The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
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 wholly through 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 matter 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 not wholly through males.
(d) the expression “custom” and “usage” signify and rule which having been continuously and uniformly observed 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 are said to be related to each other by full blood when they are descented 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 ancestres 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 at testamentary 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 Travacore Kshatriya Act, the Travancore Krishnanavaka Marumakkathayee Act, the Cochin 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 Madras 1(as it existed immediately before the 1st November, 1956) and who, if this Act had not been passed, would have been governed with respect to the matters for which provision is made 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 mothers and to one another, and their legitimate descendants shall be deemed to be related to them and to one another , and any word expressing relationship or denoting a relative shall be construed accordingly.
(2) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, words importing the masculine gender shall not be taken to include females.
Scope of illegitimate children
A child of void marriage is related to its parents within the meaning of section 3(1)(j) of Hindu Succession Act by virtue of section 16 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Proviso to section 3(1)(j) is confined to those children who are not clothed with legitimacy under section 16 of Hindu Marriage Act; Rasala Surya Prakasarao v. Rasala Venkateswararao, AIR 1992 AP 234.
Under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of section (3) agnates of deceased are also heirs; Basanti Devi v. Raviprakash Ramprasad Jaiswal , (2007) 11 SCR 444.
1. Ins. by the Adaptation of Laws (No. 3) Order, 1956.
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956