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Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 08, Nov 2021
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Reference News:

Last week, a district autonomous council in Meghalaya announced that it would introduce the ‘Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021.

  • It is aimed at “equitable distribution” of parental property among siblings in the Khasi community.


If implemented, the proposed Bill would modify an age-old customary practice of inheritance of the matrilineal Khasi tribe.

Aims and Objectives of the Bill:

  1. Equitable distribution” of parental property among siblings – both male and female.
  2. Let parents decide who they want their property to inherit.
  3. Prevent a sibling from getting parental property if they marry a non-Khasi and accept the spouse’s customs and culture.

Need for this Bill:

Many times, boys are not able to take loans because there is no collateral to show. Sometimes, when a couple has no children, and there is no genuine heir, the clan takes over the property, as per custom. It leads to a number of litigations by children against their parents.

But, why does the matrilineal system in Meghalaya rarely empower women?

  • Custodianship is often misconstrued as ownership vested in just one person, that is the youngest daughter. This custodianship comes with the responsibility to care for aged parents, unmarried or destitute siblings and other clan members.
  • Moreover, the custodian cannot buy or sell the land, without taking permission from her maternal uncle.
  • Also, most of the property is clan property or community property.

Matriliny in Meghalaya:

The three tribes of Meghalaya — Khasis, Jaintias, and Garos — practise a matrilineal system of inheritance. In this system, lineage and descent are traced through the mother’s clan.

  • Here, children take the mother’s surname, the husband moves into his wife’s house, and the youngest daughter (khatduh) of the family is bequeathed the full share of the ancestral — or the clan’s — property.
  • Custom also dictates that the khatduh cannot sell the property, without permission of her mother’s brother (maternal uncle) — since he technically belongs to the mother’s clan, through which descent is traced.
  • This inheritance tradition applies only to ancestral or clan/community property, which has been with the family for years.
  • In this traditional set-up, if a couple does not have any daughters, then the property goes to the wife’s elder sister, and her daughters. If the wife does not have sisters, then the clan usually takes over the property.