Does “Son” Include A “Step-Son” For Intestate Succession Under HSA ?

Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act  provides that the property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall devolve (a) firstly, upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class I of the Schedule. 

“Son” is one among the Class 1 heirs. The question is whether the expression “son” will include a “step son”.

The expression “Son” is not defined in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The General Clauses Act defines ‘son’ and includes only the adopted son. 

In Lachman Singh v. Kirpa Singh and Ors., AIR 1987 SC 1616, the issue raised was whether under the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, a step-son of a female dying intestate is entitled to claim a share in her property simultaneously with her son ? It was held that a step-son or a step-daughter of a female Hindu dying intestate are not covered by the expression “son” or “daughter” in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act. They could merely be said to be falling under either clause(b) of sub-section(1) of Section 15 or sub-section(2) of Section 15. While holding thus, the court also observed: “Under the Act a son of a female by her first marriage will not succeed to the estate of her ‘second husband’ on his dying intestate. In the case of a woman it is natural that a step son, that is, the son of her husband by his another wife is a step away from the son who has come out of her own womb.”

The Bombay High Court in Yansh Bahadur Sabhajeet Yadav vs. Dudhnath Kallu Yadav (2017) dealt with a contention that  that “child” in relation to an individual includes the latter’s step- child as well as adopted child under the definition “child” under clause (15B) of Section 2 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. There is no warrant for using the definition of the word “child” under the Income Tax Act for the purposes of construing the expression “son” appearing under the Hindu Succession Act, it was held.

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