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This article is written by Jai Kumar Punjabi of 3rd Semester of LL.B of Vivekananda Global University, Jaipur, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


Important place in India’s joint family system is occupied by the Karta, a pivotal role in the complex system. The oldest male member, known as the Karta, usually takes on leadership duties that go well beyond title importance. The roles, authority, and privileges that come with being the Karta in a joint family are examined in this article. The Karta’s principal function includes a variety of duties, chief among them being financial management. Entrusted with overseeing the family’s investments, money, and property, the Karta is essential to the joint family’s financial security and well-being. In addition, the Karta acts as a spiritual and cultural leader, arranging family-unifying religious rites and festivities.

An outline of the Karta’s position is given in this abstract, emphasizing their functions in money management, spiritual and cultural advice, resolving conflicts, and mentoring in education. The Karta can have control over family assets, management authority, and representation in court. Their influence and respect in the family and community, along with their prominent place at family gatherings, are examples of their privileges. This article examines the careful balancing act that the Karta must perform in order to fulfill their varied responsibilities and maintain the stability and continuity of the joint family system.


Karta, Joint family, Leadership, Responsibilities, Financial management, Cultural events, Respect, Legal representation, Social recognition, Symbolic position, Family celebrations, Consultative decision-making, Wisdom, inheritance.


The cohabitation of several generations under one roof characterizes the complex social structure known as the joint family system, which has its roots in Indian culture. At the center of this family structure is the essential character referred to as the Karta. Within the complex web of joint family relations, the Karta, usually the oldest male family member, takes on a role of responsibility and authority, with the capacity to affect the family’s financial stability, cultural unity, and general peace. This introduction aims to clarify the complex role of the Karta by examining the varied responsibilities, important abilities, and special privileges that are part of this age-old and respected social structure.

A tiny sample of interconnected lives, the joint family depends on shared obligations, communal living, and a feeling of unity among its members to survive. The Karta, who is frequently selected based on seniority or as the oldest man, serves as the glue that holds the various strands of familial ties together. As opposed to being merely an honorary title, the Karta’s position entails a number of vital responsibilities that span multiple areas, making their presence essential to the family’s operation .The Karta is responsible for managing resources, making wise financial decisions, and guaranteeing the financial security of all family members in their capacity as joint custodians. In addition to managing finances, the Karta also serves as a spiritual and cultural advisor, planning religious rituals and social gatherings.

The Karta’s primary responsibility is to settle conflicts, which calls for both impartiality and wisdom. Serving as a go-between, the Karta works to preserve peace, which is necessary for the joint family structure to survive. The Karta also helps younger family members grow and develop by offering career and educational advise.

In addition to having management control over family concerns, the Karta also has representational responsibility in court. Holding authority over family assets, including ancestral possessions, the Karta assumes the role of guardian for the family’s tangible inheritance. To maintain the fair allocation of resources and decision-making within the family, these powers must be used sparingly and in concert with one another.

The Karta are endowed with privileges that beyond the material world. Their leadership role is emphasized by the authority and respect they are given in the family and the larger community. During family get-togethers, the Karta symbolically holds the highest place, highlighting their position as the head of the family.

To sum up, the Karta of a mixed family represents the fine balance between tradition and adaptability, authority and responsibility. Their complex function ensures that the family remains intact across generations. The complex dynamics of the joint family structure, an enduring institution in the rich tapestry of Indian social past, become clear when one grasps the subtleties of the Karta’s position.


Senior most male member

The oldest male member has the right and entitlement to become a Karta. A Karta is always a member of the family; no strangers or outsiders are allowed to become Kartas. The second most senior male member of the family shall assume leadership of Karta in the event that the senior male member of the family passes away. The coparceners all agree or consent to Karta’s taking of his position.

Member, Junior Male

If the coparceners agree, a junior may also join the family Karta. A junior male member can work out a deal with the coparceners to become a Karta of the family.

Karta, a female member

Dharmsastra states that in a family where a male member is absent, a female can take on the role of a Karta. Females can also serve as a Karta at that time if there are male members present but they are minors.


In a joint family, the Karta’s function is more than just a title; it is a substantial one with a great deal of responsibility. Within the family structure, the Karta—typically the oldest male member—assumes a pivotal and authoritative role. This role, which encompasses multiple elements that constitute the Karta’s role, is deeply woven within the joint family system.

  1. Leadership and Decision-Making: As the joint family’s de facto leader, the Karta is in charge of making important choices that have an impact on the entire household. This leadership job involves more than just making decisions; it also entails giving the family unity, direction, and advice.
  2. Financial Management: Taking care of the family’s finances is one of the Karta’s main duties. This entails managing finances, investments, income, and property. The joint family’s financial security and prosperity depend heavily on the Karta’s financial savvy.
  3. Spiritual and Cultural Authority: The Karta serves as the spiritual and cultural leader in many blended families. They are in charge of planning and directing the family’s religious rites, celebrations, and cultural activities. Within the family, this spiritual guidance promotes a feeling of common identity and custom.
  4. Family Dispute Resolution: The Karta is essential for settling conflicts inside the family. Owing to their status and seniority, they serve as a mediator, using their knowledge and expertise to resolve disputes and preserve peace. Effective conflict resolution is essential to the joint family’s general well-being.
  5. Educational and Mentorship role: The Karta frequently assumes the role of an educator and mentor, offering advice to younger members of the family. Advice on schooling, professions, and personal growth are all included in this. The family members’ overall development is facilitated by the wisdom and experience of the Karta.
  6. Control over Family Assets: Although family members may share ownership of certain assets, the Karta is usually in charge of them. This includes inherited property, which the Karta is in charge of overseeing and managing for the family’s overall good.
  7. Symbolic Prime Position: At family get-togethers and festivities, the Karta is said to have a symbolic prime position. Their position at the head of the family is reinforced by this positioning, which also highlights their significance in the family structure.

The Karta position is essentially the pinnacle of authority, responsibility, and leadership. The ability of the Karta to navigate the difficulties of family relationships, money management, and cultural preservation is often critical to the joint family system’s viability. As the main character, the Karta serves as the glue that binds the various strands of the joint family together, guaranteeing its survival and well-being for future generations.


Undoubtedly, the Karta has significant authority in a joint family and this authority is essential to the family’s operation. Though not absolute, the Karta has considerable authority, which is usually used after consulting the family members and getting their approval. An explanation of the Karta’s abilities is provided below:

  • Powers of Management

Karta has unrestricted management power. Nobody can contest the Karta’s responsibilities, such as his ability to mismanage the family, business, and property as he pleases. No member of Karta may be denied the upkeep and occupancy of property. Negative failures are not Karta’s fault.

  • Rights to Compensation or Income and Expense

The Karta is entitled to receive the entire revenue from the Joint Hindu family property. The Karta is then in charge of distributing the money to the members so they can meet their requirements. Karta is in charge of how the money is used. His authority is limited to using the money for family-related expenses including upkeep, marriage, schooling, and administration.

  • The Right to Represent a Joint Family

The family is represented by the Karta in social, legal, and religious spheres. The members are bound by the decisions and actions of the Karta. Karta is able to transact on the family’s behalf in any transaction.

  • Possibility of Compromise

Karta has the authority to mediate conflicts involving family property or administration. He has the ability to jeopardize ongoing legal actions, family debts, and other deals. The only legal defense available to heirs against the Karta’s compromises is malafide.

  • Authority to Send a Matter to Arbitration

Karta has the authority to send disagreements over family property and management to arbitration. The members of the joint family will be bound by the arbitration’s decision if it is deemed valid.

  • Authority to Assume Debts

The Karta has the implicit right to enter into contracts, pledge the family’s assets, and take credit. The family members will undoubtedly carry out similar actions. Even Karta is responsible for repaying loans taken out for family enterprises or purposes when the joint family is involved.

  • Authority to Sign Contracts

The Karta has the ability to enter into agreements, and those agreements may be enforced against the family. The joint family members are bound by the contracts.

  • Strength of Distancing

Joint family property cannot be alienated by any family member. However, Karta is able to alienate the property in three different situations.

  • Legal Necessity
  • Benefit of estate
  • Indispensable duties
  • Loan on Promissory note

If Karta takes out a promissory note or takes out a loan for family use, all of the members and the members who aren’t parties to the note will be sued if the debt isn’t repaid. On the note, nevertheless, Karta is personally culpable.


The benefits that the Karta enjoys in a combined family undoubtedly correspond to their respected role as the head and leader. These benefits add to the Karta’s power both inside the family and in the larger community. An explanation of the benefits granted to the Karta is provided below:

  • Respect and Authority:

The Karta have a number of advantages, chief among them being the respect and authority they enjoy inside the family. Other family members regard them with a sense of veneration because of their seniority and leadership position. The Karta is frequently respected for its decisions.

  • Symbolic prominent Position:

The Karta usually has a prominent, central place at family get-togethers, festivities, and rituals. Their position as the head and leader of the family is reaffirmed by this symbolic positioning. It acts as an outward symbol of their status in the family structure.

  • Essential Function in Family festivities:

In religious rites, cultural events, and family festivities, the Karta is indispensable. This honor emphasizes their importance as the keeper of family customs and the spiritual head of the home, and it is not merely ceremonial.

  • Acknowledgment in Social and Community Environments:

The Karta is frequently acknowledged and revered in social and community environments. Their portrayal of the family in public relations enhances the family’s reputation within the larger social framework. This acknowledgment goes beyond the confines of the family unit.

  • Consultation on Important Matters:

Although the Karta has the last say in decisions, they frequently have the opportunity to confer with other family members on significant issues. This cooperative method guarantees that choices are made with the family’s overall welfare in mind.

  • Symbolic inheritance:

The Karta’s role is sometimes regarded as a symbolic inheritance that is passed down from one generation to the next. The Karta serves as a guardian of the family’s legacy, guaranteeing the continuation of customs and values within the family.

  • Legacy of Wisdom and Experience:

The Karta has the honor of transferring a legacy of wisdom and experience because they are frequently the most senior member. Younger family members may go to the Karta for direction and mentoring, valuing the vast amount of wisdom amassed throughout time.

  • Spiritual and Cultural Leadership:

The Karta has the honor of forming the cultural identity of the family in their capacity as spiritual and cultural leader. In order to fulfill this leadership role, religious practices must be supervised, cultural values must be taught, and cultural rituals must be maintained.


Dev Kishan Vs. Ram Kishan AIR 2002[1]

In this case, the defendant was sued by the plaintiff. Members of the Joint Hindu Family include both the plaintiff and the defendant. Defendant 2 is the Karta, who sold and mortgaged the land for the unlawful and immoral aim of Vimla and Pushpa’s marriage, while under the influence of Defendant 1. The defendant argued that he obtained the loan in order to comply with the law.

The debt was deemed to have been used unlawfully by the court. Since it was against the Child Marriage Restriction Act of 1929, it qualifies as legal alienation.

  • In a Hindu joint family, the oldest male member, known as the Karta, is responsible for overseeing the family’s assets. A fiduciary connection exists between them and the other family members, and their culpability is unlimited, excluding instances of fraud or misappropriation. As demonstrated in Nopany Investments (Pvt) Ltd. v. Santokh Singh[2], where the Karta’s younger brother was nominated with approval from all members, a junior member may, nevertheless, become the Karta provided all coparceners concur.
  • Hindu women could not be coparceners in a united Hindu household until the Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005. Nevertheless, daughters may now co-own joint family property following the modification. According to the traditional interpretation, the Supreme Court held in Gangoli Rao v. Chinnappa[3] that women cannot be coparceners or Kartas. This ruling was later upheld in Income Tax v. Seth Govind Ram[4]. But in the contemporary perspective, as demonstrated by the case of Mrs. Sujata Sharma v. Shri Manu Gupta[5], the Delhi High Court broadened the application of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, enabling women to assume the role of Karta within the family.


In a Joint Hindu family, Karta has a unique place in terms of its complexity and comprehension. Due to certain practical components, the idea of Karta, which dates back centuries, is still relevant today. Each joint family ought to have a Karta in order to strengthen the cohesiveness of the family in relation to its activities and interactions. It can be concluded from the Karta’s position that he has more authorities and less obligations. Karta occupies a special place in terms of determining his position. The parties are required to abide by the rulings or declarations made by the Karta. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 grants females the same rights as sons in Section 6. With two exceptions—when a male family member is absent or when a male family member is present but a minor—the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 does not recognize a woman as a Karta. The Dharma sutras, an ancient Hindu law text, also makes reference to these two situations. In other personal legislation, the government ought to take action to improve the status of women.


[1] https://blog.ipleaders.in/power-and-position-of-a-karta-under-hindu-law/ Visited on 22 January 2024

[2] AIR 2007 SC 3094

[3] AIR1983KANT222

[4] 1966 AIR 24 1965 SCR (3) 488

[5]  (2016) 226 DLT 647

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