Thursday, July 3, 2008

Remove the discrimination against Hindus: Law panel

Remove the discrimination against Hindus: Law panel

J.Venkatesan

Muslims, Christians can execute the document anywhere

New Delhi: The Law Commission has recommended removal of discrimination in the Indian Succession Act (ISA) in execution of wills on properties owned by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jainas (a sect of Hindus, allied to Buddhists) and Parsis.

Under Section 213, while Muslims and Christians can execute wills anywhere on properties situated anywhere in India, Hindus and other religious sects can execute wills in respect of properties situated only within the original jurisdiction of the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Commission Chairman A.R. Lakshmanan told the The Hindu that at present a Muslim or Christian, residing in Hyderabad but owning property in Chennai, can execute his will in Hyderabad or elsewhere. But, in a similar situation, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jainas or Parsis can execute the will only in Chennai, i.e. within the original civil jurisdiction of the Madras High Court.

Justice Lakshmanan said: “Section 213 (1) necessitates grant of probate of a will or letters of administration with the will by a court of competent jurisdiction in order to establish the right as executor or legatee. It is now applicable only to Hindus and other religious sects and not to Christians and Muslims [as per Section 213 (2)].” The Commission, in its report to be submitted to the government, recommended deletion of Section 213 (1) and (2), insofar as it discriminated against Hindus and other religious sects.

The report, quoting Article 15 (1) of the Constitution, says: “The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of these. While so the provisions of ISA, 1925 remind us of clear discrimination.”

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