Through this ruling, a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra settled a two-decade long confusion over the inheritance rights of a child born out of void/voidable marriage to parental and ancestral property in comparison to the rights of children from valid marriages who on birth automatically become coparceners in a Hindu joint family property.
In 2003, the SC had ruled that merely because the children born out of a void and illegal marriage have been specifically safeguarded under Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, they ought not to be treated on par with children born from a lawful marriage.
In 2005 and 2010, two SC judgments had ruled 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.” The conflicting view was noticed in 2011 by another bench and it decided to refer the issue for resolution by a three-judge bench.
Referring to the child born outside the marriage, on whom legitimacy was conferred through Section 16(1) of HMA, CJI Chandrachud said, “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.”
This means such a child is barred from laying claim over the joint property of HUF in which his/her parents have a share. However, the child would have a right to have an equal share, along with the legitimate children, in the individual share of the parents in the joint property. By this ruling the SC also ensured that this right of the child born from a void/voidable marriage would not impact the inheritance rights of other coparceners of the HUF property.
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