Hindu law of inheritance in Bangladesh [Math included]
Inheritance is the lawful automatic transfer of state and property of a deceased person towards his family members and dear once (Heirs), the process is also known as succession, both of them are often used interchangeably. As like any other country inheritance of Hindu people (who follows The Hindu Religion) also depends on personal law though some changes have adapted over time by enacting statutory laws. Let’s have a look to understand the basis of Hindu law of inheritance in Bangladesh.
There are two major Schools of Hindu Law;
- Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law and
- Mitakshara school of Hindu law.
The Hindu people of Bangladesh follows the Dayabhaga School of Hindu Law. We will discuss the principals and practices of Dayabha school of Hindu law with the statutory changes that affect the most practical aspects of the present life and which are approved and applicable today in Bangladesh.
The heirs of a deceased person under Dayavaga School can be segmented under three classes and according to the list.
Generally, the property will be transferred according to the hierarchy of the hires and one will exclude another but with some exceptions mentioned below.
Chronological list of hires
- Grand Son
- Great Grandson
- Widow / Wife | 4A. Predeceased Son’s widow / Wife
- Daughter’s son
- Brother, etc.
We will focus on them according to the orders of heirs under this school.
Table of Contents
This is the first class. As a patriarchal society, it is believed that the male ascendants carry the blood of the deceased. Sapinda signifies the close blood relation between the ascendants and the deceased. These relations are considered undivided oblation. They are as follows;
First Class Sapinda
Order 1-3; Son, grandson and great-grandson: a son or grandson (Great-grandson or great-great-grandson or similar relation to the ascendant. known as doctrine representation; here every person is representing his predecessor) when their immediate predecessor/s is/are dead they get the equal property of a son being the representative of his predecessor; this system is called Per Stirpes system. [Consider the Yellow coloured position as dead and Green as alive in the image to understand the concept in the math image below]
Before we start the most important rule of Hindu law of inheritance is that it maintains the order of the successors, the previous person in the order always excludes the subsequent person in the list. but certain exceptions are there and that will be mentioned along with the orders. such as order 1-4 does not exclude each other when they are from different bloodline. for example where son is alive that son’s son (grandson) will not inherit. Please see math 01.
Principle of Representation or Per Stirpes:
Where every person represents his predecessor and gets the same amount of property that could have obtained by their predecessor if they were alive in the present situation. We can remember it as, per stipe means per line of blood, the more person in a line the more division of the property will be there in that line. See the picture below and it will be easier to understand with given description;
Math Problem 01: A leaving behind his two sons namely, C and D and two grandsons namely B1 and B2 of his deceased son B.
Here let’s consider three bloodlines (as stripe) of three sons of A, now if three sons were alive during the death of A they would get 1/3 each (1/3+1/3+1/3=1); here one means the whole property or 100% property). According to per stripe rule, B1 and B2 will get the portion of the property that could have been achieved by their father if he were alive. That means 1/3 of the property will be distributed to B1 & B2 so they will get 1/2 of 1/3 = 1/6 each. Now if you sum the total it would be one (1/3+1/3+1/6+1/6 = 1), hope now the concept is straightforward if you know the fraction math.
As per Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937, a widow takes the same share as a son [if there is more than one widow they share that property (of one son)]. Thus, by law a widow confirms his position in Order 4 but there are a few things we need to know; there are special rules that are applicable for the widow or the wife of the deceased person.
Limited interest in women’s inherited property
Any Widow, Daughter or any female who are in the hire list only gets limited interest, which means she can enjoy the benefit of the property but cannot sell or transfer or own the property unless there are any extraordinary circumstances where it is essential to sell or transfer the property to save the property for future heirs. This limited interest ends with the death of that female heir, after her death, these properties shall return to other heirs according to the order of hires of the deceased person.
- She cannot be married again
- She must not be an unchaste woman
- If there is more than one widow, they together get equal property as a son.
But it must be mentioned that there is another kind of property of women known as Stridhan
“Sthidhan” means the property, whether moveable or immoveable, that have earned or received by a woman by any means or by gift is her own property, she holds the absolute title of that property, she can do anything with that property and after her death, that property will be distributed among her Heirs.
Due to this rule of Limited interest in women’s inherited property, it is widely known and spread that women do not get anything from their fathers’ property which is not completely true but a defacto truth as daughters can only inherit if there are no heirs according to the order 1-4 & 4A;
but the reality can beg to differ because it is often hard to maintain a property from far away which has no real future. Therefore women often do not pay much attention or demand for such property as that may create some new problems too. Along with this problem, when the concept of Stridhan is presented, the dowry system comes into play, where the father of the bride pays a hefty sum of property to her daughter during her marriage to satisfy the other party and give her daughter a fair share of his property as a gift when he is alive.
Math 02: Example Problem: A died leaving behind two sons, B & C, and two wives (widow) D & E
B | C | D | E ;
1/3 | 1/3 | 1/6 | 1/6 ;
Here D and E together get 1/3 then that property divided between them.
In the given case doctrine of survivorship or joint tenant or co-heirs is applicable to the widow if one wife dies (consider D dies), then her part of the property shall go to another widow (E shall hold 1/3) until her death and when both of them die, then the property will return acceding to the given order that means, in this case, B and C will get ½ each in such situation.
Order 4A. Predeceased son’s widow; predeceased son’s widow simultaneously gets as per strips as if she is getting his (her husband’s) property.
[as we know, Hindu marriage is a sacrament by which they become a part of each other thus, they become Sapinda for each other]
It must be noted and remembered that these first four orders of shapindas can never be excluded if they are alive, and per stipe (representation) method only applies to these four types of heirs [order 1, 2, 3, (4+4A)]
Does Daughter inherit under Hindu law?
Now the answer depends on the definition of inheritance. Now if we look at the widely used definition, then the inheritance is;
Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, titles, debts, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual.
Now, according to this definition, yes daughters get the property of their father but with some conditions.
- The first condition is daughter shall not get the property if there is any person before me, according to the list. That means if there any person from order 1 to order 4A daughter/s shall not get any property by inheritance.
- If she gets any property, she will only get the limited interest.
Here the question arises then what would happen to the daughters under Hindu law? well in that case if such daughter/s are minor or unmarried or widowed but not supported/ maintained by her husband’s family and it is the duty of those who inherited her father’s property to provide her maintenance. 56 IC. 161 [If you want to know more about such maintenance, please comment below and let us know]
Order 5. Daughter: In Hindu Law, all daughters are not considered equal. There are priorities and bars according to terms and conditions/situation.
- Shall succeed
- The Maiden comes first in her default
- A daughter who has a son or is likely to have a son gets the priority [Married daughter having a male issue.
- Shall not succeed
- A barren daughter and a sonless widowed daughter are not entitled to succeed.
- An unchaste daughter is not entitled to succeed.
- Only gets if there is no Heir from Order 1 to Order 4A.
Two or more daughters of a class take the estate jointly with a right of survivorship (like a widow)
Second Class Sapinda
Only inherits where there is no first class Sapinda is alive.
Order 6. Daughter’s son; holds his position in the second class spends.
- Gets Per Capita, equal at the same stage [we can easily remember it as per cap – per head method]
Math 03: Per Capita property distribution
Example Problem: A died leaving behind four grandsons from two daughters B & C; B’s son D & E and C’s Son F, G, H.
B | C
D (1/5) | E(1/5) | F (1/5) | G (1/5) | H (1/5)
Here, if we count the living heirs, there are five-person. and each of them shall get equally one-fifth of the property; (1/5) each
** Daughters son, Brother’s son, Uncle’s son or sister’s son take Per Capita.
Order 7. Father; In default of the daughter’s son, the father succeeds.
Order 8, Mother;
- Stepmother does not get any property
- Must be a chaste woman
- Must not re-marry
Order 9, Brother;
- Full brother proffered over half-brother
Order 10, Brother’s son; In default of Brother
Order 11, Brother’s son’s son; do (same condition as previous one)
Order 12, Sister’s Son; do no distinction between half-sister and full-sister.
Order 13, Paternal Grandfather;
Order 14, Paternal Gran Mother;
Order 15. Paternal Uncle;
The term Sakullya means one belonging to the same family (Kula). They are;
- To whom he is bound to offer Pindalepas while he is alive;
- Who, on his death are bound to offer pinda lepas to him and who are bound to offer pindalepas to those to whom he offers the pindalepas and all of them are his sakulyas. Stats from Great-great-great grandson.
Mans and includes those male relations to whom a Hindu offers oblations of water and those who offer such oblations of water to him at the time performing parvana sraddha ceremony.
When can a person be deprived of inheritance under Hindu law?
- Renunciation of religion (Special Marriage Act, 1872 etc.)
- Addiction to vices
- Enmity to father
- Enmity to porosities
- And other incurable diseases
- A murderer of the deceased person and heirs of the murderer shall be excluded from inheritance.
Except for A and E, all of them though not preserve the right to inheritance but they shall have their right to be maintained by those who inherit the property. We will discuss Hindu Law Maintenance in another article.
 Benode v. Purdhan
You can also check our summarized Bangla write-up on this issue Here