Hindu widows have rights to all properties of husband: HC

The High Court on Wednesday announced that Hindu widows would have inheritance rights to all properties of their husband as a successor.

The online bench of Justice Md Miftah Uddin Choudhury pronounced the verdict rejecting a petition filed in 2004 by Jatindra Nath Mandal of Batiyaghata in Khulna challenging lower court’s 2004 verdict that had also ruled that the widow, Gouri Das, had rights to husband properties.

Petitioner Jatindra Nath claimed ownership on all properties of his deceased brother stating that his brother’s widow would get no property after demise of her husband as the couple had no male children.

According to the law, unmarried Hindu women can enjoy properties of her father but married women do not have the inheritance rights to their father’s properties, the petitioner contended.

Jatindra Nath had a long dispute with Gouri Das over the ownership of the properties after the death of his brother Avimanyu Mandal in 1958.

Jatindra first moved the lower court challenging the legality of selling of properties of his brother after recording them in the name of Avimanyu’s widow Gouri Das.

A Hindu widow is entitled to inheritance rights to all types of properties of her husband according to the Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act 1937, the court was quoted by the widow’s lawyer Syed Nafiul Islam to have stated in the verdict.

He told New Age that the Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act 1937 stipulated widow’s rights to ‘any properties’ of their husband.

He said that Hindu widows earlier had inheritance rights to non-agricultural properties of their husband but now they would get both agricultural and non-agricultural properties following the verdict.

Earlier, widows had given the rights to husbands’ home estate land misinterpreting the 1937 act, he said. 

The 1937 act stipulates that widows have the rights to any properties of her husband but the law has not spelt out the term ‘any properties’ would include what types of properties, said the lawyer.

He said that the Supreme Court of neighbouring India recently ruled that widows had inheritance rights to all types of properties of their husband.  

Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad general secretary Rana Das Gupta hailed Wednesday’s verdict calling its landmark and also a safeguard to helpless Hindu widows.

He urged the government to implement the High Court verdict immediately.

He said that the Hindu community had continued movement for long to restore Hinduy widows’ inheritance rights to all properties of their husband and Hindu daughters’ right to father’s properties.  

He said that British law had allowed rights to Hindu widows to inherit their husband’s properties and Hindu girls to inherit father’s properties, but the colonial law was not adopted in Bangladesh till now.

He said that widows could enjoy their husband’s properties after his death but could not be the owner of the properties according to the present law.       

Abdul Zabbar appeared for the widow’s brother-in-law and lawyer Uzzal Bhowmick, assisted the court as amici curiae in the case.

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