Inheritance and women

Inheritance and women

History of inheritance 

In an ancient as well as medieval history, properties and wives/women were kept by a man as a sense of accomplishment. More property and women means more powerful and stronger the man is. Aristotle, while explaining the concept of property, said that only man has a right to hold private property. In the Ancient Greek city-state, only man is a free citizen. Women, children, and slaves were viewed as the properties of man. 

Right to property

After the three waves of feminism, the world became more aware of the independent existence of a woman. It began with claiming political rights such as the right to vote and the right to representation. Gradually, the right to abortion, property, divorce, etc. came forward. Parents, as well as brothers, are hesitant to discuss the distribution of property among their female members. The name of a female is usually taken in association with the male. For a long time, the right to succession is neither granted by society nor by law, to a woman

Point of view opponent

We usually witness that parents and other male shareholders hesitate to give a share of the property to married women considering her to be a member of other families and not the one who can take their surname not the next generation. They cite the dowry payment and other gifts given during the wedding as her share in the property. The family wanted to keep property and valuables within their family and prefer not to involve a married daughter. The one who claims is even criticized and abused. The conflict is within four walls and rooted in our conscience. 

Legal aspects 

India being the hub and house of different religions doesn’t follow uniform civil code for matters that are personal to their religion. Issues such as Marriage, divorce, distribution of Property, etc. are guided by Personal Laws. After passing of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the position of Hindu women has improved a lot. It is in line with Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian constitution. This Act guarantees the right to property to daughter in an equal proportion that may be given to the son. Initially, The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 does not offer the right to property to daughter but after amendment in 2005, even married daughter can claim her right in ancestral property. After the famous Shah Bano case (1986), the Union government passed Muslim Women’s (Protection of right upon divorce) Act. Christian women still struggle for the equal right to take divorce and property. In 1994, all churches along with the help of different women’s organizations drafted ‘The Christian Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill’ which is still to be considered by the government. In 2014, the Law Commission of India approached the government to amend the laws to provide equal rights to Christian women. This request is still not considered by the government. 

Suggestions for improving conditions

Awareness must be created concerning women’s rights over ancestral property. Many illiterate women with no knowledge of prevailing law never get a chance or opportunity to claim her right due to her own unawareness. Gender sensitization must begin within four walls of the house, instead of looking or passing responsibility to other social institutions such as education or government. There are many social constructs that are stopping one individual to claim her rights. There are many non-governmental organizations that are working towards this cause and helping the woman in legal proceedings. Amendments must be made in previous laws too over the loopholes. New laws must be made to cater to the need of women belonging to all religions. In a matter of granting equal rights to women in property, uniform law can also be considered. Equality is the basic right of every person. Can religion determine or give different treatment to different sex? 

“The views of the authors are personal

Dikshi Arora
I am Dikshi Arora, a first year law student from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala. I am pursuing B.A. LL.B. (hons. in sociology). I love to read books (and minds too). I am goal oriented and my strength is my positivity and far sightedness. Too young to confine myself to speciality, open to every field of law.