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Draft of Hindu property rights law gathers dust

Published : 18 Nov 2022 10:00 PM | Updated : 19 Nov 2022 07:31 PM

A proposed law ensuring equal rights for both Hindu men and women inheritors to their ancestral properties has been gathering dust at the concerned office for years. 

The government had taken a plan to reform the Hindu laws in a bid to ensure equal rights of Hindu women of Bangladesh to their ancestral property. 

As part of the government’s plan, the Law Commission worked on the existing Hindu laws and submitted a report in 2012 with the proposal of enacting a fresh Hindu law in order to abolish discriminations against Hindu women.   

The Law Commission in its recommendation said that the Hindu women will be entitled to inherit property. Legislation should be formulated to ensure their full rights to the ancestral property instead of life rights. The government had begun moving towards reforming the Hindu laws as per the Law Commission’s report and opinions came from a large number of people of the Hindu community. 

However, a draft for the proposed fresh law under the title ‘Hindu Succession Act, 2020’ was prepared by the national level coalition ‘Hindu Ain Pronoyoney Nagorik Udyog’ and some other platforms. The country’s first Hindu woman judge Justice Krishna Debnath had played a vital role in preparing the draft.

The draft law was submitted to the law ministry. The ministry as well as the government has become inactive to enact the ‘Hindu Succession Act’ following mixed reactions among the members of Hindu community.

 A section of the Hindu people has been opposing the government’s move, saying that the issue of family law should be resolved through religious provisions. 

Meanwhile, many other people of the Hindu community don’t support the opposition and logic of the section. They called upon the government not to delay enacting the proposed law in the greater interest. 

The people of Hindu community, who are in favour of law reform, said that a few people are against the government’s move. The government should not count their opposition as the little opposition can’t be a major obstacle. If the law is reformed, the Hindu women in Bangladesh will enter a new era. 

Pulack Ghatack, general secretary at Bangladesh Hindu Law Reform Council, has been working for a long time to form public opinion for the reform of the Hindu laws. 

Supporting the Law Commission’s recommendation and the draft of the Hindu Succession Act, Pulack Ghatack said that there is a lot of discriminations in the existing laws over Hindu women’s rights to property. “As per the existing laws, if there is a son, the daughter doesn’t get anything from the ancestral property. Here we are talking about equality. We want neither men to cheat, nor women to cheat,” he said. 

Talking to Bangladesh Post on Friday (November 18), Pulack Ghatack said that the old laws must be reformed and codified to ensure the equal rights of women. He called upon the government to enact the proposed law as soon as possible, saying that the enactment of a fresh law would open a new chapter in the history of Hindu women in the country. 

As per the existing laws of Bangladesh, the Hindu women are deprived of inheritance in comparison to their male counterparts to their ancestral property. They are also deprived of their husband’s property. India had brought change in this regard through enactment of the ‘Hindu Succession Act, 1956’. The law was updated in 2005 and 2007. 

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