By Shivangi Chawla
It is a reality that gender inequality still exists in India. The discrimination between girls and boys begin within households because of the patriarchal Indian society. For ages, men have continued to dominate societal and family life in India. Discrimination against females begins when they are girls. Parents often don’t send girls to school while boys in the family are provided access to education. Many who are sent to school are asked to dropout and help their mothers in household work. Parents spend time grooming girls for becoming good wives and concentrate very little on providing them learning and knowledge.
Elders of the family hold the view that girls have to be eventually married off and there is no point in spending much on their education. Education for boys, on the other hand, is seen as an investment as they are viewed as future “earning members” of the family. Girls are only considered fit for performing household chores. It is this mindset which needs to change so that girls are not denied their chance to learn and grow in life. women generally have less economic independence and lesser say in family and society matters. Even when it comes to property women have no rights and they don’t own property under their names.
But now you will be happy to know that equal rights will be given to girls. The Supreme Court today held that daughters would have equal coparcenary rights in Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) properties even if they were not alive at the time of the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. (Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma). In effect, the Court has ruled that the 2005 amendment would have retrospective effect in conferring rights on daughters who were alive at the time of the amendment, even if they were born prior to it.
A three-Judge Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer, and MR Shah passed the verdict in appeals raising the issue of whether the amendment to the Act granting equal rights to daughters to inherit ancestral property would have retrospective effect. Recognizing the importance of conferring equal rights on daughters and sons, Justice Mishra, while reading out the operative part of the judgment said, “Daughters have to be given an equal share of coparcenary rights in the share of property like the son.”
The issue raised before the Supreme Court was whether with the passing of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, a daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son. In other words, whether a daughter could be denied her share on the ground that she was born prior to the enactment of the Act and, therefore, cannot be treated as a coparcener.
The lead case in this batch of appeals was a challenge to the decision of the Delhi High Court which highlighted the difference in opinion between benches of the Supreme Court. In the current case, the Delhi High Court granted a certificate of fitness to appeal having regard to the fact that there are conflicting decisions of the Supreme Court in Prakash v. Phulavati, Danamma @ Suman Surpur v. Amar, and Mangammal v. TB Raju.
In Prakash v. Phulavati, the Supreme Court had held that “the rights under the amendment are applicable to living daughters of living coparceners as on 9-9-2005 irrespective of when such daughters are born.” In other words, if the coparcener (father) had passed away prior to September 9, 2005 (the date on which the amendment came into effect), the living daughter of the coparcener would have no right to coparcenary property.
In Danamma v. Amar, the Supreme Court had held that the 2005 amendment confers upon the daughter the status of a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son. Thus, it confers equal rights and liabilities in the coparcener properties to daughters and sons.
In November 2018, a three-Judge Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri had noted that the matter needed to be heard by a three-Judge Bench.
Today, the Court held that the appellant would have had coparcenary rights in the property even though her father had passed before the enactment of the amendment. Girls will be happy to hear this as every girl require equal rights and opportunities in every field. Girls can prove that we are not less than a man .