STRIDHANAM UNDER HINDU LAW

Stridharanam
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Definition:

Generally, women’s property means stridhan. It means that property over which the women has control (17 CWN 679,17 CLJ 438, 1994 BLD 425H).

The word “stridhans” derived from the term “STRI” means women and the term “DHAN” means property. So Stridhan literally means women’s property conform in its import with its etymology and is not technical.1 It is her absolute property called peculium i.e private property (1994 BLD 425H).

According to Dayabhaga School:

Jimutavahana, the author of the Dayabhaga, declines to accept the definition of stridhana given by Janavalkya, and says’ “That alone is stridhana which a woman has power to give, sell or use independently of her husband’s control.”2

Katyayana further referred like this:

“The wealth which is earned by mechanical arts, or which is received through affection from any other (than a relation), becomes the subject of husband’s ownership: but the rest is ordained stridhanam.

-Katayayana citen in D.B.IV, 1, 19-

From the above text of katayayana it is clear that a women can dispose of only the gifts from relations at her pleasure and without her husband’s consent. She cannot dispose of any other kinds of property such as gifts from strangers, or property acquired by mechanical arts, without her husband’s consent.3

So, it may be deduced like this:

(a) All gifts received by a woman from her relations, at any time except a gift of immovable property made by the husband, and that gifts from strangers, made before the nuptial fire and at the bridal procession constitute her stridhana.

(b) And that the following descriptions of property are not stridhana

    (i) Property inherited by a woman.

    (ii) Property obtained by her on partition.

    (iii) Gifts from strangers, except those before the nuptial fire or at the bridal procession.

    (iv) Property acquired by her by mechanical arts. [Ram Gopal V. Narain (1906) 33.cal.315]

Classification of Stridhanam:

Different kinds of Stridhanas according to Scriptures:

According to Manu: There are six types of Stridhanas.4  Those are given below:

(1) Gift before nuptial fire: Gift is given before the nuptial fire. It is known as Ordhyagny.

(2) Gift during the journey marriage: It is known as Adhyabahanika. It consists of what is given to the bride when she is conveyed from her father’s to her father-in-law’s house. In Bangladesh there are two occasions for such gift. In the first occasion the bride is taken to her father-in-law’s house just after then nuptial ceremony to stay there for few days; in the second occasion, which is known as Dwiragamana or second coming, the bride is conveyed to her father-in-law’s house for permanently residing there.

(3) Gift based on affection: It’s given by the father-in-law, mother-in-law and other elders due to affection and obeisance. Gift given by father-in-law and mother-in-law is called Pritidatta and gift given by elders after obeisance is called padobandhonik.

(4) Gift given by Father.

(5) Gift given by Mother

(6) Gift given by Brother.

According to Bisnu: Bisnu further talked about four types of stridhanas.5 Those are given below:

(1) Adhivedanika: It is the gift which a husband is to make to his wife on the occasion of marrying another wife.

(2) Anwadheyaka: Gift from parents and other relations made after marriage.

(3) Yautaka: Gifts made at the time of marriage. Different School has interpreted the word in different ways.

(4) Gift from son and relatives.

According to Dhayabhaga School: Stridhana according to the Dayabhaga school may be divided, for the purpose of succession, into four classes:6

(1) Shulka, that is, a present to induce the bride to go to her husband’s house.

(2) Yautaka, that is gifts made at the time of marriage. This term has been interpreted by the High Court of Calcutta as including not only gifts made before the nuptial fire but gifts made during the continuance of the marriage ceremonies, that is the ceremonies beginning with shraddha and ending with that of prostrating before the husband. It is conceived that it includes gift from strangers made before the nuptial fire and at the bridal procession.

(3) Gifts and bequests from the father made after marriage. [Gifts made by relations subsequent to marriage are called anwadheyaka. The present class relate to anwadheyaka from father.]

(4) Ayautaka, that is, gifts and bequests from relations made before or after marriage. This class includes gifts and bequests from the father made before marriage, but not those made after marriage. The latter come under the third class. Gifts from the father at the time of marriage fall within the second class.

Apart from these there are other kinds of stridhans.7 Those are given below:

1. Gifts and Bequest from relation.

2. Gifts and Bequest from stranger.

3. Property obtained on partition.

4. Property given in liue of Maintenance.

5. Property acquired by inheritance. But according to Dayabhaga law, property acquired by widow by inheritance from a female relation is not her stridhan.

6. Property obtained by Compromise.

7. Property purchased with stridhan or with savings of income of stridhan.

8. Property acquired from sources other than those mentioned above.

9. Property acquired by Mechanical Arts.

10. Property acquired by a hindu widow by adverse possession of which she took and retained possession absolutely in her own right for twelve years or upwards, is her stridhan according to Dayabhaga school of hindu law (87 IC 473, 1925 Pat 523 29, IA 132 PC).

11. Maiden Property-except the property inherited by her, all property of a maiden, however, acquired whether by gift or bequest from relation or stranger or by mechanical arts or otherwise by her own exersions, constitutes her stridhan.

12. Property acquired during widowhood-all property of a widow acquired by her during her widowhood by gift, bequest etc. constitutes her stridhan. (1991 BLD 189H 1994BLD 427SC 1998MLR 68A, 108A).

13. Where an insurance policy has been assigned by husband in favour of his wife, the policy must be treated as her stridhan. But there is no presumption that a property standing in the name of a female belonging to joint family and is not stridhan. (39 CLJ 140, 26 CNW 111, 32 CLJ 49 PC).

Right of a women over her stridhan: 8

(i) All Hindu female can dispose of her stridhan of every description at her pleasure during maidenhood. There is no limitation to her power. (20 CNW 627, Sarkar sastri’s P-658).

(ii) She can dispose of only that kind of Stridhan which is called Saudayika i.e a gift from relations except those made by husband during converture. (39 Mad 298; 50 Mad 229).

(iii) She can dispose of her Stridhan of every description at her pleasure including movable given by her husband but not immovable given by him during widowhood. (1 Cal (ILR)318). Mulla’s P-184, 20 CNW 627 Mayne’s P-140, 1937 Cal 229).

Succession of Stridhana:

Generally the succession varies in different school. It varies based on the different stages of woman life i.e we have to see whether she is in the early stage of her life that is maidenhood. We have to see whether she is married or not. If married then we have to see whether in approved form or unapproved form. After this we have to look to stridhanam’s source. We have to see which doctrine does she belong. Different stages of Succession are discussed below:

1. Succession of Stridhana during Maidenhood:

According to all the doctrines succession during maidenhood is same.9 One will inherit after the other. If one remains absent the next person will inherit automatically. The order is given below:

(i) Uterine brother, (ii) Mother, (iii) Father, (iv) Father’s heirs, (v) Mother’s heirs.

2. Succession of Stridhana for married women:

Stridhana according to the Dayabhaga School may be divided, for the purpose of succession, into four classes.10 Those are:

(a) Shulka, (b) Yautaka, (c) Anwadheyaka, (d) Ayautaka.

The order of succession of this four class are given below:

(a) Shulka: (i) Brother, (ii) Mother, (iii) Father, (iv) Husband.

(b)Yautaka: According to Dayabhaga the following orders are followed in case of Yautaka:-

(i) Unbetrothed Daughter, (ii) Betrothed Daughters,

(iii) Married daughter who have or likely to have sons,

(iv) Barren married daughters and childless widowed daughters taking together in equal shares,

(v) Sons, (vi) Daughter’s sons, (vii) Son’s son, (viii) Son’s son’s son,

(ix) Step-sons, (x) Step-son’s son, (xi) Step-son’s son’s son.

If there be none of these, the succession depends upon the form of marriage. If the deceased was married in an approved form, the Yautaka passes to the following heirs in succession, namely-

(i) Husband, (ii) Brother, (iii) Mother, (iv) Father.

If she was married in an unapproved form, it passes in the following order namely-

(i) Mother, (ii) Father, (iii) Brother, (iv) Husband.

If there be none of these, the successive heirs are-

(i) Husband’s younger brother, (ii) Husband’s brother’s son,

(iii) Sister’s son, (iv) Husband’s sister’s son, (v) Brother’s son,

(vi) Daughter’s husband, (vii) Husband’s sapindas, sakulyas and samanodakas,

(viii) Father’s kinsmen.

(c) Anwadheyaka: Anwadheyaka means gifts and bequests from father after marriage. Property given or bequeathed by the father after marriage passes in the same order as Yautaka, with this difference that-

1. sons take before married daughters, and not after them as in the case of Yautaka and that

2. where the woman dies without leaving issue the four immediate heirs take, not in either of the two orders given in the succession of Yautaka but in the following order, namely-

(i) Brother, (ii) Mother, (iii) Father, (iv) Husband.

(d) Ayautaka: Ayautaka passes in the following order:-

(i) Son and maiden daughters, taking together in equal shares,

(ii) Married daughters who have, or are likely to have sons,

(iii) Son’s son,

(iv) Daughter’s sons,

(v) Barren married daughters and childless widowed daughters.

If there be none of the above relations ayautaka passes to the following heirs in succession, irrespective of the marriage, namely-

(i) Brother, (ii) Mother, (iii) Father, (iv) Husband,

(v) Husband’s younger brother, (vi) Husband’s brother’s son,

(vii) Sister’s son, (viii) Husband’s sister’s son,

(ix) Brother’s son, (x) Daughter’s husband,

(xi) Husband’s sapindas, sakulyas and samanodakas.

(xii) Father’s kinsmen.

3. Succession of Stridhana in case of illegitimate children:

There are few rules in case of illegitimate son.11 Those are stated below:

(i) The illegitimate children of a Hindu woman are not excluded from inheritance to their mother’s stridhana. But when a women dies leaving both legitimate and illegitimate children, the legitimate children are preferred to the illegitimate.

(ii) The illegitimate sons of a Hindu woman are entitled to succeed to each other. But an illegitimate daughter’s daughter cannot succeed to her grandmother’s stridhana.

(iii) The illegitimate son of a daughter of a sudra woman cannot succeed to the latter’s stridhana in preference to the husband of the latter.

Conclusion:

After such a vast discussion we can clearly see the complexities what we have throughout the ages. In Bangladesh importance has been given to other laws but I think in case of personal laws our country is lagging behind. There are lots of thing which needs to be upgraded. I think in this case country like India can show us the right track. They upgraded their Succession act in 1956 namely The Hindu Succession Act,1956 where they tried to remove all the complexities and gave everyone a same platform. We should grab our government’s attention for upgrading these old acts. Another important thing what I feel that is woman’s silence. Stridhana is not something which is offered as a sympathy. It’s a basic right being a human being. Everyone should be concerned about this right and demand the portion which she deserves according to Hindu Law. Hope that our parliament take this matter a serious issue and act accordingly.


Reference:


1. Sree Mridulkanti Rakshit, The Principles of Hindu Law, 9th edn (Dhaka: Kamrul Book House, 2018), 433.

2. S. K. Routh, Elements of Hindu Law, 7th edn (Dhaka: Comilla Law Book House, 2020), 135.

3. S. K. Routh, Elements of Hindu Law, 7th edn (Dhaka: Comilla Law Book House, 2020), 135,136.

4. Professor Dr. M. Bodoruddin, Hindu Law, 9th edn (Dhaka: Hasan Law Books, 2019), 107.

5. Professor Dr. M. Bodoruddin, Hindu Law, 9th edn (Dhaka: Hasan Law Books, 2019), 107,108.

6. SUNDERLAL T. DESAI, MULLA Principles of Hindu Law, 7th edn (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi Private Limited, 2019), 178,179.

7. Sree Mridulkanti Rakshit, The Principles of Hindu Law, 9th edn (Dhaka: Kamrul Book House, 2018), 444,445.

8. Sree Mridulkanti Rakshit, The Principles of Hindu Law, 9th edn (Dhaka: Kamrul Book House, 2018), 444.

9. Professor Dr. M. Bodoruddin, Hindu Law, 9th edn (Dhaka: Hasan Law Books, 2019), 119.

10. SUNDERLAL T. DESAI, MULLA Principles of Hindu Law, 7th edn (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi Private Limited,2019), 178, 179.

11. SUNDERLAL T. DESAI, MULLA Principles of Hindu Law, 7th edn (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi Private Limited, 2019), 182.

Labib, KU

Author: Gulam Nabi Azad Labib

Department of Law,

Khulna University.

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