Are widows legally entitled to have share in their demised husbands’ property?

Submitted by asandil on 5/14/2014

The prime reason behind why widows don’t get to claim their property rights is that the traditions around remarriage are unquestionably interfaced to the land and property issue, and are intended to keep widows from owning property.

The traditional Brahminical perspective of widowhood is that the dowager is physically alive yet socially dead. They are required to pass away before the spouse, or alongside him, and on the off chance, that they live after their husbands’ demise, then they stay in the in-law’s house, subjecting sustenance and ordinary things, and are sure to watch the traditions that keep them minimized socially.

The upper caste widows in almost each and every corner of India are actually not permitted to possess property, despite the fact that by law there is no doubt of the property going out of the family. With the exception of some uncommon categories of property, they have been given those lawful rights. They should not remarry, thus if there is no gems and jewels, the widow possesses no property.

Notwithstanding, for widows of cultivating and working or laboring positions and groups, remarriage is permitted, and even are supported in a few spots. Here it is found that even today, numerous groups in what used to be the old “Maha Punjab” which incorporates Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and in Gujarat (and presumably in other states too), favors the type of remarriage of the widow with the expired spouse’s more youthful sibling, or her “devar”. This keeps the property in the family, and accommodates the security of the widow as she remains in association with a man in the same family.

As an answer for the issue of upkeep, a few groups, while not giving any right of ownership over the land to the widow, permit her to utilize a part of the land to gain a subsistence measure of food grains or monetary value.

Anyway, even with this, the circumstances are not clear and lucid. As she is typically not equipped to furrow the land (for profoundly imbued standard reasons), so she needs to take the assistance of male members of her in-laws. This regularly brings about the interest for an offer of the yield, as they have helped her in growth. Such was the situation reported in Varsha Bhagat Ganguly’s study in Gujarat.

In Marty Chen’s study, we learn that:

“Of those widows whose husband owned land, 51% reported that they exercised use rights over a share of their husband’s land, and second, of those widows whose father (father or mother, in the case of Kerala) owned land, 13% report that they exercised use rights over a share of their father’s (or mother’s) land. However, these use rights of widows are often violated in practice”.

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