- 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.
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.