Coparcenary refers to an equal inheritance or shared ownership of property that was restricted only to male members of the Hindu Undivided Family(HUF). It is a narrow body of persons within a joint family. Till the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was revised in 2005, the property rights of sons and daughters were different. While sons had full right over their father’s property, daughters enjoyed this right only until they got married. After the wedding, a daughter was assumed to become part of her husband’s family.
Under the Hindu law, a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) is a combination of more than one person, all lineal descendants of a joint ancestor. A HUF can be created by people of Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist faith.
Earlier, once a girl was married, she ceased to be a member of her father’s Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). Many viewed this as curtailing women’s property rights. But on September 9, 2005, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which dictates the devolution of lands among Hindus, was changed. After the amendment, every daughter, whether single or married, is considered as a part of her ancestor’s HUF and can even be appointed as ‘karta’ (who manages) of his HUF property. The improvement now grants girls the same rights, liabilities, duties, and disabilities that were earlier limited to sons only.
Though, a daughter can avail of the profits granted by the amendment only if her father passed away after September 9, 2005. Also, the daughter is likely to be a co-sharer only if the father and the daughter were alive on September 9, 2005.
A coparcenary covers the eldest member and three generations of a family. It could earlier include, for example, a son, father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather. Presently, women of the family can also be a coparcener.
Under the coparcenary, the coparceners take a right over the shared ownership of property by birth. The coparceners’ interest and share in the assets keep on fluctuating by the number of members according to the birth and death of the members in the coparcenary.
Both ancestral and self-acquired property can be a coparcenary property or shared ownership of property. While in the case of ancestral property, it is equally shared by all members of the coparcenary, in the case of self-acquired, the person is free to manage the property according to his will.
Each member of the coparcenary can also sell his or her share in the coparcenary to a third person. However, such a sale deed is dominated to the Right of Pre-emption of the remaining members of the coparcenary. The remaining members, though, have the “right of first refusal” over the land, to end the entry of a stranger.
A coparcener (i.e. not any member) can file a lawsuit demanding partition of the shared ownership of property but not a member. Hence, the daughter, as a coparcener, can now ask the partition of her father’s property.