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Amended Hindu Succession Act applies to all women, born even before 2005: SC

The Supreme Court has clarified that the Hindu Succession Act as amended in 2005, which had given daughters equal rights to ancestral property, will cover all the women including those born before 2005.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that amended law makes a stipulation of a daughter as a “coparcener” (one who shares equally in inheritance of an undivided property) since birth, and has the same rights and liabilities as a son.

The Bench further noted that her share in ancestral property could not be denied on the ground that she was born before the passage of law, and the law was applicable in all property disputes filed before 2005 and pending when the law was framed.

Noting the unprecedented changes in Mitakshara law, the bench noted, “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.”

Adding further that the law was amended to give daughters status at par with sons in property matters, it said, “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.”

This order was passed by the Court 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 approach court in 2002.

After the trial court dismissed their plea in 2007 not entitling them to any share giving reason of their birth before 2005, their appeal was also rejected by the high court making them eventually approach Supreme Court.

Supreme Court agreed with their plea setting aside the high court order saying that “the year of birth was not a criterion to decide whether a woman was covered under the amended law.”

The Bench said, “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.”

Read the judgment below:

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