Daughters and daughter – in – laws are on different footing when it comes to shares they receive on division of property in a family. Devolution of property by inheritance or succession is influenced by personal laws and is governed by various statutes.
Position of daughters: Equal right as a son
In the case of Hindus (Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists) division of property is governed by Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
Hindu law recognises the concept of a Hindu Undivided family. Only males up to four generations (lineal descendants from a common ancestor) are coparceners, and all others are members of the family. After the amendment of 2005 in the 1956 Act, daughter whether married or unmarried is a coparcener. After marriage, daughter ceases to be a member of father’s HUF but still, she is a coparcener. A daughter has the rights and liabilities of a coparcener.
- She can demand partition, has a birthright in the undivided family property.
- She can be a Karta also, i.e. head of the family if she is the eldest coparcener.
- If the daughter dies intestate, her share in the HUF property passes by succession to her legal heirs as per section 15 of the 1956 Act.
- A daughter is a coparcener but a daughter in-law is only a member of joint family.
In case of self-acquired property of the father, son or daughter has no birthright in the same. If the father dies intestate, devolution of property takes place as per rules of 1956 Act under which daughter is covered as Class I heir and has an equal right along with son and other legal heirs.
Daughters also have a share in mother’s property. Daughters and sons have equal rights in the property of their mother.
Position of daughter- in- law: Limited Rights
A daughter in law has no right in the ancestral or self-acquired property of her in-laws.
After the death of her husband, i.e. as a widow, she has the right in her husband’s property left behind by him. This property can be either ancestral or self-acquired. The right acquired by her is as a widow of the deceased husband.
Thus if a father dies intestate, a daughter has an equal right in his property along with her brother, but the daughter in law has no right in the property of her father- in law till the time her husband is alive. After the death of her husband, she is entitled to get the share in the property of her husband along with his other legal heirs.
The daughter in law has a right to residence only till the time matrimonial relationship exists with her husband. The right of residence is there even if the house is a rented accommodation. If the property is a self-acquired property of her father in law, daughter in law has no right of residence as the said house is not shared house because the husband has no share in it.
A widowed daughter in law has right of maintenance from her father in law under certain conditions only, as prescribed in Hindus Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.
Division of property:
When there is a division of property in a joint Hindu Family, the daughters enjoy equal right along with sons. The daughter in law has no right in the property of her in-laws. She acquires rights to the in-law’ property only through her husband.
The daughter in one family becomes daughter in law in another family after her marriage. She has full rights in the property of her father even after marriage but limited rights in the property of her in-laws.