property inheritance & women's property rights

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Unequal division of inheritance & Women's right to property in India


Women empowerment, equal rights to both men and women, equal share of property, etc., are some of the issues one can find everyday, in newspaper and on television. The reality is that these issues are still issues. Not much has actually been done to create equality between the male and female gender. The male still dominates society.

If it’s a matter of property, then legally male dominates the society. There are numerous laws that say that there should be no discrimination between the sexes, but in reality none are effective enough to actually bring about a revolution; a change in society.

The Hindu Enactment Act, 1956, established that women have equal inheritance rights, as men; and it abolished life estate of female heirs. However, this law could not do the needful as there was another law, the Mitakshara coparcenary that overruled the previous law.

According to Mitakshara coparcenary, in a joint family, a daughter will get a small share of property compared to the son. While the father’s property is shared equally between brother and sister; the brother, in addition, is entitled to a share in the coparcenary from which the sister is excluded. If the family owned a dwelling house, the daughter’s right is confined only to the right of residence and not possession or ownership.

The Hindu Succession [Andhra Pradesh] Amendment Act, 1985, made a remarkable development. This law stated that the rights of the daughter are equal to that of the son, in any circumstances. This law found the Mitakshara system is in violation of the fundamental right of equality. The States of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala have also amended the law by including women as members of the coparcenary. This law is not applicable in the whole country.

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