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Hindu Succession Act, 1956

Who is an Hindu…?


This Act applies:-

  1. To any person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments including a Virashalva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prathana or Arya Samaj.
  2. To any person who is Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion.

To any other person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.


Who is a Hindu?


Following persons are Hindu:


  1. Any child legitimate or illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindu, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs by religion.
  2. Any child legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is Hindu, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs by religion and is brought up as a member of such religion to which such parent belongs or belonged to.
  3. Any person who is a convert or reconvert to the Hindu, Buddhists, Jain or Sikh.

Rules of Succession When a Hindu Male Dies Intestate.


It is clearly provided in Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act that the property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall be held according to the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act in the following manner:


  1. Firstly, upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in Class I of the schedule;
  2. Secondly, if there is no heir of Class I, then upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in Class II of the schedule;
  3. Thirdly, if there is no heir of any of the two classes, then upon the agnates of the deceased; and
  4. Lastly, if there is no agnate, then upon the cognate of the deceased.

The Hindu Succession Act contains a schedule wherein the legal heirs are classified as Class I and Class II depending upon the relationship between the testator and his heirs.


Hindu Male Class I heirs


  1. Son, daughter, widow, mother.
  2. Son of a predeceased son; daughter of a predeceased son.
  3. Son of a predeceased daughter, daughter of a predeceased daughter. 
  4. Widow of a predeceased son.
  5. Son of a predeceased son of a predeceased son, daughter of predeceased son of a predeceased son; widow of a predeceased son of a predeceased son.

Hindu Male Class II heirs

I. Father

II. (1) Son’s daughter’s son,

(2) Son’s daughter’s daughter,

(3) Brother,

(4) Sister.

III. (1) Daughter’s son’s son,

(2) Daughter’s son’s daughter,

(3) Daughter’s daughter’s son,

(4) Daughter’s daughter’s daughter’s

IV. (1) Brother’s son,

(2) Sister’s son,

(3) Brother’s daughter,

(4) 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.

Explanation:

  1. In this schedule, references to a brother or sister do not include reference to a brother or sister by uterine blood.
  2. The adopted children (sons and daughters) are also to be counted as heirs in Class I and also the child born out of void or voidable marriages are considered to be legitimate by virtue of Section 16, and hence they are entitled to succession.
  3. Legal heirs listed in Class I of the schedule qualify to become the legal heirs in the first place.
  4. Only when the legal heirs mentioned in Class I are not present, then the legal heirs of Class II come into the picture.
  5. Section 9 of the Hindu Succession Act states, that among the legal heirs specified in the schedule, those in Class I shall take preference simultaneously and to the exclusion of all other heirs. Those in the first entry in Class II shall be preferred to those in the second entry, and so on.
  6. A male person whose legal heirs fall in the category in Class I of the schedule mentioned above will share the assets by giving one share to the widow. If there is more than one widow, then all the widows taken together will have one share.
  7. Likewise, the surviving sons and daughters and also the mother of the person dying intestate will each have a share.
  8. Likewise, all the legal heirs taken together in the lineage of each predeceased son or each predeceased daughter of the person, shall have one share between them.
  9. With regard to the property of a male person dying intestate, the sum shall be divided between the legal heirs in the second class of the schedule in any one entry, so that they share the assets of the person dying intestate equally.
  10. It is clearly provided in the Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, that if the legal heirs in Class I and II are not present, then the assets of the deceased person dying intestate shall be given away to agnates.
  11. Finally, if there is no agnate, then the assets will devolve upon the cognates of the deceased.

Example: When a person died, he had two sons, each son had two sons further one of his sons died. When the person died ½ of the wealth goes to the son who is alive and the other half goes to the son’s kitty who is dead. Since the other son is not alive this half will be divided in to his grand sons in equal ratios. In such a scenario each blood line gets one share and not each person gets one share.


Agnates


In case a Hindu male passes away intestate and leaves no class I or class II heirs, then the property would devolve on agnates. A person is said to be an agnate of another if the two are related by blood or adoption wholly through males. Agnate relationship does not extend to relationship by marriage and is restricted to relationship by blood. Also, agnate does not include widows of lineal descendants of the intestate.


Cognates


If a Hindu male passes away without a Will and has no class I or class II heirs or agnates, then the succession would be through cognates. Cognates are ones who are related to the intestate by blood or adoption but not wholly, through males. Thus, mother’s brother’s son and brother’s daughter’s son are cognates, eligible for heirship.


Order of Succession among agnates and cognates:


The order of succession among agnates or cognates, as the case may be, shall be determined in accordance with the rules of preference laid down hereunder:


Rule 1 : Of two heirs, the one who has fewer or no degrees of ascent is preferred.


Rule 2 : Where the number of degrees of ascent is the same or none, that heir is preferred who has fewer or no degree of descent.


Rule 3 : Where neither heir is entitled to be preferred to the other under Rule 1 or Rule 2, they take simultaneously.


Rules of Succession When a Hindu Female Dies Intestate


The general rules for succession in the case of a Hindu female are contained in Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act. The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve in the following manner.

  1. Firstly, upon the sons and daughters, including the children of any predeceased son or daughter, and also the husband;
  2. Secondly, upon the heirs of the husband;
  3. Thirdly, upon the mother and father;
  4. Fourthly, upon the heirs of the father; and
  5. Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

Important Points

  1. Any property acquired from her Father or Mother, in the case of first right will be of the heirs of her Father and not her Husband heirs in absence of her Sons, Daughters or Husband.
  2. Any property acquired from her Husband or Self Acquired, the first right will be of the heirs of her Husband in absence of her Sons and Daughters. 

In Hindu the property is divided as per stripes, not per capita.

 i.e. Each bloodline gets equally. Each individual does not get it equally.

“Full-Blood” “Half-Blood” and “Uterine Blood”

  1. Two persons are said to be related to each other by full-blood when they are descended from a common ancestor by the same wife.
  2. Two persons are said to be related to each other by half-blood when they are descended from a common ancestor but by different wives. 
  3. Two persons are said to be related to each other by uterine blood when they are descended from a common ancestress but by different husbands.

Do you know?

  1. A child in womb is treated a separate entity just like a born child. Even if female have conceived the child will get a part of the wealth.
  2. Murderer loses the rights of inheritance whether there is Will or not. 
  3. If a relative, converts from Hinduism, he or she is still eligible for inheritance. But descendants of that converted relative are disqualified from receiving inheritance from their Hindu Relative unless they had converted back to Hinduism before the death of the relative.
  4. Widows remarrying are not entitled to inherit as widow of their former Husband.
  5. Full Blood Preferred to Half Blood.

Admin- Rajen Gala

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