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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Hindu Women Inheritance rights

Why in news?

The Supreme Court has recently expanded on a Hindu woman’s right to be a joint legal heir and inherit ancestral property on terms equal to male heirs.

Observation made by the SC in the ruling:

  • Inheritance right has nothing to do with father’s death: Hindu woman’s right to be a joint heir to the ancestral property is by birth and does not depend on whether her father was alive or not when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was enacted.
  • Coparcenary is by birth: The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 gave Hindu women the right to be coparceners or joint legal heirs in the same way a male heir does.
  • Section 6 creates an unobstructed heritage: Or a right by birth for the daughter of the coparcener, the right cannot be limited by whether the coparcener is alive or dead when the right is operationalised.
  • Retrospective application: Though the rights can be claimed with the enforcement of 2005 amendments, the provisions are of retroactive application. They confer benefits based on the antecedent event, and the Mitakshara coparcenary shall be deemed to include a reference to a daughter as a coparcener.
    Directed High Courts: To dispose of cases involving this issue within six months since they would have been pending for years.

What is the 2005 law?

The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs.

The law applied to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.

Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus for the purposes of this law.
In a Hindu Undivided Family, several legal heirs through generations can exist jointly.

The law on inheritance:

Traditionally: Only male descendants of a common ancestor along with their mothers, wives and unmarried daughters are considered a joint Hindu family. The legal heirs hold the family property jointly.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956:

The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs.

Application of the law: Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus for the purposes of this law. However, the law is not applied to a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion. 

Amendments made in 2005:

  • Women were recognised as coparceners: Or joint legal heirs for partition.
  • Section 6: Of the Act was amended in 2005 to make a daughter of a coparcener also a coparcener by birth in her own right in the same manner as the son.
  • Same rights and liabilities: To daughters in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son.
    The law applies to ancestral property: And to intestate succession in personal property, where succession happens as per law and not through a will.

What did the law bring in?

  • Section 6 of the Act was amended that year to make a daughter of a coparcener also a coparcener by birth “in her own right in the same manner as the son”.
  • The law also gave the daughter the same rights and liabilities “in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son”.
  • The law applies to ancestral property and to intestate succession in personal property — where succession happens as per law and not through a will.

How did the case come about?

  • While the 2005 law granted equal rights to women, questions were raised whether the law applied retrospectively and if the rights of women depended on the living status of their father.
  • Different benches of the Supreme Court had taken conflicting views on the issue. Different High Courts had also followed different views of the top court as binding precedents.
  • The Prakash v Phulwati (2015) case held that the benefit of the 2005 amendment could be granted only to “living daughters of living coparceners” as on September 9, 2005 (the date when the amendment came to force).
  •  In February 2018 a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri held that the share of a father who died in 2001 will also pass to his daughters as coparceners during the partition of the property as per the 2005 law.

The present case:

  • These conflicting views led to a reference to a three-judge Bench in the current case.
  •  The ruling now overrules the verdicts from 2015 and April 2018.
  •  It settles the law and expands on the intention of the 2005 legislation to remove the discrimination as contained in section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
  • It gave equal rights to daughters in the Hindu Mitakshara coparcenary property as the sons have.

What was the government’s stand?

  • The solicitor argued in favour of an expansive reading of the law to allow equal rights for women. He referred to the objects and reasons of the 2005 amendment.
  • The Mitakshara coparcenary law not only contributed to discrimination on the ground of gender but was oppressive and negated the fundamental right of equality guaranteed by the Constitution.

Facts For Prelims :

Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra:

  • To be launched by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The portal is being developed for handholding and facilitation, information dissemination, and facilitation of domestic investors.
  • It will give information about approvals, licenses, and clearances required for businesses.
  • It will also help investors connect to various stakeholders on single platform like Central Ministries, Industry Associations, State Departments.
  • This Project is under the “Invest India” agency which was set up in 2009 as a non-profit venture under the DPIIT.

Green Windows:

  • Green windows, like green banks, are public entities created to work with the private sector to increase investment in green energyand bring clean energy financing into the mainstream.
  • They are innovative and new tools that have been successful in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and the United States.
  • It is an initiative of Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).

 

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