Hindu Jurisprudence on Succession and Gender Equality: The IndianScenario
Ravi Kant Mishra*
“Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women areempowered, society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential astheir thoughts and their value systems lead to the development of a good family, goodsociety and ultimately a good nation.”
A PJ Abdul Kalam
Equality before law, equal protection of law, equality of opportunity in social, economicand political spheres are the bedrock of justice and discrimination of any kind on any basis isantithesis to the concept of equality and justice. Women, constituting half of the Indian population,self sacrifice and self denial are whose nobility and fortitude have been subjected to all inequities,indignities, inequality and discrimination.
They always remained bereft of the advances in socialdevelopment, education, health, employment, economic participation, science and technology etc. because of the traditional and stereotype roles of nursing children, caring husband and in- laws,and carrying out domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning etc. accorded to them. The rootcause of women’s subjection is their economic dependence on men and as long as women will bedenied for or deprived of economic independence, there cannot be equality between sexes.
Proprietary rights are of special importance and significance because economicindependence has usually an important bearing on the well being of a class. In the realm of property, the old Hindu law granted to women limited proprietary rights and discriminated womenon the ground of sex in the matter of intestate succession to the estate of the parents or husband.Thus, the position of women in India under the traditional Hindu law was much worse because of the restrictions on the rights of inheritance of women and the limited estates of Hinduwomen.
Being cognizant to the unequal position of women in intestate succession, after independence when old human values assumed new meaning and also due to the growingworldwide impact of human rights and fundamental freedoms
the need for emancipation of
Assistant Professor, Department of Law, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, Meghalaya(India)- 793022.
**Former President, Republic of India.
See Madhu Kishwar Vs State of Bihar, AIR 1996 SC 1864 at 1871
See generally B.C. Nirmal, ‘Taking Violence Against Women Seriously:International and Domestic Human RightsJurisprudence’, in Bimal N. Patel (ed)
India and International Law-II
, Koninklijke Brill NV, The Netherlands,2008,p 413-452; Monica Chawla,
Gender Justice: Women and Law In India
, Deep and Deep Publications, NewDelhi, 2006; C.L. Anand
, Equality, Justice and Reverse Discrimination
, Mittal Publication, Delhi, 1987; Sachs andWilson, Sexism and the Law, in Cam’bell and Wiles (ed)
Law in Society
, Martin Robertson and Co. Ltd, 1978; W.H.Chafe,
Women and Equality
, Oxford University Press, New York, 1977
The Position of Women in Hindu Civilization
, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1978;Priya Nath Sen,
General Principle of Hindu Jurisprudence
, Tagore Law Lectures, Allahabad Law Agency, 1984,P 125-175;Justice R.N.Mishra,
Mayne’s Hindu Law and Usage
, Bharat Law House, New Delhi, 15
For efforts at international and regional levels to empower women see generally B.C. Nirmal, ‘Taking ViolenceAgainst Women Seriously:International and Domestic Human Rights Jurisprudence’, in Bimal N. Patel (ed)
Indiaand International Law-II
, Koninklijke Brill NV, The Netherlands, 2008,p 414-421; Justice R.C.Lahoti,’Women’sEmpowerment – Role of Judiciary And Legislature’,(2005) 2SCC (J) p49-50;K Tomasevski,
Women and Human Rights
, Women and World Development Series, London, Zed Books,1993;J. Kerr,
Ours by Right:Women’s as Human Right
s, London, Zed Books,1993;R.Cook,
Human Rights of Women:National and International Perspective
s,Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press,1994;Amnesty International,
Human Rights are Women’s Rights
,London, Amnesty International, 1995;Katarina Tomasevski, Women’s Rights, in Janusz Symonides (ed)
Human Rights Concept and Standards
, Rawat Publications, New Delhi,2002,p231-254.