Danamma @ Suman Surpur vs Amar on 1 February, 2018
Bench: A Bhushan, A Sikri
This case deals with Hindu Succession Act which is very patriarchal in nature. It is in contrast with the fundamental rights to equality under article 14 of the constitution. Amendment act of 2005 was introduced to remove this inequality and ambiguity associated with Hindu Succession Act.
Female heirs in joint households become coparceners by birth as a result of the change. This case deals with the most debated subject of whether category of daughters will be entitled to coparcenary rights under the 2005 amendment act.
This landmark case definitely enhances women’s property rights and gender equality, especially given that daughters did not have an equal claim on ancestral property in India until recently.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
In this case, Gurulingappa Savadi, the propositus of a joint Hindu family died in 2001, leaving behind a widow and 4 children; 2 daughters Danamma and Mahananda and 2 sons Vijay and ArunKumar.
Amar s/o arun kumar filed suit for partition and separate ownership deed. However, he refused to give any share to the daughters on the ground that they were born before the amendment and furthermore, both of them have received dowry during their marriage.
ISSUES OF THE CASE:
- Can the daughters be denied their coparcenary rights on the ground that they were born prior the enactment of 2005 amendment act.
- Will the amendment act of 2005 make daughters coparceners by birth and give them equal coparcenary rights as sons?
DECISION OF LOWER COURTS:
Trial court (in 2007) rejected the appeal as they were convinced that both the daughters received dowry and they were born before the amendment and have therefore surrendered their right to claim coparcenary property. This was upheld by the high court (2012).
- Daughters contested that they are entitled to claim property on the ground that Gurulingappa Savadi had died after the act of 1950 came into force.
- It is violative of article 14 of the constitution
- It was contended that appellants are not coparceners as they were born before the amendment act of 2005.
- It was contended that Shri Gurulingappa Savadi was neglecting the Plaintiff and his siblings and so requested that the suit be partitioned.
- The respondent claimed that all of the properties listed in the suit belonged to the plaintiff’s family.
DECISION OF THE COURT:
With respect to the first issue, it was held that the objective and intention of the legislature was to make the act equal for both men and women, and therefore court stated tat the amendment act of 2005 will apply on all daughters whether born before or after the commencement of the act provided that they are alive on the day the modified act of 2005 was enacted.
The literal interpretation was applied stating that both father and daughter should be alive on the day of enactment of amendment act 2005.
With respect to the second issue, literal interpretation was applied and it was held females have equal rights in the coparcenary property from birth, same as sons.
In this case, it was held that intention of the legislature while making the amendment act 2005 was to provide equal rights to the women wo have always been denied such rights in the past.
Initially, the trial court and high court dismissed the appeal on various grounds and according to the earlier precedents set out in various cases however supreme court took a very progressive approach and held that this benefit will have retrospective effect and will be available to all women whether they are born before or after the commencement of the act.
It was also stated that both men and women will have equal coparcenary rights in the joint Hindu family. This case helped to resolve the ambiguities existing in the previous judgements and is still relevant in the Indian context. It was contended that Shri Gurulingappa Savadi was neglecting the Plaintiff and his siblings and so requested that the suit be partitioned.
Written by: Tanvi Tyagi