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Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 elucidates upon the devolution of coparcenary property in case of intestate succession. Previously, if a Hindu male died intestate, the Mitakshara coparcenary property was to be devolved by survivorship. According to the rule of survivorship, upon the death of a member of joint and undivided family, the share in such property would be carried forwarded to the surviving coparceners. Such coparceners were solely men. The law did not precisely recognize the rights of a female as a coparcener in inheriting her father’s ancestral property. The Act simply acknowledged the sons as the coparceners leaving beside the daughters. The concept of devolution of rights of the coparcenary property seemed highly patriarchal in denying and disregarding the coparcenary right of a Hindu female by recognising only the male entitlement to the coparcenary property in a HUF. The daughters were merely regarded as nothing more than legal heirs of their fathers. Hence, they were strictly entitled to a share of the separate property owned by the father through the notional partition. Unlike the male heirs, they were not regarded as coparceners. Hence, their rights as coparceners were non-existent.
Section 6 of the Act was amended in 2005. This amendment recognized and upheld the rights of a daughter as a coparcener, that were vested in a HUF property. The amendment sought to strike a balance and held the daughters in an HUF at par with the sons. After the amendment, they were not only heirs but also coparceners in an HUF who were equally entitled to the interest vested in the HUF property. This amendment brought about significant changes in this law. The sons and the daughters were now held at par with respect to their right in the property and also shared the same liabilities as given in section 6 (1).
Section 6 (2) states that the property acquired by a female Hindu by virtue of this section can be disposed of by her by testamentary disposition. Section 6 (3) explicitly disregards the rule of survivorship and upholds that the property of a Hindu in case of Joint Hindu Family governed by Mitakshara Law is to be devolved by testamentary or intestate succession under this Act only. Furthermore, subsection 3 provides that the daughter receives the same share as the son, the surviving child of the pre-deceased son or of pre-deceased daughter is entitled to receive the same share the pre-deceased son or of pre-deceased daughter of the Hindu would have received if they were alive and the same would apply in case of a child of a pre-deceased child of a pre-deceased son or of a pre-deceased daughter. As provided in section 6 (4) of the Act, the amendment got rid of the concept of debt repayment where the son, son’s son, son’s son’s son had to repay the debt of their father, grandfather and great grandfathers, provided the debt was contracted before commencement of the Amendment.
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