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Clarifying the Rights of Daughters as Coparceners

By clearing the confusion over the interpretation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the Supreme Court in Vineeta Sharma v Rakesh Sharma (2020) has secured for Hindu women the right to be coparceners in joint family property with retrospective effect from 1956. The three-judge bench has restored the progressive intent to the 2005 amendment, but has based it on a conservative interpretation that reinforces the basic concepts of the Hindu joint family and coparcenary ownership of property.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act (HSAA), 2005, the last major amendment to the Hindu Code, attempts to undo the gender inequality built into much of Hindu personal law. It deems a Hindu daughter to be a coparcener—joint owner and interest holder—in the ancestral property of her father from the date of her birth.1 This is an attempt to bring daughters at par with sons who, under Vedic law, become coparceners in their father’s ancestral property as soon as they are born and could claim partition of their share in the ancestral property under the law.

The 2005 amendment was the culmination of a specific legal reform that began in the states, starting with Kerala in 1975, and by the time the HSAA was passed in Parliament, five states had made similar provisions giving daughters the same coparcenary rights as sons.2 The HSAA extended this at the national level and also sought to make the change applicable with retrospective effect.

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2020

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