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Case name:Prakash And Ors Vs Phulavati And Ors[i]
Court:Supreme Court of India
CitationMANU/SC/1241/2015 Prakash and Ors. vs. Phulavati and Ors. (16.10.2015 – SC) : MANU/SC/1241/2015
Civil appeal no:Civil Appeal No.7217 OF 2013
Date of order:October 16, 2015
Bench:Adarsh Kumar Goel
Appellants:Prakash and Ors
Respondents:Phulavati and Ors
Statutes Referred:Hindu Succession Act[ii]
Prior History:From the Judgment and Order dated 16.04.2010 of the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka, Circuit Bench at Dharwad in Regular First Appeal No. 743 of 2007
Overruled/reversed by:Vineeta Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma and Ors[iii]
Relevant statute/section:Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Section 6
Acts/rules/order:Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005[Repealed]; Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Section 6, Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Section 6(1), Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Section 6(3), Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Section 6(5); West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1956 -Section 13; Punjab Pre-emption (Repeal) Act, 1973 – Section 3, Punjab Pre-emption (Repeal) Act, 1973 – Section 31; Indian Succession Act, 1925[iv] – Section 118; Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)[v] – Section 125; Constitution of India – Article 14, Constitution of India – Article 15, Constitution of India – Article 21
Counsel for appellants:R. Basant, R. Venkataramani, Huzefa Ahmadi, Sr. Advs., S.N. Bhat, Ravi Panwar, D.P. Chaturvedi, Sushil Karanjkar, Karthik Ashok, Advs., for K.N. Rai, Adv., Aljo K. Joseph, Neelam Singh, Shelna K., Rohan Sharma, Yashraj Bundela, Advs. for Sudha Gupta, Adv., Abdul Azeem Kalebudde, Ankolekar Gurudatta, Charudatta Mahindrakar, A. Selvin Raja, Advs. for Aniruddha P. Mayee, Adv., P.R. Kovilan Poongkuntran, Nanda Kishore, Girish Ananthamurthy, Advs. for Vaijayanthi Girish, Adv., S. Usha Reddy, Rajesh Mahale, Raghavendra S. Srivatsa, P.R. Ramasesh and G. Balaji, Advs.
Counsel for respondents:Basava Prabhu S. Patil, Sushil Kumar Jain, P. Vishwanatha Shetty, Sr. Advs., B. Subrahmanya Prasad, Anirudh Sanganeria, Chinmay Deshpande, Amjid Maqbool, Shivaji M. Jadhav, Puneet Jain, Astha Deep, Anish R. Shah, Ankita Gupta, Manu Maheshwari, Abhinav Gupta, Ashwin V. Kotemath, Advs. for S.M. Jadhav & Co., Mahesh Thakur, Deepak Shetty, Advs. for G.N. Reddy, Adv., T.N. Raghupathy, G.V. Chandrashekar, Alakh Alok Srivastava, Kedar Nath Tripathy, Manjunath Meled, Anil Kumar, Nivedita Sharma, Advs. for Garima Prashad, Adv., M.Y. Deshmukh, Manu Mridul, Priyambada Sharma, Adv., for Surya Kant, Adv., Mayank Kshirsagar, Balaji Srinivasan, Vaishnavi Subrahmanyam, Srishti Govil, Virendra Sharma, Tushar Singh, Alok Krishna Agarwal, Mayank Bughani, T. Mahipal, Rauf Rahim, Shashibhushan P. Adgaonkar, Somiran Sharma, Sumeet Lall, Rajinder Mathur, Shankar Divate, K. Sarada Devi, Ashok Kumar Gupta and E.R. Sumathy, Advs.


Property has long been a source of contention among families. Since the amendment of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Amendment Act in 2005[vi], minor girls, whether married or unmarried, shall be regarded coparceners in a Hindu joint family, as defined by Mitakshara law. This change can be classified as ‘progressive’ due to its nature of being supportive to women. In a demonstration based on Dharmashatras, which state that if a child fails to pay the obligations of his forefathers, the sole of that forefather would return to the lender’s home as a slave, a four-legged creature, or a lady, achieving such a huge correction, which gives property rights to ladies, is in fact a miracle. After the death of a change, its application becomes significant in the beginning of trends. The dispute arose over the application of the “Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005,” also known as the Amendment Act in the future. For this situation, the decisions of the High Court and Supreme Court can be considered the most complicatedly analyzed decisions, and the Apex Court’s verdict has been taken as a milestone administering and has been applied in a few distinct situations as well. This case examination explores each key topic addressed in the High Court and Supreme Court decisions and attempts to elicit the opposing viewpoints of the judges deciding this case.


Unless otherwise established, Hindu families live in a condition of union in Hindu society. Hindu family members are assumed to be typically joint and undivided in food, worship, and estate. As a result, understanding the concept of the combined Hindu family and coparcenary is critical. The concept of the right to property has developed over time as the patriarchal dominion has changed. The article’s cited landmark decision guarantees equal coparcenary rights in Hindu Undivided Family properties regardless of whether their father was alive or not on the date the modified provision was enacted. Because India is a conservative culture, the prevailing ideals of the traditional combined Hindu family persisted. A joint Hindu family is a group of people who are connected by blood and share the same roof, food, and worship, as well as common ownership of property for the family’s survival and prosperity. Coparcenary is a notion well practiced by the Mitakshara School of Hindu Law. Coparcenary consists of the propositus, who is descended from a male ancestor, and three lineal male descendants, i.e., four generations. Coparcenary interest in a joint Hindu family was once limited to solely male lineal descendants. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (HSA) mentions the concept of combined Hindu family and coparcenary property. The HSA addresses succession issues and accepts the concepts of coparcenary interest. By birth, the male lineal holds the title to the property; if the coparcener dies, the property inherited is split by survivorship by the other coparceners. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 gave coparcener’s daughters the same rights in coparcenary property as the son. The amendment’s goal was to modify the patriarchal mindset, abolish gender discriminating restrictions in the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, and offer equal standing to a Hindu’s son and daughter in matters relating to inheritance to coparcenary property.

Facts of the case:

The question included hereditary and self-procured property, as well as the use of the Amendment Act. at the Supreme Court appeal, the Respondent had filed a claim at the Trial Court of Belgaum, promising for segment and possession of certain percentage of ancestral assets acquired by her (respondent’s) father, as well as a different percent of offer in another property. The death of Respondent’s father, who had acquired tribal property, happened on February 18, 1988. Respondent inherited the familial estates after his death. The Trial Court deliberated on those pleadings that were fundamentally irrelevant to the case, causing the judgment to be delayed. The exact date of the Trial Court ruling is unknown; nevertheless, the case was documented in 1992, and the major petition in High Court was made in 2007, quite soon after the Trial Court decision. This can be used to evaluate the deferral made in communicating the Trial Court ruling. When the Amendment Act was passed on September 9, 2005, the Respondent legally asserted a large portion of the property in accordance with Section 6(1) of the Act. The suit was partially allowed by the trial court. Respondents shifted toward the High Court and the High Court’s choice was overruled by the Supreme Court.

Issues Raised:

  1. Is the amendment still relevant if the respondent’s father died after the act went into effect?
  2. Is the Amendment Act applicable to partitions carried out without a court order?
  3. Is it possible to apply the Amendment Act retrospectively?


The Supreme Court also rejected the Respondent’s argument that the Amendment Act was social legislation and so should be enforced retroactively. The Supreme Court ruled that, even though the Amendment Act is social legislation, it cannot be enforced retroactively unless the legislature intends and clearly provides for it.

The Respondent asserted that a daughter gained the right to all of her father’s property by birth, regardless of the date of his death, whether before or after the beginning of the Amendment Act. The Supreme Court rejected this argument, stating that the legislature expressly made the Amendment Act effective on September 9, 2005, and that only if the death of the coparcener in question occurs after that date will the Amendment Act be applicable hence removing any probable ambiguities in lieu of the act’s language. As a result, as of the date of the Amendment Act’s enactment, daughters would be coparceners and have an equal stake in a joint Hindu family property as males. This instance highlights the following points:

  1. In order to claim a portion of the joint Hindu family property, the daughter must have lived in 2005.
  2. If the daughter dies before the amending act is enacted, her legal heir cannot claim a share of the joint Hindu family property.
  3. In order to ensure equal status in the coparcenary property, the daughter’s father must likewise be alive at the time of the enactment.
  4. The alienation, disposal, or transfer of any joint family property or a registered partition prior to the amendment act would not be affected, nor would the daughter’s claim as a coparcener

Arguments by both sides:

Arguments Advanced by the AppellantArguments Advanced by the Respondent
It was argued that the respondent could only make a claim under Section 6 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 2005, as it stood previous to the Amendment Act of 2005. It was also declared that she cannot make claims on the self-acquired property of joint family members. The respondent’s father died on February 18, 1988, which does not make her a coparcener to the properties at the time because the Act had not yet been modified. The Amended Act was to be considered applicable as of September 9, 2005, the date it came into effect. According to Section 6 (1) of the Act, coparcenary rights on property commence only with the passage of the Act. Partitions that have been removed before 20th December 2004, thus remain unaffected by the provisions of the Act. According to the respondents, the Act modification was a piece of social legislation meant to prevent any type of discrimination against women, and hence it should be read retrospectively. Even if the respondent’s father died before the Act went into effect, she was to be granted coparcenary privileges and rights.


The court while delivering the judgment discussed laws pertaining to various topics pertaining to succession.

The Landmark Case of Daughter’s Right to Property:

To resolve the law, a three-judge panel took note of the opposing judgments. The Supreme Court stated in the matter of Vineet Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma & Ors., 2018, that Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act grants an unimpeded heritage by birth to the daughter. So a coparcener’s father does not have to be alive on September 9, 2005. The court further said, “Coparcener’s right is by birth.” As a result, it is not required that the daughter’s father be alive on the date of the amendment act 2005, because she has not been awarded the rights of a coparcener by impeded heritage.”

As a result, the daughter can only assert her rights as of the date of the change, and any transaction involving the property will be unaffected by the new Section 6(1) of the HSA.

Furthermore, the court explained Section 6(5) of the HSA, which states that partition is only by virtue of a registered partition deed or partition effected by a court decree; thus, the court can only take notice of the oral partition in exceptional cases based on long-standing evidence in the form of clear public documents. Furthermore, the court ordered that cases involving the same subject matter for dispute that had been considerably delayed due to earlier contradictory decisions by the High Court and subordinate courts be resolved within six months.

Furthermore, this case highlights an important aspect about the aim of Section 6 of the HSA, which was not to benefit female successors prospectively or retroactively, but rather to give benefits retrospectively. While the amending act was declared retrospective, it was held that it grants female successors the same benefit of succession as male counterparts based on their birth in a Hindu family.

Statutory Fiction of Partition:

The notion of statutory fiction of partition is defined in Section 6 of the HSA as a sophisticated system for determining the rights of a man’s remaining family members if he dies leaving only a female relative in Class I of the Schedule, such as a daughter, widow, mother, and so on. In such a circumstance, the previous legislation specified that the property should be divided or computed as if a division occurred immediately before the man’s death, and hence women had no stake in the coparcenary property.

In the current case, the court determined that the concept of “statutory fiction of partition” did not imply an actual partition, and thus any statutory fiction of property committed prior to the amendment act is invalid, and the new provision must be applied to all pending proceedings or appeals. Furthermore, the court highlighted that the process has already been delayed due to the conflicting decisions, and the daughter cannot be denied their rightful right to equality in their ancestral property, as granted by Section 6. As a result, all ongoing cases and appeals must be resolved within six months.

Hindu Undivided FamilyHindu Joint Family
It is a key notion in Hindu family law that is governed by the Hindu Succession Act of 1956. It is an ongoing procedure that is terminated by using a partition.It was determined in Rukhmabai v. Lala Laxmi Narayan[vii] that a family remains a joint family if it is undivided in food, worship, and estate.According to Chhotey Lal v. Jhandey Lal[viii], a united Hindu family is neither a company nor a juristic person because it lacks an independent legal entity from its members.The Karta is the HJF’s leader, and all decisions are made completely under its authority.It is an essential aspect of Hindu civilization and evolves based on conventions. The essential condition is jointness and the fact that a Hindu is born as a family coparcener.It is administered by the Income Tax Act of 1961, which specifies that a HUF is a ‘person’ who is taxed separately from its Karta, coparceners, and members.It may receive donations in order to establish its own business, and the revenues created from such activity will be the HUF’s own income.It also has capital assets that can provide rental income.Individuals can also use HUF to prepare their taxes.

Women as Karta:

Before the 2005 amendment, a woman could not be a Karta of a HUF since she was not a coparcener. However, the woman is now on equal footing with the male descendants, and there is no reason for her not to be the Karta. The court provided a clear and unmistakable interpretation to the intention and goal of the Amendment of 2005 in the case of Mrs Sujata Sharma v. Shri Manu Gupta, 2011, by extending to not only including Hindu women as coparceners but also recognising the eldest coparcener of the HUF and its holdings.

Judgment Analysis:

The Court noted that the appellants’ contention about the dates of the respondent’s father’s death and the commencement of the Amended Act was based on the plain language of the statute and the principle that unless a provision expressly expresses or implies an intention that the amended right be taken in retrospective effect, it is considered prospective in nature.  Section 6 (3) of the modified Act clearly stipulates that the provisions are only applicable to Hindus who die after the Act takes effect. As a result, there is no room for interpretation outside of the text. The respondent’s argument that the amendment should be regarded retroactive since it was a measure of social legislation is invalid. The Court noted that interpreting the statute was dependent on the wording and its context. In the event of a misunderstanding, the most sensible interpretation is supplied. In the event of a dispute in its application, it should be applied in such a way that its goal and intention are advanced. In this situation, the sections in dispute, Sections 5 and 6 of the Amended Act, obviously designed to be applied only from the Act’s inception and not previous to that.  Partitions that occurred and took effect before December 20, 2004, according to the modified Act, are unaffected by the terms of this modification. It was also claimed that this ruling did not contradict any of the parties’ cited judgments. The fact that the modified law would be relevant to pending procedures prior to the date of its beginning in majority of these cases could not be regarded a viable claim by the respondents in this case. The majority of these cases included modified acts that specifically stated that they were retroactive in nature. The Court next examined another issue that needed to be addressed in this case: gender discrimination against Muslim women, which was also brought up for discussion.

This was addressed in Part II of this decision. It was discovered that Muslim women faced gender discrimination due to the lack of divorce security. Many examples occur in which the first spouse divorces and remarries, causing many women to lose their dignity and security.  Despite the fact that this issue was brought before the Court, it was left to the legislature because it was a policy problem. The Court stated that this constituted a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15, and 21. This Court ruled in Javed & Ors vs State Of Haryana & Ors[ix] that polygamy was an immoral practice. Monogamous conduct standards cannot be broken in the name of Muslim personal laws.


In this instance, the Supreme Court’s decision verified all of the cases and determined that, due to the variety of factual conditions, the ruling could not be applied immediately without deliberation. Though the question was not entirely about the facts of those cases, it was pertinent in terms of the context in which such decisions were rendered. The Supreme Court made a distinction between Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act and the Amendment Act, stating that even while that act clearly prohibits retrospective application, it would not be proper to treat it as social legislation and apply it retrospectively.


This article is written by S Abhipsha Dash, first year student in Symbiosis Law School Pune as an intern under Legal Vidhiya.


[i] MANU/SC/1241/2015

[ii] The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

[iii] MANU/SC/0582/2020

[iv] Indian Succession Act, 1925

[v] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)

[vi] Hindu Succession Amendment Act 2005 (§) Section 6

[vii] 1960 AIR 335

[viii] AIR 1972 All 424

[ix] Writ Petition (civil) 302 of 2001


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