This article is written by Manjeet yadav, a law student of BA LLB 2ND YEAR (at the time of article posting) at AJEENKYA DY PATIL SCHOOL OF LAW. She can be contacted at [email protected].


Hindu law holds various unique features with reference to family institutions and the joint family system is very important aspect in understanding the functionality of the mechanism. The joint family has numerous members with each individual owning their different property rights. Even though the individuality exists, the cohesive structure of family comes into the fore with reference to the decisions which are required to be taken by the family as a whole in various legal and other matters. In such situation, it becomes exigent that there is one individual who shall head such matters and hold decision making powers. Such individual is termed as Karta.

                 The head of Hindu family is referred as Karta. Karta is the manager as he regulates all the functioning of family. All the responsibilities regarding the welfare of family is on the head of Karta. Karta rules the family after having numerous powers and responsibilities. The senior most member of the family is the Karta. He looks after every small necessity of family. Karta acts as the representative of family and acts behalf of the whole family. He can exercise his rights and power in any way he thinks right to maintain peace and balance in family. Karta is the person whom, others in the family repose Confidence, so between the Karta and the family members there is a fiduciary relation because there is always a need for a manager to look after the welfare of minor members and females in a joint Hindu family. 

Who can be Karta?

Senior most male coparcener of Hindu joint family is considered as Karta. [Man vs. Gaini ILR (1918) 40 AII 77].  Position of Karta is SUI GENERIS (means unique). Secondly junior male member of joint family is also considered as the Karta [Modi Vs CIT (1976) 105 ITR 109 (SC)].

For being a female member of family as Karta, In case of Pandurang v. Pandurang- 1947 it was held by Nagpur High court that female member of the family can also be Karta whether it be the mother or any other female. But supreme court in the case Commissioner of Income-tax v. Seth Govind ram-1986 held that females can’t be Karta. If we see Hindu succession act amendments females has given many rights may it be rights related to inheritance, succession law, etc. After noticing such facts the right to be Karta is also assigned to female member of Hindu joint family. The Karta of joint family at a time can only one not more, but with the consent of other coparceners there can be more than one Karta: refer case of Mudrit v. Ranglal 1902 and Shankar v. Shankar 1943.

In the absence of father, the elder minor son could act as the Karta of the family. Therefore, a minor can be the managing member of Hindu family. [Buddhi Jena v. Dhobai Naik (AIR 1958 Orris’s 7)]. 

Its origin is following from the ancient patriarchal system where the patrials or the head of the family was the unquestioned rule, laying down norms for the members of the family to follow, obeyed by everyone in his family, and having an in parallel control over their leaves and properties. Under Hindu law Joint family system come first in historical and the individuality of a person come and the individuality of a person come later. In the beginning property an enquired by the joint family is considered as the joint property he holes family later this perception has changed as the individual members owns property and because independent. This dual property system diluted has survived lasher of time, the judicial and legislative onslaught and Hindu society still recognizes the going family and joint family property as unique entities having no similar concept a line anywhere also in the world.

Hindu Joint family consist of male member followed by their Male ancestor with other females i.e mother, sister, daughters, wives unmarried daughter is a part of joint family before the marriage, afterword Josue Husband’s joint family as his wife. In case of daughter because widens or is deserted by the husband from his Family, then she again becomes the part of Father’s joint family. Her children don’t become members of her father’s family but continue as members of her Husband’s joint family. The senior-most male member along with his sons, grandsons, wife, grandson’s wife’s, great-grandson his wife will form a complete Hindu joint family. To burring into existence joint family for the first teams the presence of senior most male member is essential. However, once the joint family comes into existence it continues despite the death of this male member. Fresh member is added by marriage of lineal male descendant and luth of children in family while existing member may die as death is natural phenomenon. The continuation of the joint family is not restricted to unite it ends by the death of all members of the family.

The member of joint Family is Bound together by the fundamental principal of sapinda-ship of family relationship, which is essential feature of an initiations. The knot that ties the members of family is not property but the relationship with one another.

POWER OF KARTA: –The Karta of the joint family has the following power –

Power over income and expenditure he neither trusty nor agent of other members. Karta cannot misappropriate family friends.

Power to manage joint family luscious or start a new source of income power to contract delete for family purposes. Power to enter into contracts. To refer to arbitration any matter involving the interest of joint Hindu Family and the other members of the family including minors. Karta has the right to enter into compromise in any matter relating to joint Hindu family property. Karta has the power to give a valid Discharge to the debt due to joint family. Also, he has the power to knowledge deletes or make a part payment of it, so as to extend the period of limitation. Karta owns the power of alienation of joint Hindu family property. But this does not mean that he is a dictator this position is extremely sensitive. he Has to mane along with all the members thus the positive of Karta is a mixture of rights and duties he has to maintain the balance between rights and duties.


An unmarried daughter to be a part of her father’s joint family on her marriage and may regain her status if she becomes a window or if on being deserted by the husband comes back to her father’s house permanently. A child male or female born in the family can cease to be a member o0f this family again in future. The marriage of a lineal male descendant under the special marriage act, 1954 to a non-Hindu will result in the automatic severance from the joint family and he cannot become a member of this family even by agreement. Till the passing of the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850, also know as the freedom of Religion act, conversion of a Hindu to another Faith meant an automatic expulsion from the joint family. Since the Act protected and removed the disabilities imposed earlier on a convert, he or she could not be so expelled from the joint family when they ceased to be Hindus by converting to another faith. Yet, since a Hindu joint family is an institution available only to Hindu under Hindu law, such converts can neither from a joint family nor claim the benefit of it for taxation purposes. It has been held that a Hindu father with his Christian wife and a son will form a Hindu joint family. The correctness of the decision is doubtful, as in a joint family the father and son constitute a coparcenary. I the coparcenary, the son has a right by birth. As being Hindu is an essential qualification be a member of the joint family, the son of a Hindu father by a Christian mother need not be a Hindu in all cases. He will be a Hindu only if he is being brought up as a member of his Hindu parent’s tribe or community. In other words. His religion cannot be determined at the time of this birth but is dependent upon his being brought up as a Hindu. As member ship of a son in the joint family is to be determine at the time of birth, a son who may not be a Hindu would not be a member of his father’s joint family. In facts, a Hindu man marrying a non-Hindu is incompetent to form a Hindu joint Family. Presently marriages between a Hindu and a Christian can be validly solemnized under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872. If they marry under the former Act, a Hindu man will cease to be a member of the joint family, there is no reason why the same consequences should not apply if they marry under the latter act. Thus, the concept of a Hindu joint family would mean a Hindu father, having a Hindu wife and Hindu children. It is a Hindu joint family and cannot comprise non-Hindu member let alone a family having only a Hindu father, a non-Hindu wife and children whose religion cannot be determined at birth but is dependent upon he contingency of them being brought up as Hindu.


The word karta is generally as we say the quote “Karta Dharta of the Family” which denoted person who drives every family issue and every task related to Hindu joint family. Karta is not the one who is the employee or agent of joint family who runs the family with his own division and power, but he is the person to whom the responsibility is given to look after the family. Karta is the person who is different from other member of family but his responsibilities are for more difficult to than that of other. In the Hindu joint family this relation of Karta is very unique it is around the world. The Karta of joint family is the system which is introduced in Hindu Law for not to give powers and penalizes to senior member of family but it is for the purpose the head of the family will take care other members with all the affection, care and loyalty. Recently many people are misusing this power of karta in joint Hindu family, many are fighting with legal system. But at the end the legislations have the fair solution and remedies on such cases.

Earlier there were no rights given to the female members of joint family property but this scenario was terminated after passing of Hindu succession Amendment Act, 2005. This Amendment Act has given daughters equal opportunities and rights as to that of sons in the joint family. Hindu Succession Act, 1956 has been taken to more discussion and after that female member of family can also become the Karta of the Family.


Family law by Kusum Pradhan 

Mulla Hindu Law volume 1 part 1.