“Women of tribal communities in Tamil Nadu entitled to equal share in their family or ancestral property at par with the male coparceners under the Hindu Succession act, 1856” The Madras High Court ruled in the case of Saravanan v. Semmayee upholding the decision of Trial Court. The Court added that even if there is any contradictory custom, it cannot override the law and public policy.
The suit was filed by a mother-daughter duo belonging to a notified tribe in Tamil Nadu seeking a share in their family property. The trial Court passed an order in their favour which was then challenged by their male relatives in the HC claiming that the property was part of a settlement agreement as per which the two women were not entitled to receive a share.
he whole matter revolved around Section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 contending that its provisions can be applied to members of any scheduled tribe only if a Central government notification provides for the same.
The Court observed that “Section 2(2) cannot be construed as a complete bar for invoking the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act. But it paves way for the Central Government to notify the tribal communities, who have already moved forward and whose primitive customs and practice are not prevailing amongst the community for inheritance. Moreover, “The nature of custom and practice to be established must be not only certain, it must be in practice continuously. In the present case, there is.no whisper about such custom or practice in the community in which the parties are living and in the absence of any such proof, the Trial Court has rightly arrived at a conclusion that the parties to the suit are to be construed as Hindus for the purpose of application of Hindu Succession Act and accordingly, granted the relief of partition and granted equal share to tribal women on par with their counterparts/male copercenors.”