Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021

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    In Context 

    • The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) is scheduled to introduce the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021.

    Khasi community and their  inheritance of property

    • They are  people of the Kh?si and Jaintia hills of the state of Megh?laya in India. 
    • They speak the Mon-Khmer language of the Austroasiatic stock.
    • They have a distinctive culture. Both inheritance of property and succession to tribal office run through the female line, passing from the mother to the youngest daughter. 
      • In the Khasi custom, the youngest daughter inherits all the property of the parents. 
      • The daughter becomes the “custodian” of the land, and takes over all responsibilities associated with the land, including taking care of aged parents, unmarried or destitute siblings.
    • Custom also dictates that the khatduh cannot sell the property, without permission of her maternal uncle. 

    Objectives and Need of Bill

    • It is not justified that the youngest daughter gets the entire share of the property especially if there are siblings who are all females and are taking care of their parents.
      • There is no law for equitable distribution of the family property in case the siblings are all males or where there are no children. 
    • There have been instances where children have dragged their parents to court and in some cases the elder siblings are locked in a legal battle with the youngest sister to claim a share. 
    • Many times, boys are not able to take loans because there is no collateral to show. 
      • This bill will help the males to show that they possess collateral when they apply for any kind of bank loans.

    Major Highlights of bill 

    • It will enable all siblings, both males and females, to get an equal share of the parent’s property.
      • It is an attempt to modify a customary practice of inheritance of the Khasi tribe in which the youngest daughter of the family is bequeathed the full share of parental property.
    • It will prevent a sibling from getting parental property if they marry a non-Khasi and accept the spouse’s customs.

    Similar bill in the Arunachal Pradesh 

    • A similar bill drafted by the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women (APSCW) and the Arunachal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights seeking equal inheritance rights for women in the State has been put in cold storage following opposition from various organisations who viewed it as an “assault on tradition”.
    • The proposed bill took many years of research to be drafted and was finalised after several awareness camps, discussions with community-based organisations and students’ unions.
    •  Some organisations called it “anti-tribal” and a bid to pave the way for non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes to settle down in the State permanently.

    The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) 

    • It was constituted under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India (Article 244 (2), 275 of The Constitution of India) with Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers.
    • Its jurisdiction extends to the 4 (four) Districts of Meghalaya State, namely
      • East Khasi Hills District,
      • West Khasi Hills District,
      • South West Khasi Hills District and Ri Bhoi District

    Conclusion 

    • The rights of women and equal opportunities to girls is a much-discussed and debated issue. 
    • Despite time to time changes in the social structure, girls in many parts of our country have still to achieve a lot to have equal status with boys and this, to a large extent, requires change in the archaic mindset of a patriarchal society which views girls as a liability.
    • On getting enough love, support and encouragement from their family, girls can win against all odds and become the best version of themselves. 
    • A radical change should start from the family itself because the real change comes, not by rules and laws, but with the change of mindsets. 

    Sixth Schedule and Autonomous Councils

    • The 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution provides for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard the rights of the tribal population in these states.
    • This special provision is provided under Article 244(2) and Article 275(1) of the Constitution.
    • The 6th schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state and have been constituted as autonomous districts, with a degree of autonomy within the State Legislature.
    • Provisions have been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers. However, their jurisdiction is subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned High Court.
      • They have powers to form courts to hear cases where both parties are members of Scheduled Tribes and the maximum sentence is less than 5 years in prison.
      • They also have powers to levy taxes, fees and tolls on buildings, land, animals, vehicles, boats, entry of goods into the area, roads, ferries, bridges, employment and income and general taxes for the maintenance of schools and roads.

    Current Autonomous District Councils

    • Assam: Bodoland Territorial Council, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council.
    • Meghalaya: Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council and Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council.
    • Mizoram: Chakma Autonomous District Council, Lai Autonomous District Council and Mara Autonomous District Council.
    • Tripura: Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council

    Constitutional Provision for Property 

    •  In 1978, the 44th amendment to the Constitution removed the right to property from the list of Fundamental Rights and converted it into a simple legal right under article 300 A.

    Source: IE