(Last Updated on : 06/12/2010)
Division of Inheritance is the section of Arthashastra
which discusses the division of ancestral property, after the demise of the ancestors and the parents, among the sons and all living heirs. Arthashastra lays down certain criteria on the basis of which the division is to take place. The property is supposed to be divided into four generations which remain uninterrupted. Arthashastra provides equal rights for inheritance for both male and female heirs who have been married under the first four ways of marriages. With division of inheritance Arthashastra lays down certain basic criteria which remained perpetual and formed the basis of all the laws of inheritance which exist in India till now. Chapter V of book III in Arthashastra deals with the law of inheritance as has dictated by Kautilya.
Division of Inheritance shall take place only after the demise of the ancestors between the sons and grandsons of the first parent who shall have prescribed share in the same property which is acquired by the means of undivided ancestral property and which continues to remain uninterrupted while those who get interrupted shall have equal division of the property. Those who have been residing jointly shall get the property redivided among themselves. However, the self owned property shall not be divided.
Division of Inheritance then discusses the composition of the share holder who can claim a share on the property .If a man has no male issue ,his brother and all those living together with him shall divide his moveable property while his daughters (born from the legal marriages as described in Arthashastra), shall have his immovable property. If anyone has only sons the property shall be divided equally within all the sons but if the person has only daughters who have been legally married in accordance with the four types discussed in the Book III, shall possess the share of the property. In case the person is left with no siblings then the old parents or any of the survivors shall possess the property but when no such contacts are traced then the property shall go to the king.
Division of Inheritance claims that if the division of property takes place when the father is alive then he shall not make any difference between any of the sons and shall divide the property equally among all the siblings but if the division takes after the death of the father then the elder brother shall take full care to protect the interest of all his younger brothers and sisters. All the share holders must be major and the share of the minors shall be kept under the safe custody of the local guardian preferably with the mother. The property without any claimants as well as the property of the one who is declared idiot or lunatic shall go to the king along with the property of those who have fallen from casts shall have no claim on property and it shall be confiscated by the king.
Division of inheritance further discusses the claimants of inheritance as who shall have what share and the items which shall come under division. Division shall be basically on the basis of caste and the movable properties like animals and cattle shall be shared on the basis of caste. Goats shall go to the elder son among the Brahmans while horses to kshatriyas; cows to vaishyas and sheep among the Sudra. As a matter of routine it has been observed that the best part of the o f the property goes to the elder son while the second best is divided among the middle sons; the elder son shall possess the bronze seat as well as the carriage and jewellery of the father leaving the iron and domestic items for the middle brother. Sisters shall have no claim on inheritance; they shall have the bronze and jewellery of their mother on her demise.
Thus, Division of Inheritance clearly demarcates the avenues through which division shall take place which is supposed to reduce the cause of conflict among brothers .This shall protect the countrymen from entering into distrust and misdeeds which will cause disorder and conflict in the state.