Manmohan urged to amend Hindu Succession Act
By Our Staff Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB. 26 . Several organisations and individuals from
across the country have sought the intervention of the Prime Minister,
Manmohan Singh, for a comprehensive amendment of the Hindu Succession
Act of 1956 to bring about full gender equality.
A delegation that met Dr. Singh last week expressed dissatisfaction
with the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill 2004 introduced in the Rajya
Sabha on December 20, 2004, and likely to be discussed in both Houses
of Parliament in the ongoing session.
The memorandum, drafted by Bina Agarwal of the Institute of Economic
Growth, Delhi University, in coordination with the Human Rights Law
Network (HRLN) and the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), argued
that the amendments proposed would leave several critical sources of
gender inequality and anomalies intact; in particular, inequality in
rights to agricultural land, unequal interests in the Mitakshara
coparcenary property for several categories of women, and implicit
inequality arising from a person's unrestricted rights to will away
his/her property — a provision that is often used to disinherit female
heirs, given the male bias in Indian society.
Colin Gonsalves and Shruti Pandey, of the HRLN, pointed out that
removing these inequalities would be in keeping with the constitutional
guarantee against discrimination on the basis of sex, and would
substantially facilitate the empowerment of women.
The memorandum recommends bringing all agricultural land at par with
other property and abolishing the Mitakshara coparcenary property
system altogether. The signatories include dozens of grassroots groups
working in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar
Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi, as well as prominent
individuals such as Aruna Roy, Sayeeda Hameed, Mohini Giri, Mushirul
Hasan, Nirmala Buch, Aparna Basu, Neerja Chandhoke, Jayati Ghosh and
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