Children from “invalid marriages” are entitled to a share of their parents’ property, the Supreme Court said Friday, explaining such children had been statutorily conferred with legitimacy. They can, however, claim rights as per Hindu Succession law alone, the court said. Significantly, this overturns earlier findings of the court, which said children from “invalid marriages” could only have rights to their parents’ self-acquired and not ancestral property.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud was hearing a plea against the judgement of a two-judge bench in a 2011 case, which said children from “invalid marriages” are entitled to inherit their parents’ properties, whether self-acquired or ancestral.
“A child born of void or voidable marriage is not entitled to claim inheritance in ancestral copercenary property but is entitled only to claim share in self-acquired properties, if any,” the court had said then as it quashed a Madras High Court judgement which took the view that children born out of live-in relationships were entitled to a share in ancestral property.
The court had then also said that provisions in question make it clear a child of a “void or voidable marriage” could only claim rights to the property of his parents, and no one else.
Earlier this month a bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud reserved its verdict on that plea, asking if children from “invalid marriages” were entitled to a share in parents’ ancestral property under Hindu laws. The court was also to decide if such shares are limited to only self-acquired properties of the parents as under relevant sections of the Hindu Marriage Act.
According to Hindu law, in a “void” marriage, parties do not have status of “husband” and “wife”. As per the statute, however, they do have this status in a “voidable” marriage. Also, in a “void” marriage, no decree of nullity is required to annul the marriage. However, in a “voidable” marriage such a decree of nullity is required.