The institution of propertyand women's access to it has been a cpmplex and contentious one within our legal system. In order to understand itscomplexity, we need to understand the institution of property and its changing character. We also need to contextualise women's access to property within the prevailing ethos and women's era status in each era.
Broadly speaking, women's right to property is governed by the personal law regime. Accordingly, Hindu women are governed by the provisions of the hindu sucession Act; christian and parsee women by the provisions of the Indian Sucession Act and Muslim women by the principals of Islamic law.
This is too simplistic a sketch of women's rights, however Whether the personal laws will come into effectat all depends uponwhether the deceased died intestate (without making a will) or testate (has left behind a will). If there is awill, it is termed as a testamentary sucession and the property will devolve upon the persons named in the will. The will can only be challenged on the ground of fraudor undue influence. If the will is proved to be authentic and as per the true wishes of the deceased, then the legal heirs will be deprived of their rights to the property.
By Flavia Agnes is a women'srights lawyer