India: Women Can Now Be Karta In An HUF Governed By Mitakshara Law

Introduction

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, in its landmark verdict pronounced in the matter of Mrs Sujata Sharma v Shri Manu Gupta & Ors [CS (OS) 2011/2006], has held that the eldest woman member of a Mitakshara Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) can be its "Karta / Manager". The ruling came on a suit filed by the eldest daughter of a HUF in North Delhi.

This ruling is pivotal as it takes the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 which amended Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (HSA) to its logical conclusion.

Background

Prior to Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, according to Section 6 of the HSA, in an HUF, the share in the coparcenary property of a Hindu male dying intestate used to devolve upon his sons (also known as coparceners) only and not upon his daughters. On 9 September 2005, Section 6 of the HSA was amended by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 which removed this discrimination by giving equal rights to daughters in the Hindu Mitakshara coparcenary property as that to a son. Pursuant to the said amendment, a daughter of a coparcener (i.e., her father) shall, by birth, (i) become a coparcener in the same manner as a son, (ii) be entitled to the coparcenary property in the same manner as a son, (iii) be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the coparcenary property as that of a son, and (iv) be responsible to discharge the debts of her father, grandfather or great-grand father contracted by them after the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, in the same manner as a son.

The amendment does not have a retrospective effect, and if a coparcenary property has been partitioned or disposed of before 20 December 2004, the above amendment shall not affect such property, and a daughter cannot claim any right over such property.

Details of the Judgement and Analysis

The issue which was to be decided in this case was whether the plaintiff, being the first born amongst the existing coparceners of the HUF, would by virtue of her birth, be entitled to be its Karta.

The HUF in question is known as D. R. Gupta & Sons, HUF, whose Karta was Mr D.R. Gupta. He had 5 (five) sons namely (i) Mr Kishan Mohan Gupta, (ii) Mr Mohinder Nath Gupta, (iii) Mr Jatinder Nath Gupta, (iv) Mr Ravinder Nath Gupta, and (v) Mr Bhupinder Nath Gupta. Mr Kishan Mohan Gupta was the eldest son.

D R Gupta & Sons, HUF, held on a long term lease a bungalow situated in Delhi and some movable properties and shares.

Mr D R Gupta died on 1 October 1971 leaving behind him the aforesaid 5 (five) sons together with their respective families. Mr Kishan Mohan Gupta being the eldest son, became the Karta of the HUF. The plaintiff is the eldest daughter of Mr Kishan Mohan Gupta. As time passed, all the aforesaid 5 (five) sons also died and the 1st defendant, being the son of one of the younger brother of Mr Kishan Mohan Gupta declared himself as the Karta of the HUF by virtue of being the eldest living male member of the said HUF.

Such claim of the 1st defendant as Karta of the HUF was challenged by the plaintiff on the ground that after the death of her father and her uncles, she is the senior most member / coparcener of the HUF and hence she is entitled to be the Karta of the HUF. In view that the plaintiff is the eldest member of the HUF, her being a woman cannot be seen as a disqualification from being its Karta since this disqualification has been removed by the amendment brought about under Section 6 of HSA in the year 2005. Further, it has been also held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Tribhovan Das Haribhai Tamboli v Gujarat Revenue Tribunal and Ors. (AIR 1991 SC 1538) that a Karta of an HUF would always be the senior most member of the HUF.

The plaintiff further contended that by virtue of the new provision, a daughter of a coparcener in an HUF now becomes a coparcener in her own right and thus enjoys rights equal to those hitherto enjoyed by a son of a coparcener. The implications of this fundamental change are wide. In view that, a daughter now stands on an equal footing with a son of a coparcener, she is now invested with all the rights of a coparcener, including the right to act as a Karta of the HUF.

The 1st defendant objected to such a claim of the plaintiff and contended that the amendment to Section 6 of HSA only granted equal rights to a daughter to be regarded as a coparcener equal to those to a male member, but it did not extend to granting a daughter a right in the management of HUF property. The 1st defendant also contended that in view that the plaintiff has been married, she cannot be considered to be an integral part of the HUF.

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi observed that it is rather an odd proposition that while women would have equal rights of inheritance in an HUF property, this right could nonetheless be curtailed or fettered when it comes to the management of the same. The clear language of Section 6 of HSA does not stipulate any such restriction nor did the plaintiff's marriage alter the right to inherit the coparcenary property to which she succeeded after her father's demise. Therefore, the submission on behalf of defendant is untenable.

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi further held that the impediment which prevented a woman member of an HUF from becoming its Karta was that she did not possess the necessary qualification of coparcenership. Now that this disqualification has been removed by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, there is no reason why Hindu women should be denied the position of a Karta. If a male member of an HUF, by virtue of his being the first born eldest, can be a Karta, so can a female member.

Comment

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi has now cleared this position in law and has provided a clear and unambiguous interpretation to the object and reasons of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 by extending the applicability of the amendment to not only Hindu women being recognised as coparceners on equal footing with a son, but also recognising the eldest woman member of the HUF as the Karta of the HUF and its properties.

This judgement would have a far reaching effect in most of the HUF in the country where female are the eldest surviving member.

The content of this document do not necessarily reflect the views/position of Khaitan & Co but remain solely those of the author(s). For any further queries or follow up please contact Khaitan & Co at legalalerts@khaitanco.com

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions