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Introduction • The head of the Hindu Joint family is also called as karta and manager of the joint family occupies a unique position unlike any other member of the family. • The senior most member of the family is generally a karta. • But such a member may give up and any junior male member appointed as karta with the consent of other member of the family.
Who is Karta? • He is not an agent or trustee of the family but as a head of the family he is the custodian or guardian of the family and affairs of the family and interest of the family. • He is the person who takes care of day to day expenses of the family looks after the family and protects the joint family properties.
Position of Karta • Karta is sui generis (of its own kind) the relationship between him and members is not like principal or agent or like partners in a partnership firm. • He is the head of the family and acts on behalf of other members. • He stands fiduciary relationship with other members but he is not a trustee, nobody can question what he spent unless charges of misappropriation. • When any coparcener charges of improper alienations made by Karta, burden of proof lies on him to prove such are malafide act of Karta. • He obtains no reward for his services and he discharge many burdensome responsibilities towards the family and its members.
Powers of Karta I. • • • Power of management He is the head of the family, his management powers are absolute. He may manage the family affairs and family property and business the way he likes for the benefit of estate. No one can question his management. II. Right to Income. • • • Has control over income and expenditure of family. He is authorized to spend for maintenance, residence, education, marriage and other religious ceremonies of the coparceners and their family. So long as family remains joint, no member can ask for any specified share in the income. If karta spends more the coparcener can ask partition. Karta cannot misappropriate family funds or misapply them to purpose other than family.
Powers of Karta III. Right to representation. • He represent the family in all matters, legal, social and religious. • He can enter into any transaction on behalf of the family, his acts are binding on the entire joint family. IV. Power to compromise. • He has power to compromise all disputes relating to family property or their management. • He can compromise pending suits, family debts, and other transactions. • However if his act is not bonafide can be challenged in a partition.
Powers of Karta V. Power to refer a dispute to arbitration. • Karta has power to refer any dispute to arbitration. • Arbitrator’s award is binding on all the members. • He must does so with the bonafide intention i. e. without fraud. VI. Power of acknowledgement and to contract debts. • Karta has power to acknowledge on behalf of the family any debt due to the family, also has power to pay debt or to make pack payment of debt. • He has power to contract debts for the family such debts incurred in the ordinary course of business are binding on entire joint family. • Even Karta when takes loan or execute promissory note for family purpose or family business joint family is liable to pay such loan.
Powers of Karta VII. Power to enter into contract. • Karta has power to enter into contract and such contract is enforceable against the family. • The reason is that if such power is not conferred upon him, it is quite impossible to carry on the business at all. VIII. Power of alienation. • Nobody in the family has power to alienate joint family property. • However Karta has power of alienation under 3 circumstances. a) Legal necessity b) Benefit of estate. c) Indispensable duties.
Duties & Liabilities of Karta 1. Liable 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. 2. Liability to render accounts. As long as family remains joint, Karta is not supposed to keep accounts. when partition takes place at that time he is liable to account for family property. • In the following cases karta can be called upon to give an account of past dealing. a. One member is excluded from enjoyment of property. b. Karta fraudulently convert the family income to his own purpose. c. Where there is a special agreement between the coparcener. • •
Duties & Liabilities of Karta 3. Liability to realize debts due to the family. • • • Karta should realize all debts due to the family with in reasonable time. But he is not empowered to give up any debt. He is empowered to settle accounts with debtors and to make reasonable reduction. 4. Liability to spend reasonably. • • He should spend family funds reasonably and for the purpose of the family. He is not under obligation to economize, save as a paid agent or trustee would do.
Duties & Liabilities of Karta 5. Liability not to alienate coparcenary property. • Unless it is for benefit of family, estate or for necessity Karta cannot alienate joint family property without the consent of all the coparceners. 6. Liable not to start new business. • Unless adult coparceners of the family expressly or impliedly consents, Karta cannot start new business. 7. Liability to compensate. • In case of proved misrepresentation or fraudulent and improper conversion by the karta of family property, he is liable to compensate other coparcener.