Take steps to protect equal property rights of tribal women: HC

The judge passed the direction on dismissing an appeal preferred by Saravanan and Venkatachalam.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

CHENNAI: "The government of Tamil Nadu shall initiate necessary steps for the purpose of issuing appropriate notification through Central Government under Section 2 (2) of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, to protect the equal property right of the tribal women in the state of Tamil Nadu," Justice SM Subramaniam ordered.

The judge passed the direction on dismissing an appeal preferred by Saravanan and Venkatachalam. The appellants challenged a decree passed by an additional district court directing the appellants to provide an equal share in their father's property to their mother and sister as per Section 2 (2) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The appellants argued that Hindu Succession Act will not apply to this case as they are belonging to the tribal caste.

However, the judge pointed out that Section 2 of the Act cogently would reveal that the statute never intended to exclude the tribal women completely from the application of the Act but contemplated enabling the tribal community to adopt their custom and practice in the absence of any notification by the Central Government.

"The tribal women are not completely excluded but the statute intended to provide an opportunity to the tribal communities to adopt customs and practices in the matter of inheritance and in the absence of any such certainty in customs and practices, then undoubtedly the Hindu succession Act alone should be applied for the purpose of inheritance and for providing equal share to tribal women," the judge wrote.

Justice Subramaniam further opined that in the present case, there is no whisper about such custom or practice in the community in which the parties are living.

"In the absence of any such proof, the trial court has rightly arrived at a conclusion that the parties to the suit are to be construed as Hindus for the purpose of application of Hindu Succession Act and accordingly, granted the relief of partition and granted equal share to tribal women on par with their counterparts/male coparceners,” the court ruled.

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