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Govt. Defends Provision of Succession Law That Prioritizes Husband’s Kin

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LAW GAVEL LAW INSIDER

Khushi Gupta

Published on: May 18, 2022 at 17:06 IST

The Union Government has defended in the Supreme Court on the provision in Succession Law that puts the husband’s family first in the line of inheritance, before the woman’s own parents, if she died without executing a will.

Submitting its Affidavit on Tuesday, the Centre justified the Legislative intent and the Scheme of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The Apex Court is expected to hear the Case on Wednesday.

Under Sections 15 and 16 of the Hindu Succession Act, when a Hindu woman dies intestate, her properties, including self-acquired assets, shall be inherited by her children and husband. If the woman has no living husband or children, the heirs of the husband shall inherit the property.

Only in the event that the woman’s husband has no heirs shall the property be inherited by the woman’s parents. But so is not the Case when a Hindu man dies.

The Petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2018 by Mumbai-Resident Kamal Anant Khopkar, who is represented by Advocates Mrunal Dattatraya Buva and Dhairyashil Salunkhe, challenged the Validity of the contentious Provisions of the Succession Law.

The Petition argued that Sections 15 and 16 of the Hindu Succession Act “Unveils deeply rooted patriarchal ideology”.

“Hindu women, socially and economically, deserve equal participation in the development and progress of the world’s largest democracy,” the Petition added.

In February 2019, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud sought a response from the Central Government, stating that “The Writ Petition filed before this Court under Section 32 raises an important question of gender equality.”

More than three years later, the Centre filed its Reply on Tuesday, defending the Hindu Succession Act on the ground that previous Supreme Court rulings have ratified the Law.

It cited a 2009 Judgment of the Apex Court.

Relying on this Judgment, the Central Government has maintained, “It is a well-settled Law that because a Law causes hardship, it cannot be interpreted to defeat its objective.”

The Affidavit added views of all the States and Union Territories are required to be gathered before considering the matter any further in the future.