NEW DELHI: Supreme Court added another qualification to the women’s right to inheritance of property while adjudicating on an appeal on Hindu Accession (Amendment) Act, 2005. It ruled that the woman’s father must be alive at the time the Amendment came into force for them to contest for a share in the property.

The apex court, hearing on a bag of appeals arising out of previous High Court judgments, said that the father has to be alive on or after September 9, 2005, the day when the Amendment came into effect, for the women to claim their stake in the property. It said that there’s no scope of it being applied retrospectively.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, originally didn’t have any provision for the women’s right in father’s property. It was during UPA government in 2005 that an amendment was brought which made way for the equal claims for either gender in the father’s property. Earlier, women could only claim sustenance money from their family.

According to the amendment, the SC had ruled that women have a right in her father’s property. It qualified the judgment with a distinction that the inheritance right won’t be applied if the alienation or partition of the property had been done before December, 20, 2004, the day when the Bill was introduced.

Now, the recent ruling has added another qualification to the earlier amendment. This one makes it necessary for the father to be alive when the amendment came into being.

The bench of Justices, Anil R Dave and Adarsh K Goel, taking a view against those of few High courts, maintained that even though this is a ‘social legislation’, the amendment can’t be applied retroactively.

“The text of the amendment itself clearly provides that the right conferred on a ‘daughter of a coparcener’ is ‘on and from the commencement’ of the amendment Act. In view of plain language of the statute, there is no scope for a different interpretation than the one suggested by the text,” the ruling said.

“Even a social legislation cannot be given retrospective effect unless so provided for or so intended by the legislature,” it further added.

The additional qualification won’t affect the previous one, and it still won’t be possible for the daughters to demand a claim in the property which was alienated or partitioned before December 20, 2004.