Hindu who converts to another religion can still inherit property under Hindu Succession Act: Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ruled that a Hindu doesn’t lose the right to inherit his/her parents’ property after converting to another religion. This ruling by Justice Mridula Bhatkar was in the form of the High court upholding a lower court’s order which favoured Nazneen Qureshi, who had laid claim to the property of her deceased Hindu father.

As per Justice Bhatkar, the right to inheritance by birth or in some cases is via marriage and isn’t a choice. Thus renouncing a particular religion for the purpose of conversion cannot cease relationships which are established by birth, ruled the judge. As per detailed reports, the Judge observed that a Hindu convert is eligible to his/her father’s property if he dies without making a will.

In the given case, Nazneen Qureshi was born to Hindu parents who had married a Muslim and had converted to Islam in 1979. Since her father’s death, she laid equal claim to a flat and a shoe store along with her five sisters and a brother. The brother, as a result, contested her claim by arguing that since she had converted to Islam, she should be disqualified under the Hindu Succession Act.

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He also later sold off the shoe store and didn’t share the earnings with Nazneen. As a result, she filed a civil suit in a lower court to restrain her brother from “selling or creating any third party rights” for their family flat. The court passed an interim order in her favour. This was challenged by the brother Balchand Lalwant in the Bombay High Court, which has resulted in the current ruling.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time such a ruling has been passed by the Indian courts. In September 2017 it was reported that the Gujarat High Court had ruled that a Hindu daughter could inherit her father’s properties even after converting to Islam. Here the judge had interpreted the Section 2 of Hindu Succession Act to rule that, “if the parents are Hindus then, the child is also governed by the Hindu Law or is a Hindu”.

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