Women and property

Legal Angle


A woman’s right to property as covered under the ‘Succession to the property of a male Hindu (Sec. 8 to 12)’ is as follows:

The property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to Sec 8 to 12 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

According to the Schedule to the Act, the property will devolve firstly upon the heirs specified in class I of the Schedule;  in the absence of such heirs,  upon the heirs specified in class II, in the absence of heirs specified in class I and II, upon the agnates of the deceased and in the absence of agnates of the deceased, it will devolve upon the cognates of the deceased.

Agnate - Implications

A person is said to be ‘agnate’ of another, if the two are related by blood or adoption wholly through males and a person is said to be ‘cognate’ of another, if the two are related by blood or adoption but not  wholly through males.

The heirs mentioned as  class I heirs are son, daughter, widow, mother, son of a pre-deceased son, daughter of a pre-deceased son, son of a pre-deceased daughter, daughter of a predeceased daughter, widow of a pre-deceased son, son of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son, daughter of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son, widow of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son. 

The heirs mentioned as class I  shall take the property of the deceased simultaneously  and to the exclusion of all other class of heirs. 

Succession to the property of female Hindu (Sec 14, 15, 16)

For the first time in  Indian history,  under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, a female Hindu is given absolute ownership over the property acquired by her by way of will, gift, purchase or in any other manner whatsoever where the terms of gift, will, or other instrument or the decree do not prescribe a restricted estate in such property. 

Sec 15 of Succession Act

According to section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve  firstly upon the sons and daughters [including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter] and the husband;  secondly, upon the heirs of the husband; thirdly  upon the heirs of the father; and lastly upon the heirs of the mother. 

However, any property inherited by a female Hindu from her parents the same shall devolve upon the heirs of her father in the absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter). 

Similarly, in the absence of a son or daughter of the deceased, (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter), the property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or father-in-law, shall devolve upon the heirs of her husband. Among the heirs specified in sub-section (1) of Sec.15, those in one entry shall be preferred to those in any succeeding entry and those included in the same entry shall take simultaneously. [sec.16]. 

No person shall be disqualified to succeed to  the property only on the ground of any disease, defect or deformity.

Restrictions on the rights of Hindu female in the dwelling house:

According to sec.23 of the Act, where a Hindu intestate has left surviving him or her both male and female heirs specified in class I of the Schedule and his or her property includes a dwelling house wholly occupied by members of his or her family, the right of female heir to claim partition of the dwelling house shall not arise until the male heirs choose to divide their respective shares therein.  However, the female heirs shall be entitled to a right of residence therein if she is unmarried or has been deserted by or has separated from her husband or is a widow. Sections 25 of the Act disqualifies to inherit the property by a murderer and sec.26 of the Act disqualifies a Hindu upon conversion to any other religion.  

(The writer is an advocate specialised in property matters. He can be contacted on 080-25530200 or 25526644 / 45 E-mail : editor@realestatereporter.net)

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