In a landmark judgment, the Gujarat high court has ruled that a Hindu woman, who married a Muslim and renounced her Hindu faith to embrace Islam, is entitled to inheritance of her father’s ancestral property as per the Hindu Succession Act. In an ordered signed on Wednesday , Justice J B Pardiwala interpreted the Hindu inheritance laws and said, “The Hindu Succession Act does not disqualify a convert (from inhering ancestral property). It only disqualifies the descendants of the convert, who are born to the convert after such conversion from inheriting the property of any of their Hindu relatives.“With this, the high court ordered the state revenue authorities–who were of the opinion that since the woman had renounced her Hindu religion voluntarily , she does not have any right to share in her Hindu father’s property-to correct entries in revenue record by entering the woman’s name into the list of heirs.

The case involves Nasimbanu Firozkhan Pathan (nee Nainaben Bhikhabhai Patel) from Vemali village in Vadodara.

She renounced Hinduism and embraced Islam on July 11, 1990 before marrying Firoz Khan on January 25, 1991as per the Muslim rituals.

Nasimbanu’s father Bhikhabhai Patel passed away in 2004, leaving behind sizeable parcels of land in the village. When she applied for entering her name in the list of heirs, her sister and brother opposed on the ground that she was not eligible to inherit the property because she had converted to another religion.

Interestingly , deputy collector held that the Muslim woman was entitled to inherit the property. The district collector and the state revenue secretary overturned the decision.

Justice Pardiwala said, “The change of religion and loss of caste have long ceased to be the grounds of forfeiture and the only disqualification on the ground that the person has ceased to be a Hindu is confined to the convert’s heirs . The disqualification does not affect the convert.“