In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that daughters will have equal right in the parental property as son even if their father died before the Hindu Succession (amendment) Act 2005 came into force.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, “Daughters must be given equal rights as sons. Daughter remains a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not.”
A random discussion on the above judgment led to a debate. A friend of mine said that women want ‘equality’ in everything that benefits them, yet when it comes to their duties they ‘conveniently take a step back.’
When I asked him to explain further, he told me that his sister does not ‘keep’ their parents with her ever. Except for someone occasional visits, the maintenance of parents is his sole responsibility.
Why should she get a right in the property, when she does not have any responsibilities? He asked.
I happen to know his sister too. The sister says that her husband ‘does not like’ her parents living with them. He also says, ‘Aise thode hi na hota hai!’
The sister is not in any way a weak person. She puts up a good fight with her husband. However, when things worsen with her husband, the people to get the most affected are her own parents. Like most parents of Indian daughters, they say:
Beti damaad khush to hum khush. Hamari wajah se jhagda nahi hona chahiye
So many married women tolerate a lot in their marriage because they feel the stress will affect their parents.
I am not surprised since most Indian husbands and their families retain the rights to ‘allow’ the wife / daughter-in-law to see her parents . On the other hand, the husband’s parents are naturally expected to be living with the son and his wife. I recently watched the movie, ‘Shankuntala Devi’ in which the late Shankuntala Devi’s character asks her daughter and son-in-law to live with her after marriage. The son-in-law is shocked at this proposal. She then asks him would this be such a preposterous expectation had she been the mother of a son?
Has the family of a boy ever said:
Beta bahu khush to hum khush. Hamari wajah se jhagda nahi hona chahiye!
I have seen ‘progressive’ families have very hypocrite thoughts. They like to flaunt how magnanimous they are that they ‘allow’ their daughters-in-law to visit their parents without any restrictions. Some families do not forbid, however they frown upon how the bahu is not ‘samajhdar’ enough to understand her responsibilities because she is still so attached to her parents’ home. The same people praise their own daughter for being so loving and caring towards them.
When a woman marries into a family, the family does not become her owner. It is silly of them to expect that she will stop visiting her parents because now she has a new family. When a husband stops his wife from meeting her parents, he should remember that the wife may comply because she does not want to ruin her marriage, but she will not respect him for trying to disconnect her with the people she loves.
Instead of comparing how much the wife does for her parents vs. her in-laws, how about we for a change ask the same question to the husband?
Yes, rights vs responsibilities is a very good question. And to answer my friend, yes, I agree that married daughters should take the responsibility of her parents. I think there was a Mumbai high court ruling also which held that a married woman must take care of maintenance of her parents. I agree that equality in rights means equality in responsibilities as well.
The only unfortunate part is that we not only have to fight for our rights, but for our responsibilities also.