Describe the general rules of succession in the case of a female Hindu. How is the property distributed among the heirs of a female Hindu ? Illustrate your answer.

Ans. S.15 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 regulates succession to property of female Hindus who die intestate, provides five groups of heirs–Group (a) —(i) Her children, (ii) Children of her predeceased children if any, (iii) Husband of the deceased, Group (b) Heirs of her husband (as determined by Ss. 8 to 13 of the Act), Group (c) Her parents, Croup (d) Heirs of her father (as determined by Ss. 8 to 13 of the Act), Group (e) Heirs of her mother (as determined by Ss. 15 & 16 of the Act). The order of priority between the above groups is not uniformly determined by the Act. It will depend upon the-kind of property left by the female intestate. In S. 16 these groups are referred to as entries. S.15 impliedly classifies the property that a female intestate might leave into the following categories —Category (i) — Property inherited by her from either of her parents, Category (ii) —Property inherited by her from her husband or father-in-law, and Category (iii) — All other property. Property mentioned in category (i) and (ii) are strictly confined to cases of inherited property. Category (iii) comprised of property which she gets from her parents, husband or father-in-law otherwise than by inheritance and property which she gets from her brother or son. It will be seen that among the five groups of heirs—(i) If the deceased has left a child or child of a pre-deceased child group (a) will always inherit, (ii) If the deceased has left no child or child of a pre-deceased child group (a) (which then will include only the husband, if any) will inherit only the property belonging to category, (iii) Group (b) will inherit when—(a) The property belongs to category (ii) and the deceased has left no child or child of a pre-deceased child, or (b) The property be longs to category (iii) and the deceased is not survived of any heir of group (a), (iv) Group (c) will inherit only when the properly belongs to category (iii) and there is no heir of groups (a) and (b), (v) Group (d) will inherit when —(a) Property belong to category (i) and the deceased has left no child or child of a pre-deceased child, or (b) The property belongs to category (iii) and the deceased is not survived cf any heir of group (a), (b) and (c), and (ii) Group (c) will inherit only when the property belongs to category (iii) and there is no heirs of groups (a), (b), (c) and (d). In Keshri.Prasad Lotehe Vs. Har Prasad, A.I.R. 1971, M.P. 129, the Court laid down that from the language of sub-sections (1) and (2) of S. 15, it is clear that the intention ofthe legislature was to allow the succession of the property of the Hindu female to her sons and daughters, only in the absence of such heirs any property would go to husband’s heirs. Consequently, the female’s property would devolve on her sons and daughters even where the sons and daughters are born of the first husband and the property left by the female was inherited by her from the second husband. It was held in Snit. Padmavati Ahuja Vs. Dassavandhi Ram, A.LR. 1986 that where a Hindu female acquired certain immovable property in lieu of maintenance by gift deed and the right of maintenance was a pre-existing right, the court held that since the property was in possession, her limited estate would be enlarged into absolute estate. The word ‘son’ includes natural and adopted children of a woman, those born to her after her re-marriage and even her illegitimate children. Whereas succession to the property of a female Hindu generally is given under S. 15(1), an exception has been engrafted under sub-section (2) recognising a different mode of devolution in respect of property which the woman acquired by inheritance, in a way to a very limited extent recognising the old Hindu law in the matter, which restricted a woman’s estate in inherited property and provided for its devolution as from the last full owner. Prima facie, the exception engrafted seeks to retain in her father’s family property inherited by the deceased lady from her parents and similarly seeks to retain in the husband’s family property inherited from her husband or father-in-law. In O.M. Mayappa Chettiar Vs. Kanappa Chettiar, A.LR. 1976, Mad. 154, the Court has said that where a female Hindu, after obtaining money decree in respect of the amount which was gifted to her by her father at the time of her marriage and therefore represented her Stridhan property represented by the decree would devolve not upon her brothers according to the rule of succession laid down in S.15(2) but upon her husband according to the ruie contained in S.15(1). Now the following rules of the order of succession and the manner of the distribution of the intestate’s property among heirs are to be understood —Rule 1 —Among the heirs mentioned in CI. (1) of S.15, those in one entry shall be preferred to those in succeeding entry and those included in the same entry shall take simultaneously. The heirs in the entry of CI. (1) are preferred to those in the entry of CI.(2) and so on and the heirs of one class inherit at the same time. Rule 2 — If any son or daughter of the intestate had predeceased the intestate leaving his or her own children alive at the time of the intestate’s death, the children of such son or daughter would get the share which the son or daughter of the deceased would have taken if living at the intestate’s death. Rule 3—The devolution of the property of the intestate on the heirs in clauses (b), (d) and (e) mentioned above, i.e., (b) the heirs of the husband, (d) the heirs of the father, (e) the heirs of the mother, and with regard to the two kinds of property shall be in the same order and according to the same rules as would have applied if the property had been the father’s or the mother’s or the husband’s as the case may be and such person had died intestate in respect thereof immediately after the intestate’s death. For Examples-1. The surviving heirs of a Hindu woman are 3 sons, 2 daughters and the husband. Each takes one-sixth share. 2. The surviving heirs are a son, a daughter, a pre-deceased son’s son and a pre-deceased daughter’s son and another pre-deceased daughter’s daughter. Each takes one-fifth share. 3. The surviving heirs are a son and husband’s brothers . The son gets the whole estate to the exclusion of the husband’s heirs. 4. The surviving heirs are husband’s brother and the mother and the father. The husband’s brother excludes the father and the mother; 5. The surviving heirs are mother, father and fathers mother. The first two take in equal shares to the exclusion of the third. 6. The property was inherited from father. The surviving relations are husband’s heirs. No heir of the father survives the deceased The property will go to Government by escheat and not to the heirs of the husband. 7. The property was inherited from her husband. No heirs of the husband survive her. It goes to the Government and not to persons or the heirs of those parents.

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