The word inheritance in common legal parlance is defined as – “Property received from a decedent, either by will or through state laws of intestate succession, where the decedent has failed to execute a valid will.”
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was enacted to ensure equal inheritance rights to both sons and daughters, preserving the dual devolution rule under the Mitakshara School. It applies to all Hindus inclusive of Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. However, the provisions of this Act won’t apply to a Hindu married to a Non-Hindu under the Special Marriages Act.
If a Hindu male dies intestate, his devolution of property upon his heirs follows a certain rule. The Class I heirs share the property amongst themselves with one share each. If there are no heirs from the Class I, the heirs of Class II are then entitled to have a share in the property in question. If there are no heirs in both these classes, the property devolves upon the Agnates followed by the Cognates.
However, if the deceased has no heirs to claim the property rights, the property lapses to the Government by way of Escheat. Along with the property rights, the Government is also bound to fulfil other obligations attached to the said property.
Krishan Gupta & Anr. v. Rajinder Nath & Co HUF & Ors.: The Court held that in case of the male dying intestate, the daughter becomes a coparcener and receives a share equal to that of the sons.
In case of a Hindu female dying intestate, the property devolves upon her sons or daughters (including the children of her pre-deceased son or daughter) and her husband.
However, if the above clause doesn’t apply then –
- If she had inherited the property from her Father or Mother, that property shall devolve upon the father or mother or, the heirs of the Father.
- If she had inherited the property from her Husband or father-in-law, that property shall devolve upon the heirs of the Husband.
The heirs belonging to the same category take equal and simultaneous shares, where full blood is preferred over half blood relations. If two heirs are inheriting simultaneously, they take the share as tenants-in-common and per capita.
The Act also provides for testamentary disposition of property. A person has the right to dispose off his or her property in favour of any person they wish to, in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
Jupudy Pardha Sarathy v. Pentapati Rama Krishna & Ors.: The Court held that even though the deceased had executed a will giving limited rights to the wife and full rights to the son, the wife would have absolute rights during her life.
Krishan Gupta & Anr. v. Rajinder Nath & Co HUF & Ors [2014(9) R.C.R.(Civil) 2368]
Jupudy Pardha Sarathy v. Pentapati Rama Krishna & Ors [2016(1) R.C.R.(Civil) 1]
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/succession visited on 8th March, 2017 at 1900 hours.
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956