What is a Hindu Undivided Family?
According to Hindu law, a HUF is a family made up of the lineal descendants of a single progenitor. Their wives and unmarried daughters are included. You cannot establish a Hindu Undivided Family with a contract. In a Hindu family, it develops naturally. Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist families can also create HUFs in addition to Hindus. Three generations of a family and all of its members may be included in a HUF. Along with the coparceners, it consists of the Karta, who is normally the male head of the family. Even after getting married, daughters remain coparceners in their father’s HUF. They enlist in their husband’s HUF as well. Karta, who is typically the oldest living male family member, oversees a HUF, (Jandhayala Sreeamma v. Krishnanamma AIR 1957).
Karta has some unique powers by which he can decide how the joint family is being run, how the members are being maintained, and who is getting what. He can choose to dispose of the property in case of an emergency or when there is a necessity to do so.
Hindu law’s definition of a joint family and the HUF defined by the Income Tax Act of 1961 are essentially the same. HUF is solely a product of the law, and parties cannot enact it (except in case of adoption and reunion). A HUF is a changeable body; it grows as a family member is born and shrinks when a family member passes away.
Females go and come into HUF on marriage. If there is a family nucleus, there need not be more than one male member to form a Hindu undivided family as a taxable entity under the Income Tax Act. The expression “Hindu undivided family” in the Income Tax Act is used in the sense in a Hindu joint family is understood under the personal law of the Hindus. Under the Hindu system of law, a joint family may consist of a single male member and widows of deceased male members, and the Income Tax Act does not indicate that a Hindu undivided family as an assessable entity must consist of at least two male members (Refer Gowli Buddanna vs. CIT (1966) 60 ITR 293(SC). Where a Coparcener having a wife and minor daughters and no son receives his share of joint family properties on the partition, such property, in the hands of the coparcener, belongs to the HUF of himself his wife, and minor daughters ( N. V. Narendranath v. CWT (1969) 74 ITR 190 (SC) [reference]).
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) reiterated that all assets belonging to a HUF would be presumed to be joint property. Under Indian law, the property belongs to everyone in the family, equally. Members of the undivided family are only eligible to claim their own self-acquired property.
Several schools within the HUF
Dayabhaga and Mitakshara are two distinct schools that result from the HUF’s declassification. Although there are slight variances, these schools nonetheless embody the core of a HUF.
After his father’s passing, he gets it. Each coparcener’s roles and responsibilities are clearly laid out. If there is a partition, the said property must be physically divided. An adult son does not have any authority over the property; thus, he cannot support or oppose any disposal of it. Up until his passing, the father has unquestionable control over the property. HUFs in Bengal and Assam adhere to this arrangement.
All of India, with the exception of Assam and Bengal, uses this system. The son is given coparcenary rights at birth. He has the right to ask for the property’s division because he shares the same rights therewith as his father. He has the right to object to any improper disposal of the aforementioned property. However, during a partition, the property is not physically divided. The HUF’s co-owners are permitted to own a specific numerical portion of the property. The Mitakshara school is divided into four categories.
Analysis of the schools in comparison
Even if both of these systems have drawbacks, the Dayabhaga school has a better chance of succeeding in the contemporary world. The Mitakshara system is rigid and leaves no possibility for adaptation. The Dayabhaga school upholds and protects women’s rights, whereas the Mitakshara system limits them. The Mitakshara system seeks to maintain the close knits of the joint family. Although this technique will give the family members a sense of support during difficult times, there is a good risk that one of them may develop parasitic tendencies. Comparatively to individualism, communism and socialism are less popular ideas. Therefore, contemporary HUFs favor Dayabhaga.
Hindu Coparcenary Within the Hindu Undivided Family, the Hindu Coparcenary is a considerably smaller body. In most cases, a group of people gains a stake in the joint family estate through birth. They are the temporary joint property holder’s son, grandson, and great-grandson. Daughters who are married or single as of 1-9-2005 are now counted.
The coparcenary, therefore, consists of a common male ancestor and his lineal descendants in the male line within 4 degrees, running from and including such ancestor. No coparcenary can commence without a common male ancestor though, after his death, it may consist of collaterals such as brothers, uncles, nephews, etc. The essence of a coparcenary is a community of interest and unity of possession.
Without a common male ancestor, no coparcenary may begin, albeit, after his death, it may include collaterals like brothers, uncles, nephews, etc. Community of interest and unification of possession are the core components of the coparcenary.
Coparcenary rights of a daughter’s most recent status
Coparcenary privileges were previously only granted to male descendants. However, with the 2005 change to the Hindu Succession Act, women were granted equal coparcenary rights by birth. Before this change, daughters were not granted a separate part of the family’s assets. In a 2015 decision, Prakash and Others vs. Phulavati, the Supreme Court made a ruling along these lines, finding that only live daughters of living coparceners (as of the date of its implementation) would benefit from it.
While Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act went counter to the 2005 revision, which gave daughters equal rights with regard to ancestry property, this section discusses the Mitakshara school-governed concept of devolution of interest in a HUF’s coparcenary property. As a result, the Supreme Court decided that daughters enjoy the same rights as sons and that the father need not have been alive when the amendment took effect.
The existence of shared property is not necessary for the HUF to exist. The idea of a HUF has nothing to do with a family owning any property. A HUF is a circumstance in which the presence of a joint estate is not regarded as a necessary condition. Even if there is no shared property ownership, a family may nonetheless exhibit the traits of a Hindu joint family. This togetherness is explained in terms of both food and faith.
The explanation for this is that a Hindu is born as a member of a joint family. As a result of the circumstances, it would follow that a HUF does not necessarily need to be connected to ancestral property at all times. The primary prerequisite is the demonstration of jointness and the fundamental tenet that a Hindu is born as a co-parent. A coparcener in a HUF may have unique characteristics that are different from the HUF’s characteristics. These distinct properties may be those that the coparcener has acquired on their own, through donations, or as a result of bequests.
A coparcener may however choose to integrate the such property into the joint family property by voluntarily pooling it in the common stock of the HUF, with the intention of abandoning his/her separate claim in such property. The coparcener pooling the property must, however, demonstrate a clear intention to surrender any distinct rights to such property in order to establish such abandonment.
Partition of a HUF
A partition may result in the joint and undivided status of a HUF being severed. One or more of the coparceners may start such a partition jointly. A HUF that shares a common diet, place of worship, and estate may be divided both among its members and its assets. A division of this kind could be either full or partial.
A full partition of a HUF would require a division of both its components and its attributes. On the other hand, a partial division would mean that either
(a) only some members of the family would split off from the group, while the others would continue to live in the mixed-up community, or
(b) only some of the properties would be divided, while the others would continue to be owned jointly.
Shares of (each or some, depending on the situation) of the coparceners are determined as a result of partition. Actual property division by metes and bounds is not a requirement of such a partition. Metes and limits property division entails allocating distinct properties to determined shares of family members. The members of the former joint family will hold the properties as tenants-in-common after the division, but only until the joint family property is divided by metes and bounds. As a result, rather than passing through survivorship, a coparcener’s portion of the joint family property will pass through testamentary or intestate succession upon death.
Courts have noted that partition is actually a process by which a property’s shared enjoyment is changed to a variety of separate enjoyments. Since each shareholder already possesses a title, there is no need for a conveyance in this process.
A coparcener does not receive title to the property as a result of a division. It only enables a coparcener to get what is his for reasons of disposal, independent of the intentions of the former co-sharers, in a clear and defined form. A registered partition deed is not required in order for a partition to take effect. Even a family arrangement can grant the right to a separate share in property and enjoyment of it as well as accomplish a division among cohabitants.
- The Hindu Undivided Family in Independent India’s Corporate Governance and Tax Regime, https://journals.openedition.org/samaj/4300
- The Hindu Undivided Family, https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3635-the-hindu-undivided-family.html
- The Basis Tenets of Hindu Undivided Family, https://www.mondaq.com/india/family-law/518126/basic-tenets-of-a-hindu-undivided-family
- The entire law relating to Hindu Undivided Family, https://itatonline.org/articles_new/the-entire-law-relating-to-hindu-undivided-family-huf-explained/
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