The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday ruled that a child born of rape had the right to inherit his/her biological father's property, The Times of India reported.
The HC added that the right will however be subject to personal laws as applicable.
TOI quoted the court as saying, "The child will be treated as an illegitimate child of the biological father. However, if he/she is given away for adoption, the child will not have the right to inheritance."
"The matter relating to inheritance, the manner of birth...is irrelevant; the rights of inheritance of a person are governed by the personal law to which the person is subject, irrespective of the manner of birth," it added.
The court was delivering its judgement in the case of a 13-year-old girl who was raped and got pregnant earlier this year. When the victim's family discovered that she was pregnant, it was already past the legal deadline of 20 weeks for abortion. Though they moved the HC, a team of doctors appointed by the court observed that it was too late and dangerous for the victim to get an abortion.
It is then, states TOI, that the court appointed a set of lawyers to assist the family in matters of inheritance for a child born of rape. The court also ordered the government to pay the child Rs 10 lakh as maintenance and to ensure that the victim gets a job once she is an adult.
The TOI report further states, "It (the court) clarified that it was not giving any specific direction for inheritance of property in the case because it may have grave consequences if the father starts claiming some special reproach privileges over the child, like rights of visitation or custody, which is “undesirable".
"It may not be possible to judicially lay down any norm or principle for inheritance by a minor who is born as a result of rape. Such attempt by the court would amount to legislation by judicial pronouncement and would operate as precedent in times to come. It would not therefore be desirable to venture into this field and accordingly we leave it open for the appropriate legislature to deal with this complex social issue," the court said.