Meghalaya Tribe women in mixed marriages to lose inheritance rights?

The new bill tabled in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) stated that in case a Khasi woman, who has married a non-Khasi and has adopted the customs of her husband will lose the right of inheritance. Check in detail what are the other conditions of the bill.

Khasi women in Meghalaya
Khasi women in Meghalaya

A bill that aims at stripping Khasi women of their inheritance rights if they adopt their non-tribal husbands’ customs and traditions was tabled in a tribal council in matrilineal Meghalaya on November 8, 2021.

As per the bill brought in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), the children of such mixed marriages will also lose their inheritance rights if they follow their father’s customs.

On the first day of the new session of the KHADC, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Inheritance of Property) Bill, 2021, was tabled by Chief Executive Member Titosstar Well Chyne. The bill detailed the rights of a Khasi woman and her children if she married outside the tribe.

The bill, if passed by the Khasi Hill Autonomous District Council and then approved by the governor, will become a law applicable in the West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills, and Ri Bhoi. These are the districts that come under the jurisdiction of KHADC.

Objective

The proposed bill aims at streamlining the process of distribution of ancestral and self-acquired properties.

As per the bill, as far as practicable, the property should be equitably distributed among all the children of the family both male and female provided that the house of the deceased parent shall be inherited by a Ka Khun Khadduh (youngest daughter) if she is not disqualified (under the conditions of the bill).

In the Khasi matrilineal society, parental property traditionally goes to the youngest daughter of the family.

How Khasi women can lose inheritance rights in Meghalaya?

The new bill tabled in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council stated that in case a Khasi woman, who has married a non-Khasi and has adopted the customs of her husband will lose the right of inheritance.

The bill also stated that it is practical to make law on the custom pertaining to the Khasi inheritance of property, and it is therefore considered important to enact this bill for proper regulation and administration on the inheritance of property among Khasi women in Khasi hills.

In case of second wife

The new bill that aims at altering the inheritance rights of women in Meghalaya states that the second wife will have no right to claim over the property of her husband. Her children will also have no right over the self-acquired property of their father while he lived in the house of the first wife.

Polygamy is accepted in Khasi culture in Meghalaya with certain conditions. The newly tabled bill, however, said that the second wife or her children can have a share of her husband’s property if there is a will in local language.

In case of no children

With regards to the non-availability of heirs in the absence of children (known as lapduh family), the new bill stated that such property will be inherited by way of a will executed by the executor during his/her lifetime or a family settlement or a family declaration executed during a lifetime of the owner of the property.

Bill stripping Khasi woman of her tribal status

In 2018, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC)- one of the three self-governing bodies in Meghalaya- had passed a bill that aimed at stripping a Khasi woman of her tribal status once she married an outsider.

Khasis in Meghalaya

As per the 2011 Census, around 1.4 million Khasis live in Meghalaya. The North-Eastern state has been divided into the three autonomous councils for Jaintia, Khasi, and Garo Tribes.

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