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The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (the Act) relates to intestate succession among Hindus. Any Hindu may dispose of by will or other testamentary disposition any property, which is capable of being so disposed of by him, in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, or any other law for the time being in force and applicable to Hindus.

Let us know some important terms used in the Act otherwise it may be difficult to understand the Act.

a) Hindu includes persons professing Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj, the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion but does NOT include person who is a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.

b) A person is deemed to die intestate in respect of his property of which he has not made any will or other testamentary disposition capable of taking effect.

c) When one person is related to another person by blood or adoption – “wholly through males” they are said to be ‘agnate’. ‘U’ [Father’s brother] and ‘S’ [Father’s Son] are agnate as they are related to each other wholly through male (Father). Similarly ‘Us’[Son of Father’s Brother] and ‘S’ [Father’s Son] are agnate as ‘Us’ and ‘S’ are related “wholly through males” that is Father and Uncle[Father’s Brother]

d) When one person is related to another person by blood or adoption – “NOT wholly through males” they are said to be ‘cognate’. ‘mU’ [Mother’s brother] and ‘S’ [Mother’s Son] are cognate as they are related to each other NOT wholly through male, here they related through Mother. Similarly ‘mUs’[Son of Mother’s Brother] and ‘S’ [Father’s Son] are cognate as ‘mUs’ and ‘S’ are related not wholly through males, they are related through Mother.

e) When one person is related to another from a common ancestor by the same wife they are related by “full blood” and from a common ancestor but by different wives they are related by “half blood” and from a common ancestress by different husbands they are related by “uterine blood”. In Mahabharata ‘Yudhisthira’ and ‘Arjuna’ are brothers by “full blood” [as their parents are Pandu and Kunti], “Arjuna” and “Sahadeva” are brothers by “half blood”[ as their father is Pandu but mothers are Kunti and Madri respectively] and ‘Karna’ and ‘Arjuna’ are brothers by “uterine blood”[ as their mother is Kunti but fathers are ‘Sun’ and Pandu respectively]

f) Escheat means where an intestate has no heir to succeed to his property such property devolves on the government and government takes the property along with all obligations and liabilities to which an heir would have been subjected.

The Act has a Schedule in which heirs are specified in two classes they are known as Class I heirs and Class II heirs. In Class I sixteen different kinds of relations are specified and they take the share simultaneously and to the exclusion of all other heirs. The heirs in Class II are categorized by nine entries from entry I to entry IX and heirs mentioned in entry I is preferred to heirs mentioned in entry II, similarly heirs mentioned in entry II is preferred to heirs mentioned in entry III and so on in succession. There are twenty-three relations in Class II. If the nature of the relationship is the same in every other respect, heirs related to an intestate by full blood shall be preferred to heirs related by half blood. Brothers and Sisters by “uterine blood” are not included in the Schedule.

The property of a male Hindu shall generally devolve upon the heirs specified in Class I; where there is no heir of Class I then to heirs specified in Class II, where however no heir of the two classes is there then to agnates and lastly if there is no agnate then upon the cognates.

The property of an intestate shall be divided among the heirs in class I according to following rules;
a) The intestate’s widow shall take one share (if there are more than one widows all the widows together one share)
b) The surviving sons and daughters and the mother of the intestate shall each take one share.
c) The heirs in the branch of each pre-deceased son shall take among them one share so that his widow (or widows together) and the surviving sons and daughters get equal portions; and the branch of his predeceased sons gets the same portion;
d) The heirs in the branch of each pre-deceased daughter of the intestate shall take between them one share so that the surviving sons and daughters get equal portions.

The property of an intestate shall be divided among the heirs in class II so that they share equally.

The property of a female Hindu shall generally devolve upon the heirs firstly upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband; secondly upon the heirs of the husband; thirdly upon the mother and father; fourthly upon heirs of the father; and lastly upon the heirs of the mother. But where any property is inherited by a female Hindu from her father or mother it shall devolve upon the heirs of the father in absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter); similarly where any property is inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or her father-in-law it shall devolve upon the heirs of the husband in absence of any son or daughter of the deceased (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter);

Order of succession and manner of distribution among heirs of a female Hindu is made according to following rules;

a) Those in one entry shall be preferred to those in any succeeding entry and those including in the same entry shall take simultaneously;

b) The children of a pre-deceased son or daughter of the intestate shall take between them the share which such pre-deceased son or daughter would have taken if living.

Other important points to note:-

i) For persons governed by "Aliyasantana law", "Marumakkattayam law", “Nambudri law " (prevailing in the present day States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala) some modifications are stated in the Act;

ii) A child who was in the womb at the time of death of an intestate and who is subsequently born alive
has the same right to inherit to the intestate as if he had been born before the death of the intestate, and the inheritance shall be deemed to vest in such a case with effect from the date of the death of the intestate

iii) Where two persons have died and it is uncertain who died later between the two, then for all purposes affecting succession to property, it shall be presumed that the younger died later.

iv) A person who commits or abets murder shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of the person murdered.

v) Where a Hindu has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion, children born to him after such conversion and their descendants shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of any of their Hindu relatives, unless such children or descendants are Hindus at the time when the succession opens

vi) If any person is disqualified from inheriting any property, it shall devolve as if such person had died before the intestate. Save as provided in this Act, no person shall be disqualified from succeeding to any property on the ground of any disease, defect or deformity or on any other ground.

vii) If two or more heirs succeed together to the property of an intestate, they shall take the property-
(a) as per capita and not per stripes; and(b) as tenants-in-common and not as joint tenants.

viii) Provisions relating to devolution of interest in coparcenary property have been substituted by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 now Mitakshara coparcenary includes daughter of the coparcener and devolution of property by survivorship dispensed with.

ix) No court shall recognize any right to proceed against son, grandson or great-grandson for the recovery of any debt due from his father, grandfather or great-grandfather solely on the ground of the pious obligation under the Hindu law of such son, grandson or great-grandson to discharge any such debt.

Schedule

Class I : Son; daughter; widow; mother; son of a pre-deceased son; daughter of a pre-deceased son; son of a predeceased daughter; daughter of a pre-deceased daughter; widow of a pre-deceased son; son of a predeceased daughter of a pre-deceased daughter, daughter of a predeceased daughter of a pre-deceased daughter, daughter of a predeceased son of a pre-deceased daughter, daughter of a predeceased daughter of a pre-deceased son, son of a predeceased son of a pre-deceased son; daughter of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son; widow of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son.

Class II : (I) -Father; (II)- Son’s daughter’s son, son’s daughter’s daughter, brother, sister; (III)- Daughter’s son’s son, daughter’s son’s daughter, daughter’s daughter’s son, daughter’s daughter’s daughter;(IV)- Brother’s son, sister’s son, brother’s daughter, sister’s daughter; (V)-Father’s father, father’s mother;(VI)- Father’s widow; brother’s widow;(VII)-Father’s brother, father’s sister;(VIII)- Mother’s father; mother’s mother; (IX)- Mother’s brother; mother’s sister.

123
kiritynandi on May 26 2015 13:51:32

Thank u Sir, for making it easily understandable.

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