Exclusion of ST Women from Hindu Succession Act

Why in News?

  • A Member of Parliament has urged the government to issue a notification that would include women from the Scheduled Tribe community in the inheritance rights provisions of the Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005.

What are the Issues Highlighted around Inheritance Rights?

  • Section 2(2) of the Act excludes these women, which results in the denial of their equal rights to inherit their father’s or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) properties.
  • The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was amended in 2005 to grant daughters equal rights to inherit their father’s or HUF properties.
  • The Member of Parliament (MoP) stated that exclusion of women from the Scheduled Tribe in this act is discriminatory based on gender and is against Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which advocates for equality before the law.
  • Additionally, MoP argue that women from Scheduled Tribes are a more disadvantaged group due to historic oppression and lack of access to education, employment, and property.
  • The MoP has urged the Government to issue a notification that would include Scheduled Tribe women in the ambit of the Hindu Succession Act, except in cases where the customs of a particular Scheduled Tribe give women an advantageous position.

What is Hindu Succession Act, 1956?

  • The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs.
  • It applies to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.
  • Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, are also considered Hindus for this law.
  • Traditionally, only male descendants of a common ancestor along with their mothers, wives and unmarried daughters are considered a joint Hindu family. The legal heirs hold the family property jointly.

Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005:

  • The 1956 Act was amended in September 2005 and women were recognised as coparceners for property partitions arising from 2005.
  • Section 6 of the Act was amended to make a daughter of a coparcener also a coparcener by birth “in her own right in the same manner as the son”.
  • It also gave the daughter the same rights and liabilities “in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son”.
  • The law applies to ancestral property and to intestate succession in personal property, where succession happens as per law and not through a will.
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