Sant Kumar Sharma
Indian parents usually don’t have to worry about their daughter’s right on the property of their parents. They can get married anywhere, settle anywhere and can sell the share of their ancestral property to the highest bidder and move on, if they so choose. But this is not a case in Jammu & Kashmir. The prevalent practices regarding the rights of daughters to the property of their parents are interpreted in ways that create doubts in the minds of the ordinary citizens.
They have serious questions and doubts about how marriage will impact the rights of their daughters in the state regarding holding, inheriting and acquiring property in the state, once they get married, particularly to ‘outsiders’. Worse still, they have no clear answers to these serious questions and believe that marrying their daughters with outsiders can impact their rights on property.
Most widely prevalent view is that if the daughters get married to boys hailing from J&K, the rights of the girls will remain intact and will be able to hold, inherit and acquire more property, having married within the state.
Till now children of women who are married outside the state cannot get admission in professional institutions of J&K because for taking admission in these institutions the person should possess the permanent resident (PR) certificate. Only those who have PRCs can apply for admissions to these colleges whether they were born and bought up in J&K or not.
But the bitter truth is that till date, children of the daughters marrying outside the state have never ever been issued the PRCs. This creates situations wherein parents having sons automatically feel secure and have no doubts about the fates of their children, and the grandchildren. Those who are parents to both sons and daughters don’t have many worries because they are already sure that their property will pass on to their son(s), and his/their children, in turn.
What is the correct legal position of daughters in the state of J&K? Are they equal to their male siblings in all matters? Are they treated unequally by the state government official machinery? Difficult but pertinent questions for which no clear and definitive answers are available. Different people express different views and that only adds to the confusion already pertaining.
To have a clear understanding of the issue we will have to go back to April 20, 1927, when Maharaja Hari Singh issued a notification regarding the definition of state subject, wide order no I-L 84, to understand things better. This order defined the term residents into State Subjects of Class I, Class II, Class III and Class IV (companies registered within the state).
The residents of the state were then obliged to identify themselves as State Subjects on the basis of certificates issued officially for getting government jobs, scholarships and other forms of state concessions. Outsiders or those working in J&K, but not possessing the state subject certificates were then excluded from enjoying the benefits of these acts of the state largesse. After the accession of J&K to India, on October 26, 1947, and much later, somewhere in the 1960s, officials started stamping ‘Valid Till Marriage’ on the state subject certificates of girls in the state. It is not clear that who started this practice, what was the basis of this practice, or who promoted this practice?
According to officials, the state subject certificates issued during Maharaja Hari Singh’s time did not carry such a stamp. With this began a dark era of inequality and discrimination against women in Jammu and Kashmir which has not ended till yet.
Girls getting married outside Jammu & Kashmir were denied many of the rights. They were not allowed to pursue professional education, they salaries were not paid if they were a government employee and were denied the right to apply for state government jobs. These practices became so entrenched that the number of women who got impacted negatively grew over a period of time. A very large number of them suffered silently but some of them challenged the prevailing practices in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
The case dragged in the court for close to 25 years and was decided on October 7, 2002, by a three-judge Bench headed by Justice V K Jhanji. The other two judges on the Bench were Justice Tejinder Singh Doabia, and Justice Muzaffar Jan. It was a split verdict with Mr Justice Jan dissenting and not agreeing to what was said by the other two judges.This judgment holds the field today but ambiguities regarding rights of the women of the state marrying outside have not ended.
The court declared: The daughter of a permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose status as a permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on her marriage with a person who is not a permanent resident of the State of J&K. From this judgment, it is crystal clear that the daughter of a permanent resident continues to enjoy the right of holding, inheriting and acquiring property in the State even after marrying a non-permanent resident. Doubts were, however, created about the status of the children of such women.
On December 1, 2013, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Mr Narendra Modi, visited Jammu for a rally, and remarked that women in J&K are discriminated against and have lesser rights then men. Going a step further, he said that Sara Abdullah (nee Pilot, married to Sachin Pilot), the sister of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, lesser rights than her brother.
This led to a slugfest of sorts but the issue seems to have died down. The comments from Mr Modi, the strong reaction from Omar, and subsequent reams of paper on the subject have failed to clear doubts about rights of the children of the women marrying outside. Late Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union minister Shashi Tharoor, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, had remarked that day (December 1, 2013) that she wanted to buy some land in the State in 2010. She added that she was told by officials, and her well-wishers, that she could not do so since she was married outside the state.
(The author is a freelance journalist based in Jammu and can be reached at