Answering an appeal filed before the Bombay High Court which questioned the claim over property of a Hindu converted to another religion, Islam in this case, the Court observed that a Hindu converted into another religion is not disqualified to claim the property under Section 26 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
Upon a plain reading of the concerned provision, Section 26 states:
Where, before or after the commencement of this Act, a Hindu has ceased or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion, children born to him or her after such conversion and their descendants shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of any of their Hindu relatives, unless such children or descendants are Hindus at the time when the succession opens.
In the present appeal, the Counsel for the Appellant argued that the Respondent did not fall within the purview of Section 2(1)(a) and that the Respondent is barred under Section 2(1)(c) thereby refuting her claim to her father’s property. However, it was argued by the Counsel for the Respondent that the Respondent is not excluded from claiming her right in the property of her father but it is the descendants of the Respondent that are disqualified under Section 26 of the Act. The Court observed that
The right to inheritance is not a choice but it is by birth and in some case by marriage, it is acquired. Therefore, renouncing a particular religion and to get converted is a matter of choice and cannot cease relationships which are established and exist by birth. Therefore, a Hindu convert is entitled to his/her father’s property, if father died intestate.
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