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Whether a Female can become a Karta?

It is important to note that even daughters have become coparceners in the light of amendments made by the Hindu Succession ( Amendment) Act, 2005 and thus there would be no bar on even seniormost female members who are daughters in the family becoming Karta. Though the Apex Court in the case of CIT vs Seth Govindram Sugar Mills (1965) 57 ITR 510 had held in the light of the Hindu Succession Act as it existed at that time that a female cannot be a Karta.


The Nagpur High Court in the case of CIT Vs Seth Laxmi Narayan Raghunathdas 11948] 16 ITR 313 (Nag.), while considering an issue as to whether a widow can be Karta of her husbands HUF, held as under –


“According to the Dayabhaga Laze, the foundation of a coparcenary is first laid on the death of the father. The property of the deceased, separate as well as ancestral is inherited by his male heirs as coparcenary property and is held by them as coparceners. On the death of any one of the coparceners, his heirs succeed to his share in the coparcenary property and they become members of the coparcenary. Such heirs, in default of male issue, may be his widow or widows or his daughter or daughters. These too, though fethales, get into the coparcenary, representing the share of their husband or father as the case may be. A coparcenary under the Dayabhaga Law may thus consist of males as well as females. It is, therefore, obvious that under the Dayabhaga Law a widow becomes a coparcener and she can consequently become the Karta of the coparcenary or the joint family, although she or any other coparcener does not possess the right of survivorship, particularly if she is the only hiember sui juris left in the family.


It is true that under the Mitakshara Law, no female can be a coparcener with male coparceners, presumably, because she does not possess the right to take by survivorship, but we do not think that either this right or the status of a coparcener is a sine qua non of competency to become the manager of a jOint Hindu family of which she is admitted as a member.”


Based on the above discussion, the Nagpur High Court held that a widow was competent to become the Karta of the Hindu undivided family consisting of herself and her two minor sons


In another situation also where the HUF consists of a Hindu mother as well as her minor sons, in such a situation though even under the latest amendments made to the Hindu Succession Act, the mother is not a coparcener and the minor members being not capable of becoming Karta, the Hindu mother can act as a Manager to the HUF for the purpose of assessment and recovery of the taxes as has been .held by the Calcutta High Court in the case of Sushila Devi vs ITO (1960) 38 ITR 316.


Another important point which has emerged out of the recent amendments made by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 is that a female member of a joint Hindu family having acquired the status of a coparcener can characterize the ancestral property received by her from her paternal ancestors as the status of a HUF property even after her marriage and thus She can therefore form a HUF from this ancestral property with her children being coparceners of this HUF.
 
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