WHO IS A KARTA ?
Under the Indian succession laws, a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) consists of coparceners and members. In the entire Hindu Joint Family ‘Karta’ or ‘Manager’ occupies a very important position. He is the senior-most member of the family who is the manager of the family, responsible for the management of the joint Hindu family and its property.
Generally, the eldest member of the family or the father is the Karta of the family. In case of the demise of the Karta of an HUF, the eldest surviving coparcener in the family automatically becomes the Karta.
CAN A FEMALE BE A KARTA ?
Generally female member cannot become Karta but in exceptional circumstances female also can act as Karta. Like, in case the only surviving members of a HUF are a woman and her minor son and daughter or daughters (if any), the son would have been the Karta acting through his natural guardian i.e. minor’s mother. Thus, the woman would be the de facto Karta of the HUF.
DUTIES AND LIABILITIES OF A KARTA IN HUF ?
A Karta being the manager of the joint Hindu family, has various rights and duties towards the member of the joint Hindu family and its property. Some of these are –
- LIABILITY TO MAINTAIN – Karta is responsible to maintain all the members of joint family. If he improperly excludes any member from maintenance, he can be sued for maintenance and also arrears of maintenance.
- LIABILITY TO PAY TAXES – In a Joint Hindu family, Karta is bound to pay taxes and all other dues on behalf of the joint family.
- LIABILITY TO SPEND REASONABLY – As Karta of joint family has control over the income and expenditure of the family, he is custodian of surplus income. However he should spend family funds reasonably and for the purpose of the family.
- LIABILITY TO MAINTAIN ACCOUNTS – Karta is not required to keep accounts when the family remains joint. However, if any coparcener claims for partition, he is liable to maintain an account for the family property.
- LIABILITY TO COMPENSATE – In case the karta is held liable for any fraudulent conversion or misrepresentation of the property , then he has the liability to compensate the other co parceners.
- LIABILITY NOT TO ALIENATE COPARCENARY PROPERTY – It is the liability of the Karta not to alienate the coparcenary property without any legal necessity or benefit to the state.
- LIABILITY NOT TO START A NEW BUSINESS – It is the liability of the Karta not to start a new business without the consent of other coparceners.
Thus, in a nutshell, Karta is the head of the Hindu joint family who occupies a unique position in the management of the joint family. The decisions or statements given by the Karta are binding on the parties and they are bound to do it.