The Hindu Succession Act, 2005 can be applied retrospectively to daughters who were alive when the law was brought in, irrespective of whether their father was alive or not, the Supreme Court has ruled.
This means, that women members of a Hindu family who were born even before 2005 have coparcenary rights to family property. Coparcener is a person who can claim a legal right to ancestral property by birth.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah gave the ruling after hearing a bunch of petitions on whether the Hindu Succession Act 2005 can be applied retrospectively.
“The provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confer status of coparcener on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with same rights and liabilities,” the bench said in its order.
Justice Mishra, while reading out the order, referred to the old Irish saying: “A son is a son till he takes him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life.”
“Daughters must be given equal rights as sons. A daughter remains a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not,” Justice Mishra remarked while reading out the order.
Justice Mishra added that even if the father was not alive on 9 September 2005, when the amendment to the Hindu Succession Act was effectuated, the daughter will have coparcenary rights
The apex court was clarifying on a Delhi High Court judgement that had highlighted the difference between two different but contradictory judgements of the Supreme Court. While one judgment had said that daughters cannot have a right if the father has passed away before 2005, the other judgment had said that the law confers equal rights on both the daughter and the son.
The law that was being debated was Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, which talks of the devolution of interest in coparcenary property. It states: “On and from the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, in a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, 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; and (c) be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the said coparcenary property as that of a son.