A Window Into The World Of Women

PROPERTY RIGHTS OF WOMEN

The progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights and interests of its women. Property rights and other economic rights offered to women under different statutes in India are quite complex and the issue further gets perplexed after their marriage, since they become part of a new family.

Since India is a home to diverse religions sans a uniform Civil Code and each religion is governed by its respective personal laws, there is no uniformity with respect to the property rights of women. Such rights are immune from Constitutional guarantee of equality, fairness and are highly fragmented on the basis of several factors like religion, geographical region, community, the status of the woman in the family i.e., daughter or wife or mother, their marital status such as married or unmarried or deserted or widow and also the kind of property i.e., ancestral or self-acquired, land or dwelling house or matrimonial property.

Hindu Law

Daughter

  • Daughter have equal right of inheritance as sons to their father’s property.
  • Daughter also have a share in the mother’s property.
  • The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) came into force from 9th September, 2005. the Amendment Act removes gender discriminatory provisions in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and gives the following rights to daughters
  • The daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son;
  • The daughter has the same rights in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son;
  • The daughter shall be subject to the same liability in the said coparcenary property as that of a son;
  • The daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son;
  • A married daughter has no right to shelter in her parents’ house, nor maintenance, charge for her being passed on to her husband. However, a married daughter has a right of residence if she is deserted, divorced or widowed.
  • A woman has full rights over any property that she has earned or that has been gifted or willed to her, provided she has attained majority. She is free to dispose of these by sale, gift or will as she deems fit.

Wife

  • A married woman has exclusive right over her individual property. Unless she gifts it in part or wholly to anyone. She is the sole owner and manager of her assets whether earned, inherited or gifted to her.
  • Entitled to maintenance, support and shelter from her husband, or if her husband belongs to a joint family, then from the family.
  • Upon partition of a joint family estate, between her husband and his sons, she is entitled to a share equal to as any other person. Similarly, upon the death of her husband, she is entitled to an equal share of his portion, together with her children and his mother.

Mother

  • She is entitled to maintenance from children who are not dependents. She is also a Class I heir.
  • A widowed mother has a right to take a share equal to the share of a son if a partition of joint family estate takes place among the sons.
  • All property owned by her may be disposed by sale, will or gift as she chooses.
  • In case she dies intestate, her children inherit equally, regardless of their sex.

RELEVANT CASE LAWS:-

1.     Smt. B.P. Achala Anand – Civil Appeal No. 4250 of 2000:-

The Supreme Court in this case observed that right of a wife to reside in the matrimonial home under personal laws. A wife is entitled to be maintained by her husband. She is entitled to remain under his roof and protection. She is also entitled to separate residence if by reason of the husband’s conduct or by his refusal to maintain her in his own place of residence or for other just cause she is compelled to live apart from him. Right to residence is a part and parcel of wife’s right to maintenance. . For the purpose of maintenance the term wife’ includes a divorced wife.

2.     Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma & Ors. (2020)

The Supreme Court, in this case, stated that the right in coparcenary is accorded by birth. Thus, the birthdate of a daughter is immaterial in this regard. Moreover, it stated that the father need not be alive as on commencement of the 2005 Amendment Act. It held that the Act will be effective retroactively. That is, daughters will be given a share in the coparcenary property even if the father died before 2005. The Supreme Court pointed to the object of the Act which was to remove gender discrimination regarding rules of the coparcenary. Thus, the object could be fulfilled only if the Act was applied retroactively.

3.     Agasti Karuna v. Cherukuri Krishnaiah (2000)

The Court held in this case that women had absolute right over the property of the deceased husband under Section 14. Any transfer or alienation of such property by the wife after the commencement of the Act cannot be challenged by any of the heirs

A woman whether she is a daughter or a wife or a mother, deserves to get equal rights as her male counterpart. She should be treated with same respect and love as anyone else. Most of the women in India give up their careers and spend their life as homemakers. Thus, it is not only necessary but a responsibility to make sure that they do not suffer financially, physically or emotionally in case of any tragedy. It is essential to safeguard Property Rights of Women to secure their life. She deserves equal share as her brother in the property of her parents and as her husband in the property of her in-laws.

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