JOINT HINDU FAMILY
Joint Hindu Family: All those persons who are linearly descended from a common ancestor and
includes their wives and unmarried daughters. A daughter ceases to be a member of father’s family
on marriage and becomes a member of husband’s family.
There should be at least two members to constitute a joint Hindu family and the the existence of
joint estate is not absolutely necessary to constitute a joint family, and it is possible to have a joint
Hindu family which does not own any estate.
In N. V. Narendranath v. Commissioner Of Wealth Tax, the Court held that the expression
‘Hindu undivided family’ is understood in the sense the Hindu joint family is understood in
personal law of Hindu i.e. there should be at least 2 members.
The Commissioner Of Income-Tax vs Gomedalli Lakshminarayan, after father died, the
question was whether the assessee (the son) is to be assessed as a member of Hindu joint family or
It held that son’s right over the property is not absolute as the two females have the right to
maintenance over the property. Therefore, the income of assessee has to be taxed as the income of
Hindu undivided family. This is only when the property has devolved from father to son and so on
towards the last descendant who is being assessed (ancestral property). However, if the father had
acquired the property, the wife will have right in it but the son’s wife may claim her share in the
son’s part of the property but she cannot claim share as a Hindu undivided property.
Anant Bhikappa Patil v. Shankar Ramchandra Patil, held that if the last surviving coparcener
dies, a Hindu joint family is not ended. It is not going to be terminated as long it is possible in
nature to add a male mumber but contrary to that, it is a fact of law that there can be a joint family
consisting wholly of widows.
Difference between joint Hindu family and coparcener:
In relation to property: For JHF to exist, there is no need for any kind of property to exist but for a
coparcenary to subsist, there has to be an ancestral property.
JHF consists of females also. But this difference has been removed by 2005 amendment as females
are considered to be coparceners as well now.
Coparceners are member of the JHF but not all the members of JHF are coparceners.
Formation under Mitakshara Law:
A single person cannot form a coparcenary, there should be at least 2 members like JHF. A senior
most member should be there for its formation.
Coparcenary is not horizontal but linear. Wife along with husband is not going to create a
coparcenary. The wife will have a share in the property according to the rules of succession.
Four generations inclusive of the senior most male member forms a coparcenary. The generations
after the fourth will only be member of the JHF but not coparceners.
If except one all the coparceners die, he is called the sole surviving coparcener. The sole surviving
member cannot form coparcenary all by himself, there needs to be two members.
Coparcenary is limited to three generations of lineal descendants of the last holder of the property.
According to tenets of Hinduism, only descendants upto three generations would offer spiritual
rituals to the common ancestor.
A wife is not a coparcener because she is not a descendant of that JHF. As far as the share is
concerned, husband and wife will be seen as a single unit. Only unmarried woman is a coparcener
in father’s property. After marriage that right gets extinguished and the wife derives her right to the
property from husband’s side.
The children will become coparceners because they have common male ancestor.
Under Hindu Succession Act, widows for thr first time got the right in her husband’s property. Sec.
14 of the 2004 amendment gave the daughters a right to be coparcenary by birth. A wife is not a
coparcener but has a right to maintenance out of her husband’s property. Therefore, even a widow
who is succeeding her deceased husband’s share in the JHF will not be a coparcener. This was given
under Hindu Women’s right to Property Act, 1937.