Re-Examine Muslim Inheritance Law, SC Tells Centre
The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre's response on a public interest litigation that wants an amendment in the Muslim personal law on inheritance, alleging that Muslim women are discriminated on issues relating to sharing of property.
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the Ministry of Law and Justice to examine the issue of the alleged discriminatory practice in the Muslim law on inheritance. It has directed the government to give its stand positively before the next date of hearing on April 9 next year.
Central government standing counsel Monika Arora told the Bench that the Law Commission was examining the issue. The court was hearing a plea by a social organization, Sahara Kalyan Samiti, which has sought equal inheritance rights for Muslim women.
The petition, filed by advocate Raghav Awasthi, alleged that Muslim women in India have been discriminated as far their rights of inheritance were concerned in comparison to their male counterparts.
It said the discrimination based on customary law as well the statutory law violated Muslim women's fundamental right to equality enshrined under Articles 14, 19, 21 and other relevant provisions of the Constitution. The plea contended that Article 13 of the Constitution included personal laws, including Muslim personal laws.
"It is erroneous to assume that personal laws are excluded from the ambit of judicial examination," it said.
It claimed that a bare perusal of the law shows that a wife should receive 1/8th of the property of her husband on his death if they have children. In case there are no children borne out of marriage, she is entitled to 1/4th of the property. A daughter will receive half of the share of a son. In stark contrast, the men receive 1/4th of the property of his wife on her death if they have children. In case there are no children borne out of the marriage, he is entitled to half the property. A son receives double the share of the daughter, the plea alleged.
"Thus, it is clearly perceivable that women under the present Islamic law in force are, by the mere factum of their being women in the nature of a wife or a daughter, are only entitled to half of the share of their male counterparts," it said.
With inputs from Housing News