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HINDU SUCCESSION ACT

Ministry of Law and Justice

Act nº 30 of 1956


  • Chapter I
  • Chapter II
  • Chapter III
  • Chapter IV
  • Schedules
  • Act nº 30 of 1956

Preamble

THE HINDU SUCCESSION ACT, 1956

[Act, No. 30 of 1956]

[17th June, 1956]

PREAMBLE

An Act to amend and codify the law relating to intestate succession among Hindus.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Seventh Year of the Republic of India as follows:-

Chapter I

Section 1. Short title and extent

(1) This Act may be called the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Section 2. Application of Act

(1) This Act applies

(a) to any person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj;

(b) to any person who is Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion; and

(c) 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.

Explanation.The following persons are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion, as the case may be:--

(a) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion;

(b) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion and who is brought up as a member of the tribe,community, group or family to which such parent belongs or belonged;

(c) any person who is a convert or re-convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh religion.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribe within the meaning of clause (25) of article 366 of the Constitution unless the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, otherwise directs.

(3) The expression "Hindu" in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is, nevertheless, a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section.

Section 3. Definitions and interpretations

(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-

(a) "agnate"-one person is said to be an "agnate" of another if the two are related by blood or adoption whollythrough males;

(b) "Aliyasantana law" means the system of law applicable to persons who, if this Act had not been passed,would have been governed by the Madras Aliyasantana Act, 1949, or by the customary Aliyasantana law with respect to the matters for which provision is made in this Act;

(c) "cognate"-one person is said to be a cognate of another if the two are related by blood or adoption but notwholly through males;

(d) the expressions "custom" and "usage" signify any rule which having been continuously and uniformlyobserved for a long time, has obtained the force of law among Hindus in any local area, tribe, community,group or family:

Provided that the rule is certain and not unreasonable or opposed to public policy; and

Provided further that; in the case of a rule applicable only to a family it has not been discontinued by the family;

(e) "full blood", "half blood" and "uterine blood"-

(i) two persons said to be related to each other by full blood when they are descended from a common ancestor by the same wife, and by half blood when they are descended from a common ancestor but by different wives;

(ii) 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;

Explanation.-In this clause "ancestor" includes the father and "ancestress" the mother;

(f) "heir" means any person, male or female, who is entitled to succeed to the property of an intestate under this Act;

(g) "intestate"-a person is deemed to die intestate in respect of property of which he or she has not made atestamentary disposition capable of taking effect;

(h) "marumakkattayam law" means the system of law applicable to persons-

(a) who, if this Act had not been passed, would have been governed by the Madras Marumakkattayam Act, 1932; the Travancore Nayar Act; the Travancore Ezhava Act; the Travancore Nanjinad Vellala Act; the Travancore Kshatriya Act; the Travancore Krishnanvaka Marumakkathayyee Act; theCochin Marumakkathayam Act; or the Cochin Nayar Act with respect to the matters for which provision is made in this Act; or

(b) who belong to any community, the members of which are largely domiciled in the State of Travancore Cochin or Madras1[as it existed immediately before the lst November, 1956,] and who, if this Act hadnot been passed, would have been governed with respect to the matters for which provision ismade in this Act by any system of inheritance in which descent is traced through the female line;

but does not include the aliyasantana law;

(i) "Nambudri law" means the system of law applicable to persons who, if this Act had not been passed, would have been governed by the Madras Nambudri Act, 1932; the Cochin Nambudri Act; or the Travancore Malayala Brahmin Act with respect to the matters for which provision is made in this Act;

(j) "related" means related by legitimate kinship:

Provided that illegitimate children shall be deemed to be related to their mother and to one another, and theirlegitimate descendants shall be deemed to be related to them and to one another; and any word expressing relationship ordenoting a relative shall be construed accordingly.

(2) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, words imparting the masculine gender shall not be taken to includefemales.

1. Inserted by the Adaptation of Laws (No.3) Order, 1956.


Section 4. Over-riding effect of Act

(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act,--

(a) any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu law or any custom or usage as part of that law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have effect with respect to any matter for which provision is made in this Act;

(b) any other law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to apply to Hindus insofar as it is inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act.

(2)1Omitted

1. Omitted vide Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Previous text was "for the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that nothing contained in this Act shall be deemed to affect the provisions of any law for the time being in force providing for the prevention of fragmentation of agricultural holdings or for the fixation of ceilings or for the devolution of tenancy rights in respect of such holdings."


Chapter II

Section 5. Act not to apply to certain properties

This Act shall not apply to

(i) any property succession to which is regulated by the Indian Succession Act, 1925, by reason of the provisions contained in section 21 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954;

(ii) any estate which descends to a single heir by the terms of any covenant or agreement entered into by the Ruler of any Indian State with the Government of India or by the terms of any enactment passed before the commencement of this Act;

(iii) the Valiamma Thampuran Kovilagam Estate and the Palace Fund administered by the Palace Administration Board by reason of the powers conferred by Proclamation (IX of 1124) dated 29th June, 1949, promulgated by the Maharaja of Cochin.

Section 6. Devolution of interest of coparcenary property

1 [6 (l). Devolution of interest in coparcenaries property

(1) On and from the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, in a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, the daughter of a coparcener shall,--

(a) by birth become a coparcener in her own right the same manner as the son ;

(b) have the same rights in the coparceners property as she would have had if she had been a son;

(c) be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the said coparceners property as that of a son, and any reference to a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to include a reference to a daughter of a coparcener:

Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect or invalidate any disposition or alienation including any partition or testamentary disposition of property which had taken place before the 20th day of December, 2004.

(2) Any property to which a female Hindu becomes entitled by virtue of sub­section (1) shall be held by her with the incidents of coparceners ownership and shall be regarded, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force in, as property capable of being disposed of by her by testamentary disposition.

(3) Where a Hindu dies after the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, his interest in the property of a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not by survivorship, and the coparceners property shall be deemed to have been divided as if a partition had taken place and,--

(a) the daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son;

(b) the share of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as they would have got had they been alive at the time of partition, shall be allotted to the surviving child of such pre-deceased son or of such pre-deceased daughter; and

(c) the share of the pre-deceased child of a pre-deceased son or of a pre­deceased daughter, as such child would have got had he or she been alive at the time of the partition, shall be allotted to the child of such pre-deceased child of the pre-deceased so or a pre-deceased daughter, as the case may be.

Explanation.-- For the purposes of this sub-section, the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not.

(4) After the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, no court shall recognize any right to proceed against a 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:

Provided that in the case of any debt contracted before the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect--

(a) the right of any creditor to proceed against the son, grandson or great-grandson, as the case may be; or

(b) any alienation made in respect of or in satisfaction of, any such debt, and any such right or alienation shall be enforceable under the rule of pious obligation in the same manner and to the same extent as it would have been enforceable as if the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 had not been enacted.

Explanation.--For the purposes of clause (a), the expression "son", "grandson" or "great-grandson" shall be deemed to refer to the son, grandson or great-grandson, as the case may be, who was born or adopted prior to the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

(5) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to a partition, which has been effected before the 20th day of December,2004

Explanation- For the purposes of this section "partition" means any partition made by execution of a deed of partition duly registered under the Registration Act, 1908 or partition effected by a decree of a court.]

1. Substituted vide Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Previous text was When a male Hindu dies after the commencement of this Act, having at the time of his death an interest in a Mitakshara coparceners property, his interest in the property shall devolve by survivorship upon the surviving members of the coparceners and not in accordance with this Act: Provided that, if the deceased had left him surviving a female relative specified in class I of the Schedule or a male relative specified in that class who claims through such female relative, the interest of the deceased in the Mitakshara coparceners property shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not by survivorship.

Explanation 1.-For the purposes of this section, the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not. Explanation 2.-Nothing contained in the proviso to this section shall be construed as enabling a person who has separated himself from the coparceners before the death of the deceased or any of his heirs to claim on intestacy a share in the interest referred to therein.


Section 7. Devolution of interest in the property of a tarwad, tavazhi, kutumba, kavaru or illom

(1) When a Hindu to whom the marumakkattayam or nambudri law would have applied if this Act had not been passed dies after the commencement of this Act, having at the time of his or her death an interest in the property of a tarwad, tavazhi or illom, as the case may be, his or her interest in the property shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not according to the marumakkattayam or numbudri law.

Explanation.For the purposes of this sub-section, the interest of a Hindu in the property of a tarwad, tavazhi or illom shall be deemed to be the share in the property of the tarwad, tavazhi or illom, as the case may be, that would have fallen to him or her if a partition of that property per capita had been made immediately before his or her death among all the members of tarwad, tavazhi or illom, as the case may be, then living, whether he or she was entitled to claim such partition or not under the marumakkattayam or nambudri law applicable to him or her, and such share shall be deemed to have been allotted to him or her absolutely.

(2) When a Hindu to whom the aliyasantana law would have applied if this Act had not been passed, dies after the commencement of this Act, having at the time of his or her death an undivided interest in the property of a kutumba or kavaru, as the case may be, his or her interest in the property shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not according to the aliyasantana law.

Explanation.For the purposes of this sub-section, the interest of a Hindu in the property of kutumba or kavaru shall be deemed to be the share in the property of the kutumba or kavaru as the case may be, that would have fallen to him or her if a partition of that property per capita had been made immediately before his or her death among all the members of the kutumba or kavaru, as the case may be, then living, whether he or she was entitled to claim such partition or not under the aliyasantana law, and such share shall be deemed to have been allotted to him or her absolutely.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), when a sthanamdar dies after the commencement of this Act, sthanam property held by him shall devolve upon the members of the family to which the sthanamdar belonged and the heirs of the sthanamdar as if the sthanam property had been divided per capita immediately before the death of the sthanamdar among himself and all the members of his family then living, and the shares falling to the members of his family and the heirs of the sthanamdar shall be held by them as their separate property.

Explanation.For the purposes of this sub-section, the family of a sthanamdar shall include every branch of that family, whether divided or undivided, the male members of which would have been entitled by any custom or usage to succeed to the position of sthanamdar if this Act had not been passed.

Section 8. General rules of succession in the case of males

The property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the provisions of this Chapter

(a) firstly, upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class I of the Schedule;

(b) secondly, if there is no heir of class I, then upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class II of the Schedule;

(c) thirdly, if there is no heir of any of the two classes, then upon the agnates of the deceased; and

(d) lastly, if there is no agnate, then upon the cognates of the deceased.

Section 9. Order of succession among heirs in the Schedule

Among the heirs specified in the Schedule, those in class I shall take 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; those in the second entry shall be preferred to those in the third entry; and so on in succession.

Section 10. Distribution of property among heirs in class I of the Schedule

The property of an intestate shall be divided among the heirs in class I of the Schedule in accordance with the following rules:--

Rule 1.The intestates widow, or if there are more widows than one, all the widows together, shall take one share.

Rule 2.The surviving sons and daughters and the mother of the intestate shall each take one share.

Rule 3.The heirs in the branch of each pre-deceased son or each pre-deceased daughter of the intestate shall take between them one share.

Rule 4.The distribution of the share referred to in Rule 3

(i) among the heirs in the branch of the pre-deceased son shall be so made that his widow (or widows together) and the surviving sons and daughters gets equal portions; and the branch of his predeceased sons gets the same portion;

(ii) among the heirs in the branch of the pre-deceased daughter shall be so made that the surviving sons and daughters get equal portions.

Section 11. Distribution of property among heirs in class II of the Schedule

The property of an intestate shall be divided between the heirs specified in any one entry in class II of the Schedule so that they share equally.

Section 12. 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 degrees of descent.

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