Inheritance of Daughters
- January 22, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Inheritance of Daughters
Subject – Governance
Context – The case involved a dispute over the property of one Marappa Gounder who died in 1949 leaving behind a daughter Kupayee Ammal who also died issueless in 1967.
- The Supreme Courtruled that the property of a man who had died without executing a will and is survived only by a daughter will devolve upon the daughter and not others such as his brother.
- It said “right of a widow or daughter to inherit the self-acquired property or share received in partition of a coparcenary property of a Hindu male dying intestate is well recognised not only under the old customary Hindu Law”, and added “if a property of a male Hindu dying intestate is a self-acquired property or obtained in partition of a co-parcenery or a family property, the same would devolve by inheritance and not by survivorship, and a daughter of such a male Hindu would be entitled to inherit such property in preference to other collaterals”.
- The court also said that if a female Hindu dies intestate without leaving any issue, then the property inherited by her from her father or mother would go to the heirs of her father whereas the property inherited from her husband or father-in-law would go to the heirs of the husband.
- In case a female Hindu dies leaving behind her husband or any issue, then Section 15(1)(a) of the Hindu Succession Act will come into operation and the properties left behind including the properties which she inherited from her parents would devolve simultaneously upon her husband and her issues.
How did the court reach the conclusion?
- Tracing the sources of customary Hindu law on inheritance, the court discussed Mitakshara law and looked into among others to ‘Vyavastha Chandrika’, a digest of Hindu Law by ShyamaCharan Sarkar VidyaBhushan which quoted ‘Vrihaspati’ as saying ‘the wife is pronounced successor to the wealth of her husband; in her default, the daughter. As a son, so does the daughter of a man proceed from his several limbs. How then, should any other person (b) take her father’s wealth?”.
- The SC also noted that the book quoted Manu as saying “the son of a man is even as himself, and the daughter is equal to the son. How then can any other inherit his property, notwithstanding the survival of her, who is, as it were, himself.”
Hindu Succession Act, 1956:
- The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs.
- It applied to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion. Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, BrahmoSamaj, are also considered Hindus for this law.
- In a Hindu Undivided Family, several legal heirs through generations can exist jointly. Traditionally, only male descendants of a common ancestor along with their mothers, wives and unmarried daughters are considered a joint Hindu family. The legal heirs hold the family property jointly.
Mitakshara School vs Dayabhaga school of law
- The Dayabhaga and The Mitakshara are the two schools of law that govern the law of succession of the Hindu Undivided Family under Indian Law.
- The Dayabhaga School of law is observed in Bengal and Assam, in all other parts of India the Mitakshara School of law is observed. The Mitakshara School of law is subdivided into the Benares, the Mithila, the Maharashtra and the Dravida schools.
- The two main interpreters who wrote on Mitakshara and Dayabagha Schools were Vijnaneshwar and Jeenutavahan respectively.
- In the Mitakshara School, the allocation of inherited property was based on the law of possession by birth and a man could leave his self-acquired property to which he willed. The joint family property went to the group known as coparceners, i.e. those who belonged to next three generations and also the joint family property by partition could be, at any time, converted into separate property. Therefore in Mitakshara School, Sons had an exclusive right by birth in joint family property.
- The property is inherited in the Dayabhaga School after the death of the person who was in possession of it. The doctrine of son’s birth right and the devolution of property by survivorship had limited space in Dayabagha School.
- It is establish that in the MitaksharaSchoolneitherthefathernor any other coparcener could normally disaffect the joint family property. Under the Dayabhaga School there is no such constraint and each coparcener has complete right of separation of his exclusive share in the joint family property. To put it simply, Mitakshara was based on the ‘principle of ownership by birth, and Dayabagha on principle of ownership by death’.
- In the Dayabhaga Scheme the division of property was very simple. If a man died intestate, his supposed the property was divided uniformly between his sons. If he has share in the common property with the brothers then the property (a share equal to his own) of the brothers would be put apart and his share would be 4 separated between the sons.
- The law of succession in the Dayabhaga School was based on the principle of religious value or divine profit. The law of inheritance in the Mitakshara School was based on the rule of blood-relationship.
- The Mitakshara School did not give complete result to the principle, and restricted it by two supplementary rules:
(1) females are excluded from inheritance
(2) importance of agnates over cognates .
This means that in case of a death of a Hindu man leaving behind a son and a daughter, the latter would be excluded totally and the former would get the entire property. In case he leaves behind a son’s son and a daughter’s son, the former should succeed to the entire property and the latter would be excluded.
- The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs. The law applied to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion. Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, BrahmoSamaj are also considered Hindus for the purposes of this law.