Decided by Supreme Court of India/ Civil Appeal No. 6659 of 2011
Supreme Court, 20th January 2022.
This judgement arises from an appeal that was made in the Supreme Court against the judgement of the High Court of Madras and trial court. A Hindu man (HM) passed away intestate in the year 1949 and was survived by his only daughter who passed away intestate in the year 1967 as well. HM had a brother (HB) who had five children (four daughters and one son), one of his daughters (Plaintiff) filed the suit in question and contended that all her siblings were equally entitled to a 1/5th share in the self-acquired property that HM left intestate after his death in 1949. Both the courts (Trial Court & Madras High Court) believed that HM died intestate before the act came into being and therefore his sole daughter did not have any right legally to his property. According to both the courts HB’s son was the only legal heir to HM’s property. The Apex Court set aside both these judgements and held that the right of a widow or a daughter in a self-acquired property of Hindu man dying intestate is very well recognized under the Hindu Law and such property cannot devolve by survivorship, and only be inherited. Further the court also held that if such daughter dies intestate and issueless as well, then the devolution of property should take place under Section 15 and Section 16 of the Hindu Succession Act. Hence the Plaintiff won the case and the property was equally divided amongst all the children of HB and not only his son.
Establishing equality with regards to inheritance and property rights is the primary motive of Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act.
A daughter can inherit her father’s self-acquired property, ignoring the fact that the devolution took place before the Hindu Succession Act.