Daughter’s Right to the Property:
In the case of Vineeta Sharma V/S Rakesh Sharma, while delivering its judgment the Supreme Court held that the daughters would have equal say and rights the same as sons in the paternal property.
History and Background:
According to the Hindu Succession Act, there are two types of properties, a) Ancestral and b) Self-acquired.
The Self acquired property is in the control of a person who has acquired it personally. However, an ancestral property is a property passed on by the ancestors of the family. The Hindu Succession Act originally stated that the co-coparcenary rights are given to only those who are lineal descendants of the same ancestors. Simply, it meant that only male lineage can qualify for co-parcenary rights under the Survivorship Rule.
The Rule of Survivorship was abrogated by Amendment of 2005, and the Rule of Testamentary Succession and Intestate Succession was introduced with effect from 9th September 2005.
The Amendment of 2005 introduced that, in a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, the daughter of a coparcener shall, —
(a) By birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son.
(b) Have the same rights in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son;
(c) Be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the said coparcenaries property as that of a son
Where a Hindu dies after the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, his interest in the property of a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not by survivorship, and the coparcenary property shall be deemed to have been divided as if a partition had taken place and,
The daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son, the share of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as they would have got had they been alive at the time of partition, shall be allotted to the surviving child of such pre-deceased son or of such pre-deceased daughter and
The share of the pre-deceased child of a pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as such child would have got had he or she been alive at the time of the partition, shall be allotted to the child of such pre-deceased child of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as the case may be.
However, after the enforcement of the Amendment of 2005, gave rise to questions related to women’s right in property more even, such as,
Whether the law applied to retrospectively?
If the rights of women depended upon the living status of the father through whom they would inherit?
These issues were discussed with different perspectives in different cases.
In Prakash v/s Phulwati of 2016,
The Supreme Court with two judge bench of J. Anil Dave and J. A.K.Goyal held that the law passed under the Amendment of 2005, was not retrospective and the benefit of the law will be given only when both the Co-parcener and his daughter were alive on the date of commencement of amendment i.e., 9th September 2005.
However, in Danamma v/s Suman (supra) of 2018,
The Supreme Court bench of J.A.K. Sikri with J.Ashok Bhushan delivered the judgment that,
"The amended provisions of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 confer full rights upon the daughter. The share of the father, who passed away in 2001, was also passed to the daughters as co-parceners."
The two different views and judgment in the recent cases led to extreme confusion, which was finally resolved in the case of Vineeta Sharma v/s Rakesh Sharma.
Facts of the Case:
The suit premises were purchased and built up by the plaintiff’s father who died intestate in 1999, leaving behind the plaintiff and three sons.
The plaintiff submitted her case stating that her father and one brother died intestate and therefore she is entitled to one-fourth share in premises mentioned in the suit which has been denied by the defendants.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendants have been avoiding giving her due share therefore she has filed the petition before the High Court of Delhi.
The Delhi High Court upheld the decision given in the case of Prakash v/s Phulwati stating that the Amendment of 2005 will not benefit the plaintiff as her father passed away in 1999.
The plaintiff filed an appeal before the Supreme Court for the same.
During the hearing of the appeal before the Supreme Court the plaintiff's lawyer while arguing stated that,
The Mitakshara coparcenary law not only discriminated on the ground of gender but was negated the fundamental right of equality guaranteed by the Constitution of India. A daughter has her right with the same liability in the coparcenary property as if she had been a son. The coparcener, from whom the daughter is inheriting, needs not to be alive as on the commencement of the Amendment Act of 2005.
The three-judge bench consisting of J. Arun Mishra, J. Abdul Nazeer, and J. M. R. Shah passed the judgment stating that,
The provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confer the status of coparcener on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as a son with the same rights and liabilities.
The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from 9.9.2005 with savings as provided in Section 6(1) as to the disposition or alienation, partition, or testamentary disposition which had taken place before the 20th day of December 2004.
Since the right in coparcenary is by birth, the father doesn't need to be living.
The daughters cannot be deprived of their right of equality conferred upon them by Section 6.
In view of the aforesaid discussion and answer, Court overruled the views to the contrary expressed in Prakash Phulavati and Mangammal v. T.B. Raju & Ors.