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Matrilineal bill in Meghalaya

Date: 03 November 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws


A district autonomous council in Meghalaya is set to introduce the Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021.



The bill aims towards equitable distribution of parental property among siblings in the Khasi community.



Khasis are matrilineal tribes. The new bill would modify the age-old practice of inheritance in the tribe. The bill has brought back focus on matrilineal societies.


Matriliny in Meghalaya

  • Meghalaya has three important tribes: Garo, Khasi and Jaintia. The all three tribes practice matrilineal system of inheritance. 

  • In this system of inheritance, the descent of an individual is traced through mother’s clan. The husband lives in wife’s house and children take up their mother’s surname.

  • The youngest of the daughter, known as khatdu, is given the full share of the ancestral property. She becomes the custodian of the land.

  • She is responsible for management of land, taking care of parents, looking after siblings. She cannot sell the property without the permission of the mother’s brother.

  • The inheritance rules apply only to ancestral property. The self-acquired property can be equally distributed among children.

  • If there are no daughters, the property goes to the wife’s elder sister and her daughters. If the wife does not have any sisters, the clan takes over the property.


Role in women empowerment

  • The matrilineal property does not empower women. The daughter is just the custodian. They do not have ownership rights.

  • In the state only about 30-35 percent of women own properties as majority of them is owned by the clans. They also do not have any decision making powers.


Provisions of the bill

  • The bill is set to be introduced in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC). The main aim is to equitably distribute parental property between siblings.

  • Parents will have the right to decide the will of the property. A sibling will not get property if they marry a non-Khasi.


Need for bill

  • Male children are unable to take loans as they do not have land to show as collateral.

  • Property is taken over by clan if the couple has no legal children as heirs.

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