Joint Hindu Family – Concept And Formation Under Mitakshara Law


A joint family is an important aspect of Hindu Law. It is an institution where members of the family own property in their name or Coparcener’s name. It started through a common male ancestor and continued till perpetual by birth and death of a member in the family.

The head of the family who manages all the affairs of the Joint Hindu family is Karta. He had a right to alienate property without asking from other coparceners if done in good faith. The coparceners in the family had an interest in the property by birth, vest unity of possession and community of interest, shares is specified and at any time asks for partition.

Concept of Joint Hindu Family:

The meaning of a joint family under the Oxford Dictionary is a continued family consists of two or three generations and their spouses and children living together under a single household. To constitute a Joint Hindu family, all the members should be Hindu and consists of a common ancestor and male descendants with their mothers, wives, or widows and their unmarried daughters. It is a continuous process as if upper members removed through death then lower members are added through marriage or by birth.

In Mitakshara law, the son has a right over the property since birth whether it is a legitimate son or illegitimate son. In earlier times, daughters do not become a member of her father’s joint family after getting married but this situation has changed.

Widowed daughter or deserted by her husband can again become a member of her father’s family but her children will always be a member of their father’s joint family. The member can be added to the family through adoption and will be competent to equal rights and obligations given to a natural-born child.

Coparcenary and their property:

The Coparcenary is a narrower institution and included under Joint Family. It only comprises a male member who had born in the family and acquires an interest in the Coparcenary property. To constitute a Coparcenary as a minimum two male members should be needed to start and continued for a longer time.

Joint Hindu family has unlimited members but Coparcenary is only limited to four generations of unlimited male members. The property acquired by a senior most male member is known as the last holder of the property. For E.g., the Coparcenary was consisting of father F, his son S1, and his son’s son S2. All these have to form Coparcenary and if the son died the Coparcenary will continue between the father and his grandson.

Sometimes all the coparceners died leaving behind only one, the surviving Coparcenaries known as Sole Surviving coparcener. If it will be not possible to add another coparcener then the property in his hand becomes separate property. The right to maintenance has to given to female members if they have.

In earlier times women cannot become coparceners but after the amendment in the Hindu Succession Act, 2005, daughters also become coparceners just like their brother from birth. Under classical law, if a coparcener dies then his share in the property was shifted to surviving coparceners but this Doctrine of Survivorship has abolished under the 2005 amendment. And now the property has divided through the Doctrine of Notional partition and the property had given to the deceased’s legal heirs.

Formation of Joint Hindu Family:

To form or start a family there must be a common male ancestor to bring Joint Hindu Family into existence but to continue it is not necessary. After his death, the rest of the family will continue. It is a common rule that the plurality of members institutes Joint Hindu Family but a plurality of male members is not crucial. For example. – a family consists of male member A, his two sons S1 and S2, wife W1 of S1. On the death of A, the joint Hindu family does not come to an end and will continue with S1, S2, and W1.

A single male member after partition does not constitute Joint Hindu Family even if he has all the ancestral property in his hand. As there required a minimum of two members to start a joint family. He can form a joint family with his wife but to form Coparcenary he needed a minimum of two male members. In the case of Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Laxmi Narayan, the court held that if the male ancestor died leaving behind the son, his wife and his mother would remain in the same status i.e., a single male member with a female member can constitute Joint Hindu Family.

The joint family can continue by only female members. After the death of the last male member of the Hindu undivided family, the rest of the members either non-coparceners or females were allowed to continue with the status of Joint Hindu Family. That status will continue until they can add male members either by adoption or by birth otherwise Joint Hindu Family ended.

The court in the case of Attorney General of Ceylon vs. Arunachalam Chettiar, said after the death of all male members in the family the joint family will continue if their wives are capable of adding a male member either by adoption or if any of them is pregnant.

Sometimes a case occurred where all the members of the family have died leaving behind only daughters. And daughter will cease to be a member of her father’s joint family after marriage but after the commencement of Hindu Adoption And Maintenance Act, 1956, the single women were allowed to adopt a child to continue her father’s joint family and if she marries her husband would be a stepfather of her children. For example. – a family consist of the father F, his wife W, two sons S1 and S2, their wives W1 and W2, and daughter D. After the death of the father, mother, son and wives, only daughter was left and at that point, a joint family of father ended. If an unmarried daughter adopted a child without getting married will continue her father’s joint family.

Does a question arise whether husband and wife can constitute a joint hindu family? Many High Court contended that a single member did not constitute a Hindu undivided family and possesses absolute right over property even after his marriage but his property becomes ancestral when his wife begot a son.

The Supreme Court in the case of Surjit Lal vs. CIT, held the partitioned property hold by son had obligation to maintain his wife after marriage, and they will constitute joint family but the property possesses by him maybe his separate property.


The Hindu Joint Family is presumed to be a joint through worship, food, and shelter. In Joint Hindu Family it is presumed that they do not possess any property at all but in Hindu Undivided Family is only connected with property matters.

The 2005 Amendment helped the daughters by making coparceners but the result is not fruitful as now they face inequality. Social justice demands equality for women in the economic and social sphere. The concept of the Notional Partition abolished the Doctrine of Survivorship and helps the descendants to inherit property. For women property rights, society needs to be educated with an awareness of law through educational institution and seminars.

This article has been written by Poornima Gupta, BA LLB 2nd Year (2018- 2023) student at Delhi Metropolitan Education, affiliated to GGSIPU.

Also Read – Whether a Female can be a Karta?

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