Converted Hindu can claim father’s property if he dies intestate.

16 Mar 2018

Bombay High Court in the judgment of Balchand Jairam Das Lalwant V/s  Nazneen Khalid Qureshi[1] held that person who converts himself to another religion from Hindu can claim father’s property if he dies intestate. Herein this case the women had converted in Islam and after her father’s death filed a case seeking injunction thereby restraining relatives to sale the property in question which was a flat located at Matunga Mumbai.

The Trial Court held in favor of the lady and ordered not to sale the suit property for which the appeal was preferred before the High Court of Bombay. The arguments of counsel appearing for appellants was that the respondent lady married in a Muslim i.e. Non Hindu family and converted herself in the year 1979, therefore according to Section 2(1)(a) and (c) of Hindu Succession Act which reads as “This Act applies – (a) to any person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj ; (c) to any other person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed”, the  lady has lost her rights in the property as persons who are non Hindu by religion cannot inherit  property as per Hindu Succession Act.

Countering the arguments, Counsel for the respondent argued that according to Section 2 of the Act only descendants of the converted person are disqualified as they are born as non Hindu after conversion, whereas the person converted was born Hindu and thus there is nothing mentioned about the disqualification of converted person himself.

The number of judgments was referred amongst which one of the important judgment referred was of Nayanaben Firozkhan Pathan V/s Shantaben Bhikhabhai and Ors.[2]  of Gujarat High Court, wherein it was held that change of religion and loss of caste had ceased to be grounds for forfeiture of property.

Justice Bhatkar remarked that Section 26 of the Act disqualifies the decedents of the converted person from receiving share in property and there is no such restriction on the person who is converted. Moreover, Court also noted that constitution guarantees to its citizens the right to follow any religion of their choice, and this choice would not disqualify a person from receiving the property of father. Therefore, with these findings the Hon’ble Bombay High Court refused to interfere in Trial Court’s order and the appeal was dismissed

[1] 2018 SCC Online Bom 307

[2] SCA No.15825 of 2017

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