Hindu Succession Act by Sanya Mahajan

Succession Under Hindu Law


The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is an Act relating to the succession and inheritance of property. This Act lays down a comprehensive and uniform system which incorporates both succession and inheritance. This Act also deals with intestate or unwilled (testamentary) succession. Therefore, this Act combines all the aspects of Hindu succession and brings them into its ambit. This article shall further explore the applicability, and the basic terms and definitions and the rules for succession in the case of males and females.


Section 2 of this Act lays down the applicability of this Act. This Act is applicable to:

  • Any person who is Hindu by religion or any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, Lingayat, or a Brahmo, Prarthna or Arya Samaj follower.
  • Any person who is a Buddhist, Sikh or Jain by religion.
  • Any other person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, Jew, unless it is proved that such person would not be governed by Hindu law or custom.
  • This Act shall also extend to the whole of India.                                                    However, this Section shall not apply to any Scheduled Tribes covered under the meaning of Article 366 of the Constitution, unless otherwise directed by the Central Government by a notification in the Official Gazette.
  • Who qualifies as a Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist?
  • A legitimate or illegitimate child, where both of his parents are either Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs.
  • A legitimate or illegitimate child, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh and is brought up as a member of the tribe, community, group or family to which such parent belongs.
  • Any person who is a convert or reconvert to the Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion.

Types of succession

Testamentary Succession

When the succession of the property is governed by a testament or a will, then it is referred to as testamentary succession. Under Hindu law, a Hindu male or female can make the will for the property, including that of a share in the undivided Mitakshara coparcenary property, in favour of anyone. This should be valid and legally enforceable. The distribution will be under the provisions of the will and not through the laws of inheritance. Where the will is not valid, or not legally enforceable, then property can devolve through the law of inheritance.

Intestate Succession 

Intestate has already been defined above as someone who dies leaving behind no will or testament. When such a situation happens, then this property will be distributed among the legal heirs by following the laws of inheritance.


 This article explored some basic terms and definitions used in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. There are four classes of heirs to which property devolves in case if a Hindu dies leaving behind a will, in which case he becomes intestate. This property devolves through these classes. If no one from the earlier class is present,then it devolves to the next class and so on. Lastly, thisvarticle also explored the 2005 Amendment to this Act, which brought much needed protection to women rights regarding property.

Sanya Mahajan 

Legal intern at lexcliq

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