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Punjab and Haryana High Court Issues Notice on Plea Challenging Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act

Mayank Labh
6 Aug 2021 4:34 AM GMT
Punjab and Haryana High Court Issues Notice on Plea Challenging Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act
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A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice to the Union government in a petition challenging the validity of the provisions of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 ("HSA").The bench comprising of Chief Justice R.S. Jha and Justice Arun Palli also issued notice on the prayer of the petitioner to stay Section 15 of the HSA. The fact of the case is...

A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice to the Union government in a petition challenging the validity of the provisions of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 ("HSA").

The bench comprising of Chief Justice R.S. Jha and Justice Arun Palli also issued notice on the prayer of the petitioner to stay Section 15 of the HSA.

The fact of the case is that a husband and a wife died without having any kids. Consequently, the mothers of the deceased couple claimed stake to the estates of the deceased couple.

The Hindu Succession Act provides for a different rule of devolution of property for men and women. Section 8 of the HSA provides for the general rules of succession in the case of a male Hindu dying intestate and Section 15 of the HSA provides for the general rules of succession in the case of the death of a female Hindu dying intestate.

Case of the Petitioner

According to the plea, there is differential treatment of the mother of a male Hindu vis-à-vis a female Hindu dying intestate. The property of a female dying intestate does not devolve to her mother in the first instance, unlike a male Hindu dying intestate. According to the petition, the property is never likely to get devolved to the female Hindu's parents in practice as the list of husband's heirs is so exhaustive who gets priority over female Hindu's parents.

The plea further submitted that the scheme of the HSA is such that it precludes any consideration of women acquiring property through the exercise of her own skills. This results into the scenario that distant relatives of the husband's family of a woman dying intestate, childless and without surviving husband have a stronger claim to the Hindu woman's property than her own husband. However, when the male dies intestate, childless and without surviving wife then the property first goes his mother, then to his father and siblings, and then to his distant relatives. His wife's natal family has no claim to the property. According to the petition, the source-based devolution of the property as provided in Section 15(2) is not there in Section 8 of the HSA.

The plea further submitted that Section 15 perpetuates the same gender discrimination that was sought to be done away with by Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. The aim of the amendment was to ensure equal treatment between men and women under the HSA by ensuring daughters have the same rights as coparceners as sons. According to the petition, the aim was further recognized in the case of Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma (2020) 9 SCC 1.

The petitioners submitted that discrimination inherent in Section 15 has been pointed out on three separate occasions. According to the petitioner, the discrimination in the provision has been recognized by the Bombay High Court in the case of Mamta Dinesh Vakil v. Bansi S. Wadhwa . Further, the discrimination has also been brought to light before the Parliament when Hindu Succession Amendment Bill, 2015 was being discussed. Even the Law Commission in its 207th report has recommended the amendment of the provision to remove the patent discrimination in the provision, the petitioners maintain.

For all the above reasons, the petition submitted that Section 15 of the HSA is violative of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and therefore should be struck down.

Advocates Sumeer Sodhi and Shreya Nair argued for the petitioner The next hearing of the case is on December 02, 2021.

Case Title: X Vs Union of India and Another.

Click Here to Download the Order


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