended provision became effective post the amended provision, they would be entitled to be joined, as the partition as contemplated in the Section had not taken place and the sisters are to be treated as coparceners on equal footing with the brothers [Surendra Nath Sharma v. Rajendra Kumar, (2009) 1 HLR 105 (Jhar)].

Nature of Daughter's coparcenary property and her right to disposition

As per Section 6 (2) any property to which the female is entitled under section 6(1) can be:

● Held by her with all incidents of coparcenary ownership,

● Disposed of by testamentary disposition

Abolition of survivorship

As per Section 6(3), there is a denial of the rule of survivorship after the Amendment of 2005. Under this provision, the interest of a coparcener in the joint family property devolves on his death by testamentary or intestate succession under the Hindu Succession Act and not by survivorship. Furthermore, the explanation to the provision specifies that the coparcener is entitled to the same share as if the partition had taken place before the death of the Karta.

Rights of a wife

According to Hindu Succession Law, a married woman has total rights over her personal property that she can sell/gift/dispose of as per her wish. She is eligible for shelter, support, and maintenance from her husband and his family in case of a HUF (Hindu Undivided Family). In the case of the division of property between her husband and her children, she also gets an equal share as others.

Property Rights of a Mother

A mother is a Class I heir which means, she inherits an equal share of her deceased son's assets as do his wife and children. If the children divide the family asset after the father's demise, a mother is entitled to an equal share of the property as each of her children.

Property Rights of a Daughter-in-law

As per the inheritance laws for women in the Hindu Succession Act, the rights of a daughter-in-law are very limited. A daughter-in-law has no right over the properties owned by the parents-in-law – whether ancestral or self-acquired. She can acquire rights over such assets only through her husband's inheritance and share.

Succession and disposition of Women Estate

The traditional limitation on the power of disposition of a female Hindu has been done away by Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 which has enlarged her limited estate into her full estate. Now as an absolute owner the female can exercise full power as to its alienation. A closer look at Section 15 and Section 16 also reveals that not only is a separate scheme of succession provided in case of a female intestate, but there is also further divergence linked with the source of acquisition of the property and on consideration of her marital status, and factors like whether she died leaving behind children or issueless. With respect to the categorization of heirs, in the case of a married woman, her blood relations are relegated to a very inferior placement in comparison to the entire category of the heirs of her husband.

General Rules of Succession in the case of Female Hindu (Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956):

The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the rules set out in Section 16 :

a. Firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband

b. Secondly, upon the heirs of the husband

c. Thirdly, upon the mother and father

d. Fourthly, upon the heirs of the father and

e. Lastly, the heirs of the mother The heirs are grouped into these five categories, the former excluding the latter.

So long as a single heir in the prior category is present, the property will not go to the next category.

Restrictions on Stridhan or widow estate

A Widow, a limited heir, acquires the property for her life but is the property's owner of the property thus inherits as a tenant. But her right of alienation is limited and after her death, the property does not pass to her heirs but rather to the heirs of the last full owner thereof. Therefore, the characteristic feature of a woman's estate is that the female takes it as a limited owner, however, she is an owner of this property in the same way as any other individual can be the owner of his or her property subject to basic limitation:

● she cannot ordinarily alienate the corpus and;

● on her death, it devolves upon the next heir of the last full owner.

In Janki v. Narayaswami, (1916) 43 I.A.207, The Privy Council has observed that her right is of the nature of the right of property, her position is that of the owner; her powers in that character are, however, limited. So long as she is alive, no one has a vested interest in succession.

Furthermore, the widow is entitled to the same interest as the deceased husband. The deceased husband had a right by birth in the property whereas the widow gets the right after his death. Therefore, the widow cannot be called a coparcener but would simply remain a member of a joint family [Madras v. Lakshmanan Chettiar, (1941) ILR]. She has a right to claim partition as she only acquires the status of coparcener but does not become a coparcener [Rosamma v. Chenchiah, (1943) 2 Mad LJ 172].

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Mayank Shekhar

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