General Rules of Succession in the Case of a Female Hindu in the Hindu Succession Act

(a) Firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband;

(b) Secondly, upon the heirs of the husband;

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(c) Thirdly, upon the mother and father;

(d) Fourthly, upon the heirs of the father; and

(e) Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

Under the previous law, succession to stridhan (woman’s property) dependent on whether the woman was married or unmarried, and if married, whether she was married in an approved or an unapproved form. The different schools of Hindu Law also laid down different rules of descent. The various kinds of stridhan have been abolished by S. 14 (discussed below) and property of every kind possessed by a female Hindu, howsoever and whensoever acquired, has now become her absolute property. It would include both movable and immovable property. The present section evolves a new and uniform order of succession to her property, and groups all her heirs into the five categories enumerated above.

Two exceptions are, however, engrafted on the above-stated principles of succession. These exceptions provide that if a female Hindu dies without leaving any issues, then —

(i) In respect of property inherited by her from her father or mother, that property will devolve, not according to the order
laid down in the five categories above, but will go to the heirs of the father; and

(ii) In respect of property inherited by her from her husband or father-in-law, such property will devolve, not according to the order laid down in the five categories above, but will go to the heirs of the husband.

Section 16 then lays down three rules to regulate the order of succession among the heirs listed in the five categories above. These Rules are as under:

(i) Rule 1: Amongst the heirs specified in the five categories above, those falling under (a) will be preferred to those named in (b); those falling under (b) will be preferred to those named in (c), and so on. In case the heirs fall under the same clause, they take simultaneously.

(ii) 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 will get the share which such son or daughter would have got, if living at the intestate’s death.

(iii) Rule 3: The devolution of the property of the intestate on the heirs referred to in clauses (b), (d) and (e) above and in the two exceptions (above), 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 if such person had died intestate in respect thereof immediately after the intestate’s death.

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