Rights of karta under Hindu law
Who are Hindus?
The term Hindu denotes all those people who practice Hindu Religion either by birth or by conversion to Hindu to the faith. Hindus are therefore not only born but they’re also made, and therefore, the applicability of Hindu Law is not restricted to those persons who are only Hindus by birth. A non-Hindu can renounce his religion and become Hindu by conversion, by any of the three methods:
If he performs the ceremony of conversion prescribed by the caste of the community to which he converts.
If he expresses his intention to become a Hindu, and the community accepts him as a member
If he declares that he’s a Hindu and lives as a Hindu.
Thus, the following people can be considered as a Hindu:
Hindus by birth, or religion, or conversion.
Illegitimate children where both parents are Hindus
Illegitimate children where the father is a Christian and the mother a Hindu, and the children are brought up as Hindus
A Hindu by birth who has renounced Hinduism had once again reconverted to Hindu religion by performing all the religious rights and rights of repentance. He can once again become a Hindu without following the rituals of reconversion if the community has accepted him.
Who is the Karta?
He is the manager of the joint family property. He is the person who takes care of the day-to-day expenses of the family, looks after the family and protects the joint family property. He is the senior most male member of the family and on his death the next senior most male member of the family shall become the Karta.
Generally, a female cannot become the Karta but in exceptional circumstances she may act as the Karta.
Position or Karta
The Karta shares a fiduciary relationship with other members. Nobody can question him on the expenditures he has done unless there are charges of misappropriation against him.
Powers of Karta
1. Power of Management- he is the head of the family and manages all the family affairs and property. It is believed that all his actions are for the benefit of the family and therefore he cannot be questioned by anyone.
2. Right to income- it was a rule that all the working members would hand over their income to the Karta. It is the Karta who would distribute the funds to the members and would take care of their other needs and requirements.
3. Right to representation- he shall represent the family in all legal, social and religious matters and can enter into any transaction for the benefit of the family and on behalf of the family.
4. Power to compromise- he has the power to compromise any dispute relating to family property or their management.
5. Power to refer dispute to arbitrators- he can refer any dispute to the arbitrator if he thinks that it is for the benefit of the family and such decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on all the members.
6. Power of alienation- nobody in the family shall have the power to alienate the joint family property however the Karta shall have this power under 2 circumstances-
• For legal necessity
• For the benefit of the property
Liabilities of Karta
1. The Karta is responsible to maintain all the members of the joint family. If he improperly excludes any member from enjoying any benefit under the property, such member can file a suit against him.
2. As long as the family remains joint, the Karta is not supposed to render accounts, but when partition takes place, he is liable to render accounts for the family property. If any family member or coparcener is not satisfied with his accounts, he can file a suit against the Karta.
3. The Karta is liable to recover debts on behalf of the family. He has a control over the expenditure of the family and should not spend the family funds unreasonably. It will be done only for the benefit of the family.