HUF can have female member as ‘karta’ rules Delhi High Court [Read judgment]

Clients and lawyers waiting in the Delhi High Court
Clients and lawyers waiting in the Delhi High Court

In a judgment that is expected to have far reaching ramifications, the Delhi High Court has ruled that a female member of a Hindu Undivided Family can also be the ‘karta’.

As per Hindu Law, a ‘karta’ is defined as the senior-most family member,  entitled to manage family affairs. This position has traditionally been held by men.

However, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 had paved way for the recognition of a daughter a co-parcener by birth in her own right and accorded her the same rights in the co-parcenary property that are given to a son. Justice Najmi Waziri has relied on this statutory amendment while adjudicating a suit.

The plaintiff, Mrs. Sujata Sharma, who was the first born amongst the co-parceners of a Hindu Undivided Family property, had claimed that she was entitled to be the ‘karta’, and not her cousin brother.

In its 27-page order, the court has noted,

“In the present case, the right of the plaintiff accrued to her upon the demise of the eldest Karta…. In any case, it is not denied that she is the eldest of the co-parceners. By law, the eldest coparcener is to be karta of the HUF…

…it is rather an odd proposition that while females would have equal rights of inheritance in an HUF property, this right could nonetheless be curtailed when it comes to the management of the same. The clear language of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act does not stipulate any such restriction.”

N Waziri J.
Justice Najmi Waziri has relied on the 2005 statutory amendment while adjudicating a suit. (Image: Delhi High Court)

Recognizing the social relevance of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, the judgment further goes on to state,

“[the Act] gives equal rights of inheritance to Hindu males and females. Its objective is to recognise the rights of female Hindus as co-parceners and to enhance their right to equality apropos succession.

Therefore, Courts would be extremely vigilant apropos any endeavor to curtail or fetter the statutory guarantee of enhancement of their rights…

…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.

The Court finds no restriction in the law preventing the eldest female co-parcener of an HUF, from being its Karta.

You can read the judgment here.