Protection of inheritance rights of women and varying succession laws


In our traditional patriarchal society, women have always had fewer rights. Women have been subjected to discrimination, especially in property matters. Inheritance rights of women to the property of her parents or husband has never been taken seriously. Property has always remained the domain of the men. Somehow, women also never bothered to raise their voice against the said bias.

Now things are changing. Women have progressed in every sphere of life. They are educated and employed. Women of the present times are proud owners of self-acquired properties and handle their financial matters by themselves. They have earned recognition for themselves being self-reliant and have compelled the society to ponder over their inheritance rights. 

Read More: Opening an NRO Account – steps, details, requirements

Succession laws vary:

The social fabric and religion influence the inheritance rights of women. The question of inheritance/succession arises-

  • In the case of ancestral property 
  • In case of a person having self-acquired property dying intestate

In some communities, the rights have been strengthened by codifying inheritance/succession laws.

Whether a woman can be a successor to the property depends upon the personal and customary laws. 

  • The relevant succession law for Hindus (Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhists) is found in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. A daughter inherits equally as a son in her father’s property, whether self-acquired or ancestral.  A wife gets equal share as her children in the property of her husband if he dies intestate. A Hindu woman is the absolute owner of her property which she inherits or receives as a gift. 
  • Indian Succession Act, 1925 governs the inheritance and succession laws applicable to Parsis, Christians and Jews. A Christian daughter and son have equal rights in the property of their father. A Christian wife gets one-third of the property of her husband depending upon the presence of lineal descendants.
  • Muslim woman gets a share as per the personal laws. Generally, she gets one-fourth of her husband’s property if no children are there but one eighth if children are there. The daughter receives half the share of her brother in father’s property. 

Read More: Succession Certificate and the procedure to acquire it

Protection of women’s inheritance rights: 

There is no substitute for education and awareness about one’s rights. It is the key to safeguard the rights of women. Some other factors that can assist in the protection of inheritance rights are:

  • Government policies and laws favouring women help to neutralize the bias. E.g. payment of less stamp duty and fewer taxes, in case of registration of property in the name of a female. It works as an incentive and lots of people prefer to buy the property in the name of the women.
  • The dependency of inheritance on personal laws leads to a lot of confusion and misinterpretation of laws. A codified and uniform inheritance law will benefit more. 
  • There is a need to renounce the practice of sacrificing one’s share in favour of male heirs. Many women themselves give up their share in the ancestral or self-acquired properties in favour of male heirs. 
  • A new concept of setting up of a spousal trust is coming up these days. Women are signing prenuptial agreements to safeguard their pre-marriage wealth. The trust also protects the women against matrimonial disputes. 

Creating an environment encouraging women to be self-reliant will go a long way to protect a woman’s rights.

NRI Legal Services is now on Telegram. Join NRI Legal Services channel in your Telegram and stay updated.

Who Has the Right Over A Woman’s Property?

Who Has the Right Over Woman's Property

Rights of a woman to a property as well as rights of others in her property vary a lot and are influenced by various factors like culture, religion, the social status of the woman and the development level of the society to which she belongs.

A woman may acquire property as:

  • Ancestral property
  • Self-acquired
  • Inherited
  • Received as gift/will

In India, the property rights of women are governed by law enacted by the legislature and personal laws.

A. In the case of Hindu women (Jain, Sikh and Buddhists are included)

The property of a woman devolves as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The Act deals with intestate succession and not wills.

Hindu woman is an absolute owner of the property acquired by her through inheritance, partition, gift, will, in lieu of maintenance or purchased by her. The ownership gets limited in case the property transfer is subject to some restriction.

Sec 15 of the Act, 1956 provides the list of heirs of Hindu Woman’s property if she dies intestate and section 16 prescribes the order of preference:

  • Own children, children of predeceased children, husband – all share equally
  • Heirs of the husband (only when heirs in point 1 are absent)
  • Parents of Hindu woman (only when heirs in point 1 and 2 are absent)

Two exceptions to this rule are

  • If property by a Hindu woman is inherited from her father – in the absence of her children or predeceased children’s children, it goes to the heir of her father and not to the husband.
  • If the property is inherited from her husband or father in law – in the absence of her children or predeceased children’s children, it goes to heirs of the husband.

In case of self-acquired property, it is always advisable to make a will in time so that the property is bequeathed to beneficiaries one desires. As per the scheme of the Act, the self-acquired property of a Hindu Woman would go to heirs of the pre-deceased husband in case she dies intestate and has no issues.

After the amendment of 2005 in the 1956 Act, daughters are also coparceners, and they inherit the share in the ancestral property equally as a son and subject to same rights and liabilities as a coparcener. If she dies intestate, her interest devolves as per 1956 Act. She also has a right to make a will of her share.

Read More: Property rights of daughters Under Hindu Law in India

B.    Muslim woman

Under Muslim Law, there is no distinction between self-acquired or ancestral property for inheritance purposes. Inheritance opens only on the death of a person. Before a person dies, no legal heir has any right in the property. Legal heirs in Muslim law are divided into two categories

  • Sharers
  • Residuary

Sharers get their share first and residuary get what is left.

If A Muslim woman inherited property from any relation i.e. husband, son, father, mother, she becomes the absolute owner of her share and can dispose it. A Muslim woman in inheritance gets half the share of what male heir gets.

If a Muslim woman wants to make a will of her property, she cannot give away more than one-third share of her property, and if her husband is the only heir to her property, she can give two-third of property by will.

A child in the womb of his mother is entitled to inherit if born alive.

C.    For others (Christian, Parsi and Jews)

For women of faiths other than Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims, succession whether Testamentary or non-testamentary, is governed by India Succession Act, 1925. Blood relatives of woman inherit even in the presence of husband and husband’s relatives. Inheritance laws under this Act are generally gender just.



“The women are not garment you wear and undress however you like. They are honoured and have their rights”

Umar Ibn Khattab R.A

Since the early ages, because of the patriarchal society we live in, women have always been considered lower to men in respect of their rights, dignity, and significance. After independence, the need to uplift the status of women was felt which led to the enactment of various legislations and inclusions of various women oriented provisions in existing laws. It would be better to deal with property rights of daughter and their right to maintenance separately, in order to understand their rights in a more comprehensive way.

Property rights of sons and daughters were different until the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was amended in 2005. While daughters enjoyed the right over their father’s property only until they got married and could only ask for sustenance from a joint Hindu Family, sons, on the other hand, had complete right over the property. After marriage, a daughter becomes part of her husband’s family and ceases to be part of her father’s HUF. After the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 amended the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 every daughter, whether married or unmarried, is considered a member of her father’s HUF and can be appointed as ‘karta’ of his HUF property.[1] The same duties, rights, liabilities and disabilities that were earlier limited to sons are now been extended to the daughters. But the amendment does not have retrospective operation and is applicable only if both father and daughter were alive on the date of coming into force of the amendment i.e. 9th September, 2005. Moreover, if the property has been partitioned or alienated before 20th December, 2004(date of introduction of Amendment Bill), the daughter cannot ask for a share. It is also worth mentioning that, daughters have a share in the mother’s property as well. A woman has full rights over any property that she has earned or that has been gifted to her, provided she has attained majority.[2] She is free to dispose of these by sale, gift or will as she deem fit.[3] Under Muslim Law, woman is considered to be worth half a man.[4] A sole daughter takes a half share. If there is more than one daughter, each of them takes two-third. If there is a brother, the sister becomes a residuary and each brother gets double of what each sister gets. She however has full control over the property.

Christian Law

Under Christian Law, a daughter inherits equally irrespective of the fact whether she has siblings or not. She also has full right over the personal property upon attaining majority.

According to Hindu law, it is a Hindu’s duty to maintain his or her legitimate or illegitimate child.[5] A separate right has been granted to the child whether legitimate or illegitimate to claim maintenance from his or her parents until he/she is a minor.[6] Parents have to maintain their unmarried daughter only when she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings.[7]

Muslim Law

Under Muslim Law, daughters have right to maintenance and shelter in their parents’ house until they get married.

Under Christian law, she is entitled to maintenance and shelter before marriage but not after.

In order to empower women and help them become independent, various provisions have been enacted. But law alone cannot bring a change in the society. It is of immense significance, that the women must be aware of their rights and must be ready to fight for the fulfilment of the same.

[1]The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, section 6.

[2]Anonymous, Property rights of women in India and Maintenance,(Aug. 9, 2017, 21:25 PM), http://ncw.nic.In /MeeraDidiSePoochoEnglish/Chapter10.pdf

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, section 20(1).

[6] Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, section 20(2).

[7] Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, section 20(3).

Property Rights of Women as per Hindu Law

Property Rights of Women

A woman is expected to – and does – play different roles with equal grace. Whether as a daughter or a wife or a mother; patience, love, compassion and fortitude form a part of her personality. While we might not be able to quantify and put a value on her role in society, the least that we can do is to ensure her place in society and make her more secure in terms of her future.

Property has been a major bone of contention in so far as the rights of women are concerned. In India, Property Rights of Women have not been given much attention to. Rather, they have been neglected. Over time, increasing awareness and modernization have made the scenario a little better and we can now talk more of ‘equality’ in this aspect too.

Property Rights of Women as per Hindu Law

  • Daughter
    • A daughter now has equal right of inheritance to her father’s assets as the son. She also has a right to receive a share in her mother’s estate.
    • Following the revision of the Hindu Succession Act in 2005, discrimination between the genders has been removed. Various rights have been given to the daughter.
    • She also has to bear liabilities in the same manner as the son. She,
  1. has same rights and will be allotted the same share as of the sons,
  2. has the right of residence if she is divorced, widowed or deserted.
  3. has every right to the assets she has earned or been gifted or been willed to her.
  4. She can dispose of her share as per her choice either by selling, through a will or by gifting to another person.
  • Married woman
    • A married female is the sole owner and has every right to the property that has been earned, willed or gifted to her. She does not always, however, have the right to ask for maintenance from her own family after she is married.
    • The clause to be kept in mind vis-a-vis property, is that married women have a right to their fathers’ property provided the demise of the father was after the year 2005.
    • A married woman has the right
  1. to gift what she owns in parts or as a whole to anyone without any interference
  2. to be provided with residence and receive maintenance from her husband
  3. If she’s a member of a joint family, she is entitled to receive support and shelter from the family, equal share as of her husband, jointly with his mother and her children ( if her husband dies), and a share equal as any other member, in the case of partition in the family
  • Mother,
    • being a Class I heir in the Inheritance Law, has the right to be provided with maintenance from her kids who can support her.
    • If she dies without leaving a will, her assets will be divided equally among her children irrespective of their gender.
    • She also has the right to dispose of her share of the real estate as per her wishes.
    • A widowed mother is entitled to equal share as of her son, in the case of a joint family.

A woman whether she is a daughter or a wife or a mother, deserves to get equal rights as her male counterpart. She should be treated with same respect and love as anyone else. Most of the women in India give up their careers and spend their life as homemakers. Thus, it is not only necessary but a responsibility to make sure that they do not suffer financially, physically or emotionally in case of any tragedy. It is essential to safeguard Property Rights of Women to secure their life. She deserves equal share as her brother in the property of her parents and as her husband in the property of her in-laws.

Property Rights of Women in India

Property Rights of Women in India

For long, women were not supposed to have as much share in the property as men had. Property rights of women in India remained largely an ignored and unaddressed issue. Till about twelve years ago –specifically, the year 2005 -women stood to lose on account of their being daughters/wives/daughters-in-law. In September 2005, the courts declared that Indian women would have a right to a share in property just like a man of the family did.

While it is tough to put in brief the minute details of how the property rights of women in India effectively stand, below is an attempt to give a glimpse of the same. The status of a woman in terms of relationships has been further analysed in terms of the major law categories.

Read: Wife rights on the property after husband’s death

Property rights of women in India


Hindu Law,

  • The daughters now have equal right of inheritance to their father’s estate as sons.
  • The daughters have a right to receive a share in mother’s property.
  • The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 removes discriminatory gender that was in the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and now it gives the various rights to the daughters that are as follows:
  • In the context of coparcener, the daughter will
  • have same rights as the son
  • have to bear the same liability in the property as the son
  • be allotted the same share as to the son
  • The married daughter does not have the right to ask for maintenance or to shelter in her parent’s home

But if the married daughter is deserted, widowed or divorced she has the right of residence

Read: Equal inheritance rights to daughters

A female has all the rights on any property that she has been gifted or has earned it, or that has been willed to her, that too if she has achieved a majority. She can dispose of the property by selling, gifting or willing to others as she deems fit.

Muslim Law,

  • The daughters have right of inheritance equal to one-half of the son’s share to their father’s estate.
  • She has full control over her share of property and has the legal right to control, manage and dispose of her share as per her wishes in life or after death.
  • The daughter can receive gifts from those whom she may inherit property, but it doesn’t take away her claim as per the inheritance laws.
  • The daughter has the right of residence in her parent’s home and to ask for support until she gets married.

If the married daughter gets divorced, the maintenance charges fall on her parents after the iddat period which is approximately three months but if she has kids who can support her then it is their duty to do so.

Read: The married daughters’ right in mother’s property

Christian Law,

  • The daughters inherit equally with any brothers in her father’s or mother’s estate.
  • The daughter has the right to shelter and maintenance till she gets married from her parents, but she cannot ask for it after her marriage.
  • She has all rights to her personal property, upon accomplishing majority. Until this happens, her father is her natural guardian.


Hindu Law,

A married woman has full right over her property and is the sole owner whether it is gifted, inherited or earned by her.

She has the right to gift it to anyone whether in parts or as a whole.

The married woman has the right to maintenance and shelter from her husband.

If the husband is a part of a joint family, she has the right to shelter and maintenance from the family.

In the case of partition of joint family property (between her husband and his sons), the wife has the right to a share equal to as any other person.

When her husband dies, she has the right to an equal share of his part, jointly with her children and his mother.

Read: Division of Property Among Daughters and Daughters-In-Law

Muslim Law,

  • The wife has the right to maintenance as any other wife, if any, and to take action against her husband if he discriminates against her.
  • She has the right to maintain her control over her personal property and goods.
  • The wife in case of divorce has the right that the husband makes fair and reasonable provision for her future which includes her maintenance.
  • The wife has the right to mehr’ as per terms of contract accepted at the time of the wedding.
  • She has the right to inheritance to the extent of one-fourth when there are no kids and if there are kids then to the extent of one-eighth.

Christian Law,

  • The wife has the right to receive maintenance from her husband, and if he doesn’t do so, she has the right to ask for the divorce.
  • The wife upon the death of her husband has the right to receive a one-third share of his estate, and the rest is divided among his children equally.

Read: Daughters shares in Ancestral Property


Hindu Law,

  • The mother has the right to receive maintenance from her children who can support her. She is a part of Class I heir of Inheritance Law.
  • In the case of Joint Family, the widowed mother has the right to take the share equal to the share of her son.
  • She has the right to dispose of her property by sale, gift or will as she may choose.
  • If the mother dies intestate, her estate will be distributed among her children equally despite their sex.

Muslim Law,

  • If the mother is widowed or she gets divorced, she has the right to receive maintenance from her children.
  • She has the right to inherit a one-sixth share of her deceased child’s property.
  • The mother’s property will be divided as per the rules of Muslim law.

Christian Law,

  • The mother doesn’t have the right to receive maintenance from her children.
  • She may inherit one-fourth of her children’s property if her kids die without a spouse or any living child.