Agarwal, Bina, and Shruthi Naik. 2024. “Do Courts Grant Women Their Inheritance Shares? An Analysis of Case Law in India.” World Development 182:106688.

Bina Agarwal, a CSH associate researcher and Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester with Shruthi Naik, Hertie School, Berlin, Germany jointly wrote an article “Do Courts Grant Women Their Inheritance Shares? An Analysis of Case Law in India.” It is published in the World Development, volume 182.

The article is available at:

Abstract: Recent decades have seen progressive reform of inheritance laws towards gender equality, both globally and in South Asia. Yet, a wide gender gap persists in actual ownership due to family resistance to endowing daughters with property. Given this, do women use courts to claim their rights across regions? Who are the opposing parties? What kind of property is most disputed? How long do cases take? To what extent do judgements favour women, and does the language of judgements reveal gender stereotypes? No prior study has addressed these questions.

This paper does so for India. Here, under the Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 (HSAA 2005), Hindu women achieved legal equality in inheritance rights over all property, including agricultural land and coparcenary joint family property (JFP) in which they now have direct shares by birth. To analyse women’s use of courts to claim their coparcenary shares, we draw on the four main online data sources to extract 505 cases (from over 2900 examined) relating to women coparceners, where judgements were delivered in High Courts over 2005–2020.

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