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SC: Children Born from Void Marriages Have Right On Parents’ Property

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a child born outside of a marriage or to a void/voidable marriage has the right to inherit their parents’ property. However, the court clarified that this inheritance right does not extend to laying any coparcenary claim over property held jointly by a Hindu Undivided […]

Edited By : Divya Richa | Updated: Sep 2, 2023 17:43 IST
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Supreme Court hearing on Article 370

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a child born outside of a marriage or to a void/voidable marriage has the right to inherit their parents’ property. However, the court clarified that this inheritance right does not extend to laying any coparcenary claim over property held jointly by a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF).

The ruling, delivered by a bench consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, brings an end to a two-decade-long legal ambiguity concerning the inheritance rights of children born from void or voidable marriages in comparison to children born from valid marriages, who automatically become coparceners in a Hindu joint family’s property.

Back in 2003, the Supreme Court had ruled that despite the specific safeguards provided to children born out of void and illegal marriages under Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, they should not be treated equally with children born from lawful marriages.

In subsequent judgments in 2005 and 2010, the Supreme Court had held that “a child born of void or voidable marriage is not entitled to claim inheritance in ancestral coparcenary property but is entitled only to claim a share in self-acquired properties.” Recognizing the conflicting views on this matter in 2011, another bench referred the issue for resolution to a three-judge bench.

Chief Justice Chandrachud, in his reference to children born outside of marriage who were legitimized under Section 16(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, explained, “This child, unlike the child born out of a lawful marriage, is not entitled to a share in the notional partition itself. After the father’s share is determined, a child will have a share in the father’s share, along with the surviving widow and the other children.”

In essence, this means that such a child is prohibited from making claims on the joint property of an HUF in which their parents hold a share. However, the child retains the right to an equal share, alongside legitimate children, in the individual share of the parents in the joint property. The Supreme Court’s ruling also ensures that this right of a child born from a void/voidable marriage will not impact the inheritance rights of other coparceners within the HUF property.

First published on: Sep 02, 2023 08:54 AM IST

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