Indian Laws of Inheritance

by | Jul 7, 2014

The Indian laws of inheritance are religion specific. There are different laws existing in India for inheritance and they vary for Hindus, Muslims and Christians etc.

Indian Laws of Inheritance

The article discusses in detail the various laws relating to inheritance in India pertaining to various religions, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The key provisions under the relevant laws for various religions are discussed below. The Hindu laws have been codified by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The rules pertaining to Muslims have not been codified and arise from the practices being followed. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 provides for the inheritance laws for all other religions, including Christians.

India is a host to various religions and a hub of cultures and so it has multiple laws pertaining to inheritance for the various religions and sects present in the country, generally differing as per the religious backgrounds of the subjects. These laws have developed to their present positions from the practices and customs traditionally followed by the persons belonging to the said religion. Certain laws have been codified into legislations by the act of parliament; however some still remain uncodified, being followed in accordance to the customs of the religion.

Inheritance – Meaning

Inheritance is the passing of a person’s estate and assets to the heirs on the individual’s death and results in the devolution of property upon death. An heir is a person who is entitled to the property of a deceased individual. Persons jointly inheriting property are termed as coparceners.

Indian inheritance laws

There are diverse laws of inheritance and are different for the Hindus, Muslims and Christians, some being codified and some being dependent on the practices and customs. Certain succession rules are also applicable on a state basis.

Constitutionally, it is has been argued time and again that having laws for different sects or religions in the society are opposed to the idea of a uniform Civil Code and the tenets of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

The Uniform Civil Code in the light of personal laws and their applicability become a utopia for the principles of secularism. Though, it may be validly argued that personal laws are not unconstitutional as the constitution guarantees equality to all its subjects in law and equality has to be construed between equals. Variation in religion gives rise to variation in the entire character fabric of a person. Hence, two people belonging to two different religions are considered unequal by the supporters of this theory.


The laws of inheritance are peculiar owing to their nature involving division and distribution of the property, estate and assets belonging to a person, who has deceased. The Central legislation in the Indian Succession Act applies to all those religions having no specific laws governing the succession and inheritance of the community.

The Indian laws of inheritance are being developed constantly. India is the country where the women were entitled only to the minimal rights pertaining to estate in history. But, with the concentrated efforts of the Government, the status of women in India is being uplifted to a level at par with the men and there have been consequent amendments to the prevalent legislations.