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Succession right of tribal women: SC directs Centre to consider amending provisions of Hindu Succession Act

The top court said when the daughter belonging to the non­-tribal is entitled to equal share in the property of her father, there is no reason to deny such a right to the daughter of tribal communities.

The apex court said a female tribal is entitled to parity with male tribal in intestate succession. (File)

Observing that a female tribal is entitled to parity with male tribal in intestate succession, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to examine the issue and consider amending the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act so as to make it applicable to the members of the Scheduled Tribes.

The top court said when the daughter belonging to the non­-tribal is entitled to equal share in the property of her father, there is no reason to deny such a right to the daughter of tribal communities.

As per Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act, the Hindu Succession Act will not be applicable to members of the Scheduled Tribes.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and Krishna Murari said there is no justification for denying the right of survivorship (a right of a person to property on the death of another having a joint interest) so far as the female members of Scheduled Tribes are concerned.

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“It is directed to examine the question by the Central Government to consider it just and necessary to withdraw the exemptions provided under the Hindu Succession Act in so far as the applicability of the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act to the Scheduled Tribes and whether to bring a suitable amendment or not.

“We hope and trust that the Central Government will look into the matter and take an appropriate decision taking into consideration the right to equality guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” the bench said.

The apex court said a female tribal is entitled to parity with male tribal in intestate succession.

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“To deny the equal right to the daughter belonging to the tribal even after a period of 70 years of the Constitution of India under which right to equality is guaranteed, it is high time for the Central Government to look into the matter and if required, to amend the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act by which the Hindu Succession Act is not made applicable to the members of the Scheduled Tribe,” the bench said.

The top court’s observations came while dismissing a plea on whether a daughter (belonging to Scheduled Tribes) is entitled to the share in the compensation with respect to the land acquired on survivorship basis under the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act.

“Therefore, so long as Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act stands and there is no amendment, the parties shall be governed by the provisions of Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act.

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“Therefore, though on equity we may be with the appellant being daughter and more than approximately 70 years have passed after the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act and much water has flown thereafter and though we are prima facie of the opinion that not to grant the benefit of survivorship to the daughter in the property of the father can be said to be bad in law and cannot be justified in the present scenario, unless Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act is amended, the parties being member of the Scheduled Tribe are governed by Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act,” the bench said.

First published on: 09-12-2022 at 18:50 IST
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