Hindu Succession Act
Hindu Succession Act 1956 deals with succession Does it deal with the inheritance of property? If someone dies without making any will it is known as intestate succession and when the property gets transferred according to the terms of the will it is known as testamentary succession.
Understanding who qualifies as a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain or?
- Any legitimate or illegitimate child, in case his parents (Mother and Father) are Hindus, Jains, Sikhs or Buddhists.
- Any legitimate or illegitimate child, in case where parents, whether male or female is Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist.
- Change of religion from others to Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist.
Classification of Heirs
They are classified into 4 categories –
Sons or Daughters or Widows or Mothers or Sons of a Predeceased son, Widows of a Predeceased son, Widows of any Predeceased son or Daughter of a Predeceased son or Daughter of Predeceased daughter, etc. All have absolute rights in the distribution of property.
Illustration 1 – A died intestate leaving behind his wife, two daughters and his father. The property will get distributed among the Class I heirs and hence the father will not get the share. The rest of them will get one-third share in the property.
- Includes both natural born son or adopted son but does not include a stepson or illegitimate child.
- Son has full interest in the property and his son cannot claim birth right in it.
- It does not include a grandson but includes a posthumous son.
- both natural born son or adopted daughter, but not a step-daughter or illegitimate daughter.
- Any daughter of a void or voidable marriage, if pronounced by the court, will become a legitimate daughter and therefore, will be eligible to inherit the father’s property.
- Daughter and son have an equal share.
- She is allowed to get equal shares to his son.
- In case of more than 1 widow both of them allowed to take the share of son and distributed equally between them
- She should have been in a valid marriage.
Class II: Father, Son’s daughter son, Son’s daughter’s daughter, Brother, Sister, etc.
If no one takes property from Class I heirs, Class II heirs fall in line to get the property.
Illustration 2 – If in the first Illustration A had left behind his father and brother then the property will get distributed between them equally.
It consists of the agnates of the deceased. They can inherit the property when none form the earlier classes get the property.
An agnate can be a male or female.
They are related to the instate only through male relatives.
Rules of Preference
- Each generation is known as degree. The first degree is in state.
- Degrees of ascent mean ancestral or upward directions.
- Degree(s) of any descent means in the descendants or downwards.
A cognate is someone who was related to the intestate through mixed relatives.
First, only to the heirs defined in Class I, Second, if there are no heir of any class I, then it automatically goes to Class II heirs. Third, there is noone in Class I or II , then it goes to the agnate’s Class III. Last, if noone left in any class then cognates Class IV.
Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 1956 granted ownership of property to women, whether it was acquired before or after the commencement of the Act, abolishing their ‘Limited Owner’ status.
The process of devolving in case of property belongs to female, Hindu intestate dying will devolve through-
- the sons and daughters which would also include the children of a predeceased son or a predeceased daughter and the husband.
- Heirs of the husband.
- Mother or the father.
- Heirs of the mother.
Any property being inherited by a female Hindu by her father or mother and if there is no son or daughter of the deceased, then it shall devolve in favor of the heirs of the father.
Any property being inherited by a female Hindu by her husband or her father in law, and if there is no son or daughter of the deceased, it shall devolve in favor of the heirs of the husband. Hindu Succession Act
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Therefore, the property gets devolved based on the provisions of this Act. After the 2005 Amendment women got their equal share in the property.