Daughters are entitled to equal property rights under Hindu Succession Act even if born before 2005: SC

    The Supreme Court made a landmark judgement by declaring that daughters will have right over Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) properties even if the coparcener had died prior to the date when Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into effect. The three-Judge Bench included Justice Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer, and MR Shah who passed the verdict in appeals answering a very important question of whether the amendment to the Act granting equal rights to daughters to inherit ancestral property would have retrospective effect.

    The issue raised before the apex court was if a daughter born before the enactment of the passing of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, would she not be treated as a coparcener in her own right in a similar way as the son? Justice Mishra, in the judgement, addressed the significance and gravity of granting equal rights to daughters and sons.

    “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.”

    The difference of opinion of Justices of the Supreme Court was highlighted by the Delhi High Court while addressing the contradiction in the matter.  In Prakash v. Phulavati, the Court had held that “the rights under the amendment are applicable to living daughters of living coparceners as on 9-9-2005 irrespective of when such daughters are born.” While in Danamma v. Amar, it had held that the 2005 amendment confers upon the daughter the status of coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son. Thus, it confers equal rights and liabilities in the coparcener properties to daughters and sons. Finally, in November 2018, Justice AK Sikri had observed that the matter needed to be heard by a three-Judge Bench.

    Section 6 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 ensures that ‘the daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son, have the same rights in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son; and is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son’. Today, by confronting the gender prejudice in the legal system, the Court held that a daughter would have had coparcenary rights in the property even though her father had passed before the enactment of the amendment.