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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Self-acquired property is a property that an individual acquires from his sources or the one which he inherits because of the family division, or which is legally passed on to the person because of the will.
  • Unlike sons, who have been granted the inherited authority to assert the self-acquired property of their parents, their spouses do not have the same rights. Further, the rights of the daughter and daughter-in-law are very different when it comes to the self-acquired property of the in-laws.
  • A daughter-in-law of the family does not have any right to the self-acquired property of the in-laws. The wife is only entitled to live in the property of the in-laws, but she cannot make any claim over that property.

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INTRODUCTION

In the case of Jitender Kumar vs. Varinder Kumar (2016), the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that the daughter-in-law cannot claim on the self-acquired property of her in-laws.

In the case of SR Batra vs. Taruna Batra, the Supreme Court held that a house that was the exclusive property of a mother-in-law cannot be claimed as a shared household. The wife cannot claim her rights over such property.

According to several court orders, a daughter-in-law has a right of residence in a shared household under the Domestic Violence Act. This is even if the house is not owned by her in-laws and the husband has no ownership rights in the house.

This right extends as long as the matrimonial relationship between the wife and husband remains intact.

ANCESTRAL PROPERTY AND HINDU SUCCESSION ACT?

Ancestral property is the property that has been passed on from one generation to the other. But ancestral property gets converted into the self-acquired property once it is partitioned.

Section 6(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was amended in 2005 to give the daughter the status of a coparcener in the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). This means that she just like the son of the family has the right to the property from her birth. This right continues even after she is married.

If the daughter dies, then the property can be claimed by her children and if her children are not alive when the property is divided, then the grandchildren of the daughter are entitled to get the share.

This right does not extend to the daughter-in-law of the family. Even though she is legally a member of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), she is not a coparcener. This means that she cannot claim her right on the property.

The daughter-in-law has a right to the share of the property which her husband has been entitled to in the HUF property. However, she cannot claim rights over any more property.

The maintenance of the wife is the personal obligation of the husband. Section 4 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, specifies that any liability in respect of maintenance of daughter-in-law in the situation of the death of the son cannot incline upon the self-acquired property of the parents-in-law. 

The properties shown exclusively in the name of parents cannot be the subject matter of any attachment or enforcement of any right of maintenance of wife against her husband.

WHAT IS HINDU SUCCESSION ACT, 1956?

The act is used to govern the succession and inheritance of property in Hindus. Under this act, only males were recognized as legal heirs (coparcener) and women were denied the right to inherit their family’s property.

This act was thus amended in 2005 because of its discriminatory nature. The amendment made the daughter a coparcener too. This means she has the same right as the males now.

FURTHER DETAILS

If a house exclusively belongs to a father-in-law, and his son lives separately then the daughter-in-law has no right to live in that house. Such property will not be counted as a shared household.

According to rulings of Courts, a widowed daughter-in-law cannot live in her parents-in-law’s property if the said property is a self-acquired property. She can only live there if the in-laws wish so.

A shared household is a house where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either alone with the respondent. These include both rented and self-owned properties.

In the event of any mishap with the son, parents-in-law are not legally liable to bear any expense for the maintenance of the daughter-in-law. The reason behind this is that husband is under the obligation to take care of the wife and no one else.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

If we summarize the aforementioned facts it would not be wrong to say that the law is biased towards daughters-in-laws. In Muslim law, there is no concept of self-acquired or ancestral property.

In Hindu marriages, it is common for the bride to leave her home and join another house. The claim that daughter-in-law is not entitled to self-acquired property is not only against human rights but also against morality.

The Supreme Court’s verdict aiming to ensure “right to equality” of a daughter in a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) was one step towards ensuring right to property to women. This right was constrained only to the sons of the family.


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