Role Of Karta In Hindu Undivided Family
To understand the meaning of Karta, we should have basic knowledge about coparcener. Coparcener is the narrower body of Joint Hindu Property which consists of male member upto four degrees (now after 2005 amendment daughters are also included as coparceners). Example:
A-B-C-D-E-F (legal descents). Here, coparcenery will exist till D. As soon as A dies E will also become coparcener of JHF.
What is the meaning of Karta and who can be Karta?
Karta is generally senior-most coparcener, who can take all decision on the behalf of Joint Hindu Family(JHF). He manages all the affairs of the family. His position is sui-gnereis (i.e., of its own kind).
He holds his position by virtue of being senior-most coparcener and in that sense he is neither the partner nor a principal nor a agent but he is more like a trustee (means a person who takes care of the property of trust).
He is sought of representative owner. Where his independent rights are limited from all sides by correlative rights of other. Also, he is burdened with liability co-extensive with ownership.
Can there be two Kartas?
As Karta is head of family generally it has to be one Karta but there can be situations that there can be two managing member of the family.
Can Minor be Karta?
As long as senior-most member is present, junior cannot be a Karta unless and until all coparceners agree to the junior-member occupying managerial position. After 2005 amendment, even female can be Karta because the daughter holds the same position as son. But it is to be kept in mind that mother and daughter-in-law can never be karta.
Can Karta alienate the property?
1. He has same power as coparcener. In otherwords, he can alienate property for certain purposes. In this regard he can alienate property for the purpose of legal necessity (apatkale), act of indispensable duty (dharamathe) and for benefit of estate (katumbarthe). In all these cases coparcener’s consent is implied. So, there is no question of challenge. If alienation does not fall under the three points then it can be challenged.
i) Legal necessity (apatkale) : Legal necessity includes difficult time like distress, famine, epidemic, earthquake, floods, i.e., what is indispensable. Further, these necessities should be proper and reasonable. Duties like socio-religious like shraddh, upnayan-sanskar, marriage etc. Further, it may include legal proceedings or maintenance or marriage expenses or paying of government debt and revenue.
ii) Benefit of estate (katumbarthe): It means some improvement in property. It may include preservation and protection or may even further include exchange of property for benefit. The only limitation is Karta must act with prudence. Example: Karta may sell unyielding property to buy a property which is more fertile.
iii) Indispensable duty (dharamathe): It means performance of necessary ‘sanskars’. Karta can alienate the complete property in discharge of indispensable duty. But if he gifts the property is for pious and charitable purpose then his right is limited.