SUBJECT: Family Law II



Name of the case (with citation)- DANAMMA alias SUMAN SURPUR AND ANOTHER vs AMAR AND OTHERS, 

Parties- Danamma alias Suman Surpur and Another (Appellants) Amar and Others (Respondents) 

Court- Supreme Court of India, Coram- Dr A. K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ


G, a father in the Joint Hindu family, died leaving behind his wife, two sons (R and V) and two daughters. Following G’s death, R’s son filed a suit regarding partition and separate properties of the joint family properties in which the daughters were denied any share as coparceners. The trial court upheld that since the daughters were born before the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, their rights as coparceners can be denied. The High Court also upheld the decision of the Trial Court. However, the Supreme Court of India reversed the decision and upheld the rights of the daughters in the said property. 


In this case, the court relied upon the case which interpreted Explanation 1 to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act. The court negated the decision taken by the lower courts. It was also established that due to the amendment made in Section 6 of the Act, daughters of a coparcener, by birth, had acquired their own right to the status of a coparcener similar to that of the sons. Rights include the right of the coparcener to seek severance of status, which meant that the daughter could avail herself of her right to partition. Herein, although the suit for partition of joint family properties was made before the amendment was made, however, the rights of the daughters got crystallized by virtue of the amendment. Thus, the daughters shall be entitled to their share in the property. 




  • Whether the Hindu Succession Act is applicable to daughters born before its enactment? 
  • Whether amendment can have a retrospective effect?
  • Whether daughters shall have the right of coparceners in the property even after they marry? 


The legal, social and ethical implications of the issues are as follows: 


Legal- The legal implications involve the rights of the daughters in their ancestral property, especially considering whether such rights shall be equal to those of sons regardless of their birth in relation to the statute. 

Social- The primary social issue that can be inferred is gender equality within the framework of statutory laws. If the daughters are denied rights in their ancestral property before the enactment of a statute, then this shall inculcate gender disparity in property inheritance and reinforce patriarchal norms. Besides, unequal distribution of property can also lead to tensions in the family and effect relationships within the family. 

Ethical- Justice and fairness are fundamental ethical concepts. It can be viewed as unfair and unjust to deny daughters equal inheritance based just on their birthdate in relation to the Act’s enactment, especially when the law ensures equal treatment.


Legal- The primary legal implication that can be identified is whether an amendment has only a prospective effect or a retrospective issue. It is to be ascertained whether the new law shall have an impact on the pending cases. 

Social- Major social implications would encompass the issue of accessibility to justice. The current change may result in more equitable outcomes for anyone impacted by out-of-date laws if the court implements it retroactively, guaranteeing justice and access to the legal system for everyone. The inception of the amendments in the ongoing suits can influence the public perception that the law prioritises justice and fairness in every aspect. This could enhance their trust and belief in the judicial system. 

Ethical- Retrospective application of laws, although it can lead to just outcomes in some cases it may also lead to doubt and erode public trust if it is applied erroneously. 


Legal- Interpreting pertinent statutes, including the Hindu Succession Act, is necessary to ascertain the extent of daughters’ rights as coparceners. Inheritance laws and property rights have legal ramifications. The question of whether daughters’ coparcenary rights continue after marriage has an impact on the division of property in Hindu joint households as well as the legal rights of daughters in comparison to other family members.

The underlying rationale seems to be that married daughter would ha e received a dowry during her marriage. However, this may not always be true. There may be a chance, that dowry was not provided to her. Besides dowry is a one time payment and more often than not consists of disposable goods which cannot be compared to the value of the immovable property. 

Social- In family systems, gender equality has social ramifications. Denying daughters coparcenary rights after marriage may have an adverse effect on women’s autonomy and financial independence by upholding conventional patriarchal standards and gender inequities. Family dynamics and marriage dynamics are also related. Daughters’ ability to enforce their property interests and bargaining leverage within the family may be impacted if they lose their coparcenary rights upon marriage.

Ethical- Respecting daughters’ rights to coparcenary regardless of their marital status guarantees that women are not discriminated against based on their marital status and is consistent with the ethical standards of equal treatment under the law. Individual autonomy and agency are taken into account while discussing ethical issues. Empowerment and self-determination are fostered when daughters’ coparcenary rights are acknowledged after marriage, confirming their control over their financial and material matters.


  • Anar Devi & Ors vs Parmeshwari Devi And Ors: “Explanation 1. For the purposes of this section, the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not.”
  • Vineeta Sharma Versus Rakesh Sharma & Others: The view that only living daughters of living coparcenenrs are entitled to a share in their ancestral property was rejected by the court which was earlier given in another case. 
  • Lokmani & Ors. v. Mahadevamma & Ors: Provisions that are amended have a retrospective effect. By way of this amendment of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, the inequality was removed.  

Section 6 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 provides under different subsections for a Joint Hindu Family governed by Mitakshara Law for the daughter of a coparcener to become a coparcener by birth like a son, have all the rights as there are for the son, be accountable for same liabilities like a son.  

Having analysed the issues legally, socially & ethically, reading the precedents, statutes and legal doctrines it can be understood that the laws have developed over time over the years. Having been framed in a primarily patriarchal society, the laws have been amended in a way that they favour the women in the family as well. From not having rights in ancestral property to having such a right, laws were amended to provide the right to partition for women, giving women an equal footing in society. Age-old practices like the pious obligation have been abolished, and they have proved unfair to the descendants in the family. Thus, it can be seen that although it has taken, the law recognises what is best fit for modern times and amends the legislations accordingly to make them more favourable and adaptable for the citizens of the nation. It was also observed that just because the earlier it had been a patriarchal society, it was not essential that all the practices under the law were unfavourable to women only. 


In the 174th Law Commission Report on “Property Rights of Women: Proposed Law Reforms under the Hindu Law” recommendations were made which are relevant to this case are as follows:    

I. (a) Recommendation Made:  The commission had suggested that it is pertinent first to make the daughters coparceners like the sons in the family, which would entitle them to and to get their shares on a partition or on the death of the male coparcener and hold thereafter as tenants in common. 

(b) Feasibility: The commission had suggested making daughters coparceners like the sons of the family, which was an attempt to eliminate disparity on the basis of gender. This view addressed the inequality and the patriarchal law that had been there in practice. However, viability is majorly dependent on social and legal acceptance. This may have posed challenges such as inheritance-related disputes and family tensions, among others. But the benefits from the practical implication of this view seemed to outweigh than the complications as they were empowering the daughters both economically and socially. 

  1. (a) Recommendation Made:  The report criticized the Andhra Model in the beginning, however after much deliberation, it was decided that this model should be retained as the daughter usually receives gifts at the time of her marriage, which is, however, not in line with the son’s portion, which is frequently rather large. Thus, the distinction existing between married and unmarried daughters should not scrapped away. Since after the commencement of this act, the daughter shall naturally become a coparcener, so it is not essential to compensate her with gifts at the time of her marriage. 

(b) Feasibility: Drawing a distinction between a daughter and a son on the basis of giving gifts during marriage is not feasible as the author is of the opinion that giving gifts is a matter of choice of the family however, having the right of share in the property of the family is more of an inherent right of the children of the family. Besides, in some families giving daughters gifts at the time of the marriage holds customary and traditional value and the same cannot be compared to the having a right in the property of ancestors. Thus, this distinction should be scrapped away. 

  1. (a) Recommendations Made:  Kerala Act had revoked the doctrine of pious obligation while the Andhra model did not mention it aside from the fact that the daughter as a coparcenar shall be liable to all the liabilities and might eventually become the Karta of the Joint family. Thus, it was recommended to scrape off the doctrine of pious obligation. It was also suggested that a combination of the Andhra Model and the Kerala Act may be implemented for better functioning of the society. 

(b) Feasibility: The Kerala Act has largely adhered to the Hindu Code Bill of 1948. Although it has abolished the right of males by birth it has also abolished such rights of the females. However, it does not confer upon women any right to become coparceners by birth in the property of the family unlike the Andhra Model. Thus, a combination of such laws which differ on the basic notion behind amending a legislature altogether should not be brought into practice as it would lead to legal inconsistencies. Pious obligation is the duty of the son to pay off his father’s debts rather than his obligation to a third party to pay off the debt. It arises as a duty as they are all coparceners in the same family property. However, if the debt is not paid by the son of the family on behalf of his ancestors, then the third party shall always bear a loss. Thus, scraping off this obligation shall not be feasible for the party which is a lender or creditor in the transactions. 

IV. (a) Recommendations Made:  It has been noticed that fathers tend to give up their properties to ensure that their daughters receive no part of it, even if they are self-acquired property. Also, it is a frequent occurrence that people give away their property to non-relatives, thereby completely depriving the children and legal heirs of their rightful expectations. As a result, there has been a significant push to limit the ability to make testamentary dispositions. However, following careful consideration, the Commission is not inclined to impose any limitations on a Hindu decedent’s ability to bequeath property. 

(b) Feasibility: The right to property has been abolished under the Indian Constitution. Thus, forcing individuals by way of legislation to give a share to their daughters in the property would not be feasible as such decisions are best if left to the family to decide the distribution of shares within the family or outside of the family as it is at the will of the owner of the property. Thus, the author is of the opinion that this recommendation is feasible as it does not impose any limitations on individuals.  

V. (a) Recommendation Made: Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act should be scrapped as it restricts women’s rights to claim partition.

(b) Feasibility:  The feasibility of this recommendation’s application shall depend on the public awareness of this amendment. This suggestion paves for the legislation to be gender neutral. 



Upon reading and analysing the recommendation given by the Law Commission and the decision of the court, the author has the following suggestions: 

  • An alternative to the doctrine of Pious obligations may also be implemented which shall also be implemented upon the daughters of the family. This shall ensure equality within the family and dismiss any disparity which persists because of gender. Since daughters are being given the right to become coparceners from birth like sons, it would only be proportional that they contribute to disposing of the debts of their ancestors like the sons of the family. 
  • Restrictions on daughters should not be there regarding the partition of property as their vested economic interests might be compromised. 
  • Although the Right to property has been invalidated by the constitution of India, it should still be recognized as an inherent right of the successors of a family. It is pertinent to recognize this right as there could be several dependents upon that ancestral property and have vested economic interests in the same.


Thus, it can be inferred from this case analysis that the Supreme Court rendered progressive rulings in this instance. The statute does, however, nonetheless have certain gaps. Due to their subordinate role when it comes to inheriting property, these lacunae are detrimental to the status of women in Hindu families. Proposing such changes shall help women both in legal and financial aspects while it shall also elevate their position in the society. As a conclusion, it may be said that this case law sets a significant precedent that will direct the long-overdue shift in women’s status regarding their inheritance rights from their natal family and their husband’s property. 


  1. Can daughters born before the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 be denied their share in the ancestral property on the grounds that they are not coparceners?

The Supreme Court ruled that daughters, regardless of whether they were born before or after the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, are entitled to equal rights in the ancestral property as coparceners under the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act.

  1. Does the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 grant daughters the status of coparceners by birth in the same manner as sons?

Yes, the 2005 amendment unequivocally grants daughters the same rights and liabilities as sons in coparcenary properties. Daughters are now considered coparceners by birth, on par with sons.

  1. How is the property divided among the family members after the Danamma vs Amar Singh judgment?

The property is divided into five equal shares – one each for the two sons, two daughters, and the widow of Gurulingappa Savadi. Each daughter is entitled to a 1/5th share of the property.

  1. What were the key issues addressed in the Danamma vs Amar Singh case?

The main issues were whether the daughters could be denied their share on the grounds that they were born before the 1956 Act, and whether the 2005 amendment made them coparceners by birth, entitling them to an equal share as sons.

  1. How has the Danamma vs Amar Singh judgment impacted gender equality in inheritance laws for Hindu families?

The judgment has been hailed as a progressive step toward ensuring gender equality in inheritance laws. It guarantees that daughters are treated on par with sons in matters of succession and inheritance in Hindu families.

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