In India, inheritance of property is governed by the personal laws of each religion and community. Such laws contain gendered terms, which means that a transgender person must categorize themselves as either male or female in order to be considered under inheritance laws. As a result, it is challenging and confusing to determine how transgender individuals will inherit property.
The issue of gender discrimination has been raised by the Consultation Paper on Reform of Family Law, the 174th Report of the Law Commission of India , and the 207th Report of the Law Commission of India, but nothing has been concluded yet about how transgender people can be included in the inheritance laws.
Two main reasons that make it challenging for transgender people to inherit property:
- According to inheritance laws, there are only two sexes: males and females.
- It is difficult to identify a successor.
The country has recognized transgender individuals as a "third gender" since 2014, and the Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling granting transgender people the right to self-identify as male, female, or transgender.
However, despite these advancements, there are still many challenges faced by transgender individuals especially when it comes to inheritance rights.
Transgender people often recognize themselves as females while claiming the inheritance of property rights, which violates Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on gender/Sex.
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 in itself is gender-neutral under which Sections 24 and 26 provides for the grounds for disqualification of a person from inheritance and being a transgender is no ground for such disqualification. However, no provision for them has been made under the Act.
In 2016, a Bill to protect the Rights of the transgender community in India was passed by the Parliament but it failed to address the major concerns of this community.Then The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, was passed to protect the rights of transgender individuals and provide them with some legal recognition. However, both these Bills – passed in 2016 and 2019 – failed to address major legal issues regarding the community’s civil rights, including the ones to inheritance, and property.
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