Women As Daughters And Brides (Social And Legal Rights In Natal And Marital Homes)
Written By: Swapna Sudha Sahoo
Indian women have always been deprived of their rights. They were never considered as the heirs to the property. The laws of inheritance came into the picture through the application of personal laws and the right to claim property rights also came into effect. The non-uniform laws created a certain unbiased attitude against the women of our society. The women due to their low literacy rate were not given facilities of claiming the right to inheritance.
However, with the introduction of the Indian Succession Act, mainly the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 provides such rights and obligations to women. Now the gender-neutral inheritance laws are provided which states the rights of women much more ahead than the rights of the men in our society.
Indian Succession Act, 1925
Section 31-49 mainly deals with laws of succession for Christians and Jew community. Section 50-56 deals with the laws of inheritance among the Parsis community.
Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937
This act deals with the laws of inheritance among the muslim community.
Special Marriage Act, 1954
It deals with the interfaith marriages.
Rights Of Property As Per Hindu Law
The people belonging to any other religion other than Hinduism, also have the right of getting converted themselves to Hindus and enjoying the rights of inheritance under the Hindu Personal Law. This law is applicable to both men and women of Hindu society. The provisions of the act don’t deal with testamentary succession. It deals with those cases where there is no will as to whom and how the property shall belong or be distributed then it gets governed only by the intestate succession only.
In the case of B.P Achala Anand vs. S. Appi Reddy, it was stated that the wife has the right to reside in her matrimonial home. She should be provided maintenance and must be taken care of by her husband. However, she has the right to leave her matrimonial house and reside somewhere else if she faces any kind of cruelty, misconduct, or any kind of adultery.
Classification Of Property
The property can further be classified into ancestral or self- acquired. Ancestral property is the one which is inherited up to four generations of the male lineage. Self- acquired property is the one which is inherited by a person out of his own resources and means and utilizing it for one’s own needs.
There are four categories among which the property needs to be distributed in case of the death of the intestate:
- Class- I heirs
- Class- II heirs
The property is to be first given to Class- I heirs, in their absence the property needs to be given to Class – II heirs, in their absence to the agnates and further in their absence to the cognates.
Section 10 of the Hindu Succession Act deals with the distribution of property among all the heirs, also includes the deceased’s widow, etc. She is also entitled to equal share as the other members of the family and if there is no share, she is entitled to inherit the whole property of the deceased husband.
The property was given to a wife at the time of her marriage by her family members also puts the tag of the sole owner of the same. The wife has the right to take care of the property whether it is in the form of gift, inherited, earned, etc. She is entitled to get good maintenance, home, food from her husband.
In case of divorce, the issues related to maintenance and alimony are further proceeded.
In case if the husband marries second time without the dissolution of the first marriage, then the second marriage shall be deemed to be void. The second wife also will not be entitled to inherit any property from the husband as because the rights of inheritance of the first wife remains intact. However, the children born out of second marriage have the right of inheritance of the husband’s property as all the other legal heirs.
In the case of interfaith marriage, the wife is entitled to get the right of inheritance from her husband on the basis of the personal law of property of the husband.
If the husband is Muslim and the wife didn’t convert herself to Muslim, then she will be entitled to claim dower. Such marriage is neither regular nor valid.
Gender Biased Women’s Property
Section 15 and 16 of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 states that if the Hindu woman dies, then the heirs of the husband shall be entitled to the self- acquired property. But in case of the death of the husband intestate, the property is to be claimed by his relatives and not by her wife’s heirs.
Gender-neutral laws are quite needed for the smooth functioning of society. Equality must be provided to both genders in case of laws of inheritance. The women in society need to be given the basic rights and privileges of the Indian Succession Act of 1925.