PANJIM: Women activists from across the State have hailed the order of the High Court of Bombay at Goa reasserting the rights to property to the married daughters of families. They are hopeful that this order will prove to be a deterrent to those who equate dowry as property settlement to married daughters.
In a recent order delivered by the High Court Justice Mahesh Sonak after hearing the Second Appeal (SA) in a Miscellaneous Civil Application (MCA), the court said “...some dowry was provided to the daughters that do not mean that the daughters cease to have any right in the family property”.
When contacted, Sabina Martins, Convenor of Bailancho Saad said, “The judgement reiterates that the daughters have the same right as sons to undivided family property. The judgement emphasises that oral partition is not accepted. It has to be in writing which is legally acceptable.”
“Dowry is prohibited under Dowry Prohibition Act hence, it should not be practiced. Moreover, dowry cannot be equated to sharing. Sometimes 'dowry' demand is more and sometimes less than the share of the daughter. It doesn't absolve the family from giving the married daughter her share of property,” she said.
Senior Advocate and Social Scientist Shanti Fonseca said, “What is good is that the law has been upheld justly in letter and spirit. The order is well written and is impossible for a higher court to overrule. Many women will stand to benefit from this order,” she said.
Activist Swati Kerkar said, “There were many families who were denying their married daughters their rights to undivided property claiming that they had given dowry. However, the order of the HC will discourage any such attempts in the future.”
“Sons or daughters, all have equal rights to the properties they inherit from their parents. Hence, this order will give great relief to the married daughters of Goa who have been fighting for their rights,” Kerkar said.
An MCA was filed by a Margao-based woman seeking restoration of her undivided rights to the family property in 2008. The respondents had pleaded that four daughters were settled by payment of sufficient dowry at their marriages through a family arrangement.
The HC observed that in the oral partition there is no evidence whatsoever to sustain the plea.
“Merely stating that there was some family arrangement by which four daughters of Antonio and Matilda were given dowry at the time of their marriages is insufficient to spell out the ingredients of the family arrangement or an oral partition,” the HC had said.
“However, even if it is assumed that some dowry was provided to the daughters, it does not mean that the daughters cease to have any right in the family property. The rights of the daughters could not have been extinguished in the manner in which they had been attempted to be extinguished by the brothers, post the father's demise,” the court said.