In a ruling that will ensure equality between men and women, the Supreme Court on Friday made it clear that women born before 2005 have equal right on ancestral property. The apex court stated that the Hindu Succession Act 2005 which gives equal rights to daughters on ancestral property, will be applied to all women including those born before the year.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that the share in ancestral property could not be denied, to a woman, on the ground that she was born before the law was passed, and the law was applicable in all property disputes filed before 2005 and pending when the law was framed. The bench added that the amended law stipulated that a daughter would be a “coparcener” (one who shares equally in inheritance of an undivided property) since birth, and have the same rights and liabilities as a son.
“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. 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,” the bench was quoted as saying by TOI.
Passing the order on a plea filed by two sisters seeking a share in their late father’s property, the court said that the law was amended to give women equal status with men in matters related to ancestral property. The two sisters approached the apex court after the trial court in 2007 dismissed their plea saying that they were not entitled to any share as they were born before 2005. The High Court also rejected their plea. Setting aside the High Court order, the Supreme Court said that the year of birth was not a criterion to decide whether a woman was covered under the amended law.
In 2015, the Supreme Court had said that the 2005 amendment in Hindu law will not give property rights to a daughter if the father died before the amendment came into force. The court held that the amended provisions of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, could not have retrospective effect despite it being a social legislation. The court said the father would have had to be alive on September 9, 2005, if the daughter were to become a co-sharer with her male siblings.