MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court today held that a Hindu woman or a man does not lose the right to inherit parents' property under the Hindu Succession Act even after converting to another religion.
Justice Mridula Bhatkar upheld a lower court's order in favour of Nazneen Qureshi, a city resident.
"The right to inheritance is not a choice but it is by birth and in some cases it is acquired by marriage.
Therefore, renouncing a particular religion and to get converted is a matter of choice and cannot cease relationships which are established and exist by birth," Justice Bhatkar said.
"Therefore, a Hindu convert is entitled to his/her father's property, if father died intestate (without making a will)," she added.
Qureshi, born to Hindu parents, converted to Islam in 1979 and married a Muslim man.
After the death of her father, she laid equal claim to a flat and a shoe shop owned by her father along with her five sisters and a brother.
Her brother contested her claim, saying that as she had converted to Islam, she must be disqualified under the Hindu Succession Act.
The brother also sold off the shoe shop and did not share the proceeds with Qureshi, her plea said.
She filed a civil suit and the lower court granted her plea that her brother be restrained from selling or creating any third party rights in the family's flat.
The brother challenged the order in the HC.
His counsel argued that as the Act did not apply to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis, by marrying a Muslim and changing her religion Qureshi had "lost the right in the suit property".
Her lawyer, however, argued that section 26 of Hindu Succession Act disqualifies descendants of a convert, but not a convert herself or himself.
Justice Bhatkar upheld the argument, saying the section 26 does not take away the rights of succession of a convert.