Coparcenary Rights and India- An Analysis. The property comprises all the legal rights of a person that might include material things or incorporeal things. A property owned by an ancestor is passed on to the successors, the coparceners. Coparceners are the ones who share the property in equal partitions, but if we see the time in the past, there was no particular way for the distribution of the ancestral property in Hindus. Sundry laws were composed based on caste and, which were present differently in different locations or places. To establish a uniform law that would deal with all forms of coparcenary inheritance under Hindu law, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was made. The act got enacted by the parliament of India and prevented the custom of the unwilling succession of property among Hindus, Buddhists, Jain, and Sikhs. But the girl child was barred from being a coparcener by the reason stated in Hindu Succession Act, that one day she will get married and become a part of another family, so they should not be legally considered as coparceners and the property was distributed among lineal descendants, the male heirs who are confined within three degrees of a coparcener. But this outrightly discriminating ideology was not good and prohibited girl children to exercise their fundamental right of equality provided by article 14 of The Indian Constitution. The daughters were being violated and the male child was dominating leading to further extensive discrimination. “But to put a full stop on this gender discrimination and pave a route towards the protection of the fundamental right of women, an amendment of the 1956 act was welcomed in the year 2005 and it mentioned that daughters will have equal rights over the property as of man and allowed women to be a coparcener on the ancestor’s land also they shall have same liabilities as the son does and the concept was termed as unobstructed heritage.
The amendment resulted good for the upliftment of daughters in the case of property distribution but several loopholes started arising later and again the signing of petitions and appealing in the apex court began to look into those loopholes and lead to further developments in the act
The “Hindu Succession Act,1956”, defines the passage of property from ancestor to the next generation and talks about succession and inheritance and distribution of rights among cognates. It extends all over the country except the state of Jammu and Kashmir and is applicable to Hindus, Jainas, Buddhists, or Sikhs. Any person whose religion is converted or re-converted into the above-mentioned religions also comes under the act. It is not applicable in the case of any individual belonging to a Muslim, Jew, Christian, or Parsi religious group. The only exception is when a person is governed under the Hindu law or any constraint which has to be dealt with under the Hindu law in any condition. The entire act specifies a particular succession pattern of property transfer from one generation to other concerning avoiding any dishonesty in the property distribution by codifying laws for the same. It lays a uniform system of law for Hindu, Buddhists, Jainas, and Parsi as a whole, and deals with the false infestation of the property as well. It concludes various cases regarding property succession. This act specifies that there are two types of properties i.e., ancestral or self-acquired property.
Self-acquired property is the one being acquired and then passed to the next generation based on the holder’s will but ancestral property distribution needs to be dealt with the rules comprised in the act. Ancestral is the one acquired from parents or grandparents and passed from one generation to another while the self-acquired property is the one that is gained and maintained by one’s own hard work and dedication.
The coparcener in succession act are the members having right on the ancestral property and the right can be claimed by them to be coparcener of the land/property. A daughter, wife, or widow had no right to claim over the property.
Section 6 of the coparcenary right claimed that the land can only be inherited from a holder to his son then to grandson than to great-grandson and so on. This entire concept is named as Survivorship rule where only males could be the coparceners. This was the point where the loophole of the entire act was raised.
Amendment in basic terms is a change whether it be an addition or elimination of a particular part from the whole concept. “The amendment in 2005 was bought for cancelling the survivorship rule introduced in section 6 of Hindu succession Act and two new concepts i.e., testamentary and intestate succession were taken into consideration. Testamentary succession is a type of succession where rules for self-acquired property distribution is explained thoroughly and gives the right to a person to distribute the property among son, daughters, widows or any stranger by writing it on their will while intestate succession deals with the rules stating how the division of property will occur in the case of death of the holder or if the property is ancestral. Four classes were introduced in the amendment of this act. In a case of intestate succession, the first right to claim over the property is of class 1 which includes daughter, son, and widow, also the property would be divided equally among all of them.
This amendment overall gave the supreme right of a daughter to be at an equal status and level as the sons and stated that daughters are the coparceners of land by birth and they will share equal liability over the property too. This entire enforcement amendment was enforced on 9 September 2005.
This amendment had several doubts too, which included the question if daughters can claim the right over the property if the father’s death occurred before the date of enforcement of the amendment.
In the landmark judgement “VINEETA SHARMA V RAKESH SHARMA, 2020”, Vineeta Sharma was the appellant and Rakesh Sharma was Respondent, the judgment of 122 pages in the field of coparcenary rights took place in the supreme court by a 3-judge bench headed by justice Arun Mishra, where the situation is expanded for daughters where she can successfully set up a claim for partition from her brothers and claim for her share. There were many confusions, specifically regarding the conditions under which daughters could claim their right to be coparcener. The judgment came into the act and the daughters got their right to the fullest. The judgment laid down section 6(1) (a), which says that daughter is a coparcener by birth and there is no question of being retrospective and prospective, also if the case is of the unregistered partition before December 20, 2004, the court has opened a new window for women. The judgment throws some light on the fact that wherever any discriminatory practice exists in the law, it needs to be amended appropriately.
The democratic system gives all of us the privilege of equality and liberty. Unfortunately, there are many instances and aspects where the entire system of equal footing is not visible thoroughly. One such aspect is the right of women over ancestral property. The whole idea of justice is to provide basic human rights and deviling violations of the same. The first civil law in India i.e., The Manu shastra also had a clear mention of the women being worshipped as goddesses which need to be continued in the present scenario as well. Despite a varied range of customs and traditions we still have a large number of padlocks in the route of a woman having ‘success’ as the destination. These padlocks can torture and lower the spirit of any woman in society. There are many voices for a different matter, being suppressed and their freedom being disgraced. The coparcenary right is a branch of the institution providing equality among males and females by specifying a law of equal distribution of land and equal share of liabilities. The battle was quite long for equality in this aspect, but the won brings a lot of hope and dreams altogether for a woman.