As a law firm, we would like to provide an in-depth analysis of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. This section deals with the devolution of interest in coparcenary property and has significant implications for Non-Resident Indians (NRI) who are part of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF).
According to Section 6(1) of the Act, when a male Hindu dies intestate and is survived by his heirs as specified in Class I of the Schedule, his undivided interest in coparcenary property shall devolve by survivorship upon the surviving members of the HUF. The term ‘coparcenary’ refers to joint ownership and rights among male members who share ancestral property that passes from generation to generation.
However, it is important to note that this provision was amended by The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 which granted daughters equal rights as sons over family assets. Daughters were now entitled to become coparceners and inherit ancestral properties along with their brothers. Therefore all references made about males can be taken as males or females after amendment.
Subsequent amendments brought through Ordinance dated June 11th ,2015 added proviso to sub clause (g), Clause (l) making partition possible even if one shareholder opposes it
This provision has been subject various interpretations through judgments passed by Indian Courts over time.
In Prakash & Ors v Phulavati & Ors Civil Appeal No.7217 OF 2013 , The Supreme Court ruled on whether provisions relating t father dying prior Amendment i.e prior September9th ,2005 crystallised entitlements completely doing away with any right accruing due operation post amendment when he died after September9 th ,2005 .The court held that further reform took effect from Sep10th called into question earlier decisions which had taken immutable view requiring reconsideration.The bench opined that Section 6 is prospective, and a daughter will be a coparcener from the day of the amendment. The argument that daughters can only become coparceners if both they and their fathers were alive during the time of the amendment was rejected.
In Vineeta Sharma V Rakesh Sharma Civil Appeal No.10044 OF 2016 before Supreme Court ruled on whether father’s death prior to Amendment, which added provision making women coparceners or possession/declaration giving right thereto would entitle group staking claim to property as Joint Hindu Family (JHF).
The Bench observed that Daughter being a member of HUF cannot be put under a different category than her male siblings .All three are entitled to equal rights under Coparcenary.Accordingly ,since she has been conferred with same rights as Son in accordance with completion of 2005 act effective September9th ,2005,she shall have same share in asset as Son .Entitlements would not vary based on date for crystallizing rights or possession/deeds etc .
Therefore , this judgment confirmed that even properties inherited by an individual from his father would become ancestral property when he dies intestate.Therefore Father dying earlier doesn’t make sister’s share less than what she would have got provided sufficient number of males are there to reduce size but still leave entitlement
However ruling against petitioners who sought reopening partition due to unequal distribution maintained status quo whereby daughter has no right over separate/capital assets but only share in undivided interest.
It is significant for NRIs because many such families own ancestral properties while living abroad, leading them into disputes regarding their legal entitlements over such property. In case one chooses not to assign position through any declaration evidencing intention / by conduct indicating unequivocally opting out himself/herself along with family members,intestate succession laws kick-in.It becomes imperative for NRI investors and estate planners owning Ancestral Properties in India to understand the nuances of devolution under Hindu Succession Act .In cases where coparcenary exists ,one needs to assess shares entitlement in ancestral property as governed by HSA and make declarations accordingly.
Hence, it is advisable for NRIs to seek legal advice from experienced professionals to navigate through the complexities arising out of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act pertaining to their interest in coparcenary property. The law firm would be happy to assist any NRI seeking such advice.