Hindu law emphasises the importance of a joint family. It is said that there
is no way out of Joint Family for any Hindu. Perhaps in one generation or
another, a Hindu will naturally form a Joint Family. According to Hindu law,
there is a presumption that each family will be regarded a joint family. Before
we get into the details of the Hindu Undivided Family, let's define what a join
family is in layman's terms. A joint family, according to the Oxford Dictionary,
is a living unit made up of two or more generations of a family and their
What is a Hindu Joint Family
The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 governs the Hindu Joint Family nowadays. It is
a common occurrence in Hindu civilization. As previously said, it is unavoidable
for a Hindu to form a combined family. The idea behind this is that if one
generation is brought to an end by a partition, it will immediately reappear in
the next generation. This lends credence to the notion that every Hindu family
is a Joint Hindu Family.
In the cases of Rukhmabai vs. Lala Laxminarayan and Rajagopal vs. Padmini
it was determined that a family remains a joint family if it is united in
matters of food, worship, and inheritance. Even though a family does not share
food or worship, i.e., if they live apart, they might still be considered a
Joint Hindu Family if they share an estate. In the case of Chhotey Lal & Ors.
vs. Jhandey Lal & Anr., it was determined that a Joint Hindu Family is neither a
company nor a juristic person because it lacks a separate legal entity from its
members. A Joint Hindu Family is a unit that is represented in all affairs by
the Karta of the family.
All family members make up a Hindu Undivided Family. In other words, all the
male members descended from a common ancestor in a straight line up to any
generation. Even an illegitimate offspring of a male descendent is a part of his
father's Joint Hindu Family, according to the case of Gur Narain Das vs. Gur
Tahal Das. Their mothers, wives, widows, and unmarried daughters are all
Until she marries, an unmarried daughter stays a member of the joint family. She
becomes a member of her husband's Joint Hindu Family once they marry. However,
if the daughter is abandoned by her husband or becomes a widow and permanently
returns to her father's home, she re-joins the Joint Hindu Family, But her
children remain a part of their father's joint family.
It is crucial to remember, however, that a Joint Hindu family cannot exist
without a shared ancestor. Even after the death of the common ancestor, the
family remains a Joint Hindu Family. Under section 2 of the HMA, a person can
leave a joint family if they convert to another faith or marry a non-Hindu. Even
when a child is given in adoption to a third party by competent parents or a
daughter is married off, one ceases to be a member of a joint family.
Laws Concerning Hindu Undivided Family
The Hindu Undivided Family is inextricably linked to the Hindu Succession Act
and the Hindu Marriage Act.
Hindu Succession Act:
The Hindu Succession Act governs Hindu succession regulations. When a Joint
Hindu Family is involved, there is usually an ancestral property that the
descendants would inherit. The Hindu Succession Act regulates this.
The Hindu Property Act:
Respects the Hindu Undivided Family idea. This means that this legislation
governs the ancestral property inherited by a family of people who are lineally
descended from a common ancestor and are linked to one another by birth or
The Hindu Marriage Act, on the other hand, is a law that governs Hindu
marriages. That particular joint family includes the wives of the male
descendants. Unless they opt to return to their mother home permanently after
being widowed, they remain a part of that joint family. Until they marry off,
the daughters are also a part of the joint family. As a result, the Hindu
Marriage Act is crucial in the Hindu Undivided Family.
Income Tax Act: HUF is treated as a person u/s 2(31) of the Income Tax Act.
Individual members of a Joint Hindu Family can file their separate Returns under
the Income Tax Act and filing of these Returns is irrespective of the status of
As stated in Surjit Lal Chhabda v. CIT
, it consists of all male family
members descended lineally up to any generation from a common ancestor, as well
as their mothers, wives, widows, and unmarried daughters. Until she marries, a
daughter remains a member of her parents' joint family. She becomes a member of
her husband's Joint Hindu family once she marries.
If a daughter's husband abandons her or she becomes a widow and returns to her
father's home permanently, she re-joins the Joint Hindu family. Her children, on
the other hand, remain in their father's Joint Hindu family and do not join the
mother's father's Joint Hindu family. Even an illegitimate offspring of a male
descendent shall be a part of his Joint Hindu family, according to the case of
Gur Narain Das v. Gur Tahal Das
It is important to note that a Joint Hindu Family cannot be formed without a
shared ancestor. The presence of a common ancestor is required for its
formation, but not for its continuation, i.e. the death of the common ancestor
does not result in the dissolution of the Joint Hindu Family. The marriage,
birth, or adoption of the child in the marriage removes upper family
relationships and adds lower family links. This cycle will continue as long as
the species does not go extinct. The Sapinda relationship (belonging to the same
ancestors, up to three and five lines of descent from the mother's and father's
sides, respectively) or family relationship binds the members.
The status of being a part of the Joint Hindu Family can be ceased in the
- By conversion to another religion or faith.
- By marriage to a non-Hindu (a person who is not Hindu as per Section 2
of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which include a Muslim, Jew, Parsi or
Christian by religion).
- By being given in adoption to a third party by the competent parents.
- By marriage of a daughter.
- Position when there are only female members (widow)
On the death of the sole male member, a joint Hindu family can continue to
exist at the instance of already existing female members of the family. The
term 'continuation' is different from starting or forming a joint family for
the first time.
If A and B are brothers, C and D are wives of A and B respectively. Four of
them together constitute a Joint Hindu family.
- Position when there is only one male member in the family
In such a case the Joint Hindu family can still continue to function as the
requirement of a male member is essential to start a Joint Hindu family and
not for its continuance. It is not necessary to have at least two or more
male members in the family to make it a Hindu Undivided family as a taxable
entry. In the case of CIT v. Gomedalli Lakshminarayan it was held that even
if the coparcenary does not exist in a family still that family continues to
be a Hindu Undivided family.
- Position when there are only daughters
After the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
The Act gave power and permission to even a single woman to adopt a child.
As per law, the status of an adopted child is the same as that of a child
born into the family. Now, the woman could add a male member to her father's
Joint Hindu family without getting married. Therefore, an adopted child can
be maintained by a single parent also.
After the 2005 amendment in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956
The amendment to the Act gave the right to a daughter to be a coparcener and
now she can not only continue the Joint Hindu family but also constitute one
with her father and brothers.
- Position when there are only husband and wife
Because the couple has the option of adding a male member to the family, or
in other words, a coparcener, they can form a Joint Hindu Family. There is a
split in court opinion on whether a husband and wife can establish a joint
family under revenue statutes in order to qualify for the Hindu Undivided
Family tax exemption.
In the case of T. Srinivasan v. CIT
, a partition took place in a Joint
Hindu Family and the son took his share. For a certain while, he filed his
returns as an individual until he got married. The question came into
consideration when his wife was pregnant. It was held that only when the son is
born, he becomes a member of the joint family.
Janakiammal vs. S. K. Kumarasamy & Ors.
Date: 30th June 2021 Court.
Supreme Court of India Bench.
Hon'ble Justices Ashok Bhushan and Subhash Reddy.
Citation: LL 2021 SC 280.
In the case of R. Janakiammal vs. Kumarasamy
, there was a
partition dated 7th November 1960 between three brothers. The Appellant claimed
that the said partition agree was entered by the three brothers to save the
landed property from Land Ceiling Act and there was no intention of separating
each branch and changing the joint family status. The Appellant contended that
there was a reunion between the three brothers to revert to the status of Hindu
Joint Family which can be proved from the acts and conduct of the parties after
7th November 1960.
Judgment in Brief:
The issue before the Hon'ble Apex Court was whether a
particular house property purchased in 1979 is a joint family property or not.
Considering the facts of the case, the Top Court Bench of Hon'ble Justices Ashok
Bhushan and Subhash Reddy found that in 1979, when the residential property was
obtained in the name of one brother, all 3 branches were a part of the Hindu
The Court while giving its judgment referred to the concept of reunion in Hindu
Law explained in Mulla on Hindu Law, 22nd edition. According to the concept of
reunion in Hindu Law, a reunion in estate property can only take place between
the persons who were parties to the original partition. Further, the effect of
reunion is to remit the reunited members to their former status as a member of a
joint family. To constitute a reunion, there must be the intention of the
parties to reunite.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in its judgment held that Hindu Joint Family, even if
partitioned can revert and continue the status of joint family. The Supreme
Court Bench observed that acts and conduct of the parties may lead to the
inference that the parties reunited after partition. The Court held that the
house property purchased in the name of one member of the Hindu joint family was
for the benefit of all.
The Hon'ble Court also observed that the individual member of a Joint Hindu
Family can file his/her separate returns under Income Tax Act as well as Wealth
Tax Act. The Court held that the filing of such returns had nothing to do with
the status of the family. The Bench held that all three branches had an equal
share in the residential property.