Critical Analysis Of Inheritance Rights And Impact Of Conversion

Priya Fandon, Student
Tamil Nadu National Law University, Tamil Nadu
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Date : 10/06/2023
Location : Tamil Nadu National Law University, Tamil Nadu
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Critical Analysis Of Inheritance Rights And Impact Of Conversion

In our culture, we value the fact that each of us was born into a particular religion and has practiced it throughout our lives. We reside in a society that respects our liberty to make our own decisions. People have been seen to change their religious affiliations. It's perfectly acceptable to convert for reasons like "sudden faith in a particular religion" and "marriage to a particular caste or religion." Much psychological research on conversion has mostly focused on how each individual's conversion impacts them. However, religious conversion changes society as a whole as well as individuals. According to studies, conversion affects a person's identity and causes social change. Based on the scanty literature, we can conclude that social transformation results from group or community conversion.


1. Hindu Inheritance Laws:

The Hindu Succession Act regulates inheritance among the Arya Samaj, Jains, Sikhs, and Jains. Hindu inheritance laws divide beneficiaries into four groups based on their connections to the holder: Class I, Class II, Agnates, and Cognates. This occurs most frequently in HUFs (Hindu Undivided Families), but it can also occur in nuclear families.

The Class I heirs receive equal shares upon the passing of a Hindu male. The preference is passed on to the Class II heirs if no Class I heir exists. The Agnates and Cognates receive equal parts of the property in the absence of any Class I and II heirs. The property is declared escheat and the government establishes rights on it if the dead holder who died intestate has no heirs as per the classifications indicated.

Hindu women's property is split equally between their husband's and children upon death. The husband's heirs are given preference in the absence of a spouse and children. Her parents would come next in the order of desire. The property may be divided amongst her father's heirs and then her mother's heirs in the absence of her parents and the aforementioned beneficiaries.

2. Muslim Inheritance Laws:

Islamic succession law maintains similar laws for both self-acquired and inherited property, making no distinction between the two. Shias and Sunnis are treated differently in regard to the legislation. ForShias, all heirs receive equal parts, however, for Sunnis, the portions are determined based on the branch. Additionally, the property division won't be determined until after funeral expenses, unpaid debts, and domestic worker payments have been distributed. If not already paid, the promised Mehr (Dower) sum will be considered a priority debt in this situation.

The widow of the deceased is entitled to one-fourth of the inheritance if she is childless and one-eighth of the property if she is a parent. In contrast, a widower receives half of the decedent's estate if there are no children and a quarter share if there are. A son is supposed to get twice as much as a daughter does. Only one daughter receives her father's portion of the estate.

Sharers, or the wife, mother, and children, Residuary, or the next of kin, and Distant Kindred, are the three categories of beneficiaries under Islamic inheritance law. Those who fall under the category of Residuary receive a portion of the remaining property. In the absence of both Sharers and residuary, the property passes to Distant Kindred.

3. Christian Inheritance Laws:

Sections 31 through 49 deal with the Indian Succession Act of 1925. There are no distinctions between a widow's and a widower's rights under this. If there are no children from the marriage, both a widow and a widower are eligible for a half share of the estate and a third share. In the absence of children, relatives, or other close relatives, both can receive the entire estate. If the deceased spouse is still alive, the children will each receive two-thirds part of the estate. The entire estate is distributed equally among the children in the event that the deceased spouse has passed away. In the absence of a spouse and children, preference is given in the following order: parents, siblings, and then relatives.


a. Conversion to Hinduism:

Hindu law is very clear that anyone who changes from Hinduism to a different faith is not ever allowed to inherit anything from their Hindu relatives. His or her right to inherit terminates as a result of the conversion. If Muslim converts to another religion, they are also not permitted to inherit property. It is significant to remember that the Caste Disabilities Removal Act of 1850 removed the specific restriction. The Freedom of Religion Act was another name for this provision.

There is no formal process to transfer from another religion to Hinduism according to Hindu law. A person shall be regarded as a Hindu the moment he or she has a sincere desire and honest belief to convert to Hinduism. Any Arya Samaj temple will accept applications for free-will conversion to another faith when they are accompanied by legal documentation verifying the applicant's age and place of residence that has been witnessed by two other people. Moreover, "Shuddhi Karma" purifying rituals must be performed. A certificate of conversion will then be sent out after that.

b. Conversion to Islam:

Two straightforward procedures must be undertaken in order for a person to reject their former faith and embrace Islam.

Via Declaration: In order to convert to Islam, he must publicly state that he has renounced his previous religion. He must genuinely believe that Muhammad is the actual messenger of Allah and that there is no other God to save him. He also holds the view that the Holy Quran is the literal word of God.

Via Rituals as dictated by Islam: A person will first travel to a mosque where the imam will ask him to recite the "Shahada," which is a declaration of faith that "there is no other deity but Allah and Muhammad are the true messenger given by God to humankind." Subsequently, he is also given a new Muslim name, which must be recorded in the Imam's register.

c. Conversion to Christianity:

Any non-Christian can renounce their previous religion and adopt Christianity by making a promise to atone for past transgressions. The person must also commit to following Jesus' teachings as they are described in the New Testament and have a strong faith in him. One must be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although the most widely recognized event for converting to Christianity is baptism.

The Supreme Court determined that two key aspects must be proven for a person to convert from one faith to another in the case of M. Chandra v. M. Thangamuthu and Others, (2010) 9 SCC 712. First, the conversion must have occurred, and second, it must have received approval from the community to which it has been made.

The court ruled in Perumal Nadar (dead) by Legal Representative v. Ponnuswami Nadar (minor), (1970) 1 SCC 605, that no official ceremony is necessary to prove conversion. But, in the Hindu faith, a sincere desire and conviction to change one's religion must exist in order for the conversion to be accepted as authentic.

Last but not least, the court determined in the case of Sarla Mudgal, President Kalyani, and Ors. v. UOI and Ors., (1995) 3 SCC 635 that conversion to Islam for the express purpose of polygamy cannot be regarded as legal. In the Lily Thomas, (2000) 6 SCC 224 case, it was noted that if a person converted to Islam and wed another woman, they would be subject to the bigamy laws' punishments.


While some individuals think it ought to be permitted, others think it ought to be prohibited. When examining this matter, keep the following things in mind:

i. Everyone is allowed to practice any religion they desire since the Indian Constitution upholds the right to freedom of religion.

ii. Sometimes coercion or force is used to induce conversions. When people are given financial rewards or social advantages for converting to another faith, this may occur.

iii. Also, when someone feels helpless or desperate, conversions can occur. For instance, if someone believes that converting to a different religion will help them recover from their illness, they may be more willing to do so.

iv. Others claim that brainwashing is a sort of conversion. According to them, those who convert are not given all the details regarding their new religion, and as a result, they decide based on insufficient information.

v. Others contend that conversion is a religious issue. They contend that the state should not prevent someone from converting if they genuinely believe in their new religion.

It is illegal to purposefully and maliciously insult or offend any class of individuals' religion or beliefs, according to Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Every citizen of India is also given certain rights under the Indian Constitution to freely profess, practice, and spread their religion. Public morals, health, and order are all factors that may affect this provision. In India, there have been a number of forced and voluntary conversions to other religions. Violence between groups has frequently resulted from forced religious conversions. Those who have converted frequently experience rejection from their families and communities. Each individual has the right to freedom of conscience, as well as the freedom to profess, practice, and spread their religion, according to the Supreme Court of India[1*].



In addition to causing a gap in Indian society, religious violence has increased as a result of the conversions. This is so because, although being seen as polytheistic, Hindus are nonetheless a fairly cohesive group of people. It becomes challenging for them to comprehend and embrace the traditions and rituals of another group when different faiths are involved. This issue will only worsen as more conversions take place. To save future violence and carnage, Hindus and Muslims must learn to respect each other's faith and coexist in harmony. India can only achieve true secularism at that point.

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