Reunion of a family; a situation in which the specific family members regain
their position as a joint-family, which was lost during partition. The only
method for family members to re-establish their joint status is through a
reunion. However, members of the family who previously held joint ownership of
the land are entitled to reunite only.
The most essential element for reunion is that the parties intend to reunite in
the estate and share a common interest. That also means that just deciding to
live under the same roof without the goal of restoring joint property status
does not constitute a genuine reunion. It is also essential that the
communication be vivid, with each individual coparcener providing individual
approval to the reunion.
When a family reunites, the primary result is that the reunited individuals are
restored to their original position as members of a Hindu joint family.
There is a lack of judicial rulings on reunion due to which we have to rely upon
the past rulings to decide upon the present issues, but these rulings are not in
line with the current social conditions of the society. Apart from this there is
absence of rulings on the minor's right to reunion even though some of the other
laws have given minors their due right, this further poses many legal issues
with relation to reunion.
In this paper the researcher has analysed the concept of Reunion after partition
in detail along with the relevant case laws to explain the various elements of
reunion, in addition to this, a recent case related to reunion is also discussed
to highlight the importance of the element of intention of the parties while
deciding upon the cases related to reunion and the researcher has particularly
focused on the aspect of minor's in relation to reunion of partition and the
issues related to the same.
Reunion is reuniting families that have been separated due to partition.
However, under Hindu Law, the term "reunion" refers to a circumstance in which
the status of a formerly united family is restored following its split. Despite
the fact that the HUF(Hindu Undivided Family) has been completely divided, it is
possible to reunite under Hindu law.
The court in the Case of M/s. Paramanand L. Bajaj, Bangalore Vs. The
Commissioner of Income Tax, Karnataka relied on the text on reunion in
Brihaspati Smriti and quoted that,
"He who being once separated dwells again through affection with his father
brought or paternal uncle is termed reunited. reunited through affection, they
shall mutually participate in each other's properties.
Association not necessarily being by co-residence, the association is expressed
to be through wealth; so, by way of removing the distinguishing factor of that,
it should be understood that the re-association of the separated members shall
be to the extent of pooling together(all) the wealth etc., as before, and not
merely by a co-residence only. Effects which had been divided and which are
again mixed together are termed reunited. He, to whom such appertain, is a
This lays down some of the elements and essentials for reunion after partition
to be successful, to understand it better we will now look into the eligibility
criteria, essentials and effects of reunion.
Conditions For Parties To Reunite:
Following are the conditions:
- Reunion can only take place when a partition has taken place already,
thus partition is an essential prior condition for reunion.
- The intention of the parties wanting to reunite is a necessary condition
for reunion to take place. This intention must be unequivocal and clear by
the conduct of the parties. And such an intention need not be for any
purpose other than establishing a Hindu Joint family. This condition is
among the most important to be looked into while deciding a suit on
- Reunion can only be possible if the parties intending to reunite were
the parties to the partition which took place before. i.e an adopted son cannot
after partition of parties file for reunion.
In the cases related to Mitakshara school, Reunion only takes place if the
parties come within the following relations: Father, Brother and Paternal Uncle.
But in the case of Mithila School, reunion can be done with any party.
- Consent of each and every party involved in Reunion needs to be take,
consent can be given orally or conduct too is sufficient to depict consent
of the party.
- Reunion can be enforced only when reunion involves reuniting property,
as merely living together doesn't require reuniting the HUF.
- Minor cannot reunite.
- The purpose of the reunion is to bring about the merger of the interests
of the parties in the Hindu Undivided Family, and hence it confers a right
on all parties involved. In the case of reunion, a few of the properties and
some of the persons engaged in the division may be excluded or opt not to
participate in the reunion at all. This implies that there is a possibility
of "A partial reunion". As a result, the interest must be clearly stated.
Effect Of Reunion
Reunion is done for the purpose to Unite the family together which gives them
the status of Hindu joint family as it existed before the partition.
This reuniting of the family involves the pooling of the property of all the
parties to a reunion, thus all the property together becomes Joint family
Property and each member of the coparcenary holds a share in the pool of the
joint family property.
Elements Of Reunion And Important Case Laws
Nature Of Evidence
In Bhagwan Dayal v. Reoti Devi
 it was held that:
"To constitute a reunion there must be an intention of the parties to reunite in
estate and interest. It is implicit in the concept of reunion that there shall
be an agreement between the parties to reunite in estate with intention to
revert to their former status of members of a joint Hindu family."
Such agreement can also be implied from the conduct of the parties wanting to
reunite, but such conduct should clearly show the intention of the parties to
reunite. And the burden of proving this lies on the party alleging it.
Partition And Presumption Thereof
In cases on reunion the presumption is against the members remaining joint i.e
the presumption is that partition existed and the burden of proving otherwise is
on the party wanting to reunite or the one challenging the partition.
In Jatti v. Banwari Lal
, it was held that:
"When one member of a joint family separates there is no presumption that
remaining members remained united."
Who May Reunite?
In Balbux Ladhuram v. Rukhmabai
 it was held that reunion only takes place
between the parties who got divided earlier i.e the parties to the partition can
only be parties to reunion.
Upon this the court held that:
"A reunion could take place only between the persons who were parties to the
original partition. Court also observed that agreement to reunion couldn't have
been made by or on behalf of the minor-plaintiff."
In Balasubramania Reddy v. Narayana Reddiar
, it was held:
"That reunion is product of agreement and minor is incompetent to contract
therefore an agreement can't agree to reunite."
It was observed in a case that, "it is the elementary principle of Hindu Law of
Mitakshara School that a member once separated can unite only with his father,
brother or paternal uncle but not with any other relation." 
Construction Of Reunion Agreement
Another interesting question relating to reunion came up in Parmanand L
Bajaj v. Commissioner of Income Tax
 was if the agreement for reunion
contained a clause providing that all the parties don't need to pool all their
properties into the joint family pool after reunion, so the question was whether
this clause invalidates the reunion?
Parmanad L Bajaj was karta of HUF prior to 1956 which consisted of
Himself, his wife, three sons and two daughters. During the period of 1956 to
1963 all the sons got separated by making declarations before Magistrate. Later
in 1971, the father and his three sons effected a reunion agreement, and this
agreement contained the debatable clause related to pooling of properties of
The clause read as follows:
(3) The properties got by the parties to this agreement on partition prior to
this reunion shall continue to be their respective separate properties unless
thrown into common hotchpot of the HUF which has come into existence by virtue
of this agreement.
With regard to clause (3) the court observed that:
It is not destructive of
reunion, as according to the clause every reuniting member can put his property
into the joint family properties.
Therefore, the court held that by reunion was established in the present case
but clause (3) being repugnant to reunion is invalid not vice-versa.
R.Jankiammal V. S.K.Kumaraswamy,
On November 7, 1960, three brothers concluded a division agreement. In this
case, the Supreme Court had to rule on whether a home acquired in 1979 is a
joint family property or not.
In this case, the Supreme Court had to rule on whether a home acquired in 1979
is a joint family property or not.
According to the appellant, the partition dated 07.11.1960 was entered into by
the brothers to protect the property from the Land Ceiling Act, and there was no
intention of dividing each branch and changing the joint family status. It was
stated that three brothers rejoined to establish a Joint Hindu Family, as
evidenced by the members behavior and conduct following November 7, 1960.
The trial court rejected the suit in a decision dated September 30, 1997. The
trial court affirmed the guilty pleas of defendants No. 1-3, which were
prohibited under Order XXIII Rule 3A CPC. The trial court also affirmed the
partition deed dated 07.11.1960 and the agreement dated 08.03.1981. , no
additional point for consideration had been created, despite the fact that the
various attorneys had given extensive arguments. After considering the arguments
of the various attorneys, the High Court concluded that the compromise judgment
dated 06.08.1984 in Suit No.37 of 1984 was legitimate and the plaintiff failed
to establish that any fraud occurred.
The court in this case ruled that when the Property in Tatabad which was
purchased in 1979 by one of the brothers will be considered to a joint family
Thus, all the three branches of the family will be entitled to benefit from the
The court in this case was concerned with the nature of the property purchased
in 1979 in Tatabad, while deciding on this point, the court had to look into
whether after the partition deed which was signed in 1960, the Joint family got
separated and the branches were divided.
The court held that after signing the deed for partition, the parties remained
united and thus constituted a Hindu Joint family and all the other obligations
attached to it followed.
The question which deliberated upon the most while deciding the status of the
family after 1960 was whether the parties to the partition had the intention to
reunite so as to constitute a Joint family.
The court observed that the conduct of the parties incontrovertibly showed that
there was clear intention of the parties to constitute a joint family again.
following points were taken into consideration while deciding this:
The court relied heavily on the point of intention of the parties while deciding
upon the issue of reunion after partition:
- The parties had no intention to separate themselves from the joint
family but they did the partition to safeguard the parties from Land ceiling
- The conduct of the parties after the partition clearly showed that they
still lived together and had the intention to live in the joint family by
following all its duties and obligations.
- This was evident as they still lived together and didn't ever separate
even after the partition and also the Business of the family i.e Swamy and Swamy
industries still remained under the control of the three branches of the family,
and the property in dispute i.e the one purchased in 1979 was also purchased
under the name of all the three brothers, which clearly shows that there existed
no intention within the parties to part ways.
While deciding this the court relied on the Mayne's Hindu law, ( John D
Mayne, Mayne's treatise on Hindu law & usage, 14th edition, Bharat Law House,
"It requires very cogent evidence to satisfy the burden of establishing that by
agreement between them, the divided members of a joint Hindu family have
succeeded in so altering their status as to bring themselves within all the
rights and obligations that follow from the fresh formation of a joint undivided
And in the present case, the court had enough evidence to convince them of the
reunion between the members of the joint family and the intention behind the
Though no formal agreement was done while reuniting but the conduct of the
parties was alone sufficient to satisfy the bench of the reunion between the
Joint Hindu family.
Thus, on the basis of the above case and the discussion done prior, it can be
said that one of the most essential element for determining whether the reunion
is valid or not is dependent on the intention of the parties.
Coming to another issue related to the concept of reunion is with regard to
Reunion From A Minor's Outlook
It is known from the above discussion that a minor by law is held to be
incompetent to contract as they aren't capable of forming a legally valid
Now coming to the situation of reunion involving a minor, similar case was
decided by the Privy council in which they held that since for effecting
reunion, agreement within the parties is essential which is possible only when
the party is competent to contract but as a minor is incapable of doing so,
Hence, reunion cannot be done by a Minor.
Similar interpretation is also provided within the Mulla's Hindu law commentary,
which states that:
"Since a minor is not competent to contract, it follows that an agreement to
reunite cannot be made by or on behalf of a minor."
But this creates a problem, if for example:
A father wants to reunite with his brothers, but he has a minor son, so when he
reunites with the rest of his family, his minor son would be left out of the
Joint family as neither the minor son himself nor the father on behalf of him
can enter into an agreement to reunite.
This would lead to some untenable family situations.
Though there are some sources which talk about the capability of the guardian to
enter into reunion agreement on behalf of the minor, like Mayne's Hindu Law.
Similarly in a Madras HC case, it was held that agreement can be made on behalf
of the minor. But in a later case having a similar factual matrix was decided by
relying upon the Balabux Judgement. The supreme court too hasn't decided on a
case involving minors' competency to reunion agreement.
Therefore, on the basis of the above discussion it can be said that the position
of the minor with respect to the agreement for reunion remains hazy due to
limited number of judicial pronouncements on the subject of Reunion.
Partition And Reunion : Minor's Perspective
Minor is a coparcener in the Joint family and during the time of partition, a
minor is given his respective share as the member of the coparcenary and the
guardian effects the partition on behalf of the minor.
But a minor cannot be made party to a reunion even through his guardians.
Apart from the this, the most distinguishing feature is that the minor holds the
right to reopen the partition even after the partition has been done, this is
possible if the partition effects the rights and interest of the minor
Thus, a minor is able to set aside a partition if it is found detrimental to his
interests, but a similar provision isn't provided for setting aside reunion.
"Under the law of partition, the reopening of the agreement at the instance of
the minor is only allowed if it can be proved that the partition was detrimental
to the interest of the minor. The position of the law stands in the favour of
the minor and it is submitted that the parallel position ought to be reflected
in the law of reunion."
Partition and Reunion both involve the right and interests of a minor in a Joint
Hindu family but both these concepts have provided differing rights to the minor
for the same.
This can lead to many problems for the minor as a minor, as if a partition is
affected to which the minor is a party too, and if in future the father of the
minor wants to reunite with the family, this won't be possible by law as the
minor isn't competent to enter into an agreement for reunion. Thus, the major
family member won't be able to get his minor child to become a part of the
family again but will only be possible after he attains majority.
This problem exists due to lack of clarity due to absence of judicial decision
on this particular aspect of Hindu Joint family.
The conclusion drawn from the above study is that the position of minor in the
current legal framework on reunion works for the detriment of the minor child
and this issue needs to be taken up by the judiciary and it is their duty to lay
down a strong and unambiguous precedent to provide safeguard and enable the
minor in becoming a part of reunion agreement and to have the right to challenge
it as well, By doing this the Minor will be protected and also his rights will
be in line with the current social and legal conditions.
- AIR 1962 SC 287.
- (1923) LR 50 IA 192.
- (1903) LR 30 IA 130.
- AIR 1965 Mad 409.
- AIR 1928 Lah 122.
- 135 ITR 673 (1982).