Are daughters entitled to their father's property? The Supreme Court of India finally answered the question through this judgment.
In the absence of a will, daughters of Hindu male who is dying will be entitled to inherit the self-acquired and other properties of the father, held Supreme Court. It was dealing with a matter where a Hindu man who had self-acquired property had died and one of the five heirs filed a suit for partition of the property.
Daughter To Inherit Self-Acquired Property
“If a property of a male Hindu dying intestate is a self-acquired property or obtained in the partition of a co-partner or a family property, the same would devolve by inheritance and not by survivorship, and a daughter of such a male Hindu would be entitled to inherit such property in preference to other collaterals," said the Supreme Court of India while giving the judgment.
This was an appeal case against the Madras High Court verdict which dealt with the property rights of Hindu women and widows under the Hindu Succession Act.
Additionally, if a Hindu female dies without leaving any will, then the property she inherited from her father would go to the heirs of her father while the property inherited from her husband would to the heirs of the husband.
Basically, the aim is to ensure that the property inherited goes back to the source. "The basic aim of the legislature in enacting Section 15(2) (of the Hindu Succession Act) is to ensure that inherited property of a female Hindu dying issueless and intestate, goes back to the source," said the verdict.
The bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari observed that even before the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, ancient text such as the Smritis, the commentaries are written by various renowned learned persons and even judgments “have recognised the rights of several female heirs, the wives, and the daughter’s being the foremost of them.”
The Facts of the case:
A Hindu man, Marappa Gounder had self-acquired property, he died. He had a daughter, Kupayee Ammal, and a younger brother, Ramasamy Gounder who has already passed away.
After Kupayee Ammal died without a will, her property was acquired by the five heirs of her uncle Ramasamy Gounder in 1/5th share each.
Tangamma, one of the five heirs filed a suit for partition of property. But the High court dismissed the suit saying that she had no right to file the suit for partition.
The appeal was filed before the Supreme Court on the issue of whether, before the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act, self-acquired property of a Hindu male will pass on to his daughter upon death or his brother's son by survivorship?
The court held that the Self-acquired property of Hindu males deceased before the Hindu Succession Act devolves by inheritance; the daughter is entitled to it. “...since the property in question was admittedly the self-acquired property of a father despite the family being in a state of jointness upon his death intestate, his sole surviving daughter will inherit the same by inheritance and the property shall not devolve by survivorship."
“The main scheme of this Act is to establish complete equality between male and female with regard to property rights and the rights of the female were declared absolute, completely abolishing all notions of a limited estate,” the court said. “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,” it added.