THE Constitution of India guarantees equality of opportunity and equal status to both men and women. This document also directs that the women have equal rights in the rights and privileges with men on the other and the State shall make provision, both general and special, for the welfare of women. Article 14 of the Constitution enshrines “equality before law” and Article 15 prohibits any form of discrimination. Perhaps this constitutional mandate compelled the Government of India to amend the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 in August 2005 to provide for equal share to male and female heirs in ancestral joint family property. This amended Act received the assent of President of India on September 5, 2005.
Besides it, Article 15 (B) of the Constitution of India empowers the State to make any special provisions for women. Various judgements and clarifications issued from time to time by the Supreme Court and various High Courts are tabulated and explained in great detail in this book. International conventions and declarations on equal rights for women have been elaborated upon and can be of great use for the serious academician.
Further, the report of Law Commission of India in May 2000 suggested recommendations to correct discrimination against women. States like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu amended the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 to include women in coparcenery right of joint Hindu family property and some state governments have ended the mitakshara system of law. By these amendments, the daughter shall be eligible under the law to get equal share in the ancestral property with their brothers.
Here the author explains the mitakshara system. Gender inequality was present in different forms but the most odious one was in regard to property right. This disparity in property rights pertaining to gender started from ancient times. The dharmashastra recites the inheritance law and the traditional inheritance is the brainchild of such legal text. The legal treatises are born from this holy treatise. In general paradigm, the two important legal doctrines were the mitakshara and dayabhaga (prevailing in West Bengal) dating back to the 12th century AD and which governed the practice of inheritance of Hindus. Besides these, two legal doctrines were also included and these were the practice of mayankha system in parts of western India and the marumakkatayam aliyasantana and the nambudri systems in the southern region for guidance of Hindu inheritance.
This book may not interest the layman too much because of its stress on the historical aspects of the Hindu Succession Act, but can act as a good reference guide for interested professionals. A must buy for all lawyers handling cases involving inheritance disputes with special reference to women.
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