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SC: Children of Void or Voidable Marriages Have Rights In Parents’ Ancestral Property in Hindu Joint Family

The Supreme Court on Friday said that children born from void or voidable marriages can claim rights in their parents’ ancestral property in joint Hindu families following the Mitakshara system of law.

The court pronounced its judgement in the case of Revanasiddappa and Anr v. Mallikarjun and Ors, after having reserved it on August 18.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, held that a child under Section 16(1) and Section 16(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) would be considered a legitimate kin under the Hindu Succession Act (HSA).

The court said that Section 6 of the HSA, which pertains to interest in coparcenary property, establishes a legal fiction wherein coparcenary property is treated as if partition has occurred.

Consequently, the apex court said that the provisions of the HSA should be harmonised with those of the HMA to ensure that children under Section 16(1) and (2) of the HMA have rights in their parents’ property.

However, the court clarified that children from void or voidable marriages do not automatically become coparceners in the Hindu Mitakshara joint family.

Coparceners, in Hindu law, are individuals who jointly hold property.

The court held that the birth of a coparcener leads to the acquisition of an interest in coparcenary property, with shares susceptible to increase upon birth and decrease upon the death of a coparcener.

Regarding the devolution of property, it noted that the substitution of Section 6(3) of the Hindu Marriage Act resulted in the devolution of the share of a Hindu male coparcener in a Hindu Undivided Family governed by Mitakshara law occurring through testamentary or intestate succession, rather than survivorship.

The judgement clarified that children born from void or voidable marriages do not have rights in the property of other family members and that their rights are limited to their parents’ ancestral property.

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