17 June, 2022
We’ve all heard it – children attributing talents, temperament, mannerisms and physical features to their fathers. While reading this, many of you might even be led to think about all the things you have inherited from your father. That’s how we have been created. But inheritances are not just limited to facial, physical and behavioral legacy. The one we want to draw your attention to, on the occasion of Father’s Day, is legal legacy, or legal inheritance.
The Indian Constitution guarantees gender equality before the law. Article 15 prevents the state from discriminating against any citizen of India or violating their equal rights on the basis of race, caste, religion, class, or sex etc. This equality cannot be achieved if women and girls are not economically independent. The right to inheritance is an important agency that empowers women and girls to secure this independence.
India does not have any uniform law regarding property ownership and inheritance rights of women, which means the law in matters pertaining to inheritance and sharing of property differs for people from different faiths.
Equal property rights of sons and daughters were recognised after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 which stated that a daughter will have equal ownership in her father’s property even after she gets married. Prior to the amendment, daughters could only be ‘members’, not ‘coparceners’ (individuals who have a legal right to their ancestral property by birth). While coparceners could ask for partition and share of the property, members couldn’t. Once the daughter gets married, she stops being a member and therefore she loses her right to the share and maintenance of her father’s property.
In many families across the country, strong patriarchal traditions have translated into fear of violence by their male relatives, preventing women from fighting for their inheritance rights. It has been 18 years since the amendment of The Hindu Succession Act (2005), but a lot of women, even educated ones, are in the dark about their inheritance rights.
Here are 3 things every father/parent can do now to safeguard their daughter’s inheritance:
ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign is calling for proactive efforts by the Centre and state governments to enforce every daughter’s right to inheritance. Let’s move towards a future where daughters can freely claim their legal inheritance just as they claim other inheritances from you.