Supreme Court upholds the coparcenary rights of the daughters, again!
Issue 9 | August 15, 2020
The rights of women in a patriarchal society like ours have always been in question for a long time and have proved to be a topic for debate, time and again. In our society, where the daughters are considered as strangers in their own family once they get married, the recent judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in upholding the rights of daughters in ancestral property has come as a sigh of relief.
In the recent judgment of Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma and Ors., the Court interpreted section 6 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 and stated that in a Hindu Undivided Family, daughters have coparcenary rights by birth. Even if the father died before 2005, daughters would still have the coparcenary rights in the ancestral property.
This judgment has come as a hope after two previous conflicting judgements on this matter, namely, Prakash v. Phulavati, (2016) 2 SCC 36 and Danamma v. Amar, (2018) 3 SCC 343.
Prior to 2005, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 did not allow daughters to possess a coparcenary right in the ancestral property. After the amendment of the Act in 2005, the section 6 gave equal rights to daughters as that of sons in the ancestral property.
However, the retrospective nature of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, came into question in Prakash v. Phulavati wherein the Court held that the Section 6 will not be applied retrospectively. For the section to apply, both daughters and fathers should be alive at the time of commencement of the Act.
2 years later, in Danamma v. Amar, the court held that daughters have a coparcenary right in the property and can claim partition even if the father was not alive at the time of the commencement of the Hindi Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.
Resolving the conflict in both these judgements, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that coparcenary rights are associated with birth. Daughters have the coparcenary rights by virtue of their birth. Even if the father died before 9th September, 2005, daughters would still be entitled to the property and have the same rights as the son.
The Court further stated that section 6 confers the right of unobstructed heritage to daughters i.e., by birth as opposed to obstructed heritage i.e., after the death of the owner. It was also held that oral partition made under section 6(5) cannot be accepted as a statutory partition of coparcenary property.
At the time when Indians are vocal about gender injustice, this judgment given by the apex court instils hope in people, especially, in daughters that they must be treated at par with sons in a Hindu Undivided Family and be given equal rights.
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