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Report No. 252

Chapter 3

Joint Hindu Family and Hindu Coparcenary

3.1 A joint Hindu family comprises of all persons lineally descended from a common ancestor, and includes their wives and unmarried daughters as well. In classical Hindu law, the joint Hindu family was treated to be the normal condition of a Hindu family. It must be noted that this idea of joint-ness of the Hindu family is separate from any notion of joint-ness of property ownership. Mulla's Principles of Hindu Law clarifies that "the existence of joint estate is not an essential requisite to constitute a joint family, and a family which does not own any property may nevertheless be joint."1 Authoritative judgments have explained this point as follows:

"Hindus get a joint family status by birth, and the joint family property is only an adjunct of the joint family." Janakiram v Nagamony, (1926) 49 Mad 98. However, where there is joint estate and subsequently the members become separate in estate, the family ceases to be a joint Hindu family.

1. Pg 358

3.2 A coparcenary on the other hand is a much narrow concept than the Hindu family. It includes only those persons who acquire a birth interest in the joint family property or coparcenary property. In classical Hindu law, these members were the sons, grandsons and great grandsons of the last holder of the joint property. After the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the members also include the daughters of the coparceners.

Although the daughters are now included in the coparcenary, other female members in the family, such as the mother, wife and daughter-in-law are not coparceners, though they are joint family members. The latter members do not have the rights of the coparceners with respect to joint family property, but enjoy all the general rights of residence and maintenance, that members of the joint family have.

Right of the Hindu Wife to Maintenance: A relook at Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 Back

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