PROPERTY RIGHTS OF HINDU AND MUSLIM WOMEN IN INDIA

    PROPERTY RIGHTS OF HINDU AND MUSLIM WOMEN IN INDIA

    Property rights of Hindu and Muslim women both In India is governed by different Acts. Every religion is governed by its personal laws. Like Muslim law is governed by Muslim Sharia law act of 1937 whereas Hindu law is governed by Hindu succession Act of 1956.

    With the evolution of time, women are considered equal to men. They work equally with men and thus laws have also evolved accordingly. Section 14 of the Hindu succession act, 1956 governs the female Hindu property right. It says that ‘Any property possessed by a female Hindu, whether acquired before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as full owner thereof and not as a limited owner’ and property here refers to both movable as well as immovable property. But this act did not provide daughters the right to inherit property.

    So, in 2005 the Hindu succession act was amended, and daughters were now eligible to become coparceners of their father’s property irrespective of their marital status. Section 6 of the act gives daughters the right to inherit since their birth in a Joint Hindu family. All rights were given to Hindu females through this act as par to Hindu males in a Hindu undivided family.

    Whereas Muslim law is governed by two schools- Hanafi and Shia. The Hanafi school only recognizes relatives as heirs who are related to the deceased through a male. This covers the son’s son and son’s daughter, and the father’s mother. Shia school did not favor such discrimination i.e., heirs related through a woman to deceased also considered. Women are given one-half right in the property as a comparison to a male. But the control is given to male-only to manage, control or dispose of the property. Daughters are given the right to residence in their parents’ house.

    For a divorced woman, maintenance for three months by her husband until the period of Iddat ends and after that, her parents are responsible for their daughter’s maintenance. Whereas a Muslim wife is given ⅛ share when there are no children and ¼ share in the case of children and in the case of a Muslim mother, she is eligible to receive from her children. So, as we can see there are different rights for every woman under Muslim law.

    However, on 21st January, Supreme Court gave a remarkable judgment regarding the daughter’s right to property. The court said that ‘Hindu daughters would be entitled to inherit the property of their father in the absence of any other legal heir; they would receive preference over other members of the family in inheriting the property even if the father does not leave behind a will.’ It means that the self-acquired property of a Hindu male will devolve by succession and female heirs—wife and daughter—shall be entitled to inheritance/succession even before 1956, when the Hindu Succession Act was enacted. This judgment was passed in order to give equal rights to females as compared to males and bring equality among them.

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