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Report No. 66

VIII. The British Period

3.27. Fifth period (1801 to 1955 A.D.).-

As regards the fifth period (1801 to 1955 A.D.), we may note that the Shastric law was still the main source of the rules on the subject. It is not necessary to examine the rules that were in force on various rights to property, nor would it be practicable to deal with the position in every century. Some salient, features relevant to this period can, however, be usefully s ta ted

(a) Stridhana, was property of which the woman was the absolute owner. The various schools differed in their interpretations of ancient texts as to exactly what property constitutes stridhana, and also as to her powers of alienation. But, in general, the dominion of a woman over stridhana gave her substantial rights of enjoyment and disposal. Examples of stridhana are gifts and bequests of property to a woman from her husband and her relations during maidenhood, coverture or widowhood, including gifts made to her at the nuptial fire during the marriage ceremony or at the bridal procession; gifts by the husband as consolation when taking another wife; gifts of affection from her parents-in-law, and so on.

(b) As regards her power to dispose of stridhana, a woman had, as a general rule, an absolute power during maidenhood and widowhood. During marriage, her right of disposal depended on the character and source of her property, and also on the school of Hindu law by which she was governed.

(c) Succession to stridhana was governed by special rules where the woman had issue, then the first in order of succession was the daughter-unmarried daughters being preferred to married; the daughter's daughter; then the daughter's son. Then the property passed to the son and the son's son. Succession to the stridhana of a woman without issue depended on the form of marriage. It went to the husband if she was married in an approved form; otherwise to her mother and father1.

1. Banerji Marriage and Stridhana, (1923) Lecture 9, p. 400 et. seq.

Married Womens Property Act, 1874 Back

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