In a landmark verdict, the Delhi High Court said that the eldest woman member of a Hindu undivided family can be its karta (manager of the family and its properties).
In the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) or a joint family, karta is the member of the family whose position is superior to that of others and is in charge of family affairs including assets management and rituals. Hearing the case filed by eldest daughter of a Delhi-based business family claiming to be its Karta, the court observed
“If a male member of a Hindu Undivided Family (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 law preventing the eldest female co-parcenor of an HUF, from being its Karta.”
The woman was challenging her cousin brother, the eldest son of a younger brother, who declared himself as Karta after her father and three uncles passed away. Suvigya Vidyarthi, an associate lawyer who practises at the Delhi High Court, said
, “A married daughter can be the Karta if she is the eldest child in the father’s HUF until a male descendant attains adulthood.”
According to the amendments made in Hindu Succession Act in 2005, section 6 provides levelled playing field for women with no restriction on them becoming the Karta.
Traditionally, men are appointed as Karta of the family
Justice Najmi Waziri ruled that Section 6 gave equal rights of inheritance to Hindu males and females, and its objective is to recognise the rights of female Hindus and to enhance their rights to equality apropos succession. He added:
“Therefore, courts would be extremely vigilant in any endeavor to curtail or fetter statutory guarantee of enhancement of their rights. There is no reason why Hindu women should be denied the position of a Karta.”
The verdict is regarded as landmark judgement and has put the 2005 amendments to practice. The ruling will empower women, especially in the family.
Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act gives equal rights to males and females
“Since a ruling passed by a high court of any state becomes applicable in lower courts of other states, the new interpretation to the existing property law will be followed by lower courts of other states unless their state’s high court were to contest it,” said Vidyarthi.