New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday held that daughters, like sons, have an equal birthright to inherit joint Hindu family property. The Court decided that the amended Hindu Succession Act, which gives daughters equal rights to ancestral property, will have a retrospective effect.
“A daughter always remains a loving daughter. A son is a son until he gets a wife. A daughter is a daughter throughout her life,” Justice Arun Mishra, heading a three-judge Bench, authored the judgement.
The judgement agreed with lead arguments made by senior advocate Bishwajit Bhattacharya that the substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confers the status of ‘coparcener’ to a daughter born before or after the amendment in the same manner as a son. Coparcener is a person who has a birthright to parental property.
Overrules 2015 decision
Since the right to coparcenary of a daughter is by birth, it is not necessary that the father should be alive as on September 9, 2005. The Court has thus overruled an earlier 2015 decision. The judgement on a batch of appeals against the 2015 verdict came on the issue whether the amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, granting equal rights to daughters to inherit ancestral property would have retrospective effect.
The Court, in its 121-page judgement, said the statutory fiction of partition created by proviso to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 as originally enacted did not bring about the actual partition or disruption of coparcenary. It also clarified that an unregistered oral partition, without any contemporaneous public document, cannot be accepted as the statutory recognised mode of partition.
“However, in exceptional cases where plea of oral partition is supported by public documents and partition is finally evinced in the same manner as if it had been affected by a decree of a court, it may be accepted,” the Bench held. The Court said disputes pending on this question in various courts should be decided within the next six months.