Mary Roy v. The State of Kerala 1986 AIR 1011, 1986 SCR (1) 371

Mary Roy v. The State of Kerala 1986 AIR 1011, 1986 SCR (1) 371




Citation: 1986 AIR 1011, 1986 SCR (1) 371

Bench Composition:  P Bhagwati

No. of judges: 1

Acts Referred:

  • The Indian Succession Act (1925)
  • Constitution of India
  • The Travancore Act (1916)
  • The Cochin Christian Succession Act (1921)


  • Mary Roy suffered harassment and humiliation at the hands of her own brothers who hired goondas to evacuate her from their father’s cottage in Ooty along with her children.
  • She refused to vacate as she did not have any other place to go.
  • The reason for this was demand of succession of the property by the Mary Roy.
  • Mary Roy was determined to give it a legal fight to restore her constitutional right to equality.


  • Whether protection of its personal law against the constitutional guarantee allowed.
  • Which law shall be applicable for the succession?
  • Whether the decision of High Court should have retrospective effect.

Issue Answered  and The Judgement:

  • No religious groups, sect or denomination shall be allowed to claim protection of its own personal law against the constitutional guarantee of sexual equality.
  • This violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which lays down equality for everyone and hence, such discriminatory law should be declared invalid.
  • The law applicable to intestate succession among Christians of Travancore area of the State of Kerala was the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
  • This will be having Retrospective Effect from April 1, 1951.
  • A widow receives one-third of the total assets as her share of her husband’s property, and the remaining two-thirds are equally divided among the children of the deceased with no sex difference.
  • If a man dies without a wife and children, his property devolved on his father. In the absence of the father, his mother, brothers, and sisters receive an equal share.



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