Women’s Right to Property
In the ancient times, the woman could hold property but in practice, in comparison to men’s holding, her right to dispose of the property was qualified, the latter considered by the patriarchal set up as necessary, lest she became too-independent and neglect her marital duties and the management of household affairs.
The Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937 was one of the most important enactments that brought about changes to give better rights to women. The Hindu women’s Right to Property Act came into force on the 14th April, 1937 and has no retrospective operation. As the Act was considered to be defective, it was amended by the Hindu Women’s Right to property (Amendment) Act XI, 1938, which was declared to have retrospective effect, from the 14th April, 1937. Even after the amendment, the Act remained defective and obscure in some respects. Women’s right to property has been substantially improved by the Hindu Succession Act 1956. The concept of women being entitled to a limited estate when they acquire property by inheritance is abolished and women are entitled to an absolute estate like men when they inherit any property. Again the daughter of a predeceased son and the daughter of a predeceased daughter are raised to a higher rank. They became Class – I heirs and get a share along with the son, and other Class – I heirs. The daughters are included in the Class – I in order to remove the discrimination on the basis of sex. Similarly succession to a women’s property or stridhanam of whatever nature is made uniform irrespective of the nature of stridhanam.
Under Section 14 of The Hindu Succession Act 1956, the limited interest of Hindu female is converted into absolute rights. If she gets property from her husband she can sell it and the purchaser gets absolute right in the property The Judiciary has also played a significant role to widen further the scope of Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956. In Tulsamma v. Sesha Reddy, the Supreme Court observed that the shackles placed on the Hindu women over her property have been broken by this Act and her status has been brought on par with men. To remove the said gender discriminatory provisions the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was enacted and the said Act came into force on 9th September, 2005 and it gives the following rights to daughters: In a Joint Hindu family the daughter of a coparcener shall,- (a) by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son; (b) have the same rights in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son; (c) be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the said coparcenary property as that of a son, and any reference to a Hindu coparcener shall be deemed to include a reference to a daughter of a coparcener The above mentioned provision under Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 relating to right of residence in dwelling houses has been omitted under the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Thus gender discrimination has been removed to a larger extent by the 2005 Act. Now, daughters can claim equal right in the self acquired/separate property and also coparcenary property left by their father. — About the Author: The article has been contributed by our intern, Palak Jain.