Women have often been discriminated against throughout the history of mankind. However, with the growing awareness about their rights and increasing level of understanding in the society, their rights are increasing. This article discusses about property rights available to a woman in India.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956

  • According to Section 14 of the Act, any property held by a woman acquired before or after the passing of the Act is held by her as a full owner and not as a limited owner. She is free to distribute and gift the property as per her own wishes.
  • Section 15 and 16 of the Act lay down the general rules of succession in case of Female Hindus dying intestate. The order of devolution is mentioned below.
    • firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband;
    • secondly, upon the heirs of the husband;
    • thirdly, upon the mother and father;
    • fourthly, upon the heirs of the father;
    • Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – applicable to whom, before amendment and after amendment

  • The 2005 Amendment Act applies to the living daughters of living coparceners on the day the Act was passed, i.e. September 9, 2005 irrespective of when they were born.
  • Disposition or Alienation or Partition of Ancestral property before 20 December, 2004 shall remain unaffected.
  • The daughter will become a coparcener from birth and shall have the same rights and liabilities as the son.
  • Daughters of coparceners who were deceased before September 9, 2005 will have no rights to the ancestral property.
  • In Danamma @ Suman Surpur vs Amar (2018), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that daughters born before 2005 too have the right to equal share in Ancestral property.

Property Rights for Muslim Women

The rights of Muslim women are not governed under any Indian Statute. They are given under Islamic personal Law. In Ahmedabad Women Action Group (AWAG) v. Union of India  (1997) 3 SCC 573, a PIL was filed in order to deem the inheritance rights under Islamic law void as they are discriminatory in nature. However, it was held that India had been governed by personal law since ages and interference would lead to several undesirable outcomes. The subject was said to be beyond the Jurisdiction of the Court and the said matter was dismissed.

  • Under the Islamic law, the share of a daughter is half to that of a son.
  • If there is only one daughter, then her share is half the total property.
  • If there is more than one daughter but no son then only two-thirds of the property is divided among them.

Illustrations:

    • If there are 2 daughters and a son, the son inherits one-half of the property and both the daughters inherit one-fourth each of the property.
    • If there is only one daughter she inherits half of the property.
  • The share of wife in the deceased husband’s property:
    • One-fourth if they have no children.
    • One-eight if they have one or more children
  • The share of a mother in deceased son’s property:
    • One-sixth if there are no grandchildren
    • One-third if there are grandchildren