Despite Law, Daughters Unable To Inherit Paternal Property

28-year-old Reena of Nalanda district in Bihar to decide against claiming her share of parental property from her brothers.
  • Hindu Succession Act ensure equal rights for daughters in parental property
  • Changes in Hindu inheritance laws are progressive, society is traditional
  • To bring change, it is important that women recognise they have this right

Despite a 10-year-old law, the Hindu Sucession Act, ensuring equal rights for daughters in their parental property, social and cultural barriers continue to deprive women of their rights. The barriers led 28-year-old Reena of Nalanda district in Bihar to decide against claiming her share of parental property from her brothers. She felt it might jeopardise her relationship with her maternal family.

While Reena made a choice, a majority of women are either denied or forced to relinquish their share in the property by their families.

A study by UN Women and Landesa found that 44 per cent of the women surveyed believed their parents would not agree to bequeath them a share of their land. While 53 per cent believed their brothers would oppose the idea.

Reena felt if she asks for her due property share, she might jeopardise her relationship with her maternal family.
Reena felt if she asks for her due property share, she might jeopardise her relationship with her maternal family.

While the changes in the Hindu inheritance laws have been progressive, the society in which these laws operate is traditional. Hindu women have the right to parental property but they are unable to claim it.

Activists feel that ignorance about the law granting women equal inheritance rights is making matters worse. Kirti Singh, a Lands Right Activist with MAKAAM and Dalit Adhikar Manch says, “It is important ??that women recognise that they have this right in the first place.” Even though the law has been a gamechanger for women in India’s legal history, lawyers feel there are still some loopholes.

Kirti Singh, a senior lawyer with the Supreme Court says, “Girls are forced to sign relinquishment deeds. These deeds should not get automatically registered. There should be ways and means to make this process more difficult. “In some cases, women have been reluctant to go to court to claim their rights because they find the legal process too cumbersome. Rekha Agarwal, a property and family disputes lawyer says that in most inherited-related cases she fought, women were are entitled to 50 per cent, they ended up settling for 30 per cent.”

Experts say there is need for legal literacy programmes and mass media campaigns on the law. They are calling for proactive efforts by the Centre and state governments to enforce women’s right to inheritance.

The Hindu Succession Act amended in 2005 gave women equal inheritance rights, but the irony is the landmark legislation has made little impact on the ground.



  1. There is a law which supports Daugthers rights to Fathers property, but there is no law why fathers responsibility during his old age is still with son? Why the law does not mandate that the daughter should take care of her parents equally with sons when the parents are old aged?

  2. Most of the time Father smartly transfer & gift all property to his Son alone & daughter are left without any thing. Law should be strong.

    • I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” – Margaret Thatcher . Sir you are not of that breed are you ?

  3. As per indian marriages, dowry is compulsory, father together with brothers work really hard to make the money or the money is born by pledging the ancestral property/home/jewelry. The dowry is not based on what family is worth but based on what current market rates. And the expense does not stop there, there is birth gifts, occasion gifts which girls parents are forced to bear. If again women take share on property, parents and brother will have to commit suicide.
    Argument can be the guy also takes dowry for his wife. What if there r 3 daughters and 1 son.

    My point is first to stop the dowry system.

  4. @Jahavi. so are farmers supposed to till land in different location ? with the notoriously complicated land laws and very few clear title deeds I don’t think it will work out.
    As long as male is responsible to provide for family he needs it. As of now in India by having different laws as ceiling law , this one the end motive is to concentrate land in states and corporates hand. Land documents are very complicated and sate is litigating to get possessing of many holdings, hence the naxal problem. Women of this generation think they are getting something easy, but will they hold on to it ? wait for few generations and corporates will be farming and no common man or woman will hold any land

  5. @Gautam if women will get land from both father and husband, through this practice, will men also not get land from both father and wife, or if you prefer, father in law??
    And regarding fragmentation, very puzzling argument. When there are brothers doesn’t the inherited land get fragmented?

  6. In Islamic law the women has a share in property & is implemented as long as 1400 ago. The share is not equal to Men because the men has the duty of taking care of the parents & his sister’s (unmarried or divorced). In addition the law ensures that an handsome of money is paid to the women as Mahram (Security Deposit) which will be useful for them in case they are stranded by Men. The men has no rights to take the money back unless the divorce is initiated from the women side.

  7. Equality for a female should start with her father treating her equally.
    In India- this need to be implemented.
    Gautam’s statement:
    “Laws cannot be made for women alone”- is not factually correct, the earlier practice was unequal, so a new one was made!!!
    “Few generations down the line all of land will be with women” is fear mongering and again not factually correct.

    Females needs to empowered by their fathers and learn to demand equality from their fathers before demanding from their husbands and rest of world!!!!!

    • Sushil,
      “Laws cannot be made for women alone” is an opinion and not fact!! all the ramifications of a law has to be rationally analyzed . In present day Indian context when there is no social security and male is responsible for protecting and providing for family , land is the security and then there is that matter of to what extent “pseudo ” intellectuals and state should interfere in a family’s affair. Fathers should instill confidence in girls , girls should make them self more capable .perform on Job and prove themselves until that happens males need the tools to perform there duty. Maybe 200 years down the line in India majority will become independent marriage wont be necessary, people will relocate to places , family name and pride wont be a factor, land will reside with state ,corporates or land sharks and males wont have to shoulder crucial family responsibility, I look forward to that day but presently a minority of “Independent ” westernized women, western corporates in garb of social groups cannot have law which improvises families and seeds disquiet in society . “Few generations down the line all of land will be with women” again this was not stated as fact but on elementary math (women property=50%husband’s+percent parent) (Male=certain share parent) multiplied by few generation. hope it breaks down for you ?

  8. I don’t get it, is the daughter not equal to a son? Why can she not ask for fair share of property rights? What is her husbands’ is in his name, not hers. In India we do not officially give anything to the one. The daughter inheriting equal share should be a fundamental share. Is the daughter not part of the family that giving the land in her name will make it go away from the family?What if she is not married, why should she be at the mercy of her siblings or her husband or any other man. Parents should love both genders equally and be fair to both.

    • my objection has not been answered in the above comment, sidetracking the argument to rhetoric questions which has only one politically correct answer that daughters and sons are equal (its not a simple question) family want to keep family property in males hires hand so that he can provide and protect his family Daughters primary allegiance marriage is generally to husband family , If there are difficulties after marriage there can be law and mechanism to help and assist her but getting share in parent agriculture land and fragmenting it is not the solution. Women should not be at mercy of anyone they need to be empowered and should prove themselves getting something for nothing as is the trend with reservations and handouts is never going to help and everyone will loose.Laws cannot be made for women alone what about empowering families
      Few generations down the line all of land will be with women, does anyone think it will be protected the same way a male does,

  9. This is a wrong Law , which has been formulated with vote share in mind and without consultation with wider parties. Also now it is being pushed by pseudo intellectuals with vested interest. India has got such fragmented land holding and this law will further fragment the land holding, land which has remained with a family will get divided beyond recognition within 2 generations and Agriculture as a profession will size to exists. In the name of equality all kind of nonsense is being pushed down the throat of society and when the solution is not reasonable and sensible it gives rise to anger and resentment. And I wonder whether it will lead to a better society or lead to more disputes within family . there may be exceptions but how many women will really go through the pains associated with land holding, litigations , protecting from anti social elements etc. Girls getting share from both Husband and Parental property will change the demographic of holding very quickly and ultimately will weaken families , society and nation. I am totally for women empowerment but is this empowerment ?

    • This was such a progressive and intelligent comment that you felt the necessity to copy pasting thrice. I bow to your progressiveness when you have got nothing to loose

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