April 16, 2021

Joint Family and Coparcenary under Hindu Law

Family Law

A joint family is an important aspect of Hindu Law. It is an institution where members of the family own property in their name or Coparcener’s name. It started through a common male ancestor and continued till perpetual by birth and death of a member in the family. The head of the family who manages all the affairs of the Joint Hindu family is Karta. He had a right to alienate property without asking from other coparceners if done in good faith. The coparceners in the family had an interest in the property by birth, vest unity of possession and community of interest, shares is specified and at any time asks for partition. 

To constitute a Joint Hindu family, all the members should be Hindu and consists of a common ancestor and male descendants with their mothers, wives, or widows and their unmarried daughters. It is a continuous process as if upper members removed through death then lower members are added through marriage or by birth.[1] In Mitakshara law, the son has a right over the property since birth whether it is a legitimate son or illegitimate son. In earlier times, daughters do not become a member of her father’s joint family after getting married but this situation has changed. Widowed daughter or deserted by her husband can again become a member of her father’s family but her children will always be a member of their father’s joint family. The member can be added to the family through adoption and will be competent to equal rights and obligations given to a natural-born child.

The Coparcenary is a narrower institution and included under Joint Family. It only comprises a male member who had born in the family and acquires an interest in the Coparcenary property. To constitute a Coparcenary as a minimum two male members should be needed to start and continued for a longer time.

Joint Hindu family has unlimited members but Coparcenary is only limited to four generations of unlimited male members. The property acquired by a senior most male member is known as the last holder of the property. For example, the Coparcenary was consisting of father F, his son S1, and his son’s son S2. All these have form Coparcenary and if the son died the Coparcenary will continue between the father and his grandson. 

In the case of Commissioner of Income Tax V. Laxmi Narayan[2], the court held that if the male ancestor died leaving behind the son, his wife and his mother would remain in the same status i.e., a single male member with a female member can constitute Joint Hindu Family. The court in the case of Attorney General of Ceylon V. Arunachalam Chettiar[3], said after the death of all male members in the family the joint family will continue if their wives are capable of adding a male member either by adoption or if any of them is pregnant. 

The Hindu Joint Family is presumed to be a joint through worship, food, and shelter. In Joint Hindu Family it is presumed that they do not possess any property at all but in Hindu Undivided Family is only connected with property matters.

[1] Corner, L. (2020, October 18). Joint Hindu Family – Concept And Formation Under Mitakshara Law. Law Corner. https://lawcorner.in/joint-hindu-family-concept-and-formation-under-mitakshara-law/

[2] C.J, B. (1935, March 28). Commissioner of Income Tax V. Gomedalli Lakshminarayan. Tax Publishers. https://www.taxpublishers.in/Ency_DT/DT_Judg_Show?003I0367?a0

[3] AttorneyGeneral of Ceylon v. Ar. Arunachalam Chettiar & Ors. (1957, July 7). Tax Publishers. https://www.taxpublishers.in/Ency_DT/DT_Judg_Show?034I0042?a0

Author Details: Smrithi Athreya [Student, Christ (Deemed to Be) University]


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