Eldest Woman Member can be Karta of Hindu joint family [sujata sharma v. manu gupta, 2015 scc online del 14424

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The Delhi high court while hearing a case pronounced that “If a male member of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), by virtue of his being the first-born eldest, can be a Karta, so can a female member. The court finds no restriction in law preventing the eldest female co-parcenor of an HUF, from being its Karta. The ruling came on a suit filed by the eldest daughter of a business family in north Delhi staking claim to be its Karta on the passing of her father and three uncles. The eldest son of a younger brother declared himself to be the next Karta. But, he was challenged by the daughter of the eldest brother. “Karta” is usually used to describe the main family member and is traditionally inherited by men. The Karta occupies a position superior to that of other members and has full authority to manage property, rituals or other crucial affairs of the family. The learned counsel for the plaintiff further relies upon the 174th Report of the Law Commission of India, which has argued that when women are equal in all respects of modern day life, there is no reason why they should be deprived of the right and privilege of managing HUF as their Karta. She argues that it is in this context, that Section 6 was so formulated that it covers all aspects of succession to a coparcener which are available to a male member to be equally available to a female member also. Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act is a socially beneficial legislation; it gives equal rights of inheritance to Hindu males and females. Its objective is to recognise the rights of female Hindus as co-.parceners and to enhance their right to equality apropos succession.The HC ruling is important because it takes the 2005 reform in the Act to its logical conclusion. While the amendment restricted itself to providing women equal inheritance rights, the verdict now allows them to manage property and rituals of a joint family. There is no reason why Hindu women should be denied the position of a Karta.  The court also noted that the 174th Report of the Law Commission of India had “argued that when women are equal in all respects of modern-day life, there is no reason why they should be deprived of the right and privilege of managing HUF as their karta. The Sujata case is the first such case to be decided by any High Court in the country though there is no data available on whether similar cases are pending before courts.

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