The Supreme Court has said heirs of the father of a woman can inherit property under the Hindu Succession Act and they cannot be held as "strangers".
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy referred to Section 15(1)(d) of the Hindu Succession Act and said the heirs of the parental side of a Hindu woman are covered under persons entitled to succession of property. "A perusal of Section 15(1)(d) indicates that heirs of the father are covered in the heirs who could succeed. When heirs of the father of a female are included as person who can possibly succeed, it cannot be held that they are strangers and not the members of the family qua the female," the bench said.
Section 15(1)(d) of the Hindu Succession Act relates to general rules of succession in the case of female Hindus and says that property can be inherited upon the heirs of the father. The top court said the term "family" has to be understood in a wider sense so as to include within its fold not only close relations or legal heirs but "even those persons who may have some sort of antecedent title, a semblance of a claim or even if they have a spes successionis". The judgement came in a case related to the property inherited by a woman named Jagno.
She entered into a family settlement after death of her husband Sher Singh and settled the property in favour of her brothers' sons. The descendents of the brother-in-law of Jagno challenged the transfer of the property. The apex court held that in the present case, Jagno, who as a widow of Sher Singh who had died in 1953, had succeeded to half share in the agricultural land and she was the absolute owner when she entered into a settlement. "We, thus, do not find any merit in the submission of counsel for the appellants that the defendants-respondents were strangers to the family. In view of our discussions, we do not find any merit in this appeal," the bench said.