The Supreme Court on Thursday held that the daughter of a male Hindu is entitled to inherit his self-acquired property or that obtained through family inheritance when the man died without a will, reported Bar and Bench.

The bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari observed that even before the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, ancient text such as the Smritis, the commentaries written by various renowned persons and even judicial verdicts “have recognised the rights of several female heirs, the wives and the daughter’s being the foremost of them.”

In the case, a Hindu man, Marappa Gounder, had a self-acquired property and he died leaving behind a daughter, Kupayee Ammal. Gounder also had a younger brother, Ramasamy Gounder, who had died before him.

Kupayee Ammal died and the property was then acquired by the five heirs of Ramasamy Gounder. One of the five heirs, Thangammal had filed a suit for partition of the property.

The bench was examining the matter concerning the right of the daughter to inherit the self-acquired property of her father in the absence of any other legal heir. The court was dealing with the question of whether such property would devolve to the daughter by inheritance after the father died without a will, or to the man’s brother by survivorship.

The court was also looking at the order of succession following the death of the daughter that happened after amendments to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, came into force, reported Live Law.

In its verdict, the court held that upon the father’s death, such property would devolve by inheritance and not by survivorship.

On the other question on the daughter’s death, the court observed that the inherited property of a female Hindu dying intestate, or without a will, goes back to the source.

“If a female Hindu dies intestate without leaving any issue, then the property inherited by her from her father or mother would go to the heirs of her father whereas the property inherited from her husband or father-in-law would go to the heirs of the husband,” the court said.

It said that there were contradictory opinions on the inheritance of the property following the daughter’s death. However, the court said that the conflict of opinion might not have any bearing in the present case since the woman in question, Kupayee Ammal, died after the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was enacted.

“The main scheme of this Act is to establish complete equality between male and female with regard to property rights and the rights of the female were declared absolute, completely abolishing all notions of a limited estate,” the court said. “The Act brought about changes in the law of succession among Hindus and gave rights which were till then unknown in relation to women’s property.”

The court held that the 1956 Act shall apply in this case and so Ramasamy Gounder’s daughters, being Class-I heirs of their father, too shall be the heirs and entitled to the share in the suit properties.