Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 7
A woman, who lost her daughter and son-in-law to Covid during the second wave, has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court to prevent her offspring’s “self-acquired property” from going to her mother-in-law because of the “patently discriminatory provisions of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956”.
The Section makes it clear that an issueless widow’s assets go to her spouse’s heir and not her parents.
The HC, by issuing notice of motion on the mother’s petition, has made clear its intent to examine whether Section 15 was required to be declared unconstitutional/ultra vires the Constitution.
When the issueless Gurugram-based couple succumbed to Covid in April-May, no one could have realised that their death would give birth to the unique litigation alleging that the Section discriminated on the basis of sex.
Appearing on the mother’s behalf before the Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli, counsel Viraj Gandhi, Sumeer Sodhi and Shreya Nair submitted that the Section made it clear that the property of a Hindu woman, dying intestate, would devolve on her husband’s heir in the absence of a surviving spouse or kids.
The daughter’s self-acquired property, movable and immovable, amounting to Rs 2.7 crore would, as such, go to her husband’s heir and not her parents under the existing law, despite the fact that the assets were entirely self-acquired. This, the petitioner contended, would be extremely unfair and inequitable and, as such, in violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution.
Going into the technical aspects of the matter, the petitioner added the property of a male Hindu dying intestate devolved first upon Class I heirs, including sons and daughters, widow and mother under Section 8 (a) of the Act.
In stark contrast, only sons and daughters and the husband had the first right to inherit her property under Section 15(1) (a). Her mother has not been given right to the same unlike the right of a male Hindu’s mother. As such, a Hindu woman’s mother was treated differently than a male Hindu’s mother.
The Bench was told that the petition was of material import to women rights across the country and was a matter requiring to be laid to rest to achieve the goal of gender justice as constitutionally envisaged.
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