Often it is seen that the term Bigger HUF and Smaller HUF is used in the matters relating to Joint family Property and a question arises as to what is Bigger HUF and what is Smaller HUF. Bigger HUF generally refers to the HUF consisting of all the members of Joint Hindu Family and the Smaller HUF refers to a branch of the such family which is carved out of the bigger HUF and which holds property which is ancestral in the hands of that branch only and which is separately identifiable to that branch and the members of that branch only. In the case of CIT vs M.M.Khanna(1963) 49 ITR 232 (Bom), the Hon’ble Bombay High Court held that a joint Hindu family springs from a Hindu male and every Hindu male can be the stock of a fresh descent constituting a joint Hindu family or a Hindu coparcenary. Where, from a Hindu male a joint Hindu family springs into existence, this family goes on having its different branches and sub- branches. Each branch starts with the male descendant of the common ancestor and each sub-branch with the male descendant of the head of the branch. While the entire group proceeding from the common ancestor with its several branches and sub-branches in the normal undivided state is a Hindu joint family, each of the branchesand each of the sub-branches again is a Hindu joint family according to the concept of a joint family under the Hindu law. It is, therefore, possible for a main Hindu undivided family to be composed of a large number of branch families, each of the branches itself being a Hindu joint family and so also the sub-branches of those branches. Where a Hindu joint family consists of branch families each of the branch families may possess property which constitutes the joint family property of that branch alone and in which the other branches or the main Hindu family as such have no right or interest. The smaller joint family can have a legal existence and is capable of holding property of its own as distinct from the property of the main family while the main family remains intact. While the main family may possess property which belongs to the entire family or in other words belongs to the hotchpotch of the main family, each of the smaller joint families existing within the main family may possess property which belongs to its own hotchpotch.
Under the Hindu law any member of a joint family can throw his self- acquired property in the hotchpotch of the family to which he belongs and thus make it the joint family property of the said family. A member of the smaller joint family can, therefore, impress his self-acquired property with the character of the joint family property of the smaller family to which he belongs. He is no doubt also a member of the main joint family and he can, if he so chooses, throw his self-acquired property in the hotchpotch of the main family also. But that will be a matter of his volition. There is nothing in the Hindu law or in the concept of a joint family under the Hindu law which prevents him from throwing his property in the hotchpotch of the smaller unit to which he belongs, while the larger unit remains intact.
The throwing of property into the common hotchpotch of the joint family is possible even if the family hotchpotch is empty, i.e., even if there is no nucleus of the family. In this regard, reference can be had to the following decisions:
Thus, the Bigger HUF and the Smaller HUF can simultaneously function without any hindrance and simultaneously be assessed to the Income-tax.
- Subramania Iyer (R.) vs Commissioner of Income-tax (1955) 28 hR 352(Mad).
- Commissioner of Income-tax vs Talukdar (P.N.)(1982) 135 ITR 628(Cal)