Historic verdict: Hindu widows to get share of husbands’ properties

Previously Hindu widows would only get rights to their husbands’ homesteads

The High Court has pronounced a verdict to the effect that Hindu widows in the country are entitled to shares in all the properties of their husbands and not just their homesteads.

A single High Court bench of Justice Miftah Uddin Choudhury passed the order on Wednesday after finalizing a case in this regard. 

According to lawyers, after 83 years (since 1937) Hindu widows will get their rights on their husbands’ assets.

Barrister Syed Nafiul Islam, one of the lawyers for the plaintiff, said, after 83 years Hindu widows had regained their property rights. Among Hindus, widows usually owned their husbands’ assets only in the matter of homesteads, not any other assets like agricultural land.

“After this verdict, they will get a share of agricultural land too,” he added.

The strictest part of Hindu law is the distribution of property among girls. The law, enacted in 1937, deprived women of the right to inherit their husbands’ properties.

One Jotindra Nath Mandal of Khulna filed a case in 1996 seeking a court order to deprive his dead brother’s wife (sister-in-law) of their father’s assets. 

The lower court said that widows had rights only to the area of the houses in which they lived, and not to agricultural property. Later, the district judge expressed a different opinion, that widows also had rights to agricultural land in the same manner in which their husbands had their rights. 

The matter then came to the High Court.

After long hearings, the High Court ascertained the opinions of amicus curiae (literally, “friend of the court,” usually appointed from among senior law counsel).

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