Inherited Property of Issueless Hindu Female Dying Intestate goes back to Source: SC


On 20th January 2022, the Supreme Court held that inherited property of a female Hindu dying issueless and intestate will either go to the heirs of her parents or husband.

The court also said that such daughters would get preference over other collateral members of the family such as sons and daughters of brothers of the deceased father.

Major Point of the Ruling

If a female Hindu dies intestate without leaving any issue, then -

  • The property inherited by her from her father or mother would go to the heirs of her father;
  • The property inherited from her husband or father-in-law would go to the heirs of the husband.

If a property of a male Hindu dying intestate (without a will) is a self-acquired property or obtained in the partition of a coparcenary or a family property, then

  • The same would devolve by inheritance and not by survivorship, and a daughter of such a male Hindu would be entitled to inherit such property in preference to other collaterals (such as sons/daughters of brothers of deceased father).

Basic Aim of the Legislation: Property goes back to the Source

  • The basic aim of the legislature in enacting Section 15(2) is to ensure that inherited property of a female Hindu dying issueless and intestate, goes back to the source.

Upon whom the Act is Applicable

  • The Act lays down a uniform and comprehensive system of inheritance and applies, inter-alia, to persons governed by the Mitakshara and Dayabhaga Schools and also to those governed previously by the Murumakkattayam, Aliyasantana, and Nambudri Laws.
  • The Act applies to every person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Pararthana or Arya Samaj and even to any person who is Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh by religion excepting one who is Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

  • The main scheme of this Act is to establish complete equality between male and female with regard to property rights and the rights of the female were declared absolute, completely abolishing all notions of a limited estate.
  • The Act brought about changes in the law of succession among Hindus and gave rights which were till then unknown in relation to women's property.
  • The legislative intent of enacting Section 14 (I) of the Act was to remedy the limitation of a Hindu woman who could not claim absolute interest in the properties inherited by her but only had a life interest in the estate so inherited.

Section 14 (I) in The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

  • Property of a female Hindu to be her absolute property—
  • 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.
  • Explanation: In this sub-section, “property” includes both movable and immovable property acquired by a female Hindu by inheritance or devise, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance or arrears of maintenance, or by gift from any person, whether a relative or not, before, at or after her marriage, or by her own skill or exertion, or by purchase or by prescription, or in any other manner whatsoever, and also any such property held by her as stridhana immediately before the commencement of this Act.