If a Hindu woman abandons her children, of whom she is the sole guardian, and converts to Islam, the children are not entitled to her assets.
This is the gist of the verdict recently given by a court in Gujarat in a lawsuit related to maintenance, as reported by several publications.
The plea was filed by three Hindu women claiming their mother’s retirement benefits from her government job.
Three decades ago, their mother, Ranjan Tripathi, left them to marry a Muslim man. Before her conversion-nikah, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) had given Ranjan a job on compassionate grounds after untimely death of her husband, who was a BSNL employee.
BSNL is owned by the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Government of India.
The daughters were raised by the family of their father. In 1990, they sued their mother for maintenance on the grounds that she abandoned them. The daughters won the case.
At that time, their mother was living separately from them with the man. However, the case changed when Ranjan married the man in 1995 and changed her name in her service records to Rehana Malek.
The couple went on to have a son, who Rehana named as her nominee in the service records.
Rehana died in 2009. Her daughters filed a suit in a civil court in Ahmedabad, claiming their right to her provident fund, gratuity, insurance, leave encashment and other benefits.
This week, the court ruled that since Rehana was a Muslim, her Hindu daughters could not inherit her assets.
Readers may remember that in 2018, the Bombay High Court had ruled that if a Hindu woman converts to Islam, she is still entitled to her father’s property.
The judge said that in matters of inheritance, religion of birth is to be taken into account.
“The right to inheritance is not a choice but it is by birth…A Hindu convert is entitled to his/her father’s property, if father died intestate,” the court said.
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