Karta in Hindu Undivided Families: Position, Rights, Powers, and Duties



The concept of the Karta is fundamental to understanding the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), a coparcenary system of property ownership and family governance. This article explores the Karta's position within the HUF, their rights and powers, and their corresponding duties.


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Who Can Be a Karta?

Traditionally, the senior-most male member of the HUF assumes the role of Karta. However, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, now permits females to become Kartas as well.

• Seniority: In the absence of a legal bar, the senior-most male member has the right to become the Karta.

• Mutual Consent: Coparceners can appoint a junior male member as Karta through mutual agreement ([Nopany Investments (Pvt.) Ltd. v. Santokh Singh, AIR 2001 SC 380]).

• Females as Kartas: Following the 2005 amendment, females can be appointed as Kartas with the same rights and limitations as their male counterparts.


Powers of the Karta

The Karta acts as the legal representative of the HUF, wielding significant powers in managing its affairs. These powers are not absolute and are subject to specific purposes and limitations:

1. Power to Represent

The Karta, as the head of the Hindu Undivided Family has the authority to represent the entire family in all matters: legal, social, and religious. He can enter into transactions on behalf of the family, and his actions are binding on all members, Rajayya vs. Singa Reddy.


2. Power of Management

As upheld in the case of Bhaskaran vs. Bhaskaran, the Karta has inherent power to manage and operate the HUF. This power is absolute, and other coparceners cannot interfere unless his actions involve misappropriation, fraud, or illegality.

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3. Power over Income and Expenditure

The Karta exercises extensive control over the joint family's income and expenditure. He is not bound to act like a trustee or agent regarding saving or economizing. However, he must spend the income for the family's benefit, including maintenance, education, marriage, religious ceremonies, etc.


4. Power to Enter into Contracts

The Karta can enter into contracts on behalf of the entire family, and these contracts are binding on all members.


5. Power to Compromise

The Karta can compromise disputes related to family property or its management. This includes pending suits, family debts, and other transactions. However, his actions can be challenged during partition if found to be unfair.

Compromises involving minor coparceners require court approval (Order 32 Rule 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure).


6. Power to Refer to Arbitration

The Karta has the authority to refer family disputes to arbitration, and the arbitrator's award is binding on all members.

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7. Power over Individual Income

All coparceners contribute their income to the Karta, who allocates funds according to each member's needs. While he can discriminate in allocation, he cannot deprive anyone of their right to maintenance.


8. Power to Contract Debt

The Karta can incur debts for family purposes or business, binding other coparceners only to the extent of their interest in the joint property. Debts can also bind adult coparceners personally if they explicitly or implicitly agree to the contract or ratify it later. Minors can be bound upon attaining majority if they ratify the debt.


9. Power to Manage Family Business

The Karta has the authority to manage the joint family business and can take steps necessary for its promotion.


Duties of Karta

1. Duty to Maintain

The Karta is liable to maintain all members of the joint family, who have a right to both maintenance and residence. Failure to provide maintenance can result in a legal action and claims for arrears of maintenance.


2. Duty to Marry Family Members

The Karta has a duty to arrange marriages for unmarried members, especially daughters, as their marriage holds special significance in Hindu law.

In the case of Chandra Kishore vs. Nanak Chand, it was held that the Karta must bear the expenses of marriage from joint family funds or reimburse them if incurred elsewhere.

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3. Duty to Render Accounts

While not obligated to maintain accounts, the Karta must provide them upon request by any coparcener during partition. He can be held liable for any misappropriation or fraud.


4. Duty to Protect Property

The Karta can only alienate joint family property in specific situations: legal necessity, benefit of the estate, or indispensable duties. Any wrongful alienation can be challenged by coparceners.



the role of the Karta within Hindu Undivided Families is pivotal, serving as the head and representative of the family unit. With inherent powers encompassing management, representation, and decision-making, the Karta holds significant responsibility in ensuring the well-being and cohesion of the family. While empowered with rights to manage and make decisions on behalf of the HUF, the Karta is equally bound by duties, including the obligation to maintain family members and preserve the integrity of joint family property. The amendments allowing females to become Kartas reflect the evolving nature of the HUF concept.

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