Explained: A proposed Bill and its possible ramifications in matrilineal Meghalaya

What is the News?

A district autonomous council in Meghalaya has announced that it would introduce the ‘Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021’.

What is the purpose of Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021?

The bill is aimed at the “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. Moreover, the Bill has also brought into focus the practise of matriliny in Meghalaya.

​​What does matriliny in Meghalaya mean?

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. In other words, children take the mother’s surname, the husband moves into his wife’s house, and the youngest daughter (khatduh) of the family is handed over the full share of the ancestral — or the clan’s — property.

The khatduh becomes the “custodian” of the land and assumes all responsibility associated with the land, including taking care of aged parents, unmarried or destitute siblings. 

The khatduh cannot sell the property without the permission of her mother’s brother (maternal uncle).

Moreover, this inheritance tradition applies only to ancestral or clan/community property which has been with the family for years. On the other hand, the self-acquired property can be distributed equally among siblings.

Source: This post is based on the articleExplained: A proposed Bill and its possible ramifications in matrilineal Meghalayapublished in Indian Express on 1st November, 2021

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