As a leading law firm, we wish to provide an informative and detailed opinion on Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. This section deals with the devolution of coparcenary property in a Joint Hindu Family governed by Mitakshara law.
According to this provision, upon the death of a coparcener, his share in the joint family property will devolve by survivorship upon the surviving members of his family. However, if there is no surviving member and he leaves behind female heirs as prescribed under Class I of Schedule to the Act or male relatives claiming through such females, then his share would devolve upon them.
This provision applies to situations where there is no valid testamentary disposition made by the deceased person before their demise. In such cases, succession takes place according to this provision as per Section 5(1) read with Section 4(b) of The Hindu Succession Act.
The Supreme Court has clarified that daughters have equal rights as sons in ancestral property under The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. This amendment provides daughters’ eligibility for inheritance irrespective of when they were born vis-a-vis their siblings i.e., whether they were born before or after September 9th, 2005 (the date when this amendment came into effect).
In Prakash v Phulwati case (2016), it was observed that even if a daughter was married prior to coming into force Amendment Act of 2005 but died thereafter without leaving any children behind then her own children would be entitled equally along with other heirs. Similarly in Danamma @ Suman Surpur v Amar case (2018), it was held that “Daughter indeed must be given equal status as son since she enjoys same rights and liabilities from birth”.
Furthermore in Vinod Kumar Johar & Ors vs Ashok Kumar Johar & Ors case (2013), it was clarified that a daughter can be coparcener by birth and have same rights as son under Hindu Succession Act. It was held that “From the date of amendment being 09th September, 2005 even daughters who were born prior to this date are entitled to become coparceners with effect from the
said date irrespective of whether or not partition had taken place in father’s lifetime.”
This provision is particularly relevant for Non Resident Indians (NRI) who may have joint family properties in India. In case a male member dies leaving behind female heirs, they would be entitled to his share in the property. NRIs should ensure that their wills clearly reflect their wishes and intentions regarding devolution of their assets after death.
In conclusion, Section 6 of The Hindu Succession Act provides guidelines for devolution of coparcenary property in Joint Hindu Families governed by Mitakshara law. The recent amendments provide equal rights to daughters as sons which gives them entitlement over ancestral property heretofore denied. This helps modernize succession law and promote gender equality whilst also safeguarding women’s inheritance rights against disinheritance or deprivation due to patriarchal mindsets prevalent earlier in society pertaining to ownership of family’s joint estate(s).