If the Bharatiya judiciary is to be believed Hindu daughters whose mother converted to Islam have no right of inheritance to her assets. Three daughters who were abandoned by their mother have lost their claim to her assets because they are Hindus. The woman, who was their sole guardian, remarried and converted to Islam.
The verdict was given by a Gujarat court while deciding a lawsuit related to maintenance filed by the woman’s daughters. The three were claiming their mother’s retirement benefits from her government job. Ranjan Tripathi, a BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) employee, abandoned the three to marry a Muslim man. She had been given the job prior to her conversion-nikah on humanitarian grounds by BSNL on account of her husband’s (a BSNL employee) untimely death.
The three women were raised by their father’s family. They sued their mother in 1990 demanding maintenance as she had abandoned them. The daughters had won the case. The woman was already living with the Muslim man then. However, in 1995, when she married the man and became Rehana Malek, things changed.
She named her son from her Muslim husband as her nominee in her service records. When she died in 2009, her daughters filed a civil suit in Ahmedabad laying claim to her provident fund, gratuity, insurance, leave encashment and other benefits. However, this week, the court ruled that since they were Hindus, they couldn’t inherit their Muslim mother’s assets.
Notably, in 2018, a Mumbai (Bombay) High Court verdict said that a Hindu woman who converts to Islam has the right to inherit her father’s property. During the ruling, the judge remarked that religion of birth should be taken into account in matters relating to inheritance. “The right to inheritance is not a choice but it is by birth…A Hindu convert is entitled to his/her father’s property if the father died intestate,” the court said.
The Indian judiciary has more often than not displayed its Hinduphobic side. Also, the judiciary is probably the most conflicted organization where laws are subjected to the interpretations of the judges. As in the present case, why are Hindu daughters denied inheritance if a Hindu becoming a Muslim can lay claim to his/her parents’ inheritance?
We have witnessed the double standards and conflicting stances taken by different judges and courts in similar cases. However, the one thing that is constant is Hindudvesh (Hinduphobia) which characterises a large section of the judiciary. The question that arises in cases such as the ones stated above is whether the judiciary is actively making a case for Hindus to convert if they wish to retain their inheritance rights.