Position of women under Hindu law
DISHA DHEEMAN, B.A. LL.B. SRMS
“ YATRA NARYASTU PUJYANTE RAMANTE TATRA DEVATA
YATRETASTU NA PUJYANTE SARVASTRAPHALA KRIYA”
The meaning of this Sanskrit shloka is “Women are honoured where divinity blossoms there, and where women are dishonoured, all action no matter how noble remain unfruitful.”
WOMEN IN INDIA
Women are the integral part of our Indian society where they represent almost half of the population of the nation. They are well thought-out to be very near to nature but in spite of these things, the condition of women is not satisfactory in the male dominating society. There are facing many problems in today’s era like socio culture, political, economic, and many others from childhood to the age of her majority. There is a certain disgrace, inequalities, deprivation, unprivileged conditions, and many forms of inequalities. But now women are proving themselves whenever they are provided with an opportunity.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ON WOMEN’S SITUATION
The condition of women had not been the same in the various stages of history.
WOMEN IN THEIR STAGES
In the Vedic period, the women are of service to the equal rights those of men. They had a right to education and got the prestige position in the study of Vedas. Some of the women were very great and famous scholars like Ghosha, Apala, Matraiyee, Gargi. But in the Post Vedic age women’s condition got downfall. They become down trodden to the society. At that time they were facing the problem of inequalities or women’s condition rapidly down fall. In Gupta Period condition of women become poor as dowry become a major problem, child marriage, conditions for widows, economic rights, female feticides, parda pratha, jauhar, sati pratha etc. In British period some social reform movements took place regarding the condition of women.
Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, Raja Rammohan Roy and other social reformers fight for them in which some are as follows:-
- Sati Prohibition Act (1829)
- Child Marriage Prohibition Act (1929)
- Widow Remarriage Act (1856)
- Hindu Property Inheritance Act (1937)
After Independence era women were given equal democratic rights but still they are facing so many cultural, socio and economic constant on women.
- Gender discrimination and gender inequality
- Education problem
- Employment problem
- Problems regarding health and nutrition
- Sexual violence and exploitation
- Religious ignorance and other socio problems
Women’s position under Hindu law
“A Position of women must be honourable” with this fact Hindu law contributes a lot to the improvement of women in comparison to earlier situation of them.
Chapter 2, INTESTATE SUCCESSION include Sec 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 19561 which clearly says about property of female Hindu to be her absolute property means any property (both movable and immovable) possessed by a Hindu female, whether acquired before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as full owner thereof and not as a limited owner. And Sec 15 says about the general rules of succession in the case of a female Hindu.1
Mangat Mal v. Punni Devi, AIR 1996 SC 1461 in this case some property was given to a Hindu widow for her maintenance by the member of a joint Hindu family that property shall become her absolute property.
CHAPTER 3, MAINTENANCE include Sec 18 of The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 19561 says about the maintenance of wife from her husband on certain grounds. Sec 19 stated Maintenance of Widowed daughter-in-law. Constitution of India also provides special provision for the women. Art 15(2) provide some relief and 15(3) special provision for women and children. Art 16 stated that there shall be equal opportunity for all citizens in a matter of employment or appointment to any office under the state2.
According to Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 court decided that the amount of compensation from husband’s property to his wife and children once the marriage ends legally.
Sec 8 of HINDU ADOPTION AND MAINTENANCE ACT substituted by the Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2010 which says that any female Hindu who is of sound mind and is not a minor has the capacity to take a son or daughter in adoption.
In the case of Duni Chand v. Paras Ram, AIR 1970 Delhi 2021 said that unmarried woman and divorced women can take in adoption.
Sec 9(2) of this Act also mention that father and mother have equal right to give a son and daughter in adoption.
Female member as Karta: Senior most male member is the Karta of the joint family. But now female can also be a Karta after the judgement of the Nagpur High Court3 that in the absence of adult male members, female can be the head of the family and her acts will be binding on others.
HINDU SUCCESSION (AMENDMENT) ACT 20054
Sec 6 of this Act has been amended in 2005 as mentioned below:
- Daughter by birth become a coparcener in her own right as a son has.
- If she had been a son, she has same rights in the property.
- She can be subject to the liabilities in the same manner as the son.
This implies that now daughter is also very much capable of acquiring an interest in the coparcenaries property and this new transform allow daughters to start a joint family herself. There were more improvements as Dowry Prohibition Act, (1961) (1986), Child Marriage Restraint Act, (1978) etc.
In today’s era, there have been vast changes in the position of women in the structure of Hindu society. In spite of these amendments, there should be more changed to improve the equality through which a woman can’t feel inferior to herself.
The family court, social welfare department, human right commission are also a custodian of the women rights. This is not only about property, maintenance, divorce but also about the rights of women, that they are also a part of our society, a place should be privileged, must not be any kind of discrimination against them. There is a need of discussion of the stance that laws and public policy should take an action.
1 Hindu Law 2016 bare act
2 Constitution (100th Amendment Act,2015) of India
3 Modern Hindu Law, Dr, Paras Diwan
Legal News Reporter
BALLB(H), 3rd yr.