(1) This Act may be called the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Section 2 - Application of Act
(1) This Act applies
(a) to any person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj;
(b) to any person who is Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion; and
(c) to any other person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.
Explanation.The following persons are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion, as the case may be:--
(a) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion;
(b) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion and who is brought up as a member of the tribe,community, group or family to which such parent belongs or belonged;
(c) any person who is a convert or re-convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh religion.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribe within the meaning of clause (25) of article 366 of the Constitution unless the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, otherwise directs.
(3) The expression "Hindu" in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is, nevertheless, a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section.
Section 3 - Definitions and interpretations
(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-
(a) "agnate"-one person is said to be an "agnate" of another if the two are related by blood or adoption whollythrough males;
(b) "Aliyasantana law" means the system of law applicable to persons who, if this Act had not been passed,would have been governed by the Madras Aliyasantana Act, 1949, or by the customary Aliyasantana law with respect to the matters for which provision is made in this Act;
(c) "cognate"-one person is said to be a cognate of another if the two are related by blood or adoption but notwholly through males;
(d) the expressions "custom" and "usage" signify any rule which having been continuously and uniformlyobserved for a long time, has obtained the force of law among Hindus in any local area, tribe, community,group or family:
Provided that the rule is certain and not unreasonable or opposed to public policy; and
Provided further that; in the case of a rule applicable only to a family it has not been discontinued by the family;
(e) "full blood", "half blood" and "uterine blood"-
(i) two persons said to be related to each other by full blood when they are descended from a common ancestor by the same wife, and by half blood when they are descended from a common ancestor but by different wives;
(ii) two persons are said to be related to each other by uterine blood when they are descended from a common ancestress but by different husbands;
Explanation.-In this clause "ancestor" includes the father and "ancestress" the mother;
(f) "heir" means any person, male or female, who is entitled to succeed to the property of an intestate under this Act;
(g) "intestate"-a person is deemed to die intestate in respect of property of which he or she has not made atestamentary disposition capable of taking effect;
(h) "marumakkattayam law" means the system of law applicable to persons-
(a) who, if this Act had not been passed, would have been governed by the Madras Marumakkattayam Act, 1932; the Travancore Nayar Act; the Travancore Ezhava Act; the Travancore Nanjinad Vellala Act; the Travancore Kshatriya Act; the Travancore Krishnanvaka Marumakkathayyee Act; theCochin Marumakkathayam Act; or the Cochin Nayar Act with respect to the matters for which provision is made in this Act; or
(b) who belong to any community, the members of which are largely domiciled in the State of Travancore Cochin or Madras1[as it existed immediately before the lst November, 1956,] and who, if this Act hadnot been passed, would have been governed with respect to the matters for which provision ismade in this Act by any system of inheritance in which descent is traced through the female line;
but does not include the aliyasantana law;
(i) "Nambudri law" means the system of law applicable to persons who, if this Act had not been passed, would have been governed by the Madras Nambudri Act, 1932; the Cochin Nambudri Act; or the Travancore Malayala Brahmin Act with respect to the matters for which provision is made in this Act;
(j) "related" means related by legitimate kinship:
Provided that illegitimate children shall be deemed to be related to their mother and to one another, and theirlegitimate descendants shall be deemed to be related to them and to one another; and any word expressing relationship ordenoting a relative shall be construed accordingly.
(2) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, words imparting the masculine gender shall not be taken to includefemales.
1. Inserted by the Adaptation of Laws (No.3) Order, 1956.
Section 4 - Over-riding effect of Act
(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act,--
(a) any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu law or any custom or usage as part of that law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have effect with respect to any matter for which provision is made in this Act;
(b) any other law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to apply to Hindus insofar as it is inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act.
1. Omitted vide Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Previous text was "for the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that nothing contained in this Act shall be deemed to affect the provisions of any law for the time being in force providing for the prevention of fragmentation of agricultural holdings or for the fixation of ceilings or for the devolution of tenancy rights in respect of such holdings."