According to Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act, the statute which guarantees equal shares for male and female heirs is not applicable to members of Scheduled Tribe communities
In a judgment on December 9, 2022, the Supreme Court asked the government to re-examine provisions in the Hindu Succession Act which deny a tribal woman the right of succession to her father’s property.
A Bench led by Justice M.R. Shah said that there was no justification to deny a woman belonging to a Scheduled Tribe community the “right of survivorship” under the Hindu Succession Act.
“When a daughter belonging to a non-tribal is entitled to the equal share in the property of the father, there is no reason to deny such right to the daughter of a tribal community. Female tribal is entitled to parity with male tribal in intestate succession,” the court observed.
The court found it jarring that tribal women were still denied an equal right to their fathers' property 70 years after the Constitution came into existence.
As per Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act, the statute, which guarantees equal shares for male and female heirs, is not applicable to Scheduled Tribe members.
Friday’s verdict came in the case of a woman from a Scheduled Tribe community claiming her share of the compensation received by the male heirs after their father’s property was acquired for a mega power project.
The court, while expressing its inability to change the law as it stands now, directed the Centre to examine the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act and, if necessary, amend the statute to extend it to the Scheduled Tribes.
“We hope and trust that the Central government will look into the matter and take an appropriate decision taking into consideration the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court observed.