Daughter-in-law and her rights on the self-acquired property of in-lawsSamar Javed12 February 2020
The life of a girl is governed by the numerous roles she plays during her lifetime. Her rights and responsibilities vary according to the position she acquires in the family. Be it the daughter, daughter-in-law, mother or a wife, the uniqueness attached to each of the positions, demands a separate set of rules which govern her obligations and what all she is entitled to.
Unlike sons, who have been bestowed with the inherited authority to claim the self-acquired property of their parents; the rights of their wives don’t fall in the same bracket. To add to it, the rights of the daughter and daughter-in-law are also not the same when it comes to the self-acquired property of the in-laws.
What is Self-Acquired Property?
Property which an individual acquires from his sources or the one which he inherits because of the family division, or which is legally passed on to the person because of the Will is termed as self-acquired property.
The question here is does the daughter-in-law of the family have any right on the self-acquired property of the in-laws? The crisp and one-word answer is No. When a daughter steps into the shoes of a daughter-in-law, here rights get changed and thus she gets entitled only to live in the property of the in-laws without making any claim on the property where she lives in.
What is the Ancestral Property?
The property which has been passed on from one generation to the other comes under the category of ancestral property. But when the partition happens, the ancestral property gets converted into self-acquired property.
What is Written in the Hindu Succession Act1956 About the Ancestral Property?
Section6(1) of Hindu Succession Act 1956,underwent an amendment in 2005 and according to that, the daughter has been given the status of a coparcener in HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) which means that she is entitled to the right in the property right from her birth just like the son of the family. This extends to her irrespective of her marital status. In case the daughter dies, her share shall be divided amongst her children and in case her children are not alive on the day of the partition, her grandchildren are entitled to get the share.
However, the same doesn’t extend to the daughter-in-law of the family. This means, that she cannot go the legal way claiming her right on the property.
What are the rights of a married woman in her in-law's house?
A married woman is a member of the Hindu Undivided Family(HUF)but is not a coparcener. The daughter-in-law has a right on the share of the property which her husband has acquired in the HUF property. But she cannot claim anything over and above this. In case, the mother-in-law dies, her share shall get divided amongst her children and the daughter-in-law will be entitled to the part which has fallen in her husband’s share.
It was decided in the case involving Jitender Kumar vs Varinder Kaur in 2016,wherein Punjab and Haryana High Court gave the verdict that the daughter-in-law did not have any claim on the self-acquired property of her in-laws.
In this case, the son and daughter-in-law had started living separately after marriage because of the marital dispute. Once the couple had their daughter, they came in again to live with the parents. As fate would have had, the dispute rose again and the son moved out to live separately! But this time, the daughter-in-law went to the court claiming her right on the property to which the court passed the judgment against her claim because this property doesn’t come in the category of shared property rather it is the self-acquired property of the in-laws.
Daughter-in-law has the right of residence only in-laws house
Under the Domestic Violence Act, the daughter-in-law has a right of residence in the house whether it is owned by her in-laws or not and even if her husband doesn’t have any ownership rights in the house, the right of the daughter-in-law remains intact. This shall continue to remain until the marriage doesn’t dissolve .If the matrimonial relationship ceases to exist, this right cannot be claimed.
If Daughter-in-law and son are living separately
If the son and daughter-in-law don’t live with the in-laws in the self-acquired property, the daughter-in-law cannot claim her right of residence either.
If the daughter-in-law is a widow
If the property happens to be a self-acquired property, the widowed daughter-in-law doesn’t have any right on it. The court further says that she cannot even live in the house against the wishes of her in-laws.
Maintenance is not the responsibility of in-laws
In the event of any mishap with the son, the parents-in-law are not liable under any law to bear any expense related to the maintenance of the daughter-in-law. This is so because the husband is under obligation to take care of the wife and no one else can be asked or forced upon to bear the maintenance of the wife.
Simplifying the legalese
Legalese is the formal language that is used in law documents and can often lead to misunderstanding of the legal terms. Hence a clear understanding of the following terms will lead to simplification and better comprehension of the terminology.
Domestic relationship: When two people have lived or are living together in a shared house hold.
Shared household: House, where the aggrieved party has lived or is living in a domestic relationship, is a shared household. This can include rented or owned property.
The rights of the women are complex and the complexity increases when a woman gets married. The rulings of the Supreme Court and other courts have been clear and crisp regarding right on the self-acquired property of the in-laws so that the chances of conflict get minimized and no dispute arises.
With no right on the self-acquired property of the in-laws, the daughter in law is entitled to claim the share only on the part which her husband has. Nothing over and above the same can be claimed or sought.