Writ Petition Summary (S 15 HSA): Petitioner Argues Against Differential Inheritance Schemes for Men and WomenSection 15 of the Hindu Succession Act
On January 31st, the Supreme Court directed that a petition challenging Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (HSA) be listed before a three-Judge Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Bela M. Trivedi.
The challenge reached the Supreme Court via a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in December 2018 appealing an Order passed by the Bombay High Court on the matter. Along with the SLP, a Writ Petition was filed challenging the constitutionality of Section 15 of the HSA.
What has the petitioner prayed for?
The petitioner has asked the Court to strike down Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
In the event that a Hindu woman passes away without drafting a will (‘intestate’), Section 15 of the HSA prioritises the heirs of the husband over the parents of the deceased woman for inheritance purposes. The woman’s husband, if alive at the time of her death, inherits her property by default, with no share left for the woman’s parents.
As per Section 15(2) of the HSA, the property of an intestate woman devolves on (or is inherited by) the source from which she acquired the property. This could be her father, husband, or father-in-law. Further, even when the intestate woman’s property is acquired from her mother, the property cannot be devolved on her. These rules shift when it comes to Hindu men. According to Section 8 of the HSA, which deals with the devolution of property of an intestate Hindu man, the property does not revert to the source it was acquired from after his death.
The petitioner argues that by creating differential inheritance schemes for intestate men and women, Section 15 of the HSA violates the Rights to Equality, Non-Discrimination, and Life enshrined in Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution respectively.