NEW DELHI: Daughters got equal rights to ancestral property when the Centre amended the Hindu Succession Act in 2005, and the Supreme Court made it clear on Friday that the law applied to all women, including those born before the year.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the amended law stipulated that a daughter would be a “coparcener” (one who shares equally in inheritance of an undivided property) since birth, and have the same rights and liabilities as a son.
It said her share in ancestral property could not be denied on the ground that she was born before the law was passed, and the law was applicable in all property disputes filed before 2005 and pending when the lawwas framed.
“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,” the bench said.
It added that the law was amended to give daughters equal status to sons’ in property matters. “These changes have been sought… on the touchstone of equality, thus seeking to remove the perceived disability and prejudice to which a daughter was subjected,” the bench said.
The court passed the order on a plea filed by two sisters seeking share in their late father’s property. Their brothers had refused to give them their share, forcing them to take legal recourse in 2002.
The trial court dismissed their plea in 2007 and said they were not entitled to any share as they were born before 2005. Their appeal was rejected by the high court and they finally approached the apex court.
Agreeing with their plea, the SC set aside the HC order and said the year of birth was not a criterion to decide whether a woman was covered under the amended law.
“…This amendment now confers upon the daughter of the coparcener as well the status of coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son and gives same rights and liabilities in the coparcener properties…,” the bench said.