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Ipsa Rai | 06 Jan 2023

Property Rights Of Women In India: Giving Back What’s Theirs

Property Rights Of Women In India: Giving Back What’s Theirs

Table of Contents

  1. Property Rights Of Women In India #1: Property rights for Hindu Women
  2. Property Rights Of Women In India #2: Property Rights of Women under Christian Law
  3. Property Rights Of Women In India #3: Property rights of Women in India under Muslim Law
  4. Property Rights Of Women In India #4: The following are property rights accorded to Muslim women by the Quran

Giving women legal ownership of their own property has been controversial throughout history for various cultural reasons. One common thread among these reasons is the belief that women do not stay with their biological families forever. After tying the knot, the woman typically joins the spouse's family. Therefore, the males in the family were the only ones who could legally inherit the property. But, in recent decades, women's property rights have changed. Let's learn what we can about property rights of women in India

Property rights for Hindu Women

  • Hindu women's property rights in India are governed by the 1937 Hindu Women's Right to Property Act and the 1956 Hindu Succession Act. Hindu widows' property rights were the main focus of the 1937 Hindu Women's Right to Property Act.

It made it possible for a Hindu widow to inherit the same amount from her intestate husband's estate as her sons. But, the issues relating to property rights of women as a whole were not addressed, and Hindu women were not granted coparcenary rights. 

  • Several significant improvements to the 1956 Act were implemented as a result of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (henceforth referred to as the 2005 Amendment), which was enacted in response to the recommendations of the 174th Law Commission Report. A significant step forward in India's fight to end gender inequality and advocate equal rights for women.

  • The members of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) may jointly own any inherited assets that were passed down to them intestate. Prior to the passage of the Amendment in 2005, the body of coparceners consisted of just three male lineal descendants: the son, the grandson, and the great-grandson. Only these three were permitted to purchase any coparcenary property. Since women were not permitted to hold the role of a coparcener, it followed that they had no stake in the property held by the coparcenary.

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 (hereinafter referred to as the 1956 Act) was amended in 2005, and as a result, the age-old discriminatory practice of excluding women from the coparcenary system was eliminated. This was accomplished through the amendment of Section 6 of the 1956 Act. 

  • The daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right, just like a son of a coparcener, according to Section 6(1) of the 1956 Act, which states that this provision applies to any HUF that is governed by Mitakshara law. As a result, effective immediately, a daughter of a coparcener in a HUF is also a coparcener in that HUF.

Property Rights of Women under Christian Law

  • Christian women in India have protections for their inheritance rights under the Indian Succession Act of 1925. This Act does not discriminate in any way against women, which is one of its best features.

In the event of an intestate estate, all children, regardless of gender, are entitled to an equal share of the estate. Additionally, it grants surviving spouses the same legal protections as the deceased spouse's heirs. 

  • As far as property rights of women in India for christian women, let's first define lineal and kindred descendants. People who share a common ancestor are said to be "kin" or "consanguineous" under Section 23 of the 1925 Act. The term "kin" is commonly used to describe extended family members. According to Section 25 of the 1925 Act, a person is considered to be of "lineal consanguinity" if they are a descendant.

Depending on whether or not her late husband had any direct descendants, the 1925 Act does not guarantee a Christian widow any particular property interest in his estate.

  • Widow's legal rights when she has no surviving offspring: If a male passes away intestate and leaves behind a widow and no children or other relatives, the widow will inherit all of the deceased man's property in accordance with Section 33 of the 1925 Act. In the event that an intestate male has children, it states that:

  1. Upon his death, his surviving spouse and direct descendants would each inherit one-third of his estate.
  2. If he leaves behind a widow but no direct offspring but does have kin, then she will inherit half of his estate and the kin will inherit the other half.
  3. If he has no other surviving relatives, his entire estate goes to his widow.

In addition, a husband (widower) has the same rights with regard to his intestate wife's property as a widow does under Section 33 of the 1925 Act. 

Property Rights of Women in India under Muslim Law 

Under Muslim law, property rights of women are subject to a great deal of ambiguity. Under its aegis, the idea of inheritance is distinguished by the following four characteristics:

  • The Noble Quran allocates specific portions to a select group of people.

  • The remainder is distributed among the agnates (an agnate is a person who is related solely through males, either by blood or by adoption); in the event that the agnates are not present, it is distributed among the uterine heirs (uterine heirs are individuals who are descended from a common mother but by different husbands);

  • No more than one-third of a Muslim's estate can be bequeathed by will;

  • Only upon a person's death do heirs become entitled to any inheritance.

In India, adherents of the Hanafi school of thought under the Sunni Belief System are in majority. The Hanafi school recognises seven different types of heirs: three primary and four secondary. Koranic heirs, Agnatic heirs, and Uterine heirs are the most prominent. The legal heir, the recognised relative, the sole legatee, and the state are all considered subsidiaries. 

The following are property rights accorded to Muslim women by the Quran

  • In the event that a widow does not have any living children, she is entitled to receive one-fourth of the property that belonged to her deceased husband.

  • If the deceased spouse leaves behind children, the widow is entitled to an eighth of the property that belonged to the deceased spouse.

  • When it comes to the inheritance of their parent's property, female heirs are only entitled to half of what male heirs are given.

  • If a daughter is raised as an only child, she is entitled to inherit one-half of her parents' property share. On the other hand, in the event that there is more than one daughter, each daughter will receive two-thirds of the share.


Summing Up

The world as we know it is presently going through a period of transition. Men no longer have the right to dictate what women can and cannot do or have. As a result, modern women enjoy unprecedented levels of autonomy. Today, women do not have to rely on centuries-old practices to satisfy their post-marital needs because education and technology have made this practice obsolete. By doing away with the antiquated practice, women are gaining the ability to claim equal rights as their male counterparts, which is an important step toward equality. As was mentioned earlier, recent judicial developments in the recognition of the property rights of women in India are a step in the right direction toward achieving gender equality in India.


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