It also varied according as she was married or unmarried, and according as she- was married in an approved or in an unapproved form. The rules of descent again were different in different schools. This Act ignores all such distinction for the succession to female’s property and provides a uniform law for all female Hindus, married or unmarried, belonging to one school or another.
The act by section 14 confers absolute ownership on all females in respect of all properties in their possession, whether acquired before or after the commencement of the Act. And section 15 lays down the rules for the devolution of such property on the death of the female in the event she has not made a testamentary disposition of the same under section 30.
Devolution of property:
The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the rules set out in Section 16:
(a) Firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) and the husband:
(b) Secondly, upon the heirs of the husband;
(c) Thirdly, upon the mother and father;
(d) Fourthly, upon the heirs of the father; and
(e) Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.
In order that properties which may have been inherited by a female Hindu and which on her death may not got to be in families who should not reasonably have any expectations in respect thereof, sub-section (2) makes a very important exception in respect of such property.
It provides that where a female Hindu had inherited property from her father or mother and she died leaving behind neither children nor grand children, though she might have left behind her husband the property would not go to her husband but revert to the heirs of the father.
Similarly, any property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or from her father-in- law would devolve in the absence of any children or grandchildren of the deceased, upon the heirs of the husband. As to who will be the heirs in such cases, will be determined in accordance with Rule 3 laid down in section 16, which provides that the property would devolve in the same order and according to the same rules as would have applied if the property had been the father’s or the husband’s as the case may be, and such person had died intestate in respect thereof immediately after intestate’s death.
In view of the proviso to the definition of “related” in section 3 (j). It appears that the heirs of a female Hindu will include her illegitimate children born from another husband also. Thus, it appears that in case a female Hindu, who had inherited property from her husband, dies intestate and leaves behind children from her previous husband, such children along with the children of the second husband will succeed simultaneously to her.
Reference may also be made to the general provisions relating to order of succession and manner of distribution among heirs of a female provided for in section 16. Besides the above order of devolution,, other rules of succession are that all the heirs of any one of the above classes will take the property simultaneously (vide Sec. 16, rule 1), per stripes and as tenant-in-common and where an intestate leaves the children from a predeceased son or daughter of her, the children of each predeceased son of a daughter will take between them such share which they said predeceased son or daughter would have inherited had he or she been alive at the time of the intestate’s death (vide Sec. 16, rule 2).
In the case of a property held by the intestate by inheritance it will devolve on the heirs of a person from whom she had inherited that property in such a manner as if the devolution is to take place of the property of that person and that person had died immediately on the death of the intestate.
The same principle will apply to the cases where property other than inherited property is to devolve and the heirs are of classes (b), (d) and (e) mentioned above, that is they are the heirs of the husband, the father or the mother. In these cases the property will devolve upon the heirs of the husband, the father or the mother in the same manner, as if property devolving is the property of the said husband, the father or the mother, as the case may be, and the husband, the father or the mother had died immediately after the death of the intestate. (Vide Sec. 16, rule 3).
This principle of property inherited by a female devolving on her death on the heirs of the person from whom she had inherited is governed by the devolution of inherited property of a female under the original Hindu Law also. Thus, while the Act seeks to change the law of devolution in respect of all property passed by a female it maintains that with regard to property acquired by her by inheritance.
Another important point worth noting is that unlike the textual law in the absence of the son or daughters and the husband, the heirs of the husband have been given preference to the mother, the father and their heirs; and therefore, the chances of a property possessed by a female, being lost to the family to which she comes to belong after her marriage, have been removed.