The Hindu Succession Act is a part of the Hindu Bill Code that was adopted by Parliament in 1956. The major goal of the legislation is to update and consolidate the law governing Hindu intestate succession. In relation to the terms of the current legislation, the Act supersedes all existing laws, regulations, customs, or usages that existed at the time the Act was enacted. All laws that are in opposition with the stipulations of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 are likewise declared invalid. The Act’s provisions do not apply to properties that are subject to the Indian Succession Act, 1925, or to property that is the subject of a contract between rulers of Indian states and the Indian government, or to other properties listed in the Act.
A deceased Hindu male’s part in the Mitakshara coparcenary properties shall be transmitted to his legal successors through survivorship, not in accordance with the terms of the Act, but subject to certain conditions. The deceased person’s total share in the property is computed using the principle that the partition took place right before his death. However, the Act prohibits a person from claiming a stake in the deceased’s property if he has left the coparcenary or any of his survivors from alleging intestacy in the share indicated in the Act.
Where marumakkattayam or nambudiri law applies to a Hindu and he dies after the enactment of the current laws, his part in the tarwad or illom property shall be transferred by intestate succession according to the provisions of the Act and not by marumakkattayam or nambudiri law. If a person is subject to aliyasantana legislation and dies after the Act’s enactment, his undivided part of the kutumba or kavaru will pass to his testamentary or intestate heirs under the Act.
According to Schedule I of the Act, the portion of a deceased Hindu male who dies intestate passes to his Class I legal heirs. If a deceased person does not have a Class I legal heir, the property right will pass to the Class II heirs stated in the Schedule. In the absence of legal heirs, the agnates of the deceased Hindu male will inherit the property. Finally, in the absence of agnates, cognates will have the right.
The Act establishes standards for dividing the property of a deceased Hindu among the several types of legal heirs, agnates, and cognates listed in the Schedule. The legislation also determines the order of succession between agnates and cognates. A Hindu woman should have entire control over her property, not just partial ownership. However, where property is obtained through a gift, will, order, or award from a civil court, the rule does not apply.
The Act lays forth the procedures for dispersing the property of a deceased Hindu woman who died intestate. There are unique canons that must be followed by people who are subject to marumakkattayam and aliyasanthana regulations. A child in the mother’s womb has the same right to the intestate’s property as other children, just as if he had been born before the intestate’s death. When a widow remarries, she loses her right to claim the deceased’s property as a legal successor. If there is no legal heir to buy the deceased’s property, the property will transfer to the government, which will have all of the rights and obligations of a legal heir.
In 2005, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act was passed, amending the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. In the amended provisions, a daughter will have the same rights as a son in a coparcener’s property. The Amendment Act removed the unique provision dealing with dwelling houses. The 2005Act also removes a provision that gives a widow who remarries the right to inherit the deceased’s property. As a result, the Act acknowledged that men and women had equal rights to inherit property from a person who dies intestate.
Only male descendants of a common ancestor, as well as their mothers, wives, and unmarried daughters, have traditionally been considered a single Hindu household.
The legal heirs jointly own the family estate.
For partitions after 2005, women were recognised as coparceners or shared legal heirs.
This revision in Hindu succession law was also advocated in the 174th Law Commission Report.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu have already changed their laws, while Kerala had abolished the Hindu Joint Family System in 1975, prior to the 2005 amendment.
The Hindu Succession Act’s main features are:
In one Act, the Act establishes a unified and complete system of inheritance and succession.
It was passed to amend and codify Hindu, Buddhist, Jains, and Sikh law regarding intestate or unwilled succession.
The Act eliminates the Hindu woman’s limited estate.
Any property owned by a Hindu woman is her absolute property, and she is allowed complete control over how she manages and disposes of it.
The “limited owner” status of women was removed.
This Act applies to anyone who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat, or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana, or Arya Samaj; anyone who is Buddhist, Jains, or Sikh by religion; and anyone else who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew by religion, unless it can be proven that the concerned person would not have been governed by Hindu
Object of the Act:
– To amend and codify the law relating to intestate succession among Hindus.
– To regulate succession to the property of intestates governed by the marumakkattayam and nambudiri laws of inheritance.
– To meet the needs of a progressive society.
– To remove inequalities between men and women with respect to rights in the property.
Vineeta Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma: Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court ruled in a three-judge bench decision that a Hindu woman’s entitlement to be a joint heir to ancestral property is determined by birth.
The rights of a Hindu woman are unaffected by whether or not her father was alive when the law was changed in 2005. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 gave Hindu women the same rights as male heirs as coparceners or joint-heirs.
The court looked into the Mitakshari Coparcenary’s rights. The Court found that because section 6 of the modified act establishes an unencumbered heritage or a right formed by birth for the coparcener’s daughter, the right cannot be limited by whether the coparcener is alive or deceased at the time the right is operationalized.
The Supreme Court also ordered that any pending cases involving property disputes involving a daughter’s rights be settled within six months, noting that daughters cannot be denied their right to equality.
The act will now be applied retroactively to the year it was enacted, 1956.
The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005
In 2005, Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which deals with the coparcener’s right in HUF property, was changed.
Daughters are now on level with boys in terms of HUF coparcenary privileges, according to this change.
The daughters inherit the coparcenary’s rights. This includes the ability to request property partition and to join the HUF as a Karta.
Only the daughters born into the family will be granted coparcenary powers. Other female family members who entered the family through marriage were treated as members only. They didn’t have the right to ask for the partition, but they did have the right to maintenance and shares if and when it happened.
A daughter would no longer be a member of HUF but would remain a coparcener, according to the legislation. As the eldest coparcener of her father’s HUF, she had the right to request partition of the HUF property and to become a Karta of the family.
Even if a married daughter died before the partition, her children would be entitled to the shares she would have received if she had been living on that day.
Interestingly, the daughter could not gift her portion of the HUF property while she was alive, but she was perfectly capable of doing so through a will.
This amendment in Hindu Succession Law was advocated in the 174th Law Commission report. Because succession falls within the concurrent list, many states, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, changed their laws prior to the 2005 modification. In 1975, Kerala eliminated the Hindu Joint Family structure.
Women have been discriminated against and denied equal rights from ancient times. It had closed a major gap in gender equality by amending the relevant clause of the Hindu Succession Act 1956. From the standpoint of justice and equity, the Hindu succession legislation of 1956 is complete in and of itself, achieving the goal of natural justice, which is the external manifestation of gender neutrality in inheritance and succession laws. It has also handled the issue of property allocation over time and has been successful in giving prompt justice to individuals while also preventing court overcrowding. It maintains social order and ensures economic and social independence following the death of the elders. It stems from the idea that the family is the centre of the universe and a social unit. It assists a person in obtaining his or her rights and in drafting a will according to his or her wishes. Succession laws must be tailored to the country’s demographics. External influences include same-sex couples, fewer children born in a family, and live-in relationships, among others. They all have significant impact over succession laws. For example, from the Mitakshara School to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, there was a significant shift. However, more comprehensive legislation is required to accommodate the dynamic changes in succession problems.
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