Himachal Pradesh High Court– In a landmark judgment, single bench of Rajiv Sharma J., while dealing with an important issue of inheritance of property by daughters in the tribal areas in Himachal Pradesh, held that daughters in the tribal areas in the State of Himachal Pradesh shall inherit the property in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and not as per customs and usages in order to prevent the women from social injustice and prevention of all forms of exploitation. The Court further stated that custom amongst Gaddi caste has not been recognized consistently by the courts and thus has not passed into law of land and the appellant in the instant case has also failed to prove that the custom prevailing in the area where the parties resided was ancient, invariable and unbroken custom and the same has not been judicially noticed by the court consistently.
According to the facts, the appellant instituted a suit for declaration against the respondents. Rasalu, who was Gaddi belonging to the Scheduled Tribe category was the father of the appellant and respondent and suit land was previously owned and possessed by him. There was a custom amongst the Gaddies that the daughters do not inherit the property of their father after his death.
The Court also observed that the women have to be advanced socially and economically to bestow upon them dignity, especially the daughters in a society, who are Hindu, cannot be left and segregated from main stream. Adding further, the Court said that “they are entitled to equal share in the property. Needless to add that gender discrimination violates Fundamental Rights”. The Court in order to reach a decision referred to a catena of cases. The Court also made it clear that the observations made in the present case only pertain to right of the daughters to inherit property under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and not any other privileges enjoined by the tribal in the tribal areas. Bahadur v. Bratiya, 2015 SCC OnLine HP 1555, decided on 23.06.2015