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The article is authored by Ayush Bagrodia of Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai. The article talks about the amendment which was made in 2005 in the Hindu Succession Act, and how this affects the succession in the following year.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.


“Our Constitution fosters and strengthens the spirit of equality and envisions a society where every person enjoys equal rights which enable him/her to grow and realize his/her potential as an individual.”

  • Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. UOI & Ors.

The worth of a civilization can be judged from the position that it gives to women. Since Vedic times, the status of women in Indian society is always considered secondary and substituted to that of male members of society or family. As even in our ancient texts like Manusmriti, it mentions “Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence”. This could be the most probable cause why women’s right to inheritance was not recognized by the laws over a long period. 

Though the Constitution of India enshrines the principle of equality in the chapters III, IV and IVA among its provisions but it can be always debated that have women been treated equally in the eyes of laws? This gender disparity has manifested itself through various forms, and especially with regard to effective rights in property. The inheritance law was of subsequent nature and, more broadly, applied to property owned in absolute seventy only as distinct from a joint family property. The central notion of the Hindu joint family is a shared male ancestor with his linear descendants. Sons acquired equal interest with the father in their ancestral property as co-participants even under early Hindu rule.

There are two eminent schools of Hindu Law namely the Mitakshara and the Dayabhag governing the inheritance practices among the Hindus. So prior to 2005, under the Mitakshara law, the male descendants acquires a right in property by the way of coparcenary, whereas the female born out in the same Joint Hindu Family was not granted any of such rights of inheritance, their right of ownership was restricted to the stridhan.  By virtue of this, every coparcener has a right to ask for partition and inherit the property of the Joint Hindu Family. Though, inheritance by succession of the individual property would be granted to both male and female members of the family.  Whereas under the Dayabhag law, no such distinction existed both the two genders, as there is no birth right upon the property till the Karta or last holder of the property is alive, as he/she acts as the sole owner, and only after the person’s death the property can be inherited by both male and female successors. And even females can be holders of that position managing the affairs of the Family.

So by this Mitakshara School created a differential position of daughters in the family barring them from similar treatments as that of sons, and reason could be traced back from ancient concepts of status of women. Even the courts are reluctant to interfere in family matters as they are exclusive in nature. But, there are several occasions where the judiciary has interfered in order to protect the individual’s rights. As no personal law can be held above the Constitution of India and if any, such provision is held void and therefore will not be made applicable.

And by way of State amendments brought in by the state of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra To the Act, the existing launch of gender disparity was resolved by granting equal status to daughters as that of the sons in the Joint Hindu Family much earlier than 2005. And on the other hand, with the enactment of the Kerala Joint Hindu Family System (Abolition) Act, 1975, the State of Kerala has totally abolished the right to property by birth of males and put an end to the Joint Hindu family system.  

But only after 2005, the Hindu Succession Amendment Act was brought in by the parliament rectifying the status of daughters in the Joint Hindu family, granting them equal rights as that of son. This change brought in the act was based upon the recommendations of the 174th law commission report on women’s right in property under Hindu law advocating the changes to be brought in the code to ensure equal treatment of both the genders. 

History of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 was passed with the understanding that women’s rights are significant and protected by Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution, and that no individual laws may conflict with such provisions. It led to reforms in women’s property rights, giving them complete ownership over the restricted rights in the property they inherited. The Act’s Sections 6 and 8 dealt with the transfer of ownership of a Mitakshara coparcenary property and the transfer of ownership of male Hindus themselves, respectively. The Hindu Succession Act, as actually written by the B.N. Rau Committee and guided by Dr. Ambedkar, called for doing away with the Mitakshara coparcenary and its notion of survivorship as well as the son’s birthright in joint family property and replacing it with the principle of inheritance by succession. The Mitakshara coparcenary was kept in the Act with men serving as coparceners after these plans were faced with a wave of conservative opposition from the Constituent Assembly.

As a result, the Act continued to follow the rule of survivorship with the exception that the focus would pass through testamentary or intestate succession in cases where the deceased had left behind a female relative under Class 1 of Schedule 1 or a male relative belongs in that Class who comes under such a female relative. The speculative separation to determine the deceased’s attention in a Mitakshara coparcenary shows that the decentralisation by survivorship still had a spot in the Act with regard to the deceased coparcener’s intrigue. It is thus obvious that there was no interruption in the whole coparcenary as intended by the lawmakers.

Findings of the 174th report of the Law Commission of India 

The Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 was enacted as a result of the suggestions made in the Law Commission’s 174th report regarding Hindu women’s property rights. In actuality, the Commission had brought the matter up on its own initiative because of the blatant discrimination that occurred in the Mitakshara coparcenary. The Commission noted that property rules have been established for men’s benefit ever since the dawn of civilisation. Hindu women were disallowed to use their property in an attempt to dominate them, enslave them, and keep them reliant on men. Women in joint families had only maintenance rights. On the other hand, since he is a coparcener, a son is given birth rights to the family’s property. The coparcenary system, which excludes women, continued the legacy of male domination in inheritance. The Commission called attention to this injustice and asserted that it constitutes a constitutional fraud. The Commission suggested amending Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 based on these results.

Changes Brought in By 2005 Amendment

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2004 was introduced with the idea of bring two major changes in the then existing Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). First being, bring a new section in place of the existing Section 6 in order to give equal rights to the daughters as to the sons and second being omission of section 23 which disentails the female rights to ask for partition in a dwelling house occupied by the intestate family with the male heirs initiating it. And finally, in 2005, certain changes were brought in to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by way of this amendment.  These changes were brought in:

Section 4(2)

The said section shall be omitted as the said provision provided that the act shall not override the provisions laid down in any other act to avert the division or fragmentation of the agricultural or sealing the ceiling or creation of tenancy rights in spite of such holding. Since this section excluded rights on agricultural lands from its purview and was regulated by the State- level tenure laws, it was creating a discriminatory in favour of women as the women were not getting any entitlement or interest in the agricultural lands. So with the removal of this provision, the women’s interest in agricultural land as that of men is ensured.   

Section 6

Another significant change which became a milestone in the history of women’s rights in property was deletion of the old provision under Section 6 of the act and insertion of new provision. With this new provision, the daughter becomes coparceners in the property of the Joint Hindu Family by birth, acquiring similar rights and liabilities to that of a son. As women’s right in property i.e. undivided property was quite alienated and highly fragmented in the Hindu law. Not dwelling deep into the ancient and medieval practices and sticking to the recognition brought in by the legislature by way of introduction to laws protecting the same. Property rights of Hindu women vary depending on the status of the woman in the family and her marital status as whether the woman is a daughter, married or unmarried or deserted; wife or widow or mother. It also depends on the kind of property one is looking at whether the property is hereditary/ ancestral or self-acquired, land or dwelling house or matrimonial property.

So women were not allowed to inherit any property either from husband or father, and would possibly possess the stridhan. And their existed two types of stridhan, first being the sauadayika, these are gifts from relatives of both sides (parents and husband), over which she had full absolute ownership and had rights of disposal, and second being the non-sauadayika, which included gifts from strangers and property acquired by self-exertion, mechanical art, and so forth as a married woman, over which she had limited rights on such property and cannot alienate it without the consent of her husband. 

This confusion of women’s limited rights on certain was settled by Privy Council mentioning that the property with limited rights as women’s estate whereby the female owner takes it as a limited owner only. This right of women in property was first recognized by the legislatures only with the enforcement of The Hindu Women Rights to Property Act, 1937. But only one type of women i.e. widow’s right got recognition where any Hindu dies intestate leaving her, then she can claim partition as a male owner. Though this right was limited in nature i.e. she requires consent of male members in order to dispose of this women’s estate. This would be definitely seen as a milestone in the history of women’s property rights, though it was limited in scope and subjugated the women’s status mere to her matrimonial relation making it base for such claim in property.

So to overcome the abnormalities created by the abovementioned actThe legislatures finally introduced an act named The Hindu Succession Act, 1956. But still the act was not adequate enough to recognize the coparcenary of daughters in the Joint Hindu Family. So this created a disadvantage upon the daughter as they don’t have a right to seek partition. But with the changes brought in by the amendment of 2005, the daughter became coparcener, getting all rights of the coparcener including the right to seek partition for her share in the Joint Hindu Property. 

And by virtue of this new provision all the alienation or partition or testamentary partition affected before the 20th December 2004 will not be affected. 

Section 23

Another landmark change brought in with this amendment was omission of section 23 of the act, which clearly discriminated against the female heirs to seek any partition in the dwelling house which the intestate left before the male heir chose to do so. This is the most evident form of prejudice created by the Hindu Succession act prior to 2005, as the female rights were restricted to dwell in that house that too only in case of she being unmarried, separated, deserted or a widow and became contingent on the whim and fancies of the male members of the family.   

Section 24

The said section was also omitted with the amendment brought in 2005, which discriminated three category of women related to the intestate as the widow of a predeceased son, the widow of a predeceased son of a predeceased son or the widow of a brother, by virtue of their remarriage on account of opening of the succession. This was laid down on the principle that the widow is the surviving half of her husband and virtue of her remarriage ceased to be the same. And by way of this her right in the property was divested.  But certain other kinds of widow as that of intestate’s own wife have not been divested even after remarriage to have right in property of her deceased husband. Now as the constitutional pronouncements made it clear that equality is the essence of the justice and legislative system. But still inequality was persistent in the act before the 2005 amendment.

As a claimed fact the first two category of discriminated widow i.e. widow of a predeceased son and the widow of a predeceased son of a pre-deceased son from part of Class I heir and the third category of widow i.e. widow of the brother forms a part of an agnate. That means by virtue of being such they inherit the property immediately after the dead of the intestate, and their rights get invested accordingly. And once her right is invested in that property, she becomes an absolute owner as per section 15 and after such investment of property by means of she being the heir of the deceased, it cannot be divested by any further event. Therefore, in order to correct this problematic situation creating disadvantage to certain categories of women under section 24 of the Act, it was omitted.

Section 30

Under section 30 of the Act, the substitution of words from “disposed by him” to “disposed by him or by her” was done, in order to make it gender-neutral which is the objective of this amendment.

And, certain additions were done to the schedule under the subheading of class I heir, in order to give equal treatment to lineal descendants of the daughters as to that of son.

Hence, with the introduction of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2004 which further got enforced in 2005 became the turning point of turmoil of sexual discrimination exiting in the Hindu Law.   

Effects of Amendment brought in the act upon the Interest of Women in the Property

This amendment was enforced on September 9, 2005 and created a history in the terms of women’s right in property under Hindu Law. The impact of this amendment was that the secondary or substituted position of which the women were usually subject to under Hindu law was removed and created similar rights or position of a daughter that of a son. As per section 6, daughters were recognized as coparcener since birth, thereby she exercises all rights of a coparcener and by virtue of that she can also become a Karta, if she is the senior-most member of the family.

With the recent Judicial pronouncement and interpretation given by the Courts upon the amendment questions related to the implication of this amendment and how it would affect the position of women and property after the enforcement becomes clear and distinct. As the daughters born on or after 9th September’ 2005 accrue an interest in the ancestral property by virtue of becoming a coparcener as that of son. Though this question of the effect of this amendment whether would be retrospective or prospective in nature is in dispute for a long time. As the Bombay High Court in case of Ms. Vaishali Satish Ganorkar & Anr. v. Mr. Satish Keshaorao Ganorkar & Ors. The Division bench observed that the act should be applied retrospectively unless explicitly mentioned as the words “on and from” in Section 6 (1) of the Act after amendment shows its prospective nature. And they held that the daughters born on or after 9th September’ 2005 will only be considered as coparceners and those who are born prior to the aforesaid date will devolve an interest in the coparcener property only after his death by means succeeding his interest.

But this view was disputed by the Full Judge bench of the same court in case of Shri Badrinarayan Shankar Bhandari & Ors. v. Ompraskash Shankar, where the court observed that for the implication of amended section 6(1) of the act, there are two prerequisite conditions. Firstly, the daughters claiming benefit under Section 6 of the Act must be alive on the date of enforcement of the amendment act. And, secondly, the property in question must be available as the coparcenary property on the date of enactment of the amendment. The Court held that the amendment is retroactive in nature and will be applicable to all those daughters who were born prior and after 17th June’ 1956 but before 9th September’ 2005. However, it is conditioned to only one fact that at the time of commencement of 2005 Amendment, the daughter was alive. As when the Principal Act was enforced, it was applicable to all Hindus born prior or after 17th June’ 1956, but was contingent on the fact that the person was alive at the time of such enforcement. The Parliament will enact this amendment has specifically used the word “on and from”, so to make sure that the already settled rights in terms of coparcenary property won’t be disturbed by a claiming as an heir to a daughter who had passed away before this amendment came into force. Therefore, the daughters born prior to 9th September’ 2005 will be covered under this amendment subject to given conditions.

This view of amendment being applied retrospectively in order to ensure the best interest of the daughters was also upholded the Supreme Court in case of Danamma @Suman Surpur v. Amar Singh, the Hon’ble court held that the amendment is applicable to all living daughters of living coparceners as on 9th September’ 2005 and cannot be disputed further for its implication. Though the disposition either in form of partition or alienation secured before 20th December’ 2004 by the application of law won’t be affected.

Now the same court in the case of Ganduri Koteshwaramma & Anr. v. Chakiri Yanadi & Anr., the held that a preliminary order passed by the Court in regards to a partition suit, do not prejudices the rights of daughters conferred by the amendment. As far as partition suits are concerned, it becomes final only with the passing of the final decree. Therefore, the court may make necessary amendments in the preliminary decree in order to restore the rights conferred by the law. Hence, it can be concluded that a suit for partition filed before 2005, but was pending before the Court for its final decree. Then in such suits the daughter’s right in the property is also being created by the virtue of her being alive after the amendment was enforced. 

Status before and after the Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005

Let’s discuss the daughters’ coparcenary rights under the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and their status following the 2005 Amendment:

Status before the amendment 

The first law to include women in the inheritance and associated laws was the Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929. This Act provided three female heirs—a son’s daughter, a granddaughter, and a sister—the ability to inherit property. The Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act, 1937, was one of the key pieces of the statute that gave women access to property ownership in the years that followed. After many protests against discriminatory laws on women’s rights, this particular Act of 1937 was approved. Once it was in effect, it changed the laws governing coparcenary, separation, property, inheritance, and even adoption. The Act of 1937 also gave widows the opportunity to prosper alongside their sons and claim an equal share of their estate. Even though this law was passed, a daughter essentially had no inheritance rights. It was not enough to establish equitable rights for men and women.

The Hindu Succession Act, which was passed in 1956, was somewhat centered on the guarantee of equality as stated in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The former Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act’s restricted property rights were eliminated with the adoption of this Act. This Act aimed to improve the status of women in society by granting them the ability to inherit a portion of their father’s estate. Through this law, daughters were recognised as the father’s legal successors and were granted the opportunity to inherit his separate property. However, despite this Act, women were not granted any rights to inherit ancestral property or obey the norms of succession. Only the men were given the status of coparceners at birth and were therefore legally entitled to inherit the family’s property. This clause maintained the disparity between daughters and sons.

Status after the amendment 

As previously said, the old laws did not promote equality of rights between sons and daughters, so it was decided that they needed to be changed. Women’s rights to the estate were the subject of reform recommendations in the Law Commission Report of 2000. The Law Commission identified every part and clause prejudicial to men and suggested making considerable modifications.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was passed solely to increase the rights of daughters and women to property and bring them at par with the male family members. The inclusion of daughters as coparceners was the significant modification brought about by this amendment. So, as a result of the 2005 Amendment, the daughter of the family, whether she is married or not, is granted the same rights to the joint family property as the sons do. The daughters now share the same obligations and rights as the sons. To do this, Section 6 of the 1956 Act was changed. It also stated that female family members might now serve as the family’s Karta. Daughters were now treated similarly as coparceners.

The Supreme Court has further dispelled any lingering questions about the retrospectivity of the Amendment Act of 2005 with its ruling that daughters have a right to coparcenary property regardless of whether or not the father was alive at the time of the 2005 Amendment, taking one more step toward gender equality. Women have benefited greatly from the impending shift that will make all daughters co-owners of joint family property, both figuratively and monetarily. 

Judicial pronouncements 

Income Tax v. G.S. Mills (1966)

In this case, the Supreme Court debated whether women might hold the role of a family head. The Court determined that the widow could not be a member of the family, but this does not exclude women from being members of joint families. This case is relevant before the enactment of the amended act of 2005 as there was the legislation of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and its provisions were applicable at that time as well.

Vaishali Satish Ganorkar v. Satish Keshaorao Ganorkar (2012)

The Hindu Succession Amendment will not be applicable in this case, according to the Bombay High Court, unless the daughter is born after 2005. However, a contrary stance has been adopted on this issue in a later, larger bench judgement, prompting the Court to directly mention the requirement that the daughter and her father be alive on the day of the amendment. 


Due to the father’s failure to repay the bank for the loan he obtained, the bank now has the right to confiscate the property as compensation for the loan’s default. The Daughters have asserted their claim to a two-thirds piece of the land. The Daughters plan to keep two-thirds of the property and give the bank the third as payback for the debt. Since they were born prior to the amendment, the legal question is whether women have a coparcenary right to property.


According to the ruling, the presumption against retrospectivity does not apply to acts that have a declaratory nature. Since declaratory statutes are only declared, they may therefore be retroactive. Consequently, the presumption against removing vested rights would not be relevant. In the HSA’s modified Section 6, the words “must become” are now a coparcener. Prior to the law going into force, vested rights cannot be removed by becoming a coparcener.

Badrinarayan Shankar Bhandari v. Om Prakash Shankar Bhandari (2014)

The primary question, in this case, is whether the Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 should apply to events that occurred before the amendment, even though it is clearly stated that the Hindu Succession Act should have a prospective impact rather than a retroactive effect.

Lacunae in the Hindu Succession Amendment Act

There are additional oddities that exist in the Hindu Succession Amendment Act:

Coparcenary is still a major male prerequisite  

The law, without a doubt, stipulates that the male coparcenary’s property will be divided equitably between all males and female descendants upon his death; but the law places the male heirs on a higher footing by stipulating that they shall possess an extra autonomous share in a coparcenary property should be in relation to what they possess equally with female descendants; the premise of a coparcenary, in and of itself, is that of a unique male membership club and should be abolished.

Such abolition required the partial restriction of freedom of choice. Many European nations (Germany, Italy, Austria, etc.) regularly impose these limitations. However, as they are frequently left out of the will, women may not inherit anything. Even if it’s not the ideal option, keeping the Mitakshara system and making daughters coparceners does at least give women guaranteed interests in joint family property because the 2005 Act does not affect bequest autonomy. When a Hindu woman passes away intestate, her property passes first to her husband’s descendants, then to her husband’s father’s descendants, and eventually solely to her mother’s heirs. As a result, the property of the intestate Hindu woman is protected by the lien of her husband.

Another justification for a national law is the possibility of two Kartas, one being a son and the other being a daughter, if a joint family owns property in two states, one of which is subject to the Amending Act and the other is not. There will also be issues with how the Amending Act will be applied geographically. As a result, the demand for a Uniform Civil Code or all-India Act is more pressing. 

The 2005 Act’s implementation remains a challenging issue. Just a few of the many actions required to carry out the change incorporated in the Act include:

  • Legal literacy campaigns.
  • Initiatives to raise public understanding of the benefits of women owning property for the entire family. 
  • Assistance with legal and social issues for women attempting to claim their rights.

Decrease in shares of other classes 

Making daughters coparceners will reduce the shares of other Class I female heirs, including the deceased’s mother and widow, because the coparcenary portion of the deceased male from whom they acquire, will diminish. The prospective portion of the widow will now be equal to the shares received by the son and daughter in states where the wife receives a share upon division, such as Maharashtra. However, in cases where the wife does not receive a portion of the divide, such as in Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh, the widow’s prospective portion will be less than the daughter’s. 


Even though the amendment has produced positive benefits, it still has certain flaws. The amendment has not been able to fully accomplish its objectives and has caused a great deal of confusion and disruption. The inclusion of Section 15 is the amendment’s error and casts doubt on the issues of gender equity and women’s empowerment. Section 15 only acknowledges women in terms of their relationships with men, such as wives, daughters, etc. As a result, it undermines a woman’s uniqueness and individuality. 

Another problem with the amendment is that it primarily concentrates on daughters and wives, daughters-in-law, and sisters who are not included in its scope. Another problem with the amendment is its lack of clarification regarding whether the aforementioned legislation will trump and overturn state laws or not. A provision of Section 4(2) that the amendment has removed exempted agricultural land from coparcenary property. Consequently, since agricultural land is included in the State List, a difficulty develops.


Status of Hindu women was always subjected to male members of the family even in Dharmashastras.  And that’s why when the Hindu Succession Act was enacted in 1956; the legislators didn’t feel any need for giving rights to daughters in the property of the Father, since the notion of daughter being part of another family after her marriage and should not have right to inherit anything from her father’s property.

But with the 2005 amendment, the equality ensured under the Constitution was reestablished and the provisions granted the equality in status of son and daughter in a Joint Hindu Family. Though the certain ambiguity still exists in regards to the validly adopted daughters, as this term is nowhere mentioned in the amended Act and her rights in regards to inheritance of her father’s property. Also the children of the daughter will be treated as coparceners in the same sense as that of son’s children, as the status of son or daughter has been equally under section 6 of the Act. 

Hence, it is the most eminent achievement in the backdrop of where Hindu women were situated in the society before this amendment came into being.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the meaning of the term ‘coparcener’?

The oldest person and three generations of a family make up a coparcener. It might have included a son, a father, a grandfather, and a great grandfather in the past. Even domestic ladies can now be coparceners thanks to the Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005.

Can a married daughter inherit from her father?

After being married, a woman will no longer be a part of her parental Hindu undivided family, but she will still be a coparcener. She has the right to ask for the Hindu undivided family property division.

Can the self-acquired property be a coparcenary property?

Yes, a coparcenary property can indeed be a self-acquired asset.


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