Woman Can Be ‘Karta’ of HUF; Hindu Law Affirms Women’s Right to Assume the Role of HUF Karta Without Restrictions | Delhi HC

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  • Last Updated on 14 December, 2023

Hindu Succession Act; HUF

Case Details: Manu Gupta v. Sujata Sharma - [2023] 157 taxmann.com 234 (Delhi)

Judiciary and Counsel Details

    • Suresh Kumar Kait & Ms Neena Bansal Krishna, JJ.
    • Aslam AhmedMs Charu Shriyam SinghAbhishek DwivediMs Aakanksha KaulManek SinghAman SahaniHarsh Ojha, Advs. for the Appellant.
    • Ms Mala GoelMs Anita TrehanDr Sarita DhuperMs Kajal ChandraMs Prerna ChopraDivye PuriMs Sakshi AnandBrajesh Kr. SrivastavaDeo Prakash SharmaManoj YadavUmesh Kr. Gupta, Advs. for the Respondent.

Facts of the Case

In the instant case, question that arose before the High Court was whether a daughter can be karta of HUF since recognition of a daughter as coparcener by section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act encompasses all incidents of a Coparcener including the right to become karta of HUF?

High Court Held

The High Court observed that a woman can serve as the “karta” of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). This upholds a significant 2016 judgment expanding women’s inheritance rights under Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act.

The Court emphasized that there are no legislative or traditional Hindu law restrictions on a woman’s right to be a Karta. Also, societal pressure cannot be a reason to deny the rights expressly conferred by the legislature.

In the present case, the respondent, the family patriarch’s granddaughter, was appointed as the Karta, given that all his sons had passed away. Disputes arose with opposing grandsons contesting the respondent’s Karta status. The Court acknowledged objections based on societal perspectives, arguing against a woman assuming the role of Karta.

Dismissing objections from a grandson, the Court was of the view that societal practices undergoing systemic changes may face resistance. Time transforms them into tools for social change. The Court held that the test of popular acceptance cannot override statutory rights protected by the Constitution.

Further, the court added that the claim that the husband of a female Karta would have indirect control over the activities of the HUF of her father’s family is “only a parochial mindset.”

The High Court reflected on historical gender equality, highlighting societal shifts that classified women into predetermined roles. The court expressed sadness about an equal society turning into a place where unfairness and discrimination thrive. Laws were needed to stop harmful practices like sati, child marriage, harassment, and violence, aiming to free women from societal restrictions.

The High Court held that a daughter can serve as the Karta of a HUF, as the acknowledgement of daughters as coparceners by Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act includes all aspects of coparcener rights, including the right to become the Karta of the HUF.

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