Daughters cannot be deprived of their right of equality and they will have equal coparcenary (joint heirship) rights in joint Hindu family property even if the father died before the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, India's Supreme Court has ruled.
"A daughter always remains a loving daughter. Once a daughter is always a daughter. A son is a son until he gets a wife. A daughter is a daughter throughout her life," the top court observed in an important ruling on Tuesday, upholding the rights of a daughter even if the father died before the enactment of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.
A three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Nazeer and MR Shah said in the ruling that the provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, confer the status of coparcener on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as a son with the same rights and liabilities. "Coparcener" is a term used for a person who assumes a legal right in parental property by birth only.
The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from September 9, 2005 with savings as provided in Section 6(1) as to the disposition or alienation, partition or testamentary disposition which had taken place before December 20, 2004. Since the right in coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that father coparcener should be living as on September 9, 2005.
The verdict makes it clear the amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 granting equal rights to daughters to inherit ancestral property would have retrospective effect.
The apex court said the appeals on the issue were pending before different subordinate courts and the matters have already been delayed due to legal imbroglio caused by conflicting decisions.