India's apex court on Tuesday stated that daughters have a right to parental property even if the coparcener died prior to the date when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force.
A coparcener is a person who shares equally with others in the inheritance of an undivided estate or in the rights to it.
The judgement was pronounced by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra while hearing a bunch of appeals questioning whether the Hindu Succession Act had a retrospective effect.
While clarifying the judgement, Justice Mishra said: "Daughters must be given equal rights as sons. Daughters remain a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not".
The court held that a daughter, living or dead, as of the date of the amendment, shall be entitled to a share in her father’s property. This means that even if the daughter was not alive on the date of the amendment, her children could claim their rightful portion.
The Supreme Court of India's bench has clarified that just like sons, the amendment also extended the status of coparcener to a daughter, allowing her to enjoy the same rights as a son.
This judgment, which came as a further interpretation of the existing act, has now settled the ambiguity around the nature and extent of a daughter’s rights to an HUF property.
The bench asked the courts concerned, where several matters have remained pending for want of an authoritative ruling by the Supreme Court, to take up and dispose of them within six months.
Tuesday's verdict holds significance as it sets aside a series of previous judgments by the top court that suggested that a daughter would have a coparcenary right only if the father and the daughter were alive on 9 September 2005, when the amendment was notified.
On 9 September 2005, the landmark amendment to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, which originally denied women the right to inherit ancestral property, ruled that a Hindu woman or girl will have equal property rights along with her male relatives in any partition made to ancestral property.
In 2015, the court said that a daughter's right to ancestral property does not arise if the father died before the amendment to the Hindu law became effective in 2005.