Hindu Law is a vast and evolving legal domain that governs various aspects of Hindu society, including inheritance, marriage, property rights, and religious practices. One significant aspect of Hindu Law is coparcenary, which pertains to joint family property rights among male members of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). Over the years, coparcenary rights have undergone several amendments to reflect changing societal norms and ensure gender equality. This overview delves into the concept of coparcenary under Hindu Law, recent amendments, relevant laws, and pertinent sections governing coparcenary rights.

  1. Concept of Coparcenary under Hindu Law:
    • Coparcenary is a fundamental concept in Hindu Law concerning joint family property rights. It primarily applies to male descendants within a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). Under traditional Hindu Law, only male members born into the family through the male line possessed coparcenary rights. These rights encompassed a share in the joint family property, the right to demand partition and the right to survivorship.
  2. History of the law of inheritance
    • The concept of coparcenary originated from ancient Hindu jurisprudence and became an essential feature of Hindu law. Within the Hindu laws, all the laws and provisions regarding property and its rights have always been male-orientated. They were exclusively framed for the benefit of the men of the family while women were always considered submissive.
    • Before the advent of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, people were governed by customary laws which varied from region to region and also differentiated on caste basis. These laws were known for their gender discrimination and diversity in law. The proposed law couldn’t be spread throughout the country due to a lack of means hence it saw variations in its practice in various regions. This led to different schools of thought and different practices which made the law further complex and off track. The laws commonly faced gender inequality in all practising regions.
  3. Recent Amendments:
    • In a landmark judgment in 2020, the Supreme Court of India pronounced that daughters have coparcenary rights by birth, irrespective of whether they were born before or after the enactment of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. This ruling overturned previous interpretations that limited daughters’ rights to coparcenary property. The amendment brought about a significant shift towards gender equality in matters of inheritance and property rights among Hindu families.
  4. Laws and Sections Pertaining to Coparcenary Rights:
    • a. Hindu Succession Act, 1956: This foundational legislation governs matters of succession and inheritance among Hindus. Sections 6 and 8 of the Act, as amended by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, are particularly relevant to coparcenary rights. Section 6 delineates the devolution of interest in coparcenary property, while Section 8 delineates the order of succession among heirs.
    • b. Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005: This amendment brought about substantial changes to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956. It aimed to grant daughters equal rights in coparcenary property, removing gender-based discrimination in matters of inheritance. The amendment inserted Section 6(1)(a), which stipulates that a daughter shall be a coparcener by birth, thereby entitling her to the same rights and liabilities as a son.
    • c. Supreme Court Judgments: Various judgments by the Supreme Court of India have interpreted and clarified the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, particularly regarding coparcenary rights. The 2020 judgment reaffirming daughters’ coparcenary rights by birth was a watershed moment in Hindu Law jurisprudence, ensuring gender parity in matters of inheritance.
      • Prakash & Ors. v. Phulavati & Ors.
      • In this case, Phulavati claimed partition and separation of her share in her father’s property. During the pendency of this suit, the amendment was brought into force and the issue was whether it was retrospective. The Supreme Court held that daughters would have a coparcenary right on and from the commencement of the amendment thereby providing clarity that the amendment is prospective in its application which means that the right to coparcenary property would be available only to ‘living daughters’ of ‘living coparceners’ on and from the commencement of the amendment.
    • d. State-specific Laws: Certain states in India have enacted specific legislation pertaining to coparcenary rights and joint family property. These laws may supplement or modify the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, providing additional clarity or regulations concerning coparcenary property rights.
  5. Implications and Significance:
    • The recognition of daughters’ coparcenary rights represents a significant milestone in the evolution of Hindu Law towards gender equality and social justice. It ensures that daughters have an equal share in ancestral property and empowers them to assert their rights within the family structure. Moreover, the amendments foster economic independence and financial security for women, contributing to their overall empowerment and well-being.


Coparcenary rights under Hindu Law have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changes in societal norms and legal reforms aimed at promoting gender equality. Recent amendments, particularly the Supreme Court’s judgment in 2020, have expanded the scope of coparcenary rights to include daughters by birth, thereby rectifying historical gender disparities. Moving forward, it is imperative to continue advocating for legal reforms that uphold principles of equality and justice within Hindu family law.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

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