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Sujata Sharma vs. Manu Gupta (Delhi High Court)
February, 17th 2016

Pursuant to the amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 all rights which were available to a Hindu male are now also available to a Hindu female. A daughter is now recognised as a co-parcener by birth in her own right and has the same rights in the co-parcenary property that are given to a son. Consequently, the eldest daughter is entitled to be the Karta of the HUF

The High Court had to consider whether the plaintiff, being the first born amongst the co-parceners of the HUF property, would by virtue of her birth, be entitled to be its Karta. HELD by the High Court upholding the claim:

(i) It is rather an odd proposition that while females would have equal rights of inheritance in an HUF property, this right could nonetheless be curtailed when it comes to the management of the same. The clear language of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act does not stipulate any such restriction. Therefore, the submissions on behalf of defendant Nos. 1 to 4 which are to the contrary are untenable.

(ii) The impediment which prevented a female member of a HUF from becoming its Karta was that she did not possess the necessary qualification of co-parcenership. 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. Therefore, Courts would be extremely vigilant apropos any endeavour to curtail or fetter the statutory guarantee of enhancement of their rights. Now that this disqualification has been removed by the 2005 Amendment, there is no reason why Hindu women should be denied the position of a Karta. If a male member of an 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 the law preventing the eldest female co-parcener of an HUF, from being its Karta. The plaintiff’s father?s right in the HUF did not dissipate but was inherited by her. Nor did her marriage alter the right to inherit the co-parcenary to which she succeeded after her father?s demise in terms of Section 6. The said provision only emphasises the statutory rights of females. Accordingly, issues 5, 6 and 8 too are found in favour of the plaintiff. 29. In these circumstances, the suit is decreed in favour of the plaintiff in terms of the prayer clause, and she is declared the Karta of “D.R. Gupta & Sons (HUF)”.

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