PROPERTY RIGHTS BOOST FOR CHRISTIAN MOMS
The Narendra Modi government is readying an amendment in the Indian Succession Act of 1925 that will allow Christian women to get rights in the property of their deceased children. As per Sections 41 to 48 of Indian Succession Act, 1925, governing Christians, it gives mothers no right to inherit property of deceased children who have not left behind any will. All such properties are to be inherited by the father. If the father is not alive, the properties go to the siblings.
Section 41 of the Act provides that rules of distribution where the intestate has left no lineal descendants shall be contained in Sections 42 to 48, “after deducting the widow’s share if he has left a widow”.
The law ministry had asked the Law Commission to give its recommendations on removing this inequality against women in the Succession Act that continued since the British era, though Britain itself removed this gender-based discrimination in the 1950s.
The Law Commission on Friday gave its report to the government proposing changes in Sections 41 to 48 of the Act. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 is “archaic in nature and fosters an approach that solidifies distinctions based on gender and thus prejudicial and unfair to status of women and Christian mother of deceased intestate”, the law panel said, recommending repeal of these provisions.
Christians are the third largest religious community in India, after Hindus and Muslims. The government has been receiving representations from community leaders seeking removal of this anomaly which deprived a mother of her rightful share in her children’s wealth. The government will soon bring an amendment in Parliament based on the recommendations of the Law Commission, sources said.
“A plain reading of provisions built in Sections 42 to 46 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 reveals how the scheme envisioned therein incorporates a preferential approach towards men and is unfair and unjust towards Christian women,” Law Commission chairman Justice A P Shah said.
Provisions in Sections 42 to 46 reveal how the scheme envisioned is unfair and unjust. According to Section 42, where the deceased’s father is living and there are no lineal descendants, father succeeds to property and mother gets no share. Preferential approach is writ large, the law panel said.
Further, even in case where the deceased’s father does not survive, provisions of Section 43 require the mother to equally share with brothers or sisters of the deceased, rather being entitled to what her husband was entitled to.
“Unfairness runs through provisions of Sections 44 and 45 as well, and it is only when neither father, brother, sister or the children of the deceased intestate are living that the property goes to the mother under Section 46 — a situation to a great extent created by forces of divine circumstances,” the commission said, strongly recommending repeal of all such provisions and giving mother first and equal rights as father.
1. Why is the Indian Succession Act 1925 governing Christians being amended?
2. What has the Law Ministry asked the Law Commission to do in this regard?
3. Why and what have the Christians of India been representing to the government of India?
4. How will the proposed amendments affect the rights of mothers?