Women’s Right to Property in India

Women play a key role in strengthening the dynamism of human civilization. Women were considered noble with a decent status in early Vedic civilization. The Vedāḥ has stressed women significantly with limited right to the legacy of property, wherein wedded little girls were never permitted to acquire their dad’s property. 

Different personal laws change from religion to religion. As the Hindu’s personal laws are regulated by, The 1955 Hindu Marriage Act and the 1956 Hindu Succession Act. Likewise, The 1937 Muslim Personal Law Shariat Application Act and the 1986 Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Divorce Act oversee Muslims. Christians and Parsis are administered by the Christian Marriage Act and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act.

Succession under Hindu Law

As per manusmriti, women were deprived of any property rights. Arthaśāstra disclosed that “no woman shall succeed in her attempt to establish her title to the property of her husband”, 

Based on such ideals of Dharmasastras, The Hindu Succession Act was sanctioned in 1956; the lawmakers didn’t really felt any requirement for giving equivalent rights to girls in the coparcenary property of their father, because of their conviction that the girl will be a piece of another family after her marriage and in this way ought not to have the option to acquire anything from her father’s property.

Prior to 1956

The distribution of property before 1956 was deciphered based on schools ie. Mitakshara and Dayabhaga. During that period, Shastric and Standard laws, which differed from area to locale, represented the Hindus and here and there it fluctuated in a similar district on a rank premise; this prompted variety in the law.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

The codification of property laws was made after 1956. This act mainly deals with succession and inheritance of the property. This act is applicable to Hindu, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. The parliament of India passed an act ie. The Hindu Law of Inheritance Act. 1956 which dealt only with intestate succession. The Coparceners of the property were the male lineage only. 

Succession of Property of a Hindu Male

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 deals with the inheritance related to: 

  • separate property of a Mitakshara male,
  • separate and coparceners property of a Dayabhaga male
  • undivided interest under the joint family property of a  Coparcener under Mitakshara

The Act i.e. Hindu Succession Act, does not apply to the property of a Hindu person who is married under the Special Marriage Act to a non -Hindu person: 

Hindu Male heirs are classified as under:

  1. Class I heir,
  2. Class II heir
  3. Agnate
  4. Cognates,
  5. and the Government

Section 6, Hindu Succession Act, 1956

Prior to 2005

Before the amendment under this act, the act said that when a Hindu male kicks the bucket, after the initiation of this Demonstration, having an interest in a Mitakshara coparcenary property, (at that point) his advantage in that property will end by survivorship, upon the enduring individuals who are the coparcenary individuals and not as per this Demonstration: 

The stipulation of this demonstration says that In Hindu family if the perished had left him with an enduring, a female family member, as determined in Class I of the schedule, or a male relative as indicated in that Class, who claims through such female family member, (at that point) the interest of the expired, in the Mitakshara coparcenary property, will degenerate by testamentary or intestate progression, by and large, under this Demonstration, and not by survivorship. [1] 

Explanation I.— For the motivations behind this segment, the interest, of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener, will be considered to be the offer, in the property, that would have been designated to him, if a segment of the property had occurred, preceding his demise, independent of if he was qualified for guarantee parcel. [2]

Amendment of 2005

After an extensive stretch of around 50 years, the Middle in 2005 passed the alteration Demonstration to eliminate and end the sex separation in coparcenary property. The 2005 Change Act or the Hindu Progression Act, 1956 was oppressive as they said that ladies were not considered as coparceners to acquire the tribal property since birth like the children. A coparcenary property is characterized as it is a property acquired by any Hindu from his dad or granddad or incredible granddad. A coparcener is a term utilized for any individual who acquires the genealogical property by birth. This Hindu Progression Act was ordered to arrange Hindu Law. [3]

Who is a coparcener?

A coparcener is a person who shares similarly in the legacy of a unified property. 

The Court was managing a reference identifying with the translation of area 6 of the Hindu Progression Act, 1956 as corrected by Hindu Progression (Revision) Act, 2005 taking into account the clashing decisions delivered in two Division Bench decisions in Prakash v. Phulavati, (2016) 2 SCC 36 and Danamma v. Amar, (2018) 3 SCC 343. 

The Amendment Act  pointed toward making two significant alterations in the Hindu Progression Act, 1956: 

  • Altered the arrangement which barred the privilege of girls from coparcenary property. 
  • Overlooked Area 3 of the demonstration which disentitled a female beneficiary to request parcel in regard of a home house which is completely involved by a joint family, until the male beneficiaries decide to isolate their individual offers.

Finally, on 11 August 2020, a three-judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling in the leading case of  Vineeta Sharma v Rakesh Sharma and Ors (Civil Appeal No 32601 of 2018) certifying the equivalent privileges of girls in coparcenary property. Most essentially, the Hon’ble Peak Court obviously explained that independent of a coparcener father being alive or not at the very latest the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 girl will be qualified for an offer in the coparcenary property in a similar way as a child basically by the goodness of (I) her introduction to the world; and (ii) her being alive as on the date of coming into power of the 2005 Revision. 

These progressions have been made on the standard of correspondence, hence looking to eliminate the apparent handicap and bias to which a girl was oppressed.

The bench closed that:

…This amendment now confers upon the daughter of the coparcener as well the status of coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son and gives same rights and liabilities in the coparcener properties…[4]

Succession under Muslim Laws

Muslim personal laws have given diverse rights to Muslim women such as preference in marriage, inheritance etc. Under Islamic, Law women have been given equal status in the right of inheritance in property with the males. There are four main sources from which the law of succession of women can be taken and they are, The Quran, The Sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas. These sources of law classify the distribution of property to women and men. 

Under Muslim Law there are two types of hiers, the Shares and the Residuaries.  

The shares includes the person who is entitled for certain shares in the deceased’s property whereas the residuaries is the leftover part after taking up the shares. The Muslim law does not diffrentiate between self-acquired property and ancestral property. Both are treated equally.

The law of inheritance under muslims is governed by the Shariat Law, 1937. This law is only applicable in the absence of will of the deceased.

Muslim Women and Inheritance

In Muslims the woman and the man are treated equally  in the matters of inheritance. However the  share of the male double than that of the female in the property. . This is because the woman is entitled to get it Mehr( a gift at the time of marriage) and maintenance from her husband as well as her children whereas the mail is only dependent upon the ancestral property.

Muslim Widow and Inheritance

They can be three different cases in which the Muslim widow is entitled to get share in her deceased husband’s property:

If  the widow has no child from the deceased husband she is entitled for one fourth of his total property.

If the window has children from the deceased husband she is in title for one eighth of his property. And if the husband has more than one wife this share may come down to one sixteenth.

If the marriage took place when the husband was sick and in case the wedding is not consummated and if subsequently, the husband dies, the widow has no right to any share in his property. However, if the ill husband divorce his wife before his death, the widow would be entitled to a share till she got married to another person. 


Succession under Christian Law

The Indian Christian women’s right to property is governed by Indian Succession Act. 1925.

However some Christians still follow their customary laws. Under Christianity the law of succession and inheritance is equal for both men and women. The property irrespective of its acquisition is considered self acquired property. 

The Indian Succession Act, 1925 guided by man patriarchal mindset which permits injustice to ladies in intestate progression. The incongruity is that the law outlined multiple and 50 years prior which victimizes ladies in progression rights proceeds even today. The portion of Christian widow in legacy rights changes with the presence or nonattendance of lineal relatives of her perished spouse and she gets rights over the whole property just without removing fellow of the expired husband stretching out up to incredible distant uncle or distant uncle’s child. The bereaved little girl in-law has no privilege in her dad’s parents in law property. Mother is considered as a lower position and she acquires just without father and in any event, when she acquires she gets rights with the expired’s siblings and sisters. 

The Indian Succession Act, 1925 arrangements with two sorts of succession of property and they are: 

  • By Testamentary Progression, for example at the point when the expired has left a will handing down his property to explicit beneficiaries 
  • By Intestate Progression, for example at the point when the perished has not left a will, whereby the law administering the expired (as per his religion) steps in, and decides how his home will devolve.[3]

Mode of Succession

The law of Intestate succession under the sections i.e. S. 33, S. 33-A, S. 34 of the Act govern succession to the widow. Under Christianity the widow of the deceased husband is entitled for the one third of his property. The rest of the property belongs to his legal heirs or his  children. In the absence of children or grandchildren half of the property belongs to the widow and the rest belongs to his kindred. In the absence of children, grandchildren and kindred the entire property belongs to the widow of the deceased husband.

In Christianity a man can remarry exclusively in the wake of separating from his first spouse. In the event that the individual has a subsequent spouse and even as his first wife is alive or not separated, the subsequent wife or kids from her will have no direct control over his property. Be that as it may, the offspring of the lawfully separated from spouse will have an equivalent offer over their dad’s property. A girl has an equivalent right similarly as her sibling in the property of their dad. She additionally has full control over her own property after achieving the larger part. 

The law of testamentary progression says that, A will is the articulation by an individual of wishes which he means to produce results just at his passing. To make a legitimate will, a departed benefactor should have a testamentary goal for example he should mean the desires to which he gives purposeful articulation to produce results just at his passing. 

Testamentary Progression is managed under Part VI of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. It unmistakably expresses that any christian, with a sound brain and not a minor can discard their property by making a will according to their desire.


India is a land of different religions. And being a secular country each and every citizen of India has the right to practice, profess and propagate their choice of religion. Laws of succession and inheritance under different religions are governed by their own personal laws. Despite these provisions under the different personal laws the women in India are still unaware of their rights and are tortured by their in-laws and are left on helping and without any share and property. The best implementation of these laws would be when the women are are made aware of their rights and taught well  for their betterment of status in the society. 


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