Karta – Powers and Duties

By | June 2, 2017

Introduction to Karta

The joint Hindu family is a patriarchal organization and the head of the family is known as Karta. He is the senior most male member of the family and as a head or manager of the family, he is the representative of the family and acts for or on behalf of the family. A Karta is a person in whom, others in the family repose confidence, so between the Karta and the family members there is a fiduciary relation because there is always a need for a manager to look after the welfare of minor members and females in a joint Hindu family. Such manager of the joint Hindu Family is known as the Karta of family and he enjoys immense powers in respect of the management of the affairs of family and its property.

The position of Karta in a joint Hindu family is unique. He is that person who takes care of the whole family and its property and administers it and all the members of the family remain in discipline under his control and are bound by his decisions. A Karta incurs unlimited liability and is representative of the family in all the affairs. It has been said regarding the position of Karta that no one else is equivalent to him in the family. The position and powers are wider than anyone.

POWER

  1. Power over income and expenditure
  2. Power to manage joint family business
  3. Power to contract debt for family purposes
  4. Power to enter into contracts
  5. Power to refer to arbitration any matter involving the interest of joint Hindu family and the other members of the family including minors
  6. Power to enter into compromise in any matter relating to joint Hindu family property
  7. Power to give discharge to the debt due to joint family
  8. Power to acknowledge debts or make a part payment of it, so as to extend the period of limitation.
  9. Power to represent in suits
  10. Power of alienation of joint Hindu family property

But this does not mean that he is a dictator. His position is extremely sensitive. He has to move along with all the members. Thus the position of the Karta is a mixture of rights and duties. He has to maintain the balance between rights and duties.

DUTIES AND LIABILITIES

  1. He has the duty to render accounts to the other coparceners regarding the income from joint family property and expenditure thereon
  2. He has the duty to realize the debt due to the family
  3. He has the duty to spend the joint family funds only for the purposes of the family and should spend reasonably
  4. It is the duty of the Karta not to start a new business without the consent of other coparceners.
  5. It is the duty of Karta not to alienate the coparcenary property without legal necessity or benefit to the estate.

WHO CAN BE A KARTA

  1. Hindu Law believes that the senior most coparcener is the Karta of the family. Refer case of Ram v. Khera -1971.
  2. Any coparcener becomes Karta of the family because of his seniority not because of anyone appointed him. Refer a case to this effect Mann v. Jayani-1918 it was held that such a person till he lives continues as the Karta of the family although he may be aged, handicapped, weak or ill.
  3. However, any Karta becomes unsound mind then the senior most coparcener would become the Karta.

WHETHER A JUNIOR MOST COPARCENARY BECOMES KARTA.

Generally, it does not happen but in a case of Narendra Kumar v. Income Tax Commissioner-1976, it was held that a junior coparcener can be the Karta with the consent or agreement of all the coparceners.

In another case of Harihar Sethi v. Ladu Kishore Sethi -2002, it was held by the Orissa High Court that junior coparcener can be the Karta when the senior most coparcener waives his right of Karta then a junior member can become Karta.

Whether mother can become the Karta. 

In the case of Pandurang v. Pandurang -1947 it was held by the Nagpur High Court that the mother can become Karta if there is no other adult coparcener here the Supreme Court does not agree to this view in the case of Commissioner of Income-tax v. Seth Govind Ram -1986.

The Karta of Joint Hindu Family at a time can only one not more, but with the consent of other coparceners there can be more than one Karta: refer a case of Mudrit v. Ranglal 1902 and Shankar v. Shankar 1943.

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