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Hindu succession law (Beginner's Guide)

Hindu inheritance laws are predominantly for Hindu adherents from a significant population in India. The traditional Hindu Law is one of the oldest personal laws in the world. Hindus looked to “Vedas” as the earlier sources of Law. According to ancient Hindu jurisprudence, Vedas were the source of “Dharma,” which means a person’s moral, social, and legal duties, which a person should obey and adhere to. However, Vedas (also called shrutis) were not the traditional sources of Hindu law. The “Smriti” was the traditional source based on the “Vedas.” The “Manusmriti” is the primary source of Hindu Inheritance law.

One of the meanings of Mitakshara is “Inheritance by Birth,” whereas “Daya” in the Dayabhaga refers to “Wealth or Gift,” and that’s why Mitakshara allows inheritance by birth but not the Dayabhaga school.

Manusmriti verses on inheritance can be found in the chapter “Duties of the King,” which forms the basis of interpretation for Mitakshara and Dayabhaga schools of Hindu law.

The modern Hindu laws are either codified or uncodified Law. The concepts of schools of Hindu Law do not exist in codified Law. However, it exists in uncodified Hindu Law. With the development of Smriti came the disparity in opinion among commentators and interpreters. There was no authoritative position of Law, although various codes were developed. The authority could be accepted in one part of India and rejected in other parts of India. Persons who accepted one authority were likely not to accept other authorities. Thus, different schools of thought emerged. Thus, schools of thought on Hindu law refer to the varied and divided opinions on the rules and principles of Hindu Law. Unlike statutes, they are not codified. They do not have the force of Law. However, they impact the minds of the legislature or lawmakers.

The first Hindu Succession Act was created in 1956 and applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jain, and Sikhs by religion but does not apply to Muslims, Christians, Parsis, and Jewish. Property inheritance in Islamic law is contingent upon the demise of an individual; hence, any offspring born within a Muslim household does not automatically inherit property upon birth. A child attains the right to property inheritance only after the demise of the progenitor. If an heir survives beyond the ancestor's passing, they reach legal heirship, becoming eligible for a portion of the estate. Conversely, if the presumed heir does not outlive their forebearer, the entitlement to inheritance or a share in the property ceases to exist.

However, The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 did not cover any legal rights for the daughter on the father’s property. The daughter was given the right to demand livelihood in a joint Hindu family. Later on 9th September 2005, the Hindu Succession Act was amended to give the daughter equal rights as a son in the ancestral property due to Western influence.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) was enacted to remove gender discriminatory provisions in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Under the amendment, the daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son. The daughter shall now have the same rights as a son in the coparcenary property (ancestral property of the Hindu undivided family). This amendment also repeals Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act, which disentitled a female heir to ask for partition in respect of a dwelling house wholly occupied by a joint family until the male heirs choose to divide their respective shares. Section 24 of the Act, which denied the rights of a widow to inherit her husband‟s property upon her re-marriage, has been repealed. This Act has brought about a central amendment that applies to all state governments.



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