Property Rights of Women
The succession to an immovable property is governed by the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The property owned by a women may be a self acquired property or an ancestral property inherited either from the side of the father or that of the husband. A self acquired property means the property acquired through self earnings and savings or by way of a gift or a will from any relative or friend, provided the terms of the gift or the will does not prescribe a restricted estate in such property, such as a husband may bequeath the property to his widow, subject6 to the condition to enjoy the property during her life time and after her death, it was to revert back to the heirs of the husband or to whomsoever he wanted. As regards inheritance of the ancestral property relating to intestate succession, it was governed under the traditional Hindu law before codification and enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, by the Rule of Survivorship among the members of the coparcenary, without including the females in it. For the first time after the enactment of the said Act, a Hindu woman got the right to inherit an equal share in the coparcenary property, like a male member, if the deceased had left behind him surviving a male relative of Class 1 legal heirs as specified in the schedule of the said Act such as widow, daughter, mother and so on in case of partition among the coparceners and since a female was not the coparcener, she could not claim the partition of the property. The exclusion of a daughter from participating in the coparcenary ownership contributed to her discrimination on the ground of the gender. With a view to removing this gender discrimination and giving equal rights to the daughters in the Hindu Mitakshara coparcenary, the said Act has been amended
As per provisions of Section 14 of the said Act, a female Hindu is now an absolute owner of the property with full ownership rights and not as a limited owner and she can dispose of the same by way of a gift or a will to whomsoever or in a manner she wishes.
by an Amendment Act No: 39 of 2005 with effect from the 9th September 2005, whereby a daughter became a coparcener by birth in her own right in the same manner as the son and with the same rights in the coparcenary property, as if she would have been a son. Earlier Section 23 of the said Act disentitled a female heir to ask for partition in respect of a dwelling house wholly occupied by a Joint Family until the male heirs chose to divide their respective shares therin. By the said Amend- ment Act, the said Section No: 23 has been deleted w.e.f. 09.09.2005, meaning therby that a female heir can now demand partition of a dwelling house like a male member. Prior to the said amendment by the said Central Act of 2005, a similar provision has been made in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka with effect from 05.09.1985, 25.03.1989, 22.06.1994 and 30.07.1994 in that order. In view of these amendments, a daugher, even after her marraige, continued to be a cparcencer of the HUF of her father, in addition to her being a member of the HUF of her husband. However, in Kerala, joint family system has been abolished by the Kerala Joint Hindu Family System (Abolition) Act, 1975. Therefore, as per provisions of Section 14 of the said Act, a female Hindu is now an absolute owner of the property with full ownership rights and not as a limited owner and she can dispose of the same by way of a gift or a will to whomsoever or in a manner she wishes. However, she will have limited ownership or restricted estate in the property acquired by her by way of gift or under a will, of the instrument of gift or will so prescribes. In case of her dying intestate i.e. without leaving behind a will, her property, whether self acquired or ancestral shall devolve on her legal heirs i.e. sons, daughters and husband and failing them other category of the relations, as prescribed in Section 15 of the said Act in order of succession and the manner of the distribution among the heirs as per Section 16 of the said Act. It is a misconception that a widow, after remarraige, is divested of her share in the property of the husband. Merely because the wife has remarried, she does not loose her right to succeed to her deceased husband's property. (Refer to the case of THANKAM V/S RAJAN, reported as AIR-1999-Ker-62). However, where a Hindu married dies intestate and issueless or in the abscene of a son or daughter or the children of any predeceased son or daughter, property inherited by her from her father or mother shall devolve upon the legal heirs of her father and the property inherited by her from her husband or her father-in-law shall devolve upon the heirs of the husband, as per the provisions of Section 15 of the said Act and ruled by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Smt Rajathiamal. In other words, the property inherited by a woman from her father or mother, in such an eventuality, would pass on neither to her husband nor the heirs of her husband, but it would revert back to the heirs of her father. Thus, a Hindu woman has noe full right, title and ownership interest in herself acquired property and share in the ancestral property as an absolute owner and not as a limited owner, except the property acquired by her by way of gift or under a will with restrictive condition of enjoyment during her life time. By way of the said amendment in the year 2005, conferring a coparcenary status on a daughter, a hindu woman, even after marriage, may act as a karta of the HUF of her father if her brother is younger to her, though she can't act as such for the HUF of her husband and the law needs evolution on the point of daughter acting as a karta of the HUF of her father, particularly after her marriage, as it may not be harmonious for keeping good relations with her brothers and other relations in her father's family.