Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma: An Case Analysis

The case focuses on the concept of a joint Hindu family and the coparcenary rights of daughters. The Hindu Succession Act, enacted in 1956, superseded the ancient Mitakshara law of Hindu succession followed in most regions of India, except some parts of West Bengal and Assam. Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, addressed the inheritance of property following the death of a Hindu male, adhering to the rule of survivorship.

On August 11, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding the rights of daughters to ancestral property. Many newspapers mistakenly reported this as the Daughter’s Right in HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) Property or Parental Property, which is incorrect. The judgment actually affirmed the rights of daughters or female coparceners in Joint Hindu Family Property or Ancestral Property, regardless of whether they were born before or after the 2005 amendment.

Background of the Case

The Supreme Court was examining the interpretation of section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, as amended by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. This was in light of conflicting decisions in two prior Supreme Court cases: Prakash v. Phulavati (2016) 2 SCC 36 and Danamma v. Amar (2018) 3 SCC 343, along with several Special Leave Petitions.

In Prakash v. Phulavati, the Division Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that section 6 is not retroactive and only applies if both the coparcener and his daughter were alive on September 9, 2005, when the amendment came into effect. The Court also stated that the requirement for a registered partition or a court decree, as explained in section 6(5), does not apply to a statutory notional partition that occurs upon the death of a coparcener under the unamended section 6. This notional partition is deemed necessary to determine the deceased coparcener’s share, and the registration requirement does not apply to partitions effected by law, which must be fully recognized. Consequently, the provisions of section 6 were deemed prospective.

Conversely, in Danamma v. Amar, the Supreme Court ruled that the amended section 6 grants full rights to daughters as coparceners. Any coparcener, including a daughter, can request a partition of the coparcenary property. In this case, Gurunalingappa died in 2001, leaving behind two daughters, two sons, and a widow. Since the coparcener’s father had passed away before the amended section 6 took effect, the daughters, sons, and widow each received a 1/5th share of the property.


The following fact of the issues have been answered in the verdict by the apex court

  1. Whether the father coparcener should be living as on 9 November 2005?
  2. Whether a daughter born before 9 November 2005 can claim equal rights and liabilities in coparcenary as that of a son?
  3. Whether the statutory fiction of partition created by proviso to section 6 of the hind succession act, 1956 as originally enacted bring about the actual partition or disruption of coparcenary?
  4. Whether a plea of oral partition after 20 December 2004 can be accepted as the statutory recognised mode of partition?

Unobstructed and Obstructed Heritage

When a corporate right is created at birth, it is known as unobstructed heritage. This right is acquired in the property of the father, grandfather, or great-grandfather upon birth. If a coparcener dies without leaving a male heir, the right is then acquired not by birth but because there is no male heir, which is referred to as obstructed heritage. Clearly, unobstructed heritage occurs by birth, while obstructed heritage occurs after the property owner’s death. It is important to note that under Section 6, the right given by birth is called unobstructed heritage and does not depend on the property owner’s death. Therefore, the coparcener’s father does not need to be alive on September 9, 2005, when the provisions of Section 6 were amended.

Arguments advanced on behalf of the Union of India, by the Solicitor General of India

  • The amendment act of 2005 is not retrospective but retroactive in nature. 
  • Conferment of right on the daughter did not disturb the rights which got crystalized by partition before 20.12.2004. 
  • The daughter of coparcener in Section 6 does not imply daughter of a living coparcener. The coparcener need not be alive as on the date of commencement of the Amended Act.
  • The explanation to Section 6(5) as regards requirement of registered partition deed is directory in nature and not mandatory.

Arguments advanced by learned Senior Counsel and amicus curiae, Mr. R. Venkataramani

  • There is no conflict between the decisions of Phulavati and Danamma, and in both the decisions, the provisions of Section 6 have been held to be prospective in nature. 
  • On the death of a coparcener, his interest would have merged with the surviving coparcenary and hence, on the death of a coparcener father, there will be no surviving coparcener from whom the daughter will succeed. Therefore the daughter can succeed only in interest of a living coparcener.
  • Although equality has been brought in with effect from 2005 Amendment, the incidence of birth of a coparcener before 2005 is of no consequence. 
  • Oral partition and family settlement are not intended to be reopened by Section 6(1) and 6(5). 

Arguments advanced by learned Senior Counsel and amicus curiae, Mr. V.V.S. Rao

  • Logic of decision in Phulavati is upheld in Mangammal Vs. T.B.Raju & Others. 
  • A daughter born before or after 2005 is considered as a coparcener. 
  • By the language used in Section 6(1)(b) & (c) the Parliament intended to mean conferring the rights in the coparcenary posterior to the amendment and not anterior. 
  • As per the prevailing law, it was not necessary that a partition should be registered. In case where an oral partition is recognised, it should be backed by proper evidentiary support. 
  • Parliament did not intend to confer a daughter with rights in the coparcenary property retrospectively. 
  • The use of the words “on and from” in Section 6(1) indicates that the daughter becomes coparcener from the commencement of the Act. 
  • The status of a coparcener conferred on a daughter cannot affect the past transaction of alienation, disposition, partition – oral or written. The Explanation safeguards all genuine transactions of the past, including oral partition effected by the parties.  
  • There should be a living coparcener to whom the daughter can inherit to become a coparcener. 

Arguments advanced by Advocate, Mr. Amit Pai

  • Substitution of Section 6 under the Amended Act dates back to the commencement of the Principal Act of 1956.
  • A Notional partition on the death of a coparcener to ascertain his shares is not an actual partition and same is not excluded by the proviso contained in Section 6. 
  • Decision in Phulavati cannot be said to laying down the correct law. 
  • The concept of living daughter of living coparcener is adding to the text of the provisions of Section 6. 
  • Section 6 includes all daughter, whether their father is alive as on the date of amendment of the act.

Court Verdict

The court, referencing past judgments, observed that joint Hindu family property is classified as unobstructed heritage, granting an absolute right to partition by birth. In contrast, separate property is obstructed heritage, where rights are contingent on the owner’s death. The court determined that since the right to partition is established by a daughter’s birth (unobstructed heritage), it doesn’t matter if the father coparcener was alive on the amendment date. Thus, the court overturned Phulvati vs. Prakash, ruling that coparcenary rights transfer from the father to a living daughter.

The court further clarified that the provisions of Section 6 are retroactive, meaning a daughter’s equal coparcenary right from November 9, 2005, is based on her birth. This retroactive approach clarifies the law’s temporal effect.

The court also noted that a notional partition is a legal fiction and does not imply an actual partition has occurred. Shares determined in a notional partition are not final and can change with the birth or death of coparceners. Therefore, a daughter can claim a share even if a notional partition occurred before November 9, 2005.

Regarding Section 97 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the court stated that a preliminary decree is not final and only determines individual shares, which can change with new births or deaths. Multiple preliminary decrees are allowed, and the court must consider legal amendments before issuing a final decree, allowing daughters to claim coparcenary rights post-preliminary decree.

The court emphasized that any partition before December 20, 2004, remains valid, but partitions after this date must be genuine, registered, or effectuated by a court decree. Oral partitions are generally not accepted unless proven genuine, with the burden of proof on the defense.


Among other issues answered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the above case, the following were answered: 

  • The right conferred on a daughter, in the coparcenary property is by birth and hence, it is not necessary that the father be alive as on 09.09.2005. As such, the decision in Phulavati case is overruled and the decision in Danamma case is partly overruled to the effect where it said that the coparcener father has to be alive as on 09.09.2005.  
  • The amendment by way substitution of Section 6 of Act of 2005 is retroactive in nature. 

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