In a historic verdict, the Bangladesh High Court has said that Hindu widows are entitled to shares in all properties owned by their late husbands and not just their homesteads. Previously Hindu widows in the country were only entitled to their spouses' homesteads and not other assets like agricultural land. However, human rights activists said that Wednesday's verdict was just a little progress and not an achievement.
"This verdict is of course one step forward in the fight for the establishment of equality between men and women. But there's still a long way to go to achieve the goal for equal rights of Hindu women," Advocate and activist, Dipty Sikder said.
"The Hindu leaders have never played a positive role for the Hindu widows of Bangladesh. Only we the human rights activists have been fighting for 50 years first initiated by the country's legendary activist, Begum Sufia Kamal."
"Still we wish them to come with us to achieve Kamal's goal of a Uniform Family Code."
Meanwhile, Rana Das Gupta, General Secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council hailed the verdict, saying, "We always welcome any positive verdict like this."
A single High Court bench of Justice Miftah Uddin Choudhury passed the order on Wednesday after finalizing a case in this regard.
After 83 years (since 1937), Hindu widows will now get their rights on their husbands' assets.
Barrister Syed Nafiul Islam, one of the lawyers for the plaintiff said: "After this verdict, they (widows) will get a share of agricultural land too."
The strictest part of the Hindu law in the country is the distribution of property among girls.
Enacted in 1937, the law deprived women of the right to inherit their husbands' properties.
One Jyotindra Nath Mandal of Khulna filed a case in 1996 seeking a court order to deprive his dead brother's wife (sister-in-law) of their father's assets.
The lower court said that widows had rights only to the area of the houses in which they lived, and not to agricultural property.
Later, the district judge expressed a different opinion, that widows also had rights to agricultural land in the same manner as their husbands.
The matter was then brought to the High Court.
(With agency inputs)