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  • The Indian Parliament passed the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 to modernize, codify, and secularize the laws governing intestate, or unwilled, succession among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.
  • The 174th Law Commission Report's recommendations were implemented into the Hindu Succession Act, 2005, which significantly altered the 1956 Act.
  • The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was enacted primarily to give daughters and women equal property rights and to treat them as equal members of the family as males.


For centuries, women have battled for equal rights over family inheritance all across the world. The argument against granting women property rights in many civilizations was based on the idea that women do not live in their birth families forever. After being married, they settle down and integrate into their new families. Therefore, the only people with rights over the family's assets were the men. But in the last few decades, women's property rights have changed dramatically.

 Hindu women's property rights in India are governed by the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act of 1937. Hindu widows' property rights were the focus of the 1937 Hindu Women's Right to Property Act. It made it possible for a Hindu widow to inherit the same amount from her intestate husband's estate as her sons. It did not, however, solve the problems with women's property rights in general. The 174th Law Commission Report's recommendations were implemented into the Hindu Succession Act, 2005 (also known as the 2005 Amendment), which significantly altered the 1956 Act. These modifications are covered in more detail below. It is a significant development in the fight against gender inequality in India.


The Indian Parliament passed the Hindu Succession Act, of 1956 to modernize, codify, and secularize the laws governing intestate, or unwilled, succession among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. As a result, it encompasses and integrates all facets of Hindu succession.

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 was enacted with the premise that no statute could interfere with the important protections for women's rights found in Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution. Women now have full ownership over the limited rights in the property they inherit because of the improvements it brought about for their property rights. Sections 6 and 8 of the Act addressed, respectively, the transfer of ownership of a Mitakshara coparcenary property and the ownership of male Hindus themselves. 


The majority of India adheres to the Mitakshara school, which was founded on Vijnanesvara's seminal legal treatise "Mitakshara." The Mitakshara school holds that male heirs acquire ancestral property by birthright, making them coparceners. The property is passed down through the generations without being divided, with the male coparceners sharing it equally. This school values the joint family system, in which many generations cohabit and jointly possess property.

Jimutavahana, a scholar, developed the Daya Bhaga school, which has its primary centers in West Bengal and some parts of Assam. Unlike the Mitakshara school, the Daya Bhaga school does not accept coparceners. Instead, the focus is on familial ties to determine individual ownership and succession. The Daya Bhaga school holds that male ancestors do not share ownership and that both male and female descendants are eligible to inherit property. This organization supports a more individualistic understanding of succession and property rights.

The recommendations and actions taken regarding the Hindu Succession Act by the Law Commission focus on addressing gender disparities ingrained in the Mitakshara coparcenary system.


Enacted in 2005, the Hindu Succession Amendment Act's main goals are to promote gender equality in inheritance concerns among Hindus in India and to alleviate gender inequities. The Act's primary objectives are as follows:

  • Giving girls in Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) equal inheritance rights was one of the Act's main goals. Daughters were frequently denied access to or had restricted rights to familial property prior to the amendment, particularly in situations where the Mitakshara coparcenary system was in place. By giving females, the same rights as sons over family property, the Act aimed to equalize this disparity.
  • The Act sought to do away with the discriminatory clauses in the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 that denied daughters the right to coparcenary. Coparcenary rights include the ability to claim an ownership share and the division of ancestral property. The Act sought to guarantee daughters' equal share in the inheritance of ancestral property by granting them coparcenary rights.
  • In Satya v. Sunil Kumar (2016), the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005's definition of "ancestral property" was at issue. The court made it clear that ancestral property included both assets inherited from other paternal ancestors as well as assets inherited from the father. The rights of daughters to different kinds of family property were increased by this expansive view.
  • The Act also aimed to ensure that daughters would have equal rights to ancestral property regardless of when they were born by applying its provisions retroactively. The goal of this retroactive application was to rectify past wrongs and provide daughters equal rights to inherit inherited property.
  • The purpose of the Act was to guarantee daughters equal access to family property, thereby addressing the social and economic disparities that are common in Hindu families. The Act sought to enhance women's economic empowerment and socio-economic well-being by granting daughters the right to inherit.


A much-needed legal reform, the Hindu Succession Act was passed in 1956 to resolve several important problems with Hindu inheritance customs. There were various reasons why the Act was required.

  • Hindu inheritance rules were governed by a variety of customs and religious texts before the Hindu Succession Act's passage, which resulted in contradictions and ambiguity in the law. The Act sought to create a unified legal framework that would apply to Hindus living in all of India by codifying and combining Hindu laws pertaining to inheritance and succession.
  •  Hindu succession rules were updated to better reflect the values of justice, equity, and equality with the passage of the Hindu Succession Act. It swept away outdated and discriminatory customs and replaced them with progressive legal regulations meant to advance social justice and gender equality in Hindu families.
  •  The Act gave legal matters pertaining to inheritance clarity and certainty by codifying Hindu succession laws. It eliminated uncertainties and conflicts over inheritance rights among family members by outlining precise guidelines and processes for the devolution of property.
  • The Act established equitable norms governing inheritance, which promoted social cohesiveness and harmony within Hindu households and communities. Through the implementation of a just and equitable property distribution among family members, the Act sought to alleviate tensions and conflicts that result from inheritance disputes.


The Law Commission noted that, despite the constitutional promise of equality, discrimination against women persisted, and that prejudice against women was practiced not only by her husband's family but also by her own family. The Law Commission further noted that the daughters had no access to coparcenary property and that numerous false partitions had occurred just prior to the State modifications to HSA, 1956 being passed, defeating the intent of the amendment.

The Law Commission examined the current legislation and the several State amendments to the HSA, 1956, and suggested several radical reforms. It recommended a significant legal change to address gender inequality. Through this amendment, the Hindu Succession Act, of 1956 had a few revisions in 2005.  The following changes were introduced:


The aforementioned clause, which stated that the act should not supersede the provisions outlined in any other act to prevent the division or disintegration of the agricultural land or to seal the ceiling or create tenancy rights notwithstanding such holding, shall be deleted. Due to this section's exclusion of rights on agricultural lands from its jurisdiction and regulation by tenure laws at the state level, women were discriminated against because they were denied any interest or entitlement to agricultural lands. Therefore, the elimination of this clause guarantees women's equal interest in agricultural land to that of men.

  • Rajinder and Dipika Bhalla v. Bhalla (2021): The Punjab and Haryana High Court rendered a decision in this matter about the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005's applicability to agricultural land. According to the terms of the amendment, the court determined that daughters have the same rights as coparceners on agricultural land that they received from their fathers. The extension of daughters' inheritance rights to agricultural property was made clear by this ruling.


The amendment of Section 6 to grant a daughter the same birthright as a boy was the most significant alteration brought about by the Hindu Succession. By granting the offspring of a deceased daughter the same rights of representation as the children of a deceased son, it also leveled equality between the male and female lines of lineage.


Section 23, which forbade the female heir from seeking a division of the dwelling house while the male heirs were still living, was also repealed by the HSAA, 2005. An heir who is female may now also claim the division of a dwelling house. Additionally, it removed Section 24, which barred widows who had remarried at the time of the opening of the succession and widows of predeceased sons of predeceased sons. Therefore, widows are entitled to inherit even if they have since remarried.


A female Hindu now has the same ability to make testamentary dispositions of her property, including her undivided portion, as a male Hindu under Section 30. It is now possible for a Hindu woman to make a testamentary disposition of her property, including her coparcenary portion. Therefore, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill, of 2004, which was introduced and subsequently enforced in 2005, marked a turning point in the controversy surrounding sexual inequality in Hindu law. 


The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 contained discriminatory clauses pertaining to daughters' rights to inherit family property before the revision. Daughters were not given the same rights to family property as sons under the original act. Rather, they were not included in the coparcenary property, which mostly comprised ancestral property, and were simply regarded as family members entitled to maintenance.

Enacted in 2005, the Hindu Succession Amendment Act aimed to address this disparity by implementing substantial modifications to the current legislation. The amendment's principal clauses are as follows:

  •  Equal Rights for Daughters: In terms of inheriting ancestral property, the amendment gives daughters the same rights as sons. Since daughters are now acknowledged as coparceners, they have the same obligations and rights regarding inherited property as boys.
  • In the 2018 case of Shashidhar v. Sharadamma, the Karnataka High Court rendered a decision regarding the rights of girls who live together in a Hindu family under the Mitakshara law. Whether or not the father was living at the time of the modification, the court ruled that daughters have the same rights as coparceners in ancestral property.
  • Mitakshara Coparcenary Property: As defined by the Mitakshara school of Hindu law, Mitakshara Coparcenary Property is ancestral property inherited by sons from their fathers. Daughters can claim a portion of the ancestral property and demand partition.
  • In the 2018 case of Danamma v. Amar, the Supreme Court made a ruling about the rights of daughters who live together in a Hindu family under the Mitakshara statute. Daughters have equal rights to ancestral property, including the power to request division, according to the court's ruling. The Hindu Succession Amendment Act's stipulations regarding gender equality were upheld by this ruling.
  • Application Retroactively: The amendment applies to all daughters, regardless of when they were born—that is, to those who were born before or after the amendment's enactment. This guarantees girls, irrespective of their birthdate, equal rights to family property.
  • In the 2016 case Prakash v. Phulavati, the Indian Supreme Court considered whether the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, applied retroactively. The court decided that the Act's revised provisions would take effect immediately and would even apply to daughters born before the amendment's implementation. This ruling made it clear that daughters, regardless of when they were born, have equal rights to inherited property.
  • Rakesh Sharma versus Vineeta Sharma (2020): The Supreme Court clarified the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005's breadth regarding daughters' rights to family property in another landmark decision. The court decided that even if the father passed away before the amendment took effect, it nevertheless applies retroactively. The equal rights of daughters as coparceners in ancestral property were upheld by this ruling.
  •  In the case of Jagdish Singh v. Natthu Singh, the Supreme Court elucidated the rights of daughters in a Hindu joint family under Mitakshara law as coparceners. The court ruled that daughters, regardless of when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was passed, have equal rights to family property. This ruling highlighted daughters' equal status as coparceners and upheld the amendment's retroactive implementation.
  • Elimination of Limited Estate: Under the amended law, female heirs' rights are no longer bound by the idea of a limited estate in coparcenary property. Daughters now possess the same ownership and management rights over inherited property as males.
  • Narain Singh v. Bhagwan Dass (2017): The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, raised the question of whether daughters might inherit property and if they could do so in this situation. The Delhi High Court ruled that daughters, regardless of their marital status or the presence of brothers, had the right to request the division of ancestral property and receive their due share. The equal rights of daughters as coparceners in ancestral property were upheld by this ruling.


Debates in parliament concerning changes to the Hindu Succession Act have been important occasions in the history of Indian legislation. Political considerations, legislative developments, and broader societal changes are frequently reflected in these discussions. There was a lot of discussion in Parliament when the bill to modify the Hindu Succession Act was first introduced. Discussions were held regarding the necessity of gender equality in inheritance laws, the reasoning for the proposed amendments, and the possible effects on Hindu households and society.

  • Gender equality in inheritance rights has been a major topic of discussion in parliament. The discriminatory elements of the original act, namely those favoring male heirs over female heirs, were a topic of dispute among MPs. The necessity to address these discrepancies and guarantee daughters' equal rights to family property has been discussed.
  • The legal and constitutional implications of the proposed reforms were discussed in depth during parliamentary deliberations. The conformity of the revisions with the non-discrimination and equality principles found in the constitution, as well as their ramifications for current legal frameworks and judicial interpretations, have been deliberated by MPs. The possible effects of the modifications on relationships and family dynamics were discussed in Parliament. MPs argued on the implications of the proposed reforms for property distribution, family peace, and intra-family conflicts.

Was it successful in removing gender discrimination provisions through the changes?

Gender discriminatory aspects in the Hindu Succession Act were successfully removed by the revisions made to the law, especially through the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005. The original 1956 Hindu Succession Act included clauses that discriminated against daughters in inheritance disputes, particularly in situations covered by the Mitakshara coparcenary system, before the modifications.

  • Bharati v. Sumit Kumar (2018): In this case, the Bombay High Court ruled on the rights of daughters as coparceners in a joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law. The court held that daughters have equal rights to ancestral property, including the right to seek partition, under the provisions of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. This decision reinforced the equal status of daughters as coparceners in ancestral property.


The guarantee of equality found in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution served as a focal point for the 1956 Hindu Succession Act. With the passage of this Act, the restricted property rights under the previous Hindu Women's Right to Property Act were removed. By allowing women to inherit a share of their father's fortune, this act aims to elevate women's status in society. Daughters were given the chance to inherit their father's separate property and were acknowledged as their legal heirs under this statute. But despite this Act, women were not allowed to follow the rules of succession or receive family property. This sentence preserved the difference between sons and daughters.


The old law did not support the equality of rights between sons and daughters. The 2000 Law Commission Report included reform proposals pertaining to women's rights to the estate. The Law Commission found every sentence and provision to be discriminatory against men and recommended significant changes. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was enacted primarily to give daughters and women equal property rights and to treat them as equal members of the family as males. The main change this amendment brought about was the inclusion of daughters as coparceners. Women have benefited greatly from the impending shift that will make all daughters co-owners of joint family property, both figuratively and monetarily. 

Uncovering the Shortcomings of Post-Amendment Hindu Succession

Although the amendment has yielded positive outcomes, it still has certain drawbacks. The amendment has not been able to fully accomplish its goals and instead causes a great deal of confusion and disruption.

The most heinous error in the amendment is the continuation of Article 15, which casts doubt on women’s empowerment and gender equity. The section exclusively recognizes women based on their status as a man's wife, daughter, etc. Consequently, it undermines a woman's uniqueness and identity. The amendment's exclusive focus on daughters, wives, daughters-in-law, and sisters—all of whom are not covered by the amendment—is another problem.

The amendment's inability to make it clear if the act will replace and override state legislation is another problem. Section 4(2), which was removed by the amendment, allowed agricultural land to be free from coparcenary property. This is a dilemma because agricultural land is included on the State list.


A major turning point in Indian legal history, the Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 marked a clear move in the direction of gender equality among Hindus when it came to inheritance issues. The 2005 Act removed long-standing gender discrimination laws, especially those that disadvantaged daughters in concerns of family property, by revising the Hindu Succession Act of 1956.

The amendment's main features, which include giving females the same rights as sons over ancestral property, retroactively implementing the modifications, and getting rid of discriminatory language, have had a significant impact on Hindu families and society. In addition to redressing historical wrongs, the amendment set the stage for a just and equitable legal system that governs Hindu inheritance.

The Hindu Succession Amendment Act's passage demonstrates India's dedication to advancing social justice, gender equality, and fundamental rights protected by the Constitution. It represents a shift away from discriminatory and old patriarchal norms and toward a more inclusive and progressive interpretation of family law.

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