Trending: Call for Papers Volume 4 | Issue 4: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Women’s Property Rights Under Hindu Law

-Shaheen Banu

Every human being should be treated with some dignity and equality, but women are not even treated as human beings as they are considered as the weaker sex. They are suppressed of all their rights, restricted at their homes and as they are facing more problems in their day to day life. It is well known to everyone that India is a predominated patriarchal society where only men are given more rights as compared to women. One of the main problems faced by women are as they are denied from the right of property. But compared before women now are in a good position and treated equally as of men by developing various laws for the welfare of women.

The present paper deals with the right of property of a Hindu woman under:

  • The Hindu women’s Right to Property Act 1937.
  •  The Hindu Succession Act 1956.
  •  The Amendment act 2005 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956.

The Hindu undivided family, as the name itself suggest, it is a joint Hindu family. It consists of common ancestor for the entire lineal descendent and also wife and daughter of the male descendent, as the members of the family are called as coparceners. As per Hindu joint family only the male member of the family can become the coparcener and the coparcenary consists of three generation of sons with a common elder ancestor. It is only the coparcener who is entitled for a share in the ancestor property.

Prior to the Hindu Women Right to Property act, 1937 there was no laws to protect the interest of women’s property rights. The disputes were settled accordance with customs. In 1937 this act was passed to settle the dispute of inequality prevailing in property rights of women. This act gave a death blow to the doctrine of survivorship.

The doctrine of survivorship is when a coparcener dies his share will be transferred to the surviving coparceners in the Hindu joint family. According to Section 3 of the Hindu women right to property act, 1937 when a Hindu male dies leaving his property, the widow that is the wife of the deceased will have a share in the property as same as his husband and also the widow of the predeceased son can also inherit as of her husband, when there is no surviving son of such predeceased son but the women were given only limited interest on that property. Therefore, this act does not deal with much aspects which is necessary for the empowerment of women’s property rights. 
As for this concern the Hindu succession act, 1956 was passed which gave the women an absolute right over her property.


Before the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 The property of women was classified as two types:

  •  Stridhan 
  •  Women estate.
Stridhan is a combination of two sanskrit words in which “stri” means Women and “dhan” means property. It is her own property, she can use it, dispose it, lease, mortage, no one can restrict her. She claims an absolute ownership on those property therefore, the stridhan includes:
  • Gifts received from the relatives
  • Gifts and bequest received from strangers on her maidenhood
  •  Property got in lieu of maintenance
  •  Property acquired through own skill
  • Property acquired through compromise
  •  Property purchased with above earnings of stridhan

As per prior Hindu law the devolution of stridhan is different under various schools. According to the vignaneswara, the women’s property goes to her daughter, if maiden the property goes to the uterine brother.

When a woman inherits property form a male or female that property is known as women estate. The widow inherits the property after the death of his husband as she is the owner of the property for the lifetime, but She has only limited interest in that property as she can use or enjoy the property but cannot dispose, mortage, lease, sale nor she could alienate the property with her own wish. And the devolution of the property will pass on to the last full owner(reversioner).

The powers of women under the women estate is, power to manage as said before she can manage the property as she has the entire right to use the property in short she is the Karta of the property who manages the affairs of the property and she has a power to alienate only on the following conditions with the consent of reversioner:
  • For legal necessity.
  • For the benefit of the estate.
  • For religious or charitable purpose.

As this scenario has been changed after the enactment of the of Hindu Succession act, 1956. It abolished all the prior Hindu laws and brought a uniformity. According to the sec 14 of the Hindu succession act, 1956 there is no limited property,as the women can enjoy the absolute ownership on her property whether the property is acquired by gift or inheritance or partition and section 15 of the Hindu Succession act, 1956 prescribes the general rules of succession for a Hindu women.

When a Hindu woman dies intestate leaving her property as her will devolve upon the following categories of heir according to the rules provided in the section 16 of the act.
  • Firstly, upon the sons and daughter (including the son of predeceased son or daughter) and the husband.
  •  Secondly upon the heirs of the husband.
  • Thirdly upon the father and mother.
  •  Fourthly upon the heirs of father.
  •  Lastly upon the heirs of mother.

This act brought wide improvement in property rights of women, despite there exists an inequality, as daughters were not entitled for the share in the property of the Hindu joint family. This act was amended in 2005 to remove gender inequality and give daughtersan equal right as sons in the property.


“Our Constitution fosters and strengthens the spirit of equality and envisions a society where every person enjoys equal rights which enable him/her to grow and realize his/her potential as an individual”.

As Indian Constitution guaranties right to equality under part III of the Constitution.As per Article 14 of the Constitution of India states, that every person should be treated equally without any discrimination, but daughters of the Hindu joint family are not entitled for a share in the property, as they are not given the right of coparcener. This leads to huge infraction of article 14 of the Constitution of India. This situation was changed and daughters were also given a share in the property after the amendment act of 2005


This act brought various changes in the rights of women towards property, and created an equal as of men, as they are:
Section 4(2) of the act was omitted, this section states that, the act shall not override the provisions of any other act. It created an inequality against women by obstructing them to capacitate the agricultural land.

Section 6 of the actcreates an equal position for women by providing the right of coparcener in which a daughter of the Hindu joint family is considered as a coparcener and they are entitled for all the rights and liabilities as a son. Further, the daughter holds the position of coparcener after her marriage as because they are provided with the right of coparcener by virtue of their birth. As of now a woman has equal rights as men in the property of Hindu joint family.

Section 23 of the act was omitted as it divested the right of women to obtain partition of the dwelling house. The provision states that a female can dwell in the house only when she is unmarried, separated, or widowed which creates inequality. So, this section was omitted by the amendment act and gives women a right of the dwelling house.

Section 24 of the act states that the widow of the predeceased son, the widow of the predeceased son of the predeceased son and the widow of the brother are not entitled for the share in the husband property if she remarries. But she deserves a share in the husband property so the said section was rescinded by the amendment act 2005.

Finally,Section 30 of the act of the was substituted by certain words such as “disposed by him or her’’ instead of him which creates a right for women to dispose her property.

At the very first women were not even given basic rights of property but after much struggles and voices towards unjust the legislation created various act regarding the property rights of women. But still the acts are not clear which creates a confusion. So, the legislation should look forward to make provisions for the empowerment of women in the property rights.


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