Though a bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar upheld a Orissa high court judgment denying a daughter share in the compensation money in lieu of acquisition of land belonging to a tribal man on the ground that HSA did not apply to tribal community, it said this appeared to discriminate between a non-tribal daughter and a tribal daughter. “There may not be any justification to deny the right of survivorship so far as the female member of the tribal is concerned,” the bench said.
“When a daughter belonging to the non-tribal community is entitled to an equal share in the property of the father, there is no reason to deny such a right to the daughter of a tribal father,” it said, adding, “A female tribal is entitled to parity with male tribal in intestate succession.” An intestate succession kicks in where the owner dies without writing a Will specifying division of his self-earned property.
Writing the judgment, Justice Shah said it was a matter of serious concern that daughters of ST communities are denied equal property rights even more than 70 years after the Constitution came into force, and under which the right to equality is guaranteed and enjoys a prominence in the democratic set-up of the country.
“It is high time for the central government to look into the matter and if required, to amend the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act (HSA)” to make it applicable to the members of the ST community, Justice Shah said.
Though the SC dismissed the appeal of an ST woman after accepting advocate Kedar Nath Tripathy’s arguments on behalf of the land acquisition authority, it strongly advocated with the Union government “to consider it just and necessary to withdraw the exemptions provided under the HSA insofar as the applicability of the provisions of the Act to the STs” through a suitable amendment.