Generally when we talk about the property of a women, we don’t have much clarity but we all know about the property of a man (husband) and how it will be distributed if he dies.

In this article, we will get to know that who has the right over a women’s property if she dies with or without a will and most important what are the rights of a husband in her wife’s property. Before we get into all of this information, first we all should know under which Act these rights are mentioned.


Hindu Succession Act, 1956 describes the Succession in case of female dying intestate and explains the manner in which a property of a Hindu women is passed on to heirs. In Hindu Succession Act, 1956 there are specifically certain sections 14, 15 & 16 that explains how the property of female Hindu devolves if she dies without a will.

Starting with Section-14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which has enlarged a Hindu female limited estate into her full estate. Section-14 of this Act defines how a female Hindu acquire the property as her absolute property. Any property acquired by a women before or after the commencement of this Act, it will be her absolute property. Section-14 also explains what constitutes a woman’s property—both movable and immovable, owned and acquired by her. It does not distinguish between inherited and self-acquired property. It includes all property obtained through ‘inheritance or devise, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance or arrears of maintenance, or by gift from any person, whether a relative or not, before, at or after her marriage, or by her own skill or exertion, or by purchase or by prescription, or in any other manner, and also any such property held by her as streedhana’.

Section15, Sub-Section 1 Explains The Devolution Of The Woman’s Property.

Section-15 (1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 laid some rules of succession in case of a female Hindu dies without a will, then the order of preferences is as follows-

  1. First preference to woman’s own children (son and daughter), children of her pre-deceased son or daughter (if any) and the husband;
  2. In the absence of the children, children of pre-de deceased or husband, the property will pass to the heirs of the husband;
  3. In absence of all these, mother and father of the woman will inherit property.
  4. Fourth preference to heirs of the father; or
  5. Lastly to the heirs of the mother.

Section 15, Sub-section 2 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – This section explains how the property is distributed based on whether she has inherited it from her parents, husband or in-laws.

  1. Any property inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother shall devolve, in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter), then the husband cannot claim that property and it goes to the heirs of the father only.
  2. If any property was inherited by a woman from her husband or from father-in-law, in that case the husband is entitled to the property.

If the woman is not married, her property is still devolved under Section-15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 with no distinction between married and unmarried women, and follows the same rules as laid out in this section.


In the case of Omprakash & Ors Vs. Radhacharma & Ors, Deendayal Sharma, who was married to Narayani Devi in 1955, passed away three months later. She was soon driven out from her marital residence. She worked, cohabitated with her parents, and passed away on July 11, 1966. She did not leave a will, although she left behind a sizable estate. The succession certificate was claimed by her mother as well as the family of her spouse. The Supreme Court of India considered the scope of Section-15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and the Court ruled against the mother.


In this case. Supreme Court has received a petition, questioning the constitutional validity of section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 on the grounds of gender discrimination.

Major Argument- In this particular case, the main argument was that here is discrimination in devolution in the case of a woman dying intestate, in comparison to the rules laid down for devolution in the case of a man dying intestate.

Facts of the case- The deceased woman’s husband was alive at the time of her death. Using the provisions of Section-15 the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 he takes all her property without leaving any share for her own mother or father. This is because they came in the next order in comparison to the hierarchy. The petition in this case was filed by the mother of the deceased woman.

The case is still pending, and the Supreme Court will decide whether or not Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, discriminates against women.

Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee wrote in Modern Hindu Law Under Constitution – “Under the provision of Section 15(1) read with sub-section (2) in the absence of children, the order of succession in the case of a female Hindu would vary according to the source of acquisition of property.”

Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee


There is no demarcation between self-acquired property or ancestral property under the Muslim Law in India. Legal heirs are classified in two types-

  1. Share
  2. Residuary

The first thing is share which means that the shareholder get their share first, followed by residuary. If any Muslim woman inherits property for any relation such as her husband, son, father or mother, then she becomes the absolute owner of her share and has the authority to dispose that share. If a Muslim woman wishes to make a will to distribute her shares, she cannot give more than one-third share from her property; however if her husband is the sole heir for the property, then only she can give two-thirds from her property by her will.


The Indian Succession Act, 1925 governs the distribution of women’s inheritance, with the exception of those who are Muslim, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. Even when the wife’s husband and his family are present, the woman’s blood relations inherit.


Property acquisition after the death of a family member is a stressful matter for many. There are so many questions and so many queries in many people’s head that can a husband claim in her wife’s property. If the wife has left her will, then the property will go as per the woman’s will but if she died intestate then according to preferences laid down in the Section-15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, her property devolve.

But in Muslim Law, if the wife passes away and the pair had no children, the husband receives half of the property portion, with the other half going to the wife’s siblings and parents. If she has children with that husband or another spouse, the husband will receive a portion of the estate, with the remaining portion going to the other heirs.



  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/real-estate/who-has-the-right-over-a-womans-property-after-she-dies/articleshow/70407881.cms
  2. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1202482/
  3. https://lawrato.com/property-legal-advice/whether-husband-can-claim-wifes-property-after-her-death-111153


  1. Omprakash & Ors vs Radhacharan & Ors on 5 May, 2009
  2. Kamal Anant Khopkar vs Union Of India [Pending]

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