Judicial endeavour towards woman empowerment

Prachi Kumari, Student, Law School, BHU, Varanasi

On 14th August, 2014, A Full Bench of the Bombay High Court delivered a noteworthy judgment on daughter’s right to ancestral property in the case of Vaishli S. Ganorkar & Others V Satish Keshavrao & Others ((2012 (5)- Bom. C.R.- 210 (Bombay High Court, 14/08/2014).)).

Since, it has already been duly settled that daughters are entitled to an interest in the Hindu Undivided Family property, the questions of law involved in this case was, “Whether Section 6 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 is prospective or retrospective in operation?

A prospective statute operates forwards from the date of its enactment conferring new rights on parties without reference to any anterior event, status or characteristic, whereas Retrospective statute operates backwards, attaches new consequences, though for the future, but to an event that took place before the statute was enacted. Generally, laws are given prospective effect, but in the present case, the court very wisely moved to adopt an intermediary category known as ‘Retroactive Category’ which does not operate backwards and does not take away vested rights, but successfully provides rights to those daughters who are alive at the time of the Amendment Act, irrespective of whether they were born before or after 2005. In case the coparcener has died before 2005, then the pre-amended law is applicable but by passing of the Amendment Act, all daughters who are alive ipso facto become coparceners.

It is indeed, a good interpretation and is in accordance with object of Amendment. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 is based on the 174th Report of Law Commission of India on “Property Rights of Woman: Proposed Reforms under Hindu Law” under the chairmanship of B.P. Jeewan Reddy, J. dated 5th may 2000. As per the view of the Law Commission, the exclusion of daughters from property rights was unjust. Therefore, a fully fledged property right has been given to daughters along with sons through this amending Act.

It is significant to note that amended Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha on 20 December 2004 and therefore Parliament saved all dispositions or alienations including partition and testamentary disposition of property, which had taken place before introduction of the Bill in Rajya Sabha, but even registered partition deeds and the partitions obtained by decree of Court after 20 December 2004 are not saved. Otherwise some people might have executed such registered partition deeds or obtained collusive decrees of the Court between 20 December 2004 and 8 September 2005 to deprive daughters of their rights in the coparcenary property by removing the property in question from the stock of coparcenary property, thus changing the nature of the property by such device. In that case, purpose of amendment would have been defeated.

India is the country, where majority of women are not vigilant of their rights. Most of the women accept their traditional status and love to remain in tutelage of male. Despite the law to protect the property rights of Hindu women, there has been a constant struggle between status quoits and the progressive forces.

Property is a comprehensive term indicative of every possible interest which a party can have including the legal right to acquire, own, sell and transfer property, collect and keep rents, keep one’s wages, make contracts and bring lawsuit etc. Therefore, a woman is more empowered, when property right is vested in her. In this way, Vaishli S. Ganorkar & Others V Satish Keshavrao & Others can be a good endeavour towards woman empowerment.

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