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HomeNATIONSC pronounced judgment recognizing rights of children born out of invalid marriages...

SC pronounced judgment recognizing rights of children born out of invalid marriages in parents’ share in Hindu joint family property

A joint Hindu family property governed by the Mitakshara law can be inherited by a child born in an invalid or voidable marriage, according to a ruling by the Supreme Court on September 1. However, it was made clear by a three-judge panel chaired by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud that such a child would not have any claim to any other family member’s property or rights.

A marriage that can be declared voidable by the husband or wife through a court order. A null marriage is void from the beginning. All of India, with the exception of West Bengal and Assam, is subject to the Mitakashara law of succession governing Hindu Undivided Families.

The first stage in a child of a void or voidable marriage inheriting property, according to Chief Justice Chandrachud, is to determine the precise percentage of his parent’s portion of the ancestral property. This might be done by doing a “notional partition” of the ancestors’ property and figuring out how much of it the parent would have received right before his passing.

“For the purpose of ascertaining the interest of a deceased male Hindu coparcener (a person who acquires a legal right to his ancestral property through birth in a Hindu Undivided Family), the law mandates the state of affairs immediately prior to the death of the coparcener, namely a partition of the coparcenary property between the deceased and the other members of the coparcenary,” Chief Justice Chandrachud, observed.

Notional partition

The heirs of the deceased father, including his children from a void or voidable marriage, would be entitled to their shares of the share once the deceased parent’s share of the property had been determined by such a notional division.

“When the share of the deceased in the property that would be allotted to him if a partition had taken place immediately before his death is ascertained, his heirs, including children who have been conferred with legitimacy, will be entitled to their shares in the property which would have been allotted to the deceased on the notional partition,” Chief Justice Chandrachud said.

The Chief Justice Chandrachud explaining the judgment, told the lawyers present during the case that “you will have to first ascertain the interest of the parent in the coparcenary property, and in that the children who are granted legitimacy will have their shares”.

Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act

According to the Chief Justice, children born out of void or voidable marriages are statutorily granted legitimacy under Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

As a matter of fact, Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasised that Section 16(3) provides that children of void and voidable marriages will have a right to their parents’ property.

The Hindu Succession Act, which handles inheritance, should, according to the court, reflect the Hindu Marriage Act’s aim to validate such offspring. Children from void or voidable marriages fall under the definition of “legitimate kinship” and cannot be treated as illegitimate for inheritance purposes under the Hindu Succession Act.

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