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Indian Case Summary

Danamma @ Suman Surpur vs Amar on 1 February, 2018 – Case Summary

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In the case of Danamma @ Suman Surpur vs Amar on 1 February, 2018, the Supreme Court of India was presented with a significant issue pertaining to the rights of daughters in a Hindu Joint Family. The appellants, two daughters of Gurulingappa Savadi, were contesting their right to a share in the joint family properties. The case was set against the backdrop of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, and its amendment in 2005, which conferred upon the daughter of a coparcener the status of a coparcener in her own right, in the same manner as a son.

Facts of the Case

Gurulingappa Savadi, the propositus of a Hindu Joint Family, passed away in 2001, leaving behind two daughters, two sons, and his widow. After his death, Amar, the son of Arunkumar (one of Gurulingappa’s sons), filed a suit for partition and separate possession of the family properties. Amar claimed that the two sons and the widow were in joint possession of the properties as coparceners, and that the daughters were not coparceners in the joint family as they were born prior to the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. He further argued that they had relinquished their share at the time of their marriage.

Issues Raised

The primary issue raised in this case was whether the daughters, born prior to the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, could be denied their share on the grounds that they cannot be treated as coparceners. An alternate question was whether, with the passing of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the daughters would become coparceners “by birth” in their “own right in the same manner as the son” and are, therefore, entitled to an equal share as that of a son.

Court’s Observations

The trial court decreed that the daughters were not entitled to any share as they were born prior to the enactment of the Act and, therefore, could not be considered as coparceners. This view was upheld by the High Court. However, the Supreme Court, in its judgment, noted that the amendment to the Hindu Succession Act in 2005 clinches the issue in favor of the daughters. The amendment confers upon the daughter of a coparcener the status of a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son, and gives her the same rights and liabilities in the coparcener properties as she would have had if it had been a son.

The Supreme Court also referred to its earlier judgment in the case of Prakash & Ors. v. Phulavati & Ors., which held that the amended Section 6 applies to daughters born prior to June 17, 1956 (the date on which Hindu Succession Act came into force) or thereafter (between June 17, 1956 and September 8, 2005) provided they are alive on September 9, 2005 i.e. on the date when Amended Act, 2005 came into force.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Danamma @ Suman Surpur vs Amar reaffirms the rights of daughters in a Hindu Joint Family, irrespective of their birth date, thereby strengthening the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination.