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Coparcenary 1

PROJECT REPORT
ON
COPARCENARY

Submitted To: Submitted By:


Dr. Jai Mala Harkiran Singh Brar

87/10

IVth Semester
Coparcenary 2

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I owe a great many thanks to a great many people who helped and supported me during the
writing of this project.

My deepest thanks to my Family Law Lecturer, Dr. Jai Mala, the Guide of the project for
guiding me and correcting various documents of mine with attention and care. She has taken
pain to go through the project and make necessary corrections as and when needed.

I would also thank my Institution and my faculty members without whom this project would
have been a distant reality. I also extend my heartfelt thanks to my family and well-wishers.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
JOINT HINDU FAMILY ....................................................................................................................... 4
COPARCENARY ................................................................................................................................... 5
GENESIS OF COPARCENARY ....................................................................................................... 7
INCIDENTS OF COPARCENARY ................................................................................................... 8
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOINT HINDU FAMILY AND COPARCENARY .............................. 8
DAYABHAGA SCHOOL ON COPARCENARY ............................................................................ 8
COPARCENERs RIGHTS ................................................................................................................ 9
COPARCENARY WITHIN COPARCENARY ................................................................................ 9
COPARCENARY PROPERTY ........................................................................................................... 10
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COPARCENARY PROPERTY ....................................................... 10
ELEMENTS OF A COPARCENARY PROPERTY ........................................................................ 10
COPARCENERS POWER OF ALIENATION .............................................................................. 11
SALE AND MORTAGE .................................................................................................................. 11
SOLE SURVIVING COPARCENER .............................................................................................. 11
THE AMENDMENT OF 2005 IN THE HINDU SUCCESSION ACT ............................................... 12
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................................. 13
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JOINT HINDU FAMILY

A Hindu Joint family consists of the common ancestor and all his lineal male descendants
upto any generation together with the wife or wives (or widows) and unmarried daughters of
the common ancestor and of the lineal male descendants. The existence of the common
ancestor is necessary for bringing a Joint family into existence, for its continuance common
ancestor is not a necessity.1

According to Sir Dinshah Mulla, A Joint Hindu family consists of all persons lineally
descended from a common ancestor, and includes their wives and unmarried daughters. A
daughter ceases to be a member of her father's family on marriage, and becomes a member of
her husband's family.2

A Joint and undivided family is the normal condition of Hindu society. An undivided Hindu
family is ordinarily Joint not only in estate, but also in food and worship. 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. Where there is joint estate, and the
members of the family become separate in estate, the family ceases to be Joint. Mere
severance in food and worship does not operate as a separation.3

The property of a Joint family does not cease to be Joint family property belonging to any
such family merely because the family is represented by a single male member who possesses
rights which an absolute owner of a property may possess. It may even consist of two females
members. There must be at least two members to constitute Joint Hindu family. A single
male or female cannot make a Hindu Joint family even if the assets are purely ancestral.4

In Narendranath v. Commissioner of Wealth Tax,5 the Supreme Court held that the
expression 'Hindu undivided family' in the wealth Tax Act used in the sense in which a Hindu
Joint family is understood in the personal law of Hindus and a Joint family may consist of a
single male member and his wife and daughters and there is nothing in the scheme of the
Wealth Tax Act to suggest that a Hindu undivided family as assessable unit must consist of a
least two male members.

In Commissioner of Income Tax v. Gomedalli Lakshminarayan,6 there was a Joint family


consisting of a father and his wife and a son and his wife, the son being the present assesse.
On the death of father the Question raised is whether the assesse is to be assessed as an
individual or as a member of the Joint Hindu family, It was held that the son's right over the

1
Extract From Online Family Law II Notes, Visited on February 23, 2012 at <http://mayank-
lawnotes.blogspot.in/2007/01/family-law-ii.html>
2
Ibid
3
Ibid
4
Ibid
5
AIR 1965 AP
6
(1935) 37 BOMLR 692
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property is not absolute because two females in the family has right of maintenance in the
property, therefore the income of the assesse should be taxed as the income of a Hindu
undivided family.7

In Anant v. Shankar,8 it was held that on the death of a sole surviving coparcener, a Hindu
Joint Family is not finally terminated so long as it is possible in nature or law to add a male
member to it. Thus there can also be a Joint family where there are widows only.9

COPARCENARY

A species of estate, or tenancy, which exists where lands of inheritance descend from the
ancestor to two or more persons. It arises in England either by common law or particular
custom. By common law, as where a person, fee-tail, dies, and his next heirs are two or more
females, his daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, or their representatives; in this case they all
inherit, and these coheirs are then called coparceners.10

A Hindu Coparcenary is a much narrower body than the Joint family, which is purely a
creation of law. The conception of a Joint Hindu family constituting a coparcenary is that of a
common male ancestor with his lineal descendants in the male line within four degrees
counting from, and inclusive of, such ancestor. It includes only those persons who acquire by
birth an interest in the Joint or Coparcenary property.11 These are sons, grandsons and great
grandsons of the holder of the Joint property for the time being. After the amendment of the
2005, a daughter has been included as a coparcener along with the sons of the coparcener.
Difference between ancestral property and separate property is the interlinked with the
concept of Coparcenary. The property jointly inherited by a Hindu by birth along with his
sons, grandsons and great grandsons from his male lineage of ancestors is ancestral
property.12 All other property is included under separate property.13

Though every coparcenary must have a common ancestor to start with, it is not to be
supposed that every extant coparcenary is limited to four degrees from the common ancestor.
When a member of a joint family is removed more than four degrees from the last holder, he
cannot demand a partition, and therefore he is not a coparcener. On the death, however, of the
last holder, he would become a member of the coparcenary, if he was fifth in descent from
him and would be entitled to a share on partition, unless his father, grandfather and great-
grandfather had all predeceased the last holder. Whenever a break of more than three degrees

7
Supra Note 1
8
(1944) 46 BOMLR 1
9
Supra Note 7
10
Definition of Coparcenary at Blacks Online Dictionary, Visited on February 23, 2012 at
<http://blackslawdictionary.org/coparcenary/>
11
Surjith Lal Chhaabda v. CIT Bombay AIR 1976 SC 109
12
Sundar Lal v. Chhittar Mal (1907) 29 All 1
13
Gautam Jayasurya, Testamentary Disposition of Coparceners, Visited on February 23, 2012 at
<http://scribd.com>, p.4
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occurs between any holder of property and the person who claims to enter the coparcenary
after his death the line ceases in that direction and the survivorship is confined to those
collaterals and descendants who are within the limit of four degrees.14

In Ceylon- Attorney-General of Ceylon v. A. R. Arunachalam Chettiar,15 case a father


and his son constituted a joint family governed by Mitakshara School of Hindu Law. The
father and the son were domiciled in India and had trading and other interests in India. The
undivided son died and father became the sole surviving coparcener in a Hindu Undivided
family to which a number of female members belonged. In this the court said that the widows
in the family including the widow of the predeceased son had the power to introduce
coparceners in the family by adoption and that power was exercised after the death of son.16

In Gowli Buddanna v. Commissioner of Income-Tax Mysore,17 a family consisting of


father, his wife, his two unmarried daughters and his adopted son. After the death of father
question arises whether the sole male surviving coparcener of the Hindu joint family, his
widowed mother and sisters constitute a Hindu undivided family within the meaning of the
Income tax Act? In this case it was held by the court property of a joint family does not cease
to belong to the family merely because the family is represented by a single coparcener who
possesses rights which an owner of property may possess. The property which yielded the
income originally belonged to a Hindu undivided family.18

In Moro Vishwanath v. Ganesh Vitthal,19 plaintiffs and defendants are descendants of one
Udhav. The defendants are all fourth in descent from him. The plaintiffs, however are, some
fifth, and others sixth in descent from him. The question, however, whether, assuming them
to be undivided, the plaintiffs are entitled to sue at all for a partition according to Hindu Law,
is one of considerable importance and difficulty. It was urged that Plaintiffs cannot claim
from the defendants any partition of property descended from that common ancestor. It was
held that upon a consideration of the authorities cited, it seems to me that it would be difficult
to uphold the appellants' contention that a partition could not, in any case be demanded by
descendants of a common ancestor, more than four degrees removed, of property originally
descended from him.20

14
Supra Note 9
15
[1967] 63 ITR 458 (SC)
16
Supra Note 14
17
AIR 1966 SC 1523
18
Supra Note 16
19
AIR 1958 MP 304
20
Supra Note 18
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GENESIS OF COPARCENARY

21

A Hindu male A, with self-acquired property without the help or financial support of his
ancestors has a son B. B with his three sons or daughters C, D and E and with their children
F, G and K. The main family will constitute the above mentioned members i.e. up to four
generations. I, J and K constitute branch families. All these families have one common
ancestor A. On the death of A, I and J will be added to the coparcenary. On As death the
self-acquired property of A during As lifetime is inherited by B. Bs three children C, D and
E takes a vested interest in the property by reason of birth. This property inherited by B will
become ancestral property in Bs hands. After the death of A, his children C, D and E and
their children F, G and H are coparceners as regards the property.22

It is to be noted that coparcenary is not always limited to four degrees from common
ancestor. A member of a joint family may be removed more than four degrees from common
ancestor, and yet he may be a coparcener. But the rule states that partition can only be
demanded by any member of a joint family, who is not removed more than four degrees from
the last holder. On the death, however of the last holder, he would become a member of the
coparcenary, if he was fifth in descent and would be entitled to a share in the partition.
Whenever a break of more than three degrees occurs between any holder of the property and
the person who claims to enter the coparcenary after his death, the line ceases in that
direction.23

21
Table showing the illustration of a coparcenary in the Hindu family, Visited on February 23, 2012 at
<http://www.payer.de/dharmashastra/dharma0915.gif >
22
Supra Note 13, p.5
23
Ibid
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INCIDENTS OF COPARCENARY

The lineal male descendants of a person upto the third generation, acquire on
birth ownership in the ancestral properties of such person.
Such descendants can at any time work out their rights by asking for partition.
Till partition each member has got ownership extending over the entire property
conjointly enjoyment of the properties is common.
As a result of such co-ownership the possession and enjoyment of the
properties is common.
No alienation of the property is possible unless it is for necessity, without the
concurrence of the coparceners.
The interest of a deceased member passes on his death to the surviving
coparceners.24

Every coparcener and every other member of the joint family has a right of maintenance out
of the joint family property. The right of maintenance subsists through the life of the member
so long as family remains Joint. No female can be a coparcener under Mitakshara law. Even
wife, though she is entitled to maintenance.25

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOINT HINDU FAMILY AND


COPARCENARY
1. In order to constitute a Joint Hindu family the existence of any kind of property is not
required whereas in Coparcenary there exists an ancestral property.

2. Joint Hindu family consist of male and female members of a family whereas in
Coparcenary no female can be a coparcener.

3. Coparceners are members of the Joint Hindu Family whereas all the members of Joint
Hindu family are not Coparceners.26

DAYABHAGA SCHOOL ON COPARCENARY


According to the Dayabhaga law, the sons do not acquire any interest by birth in ancestral
property. Their rights arise for the first time on the father's death. On the death they take such
of the property as if left by him, whether separate or ancestral, as heirs and not by
survivorship. Since the sons do not take any interest in ancestral property in their father's
lifetime, there can be no coparcenary in the strict sense of the word between a father and sons
according to the Dayabhaga law. The father can dispose of ancestral property, whether
movable or immovable by sale, gift, will or otherwise in the same way as he can dispose of
his separate property. Since sons do not acquire any interest by birth in ancestral property,
they cannot demand a partition of such property from the father. A coparcenary under the

24
Supra Note 20
25
Ibid
26
Ibid
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Dayabhaga law could thus consist of males as well as females. Every coparcener takes a
defined share in the property, and he is owner of that share. It does not fluctuate with birth
and deaths in family.27

COPARCENERs RIGHTS
Right of joint Ownership
Right of joint Possession, enjoyment and use of joint family property
Right of Survivorship
Right of Alienation of undivided interest
Right to Challenge an improper Alienation made by the Karta
Right of Maintenance
Right to Partition28

COPARCENARY WITHIN COPARCENARY


It is possible that separate coparcenaries may exist within a coparcenary.

Example: a coparcenary consists of A and his three sons B, C and D and two sons of C, CS
and CS1 and three sons of D, DS, DS1 and DS2, C and D acquire separate properties and die.
CS and CS1 inherit the separate property of C and between themselves constitute a
coparcenary. DS, DS1 and DS2 inherit Ds separate properties and constitute a coparcenary
headed by A two sub-coparcenaries come into existence. If sons are born to CS, CS1 or DS,
DS1 and DS2 they will get a birth right not merely in the coparcenary headed by A but also
in their respective sub-coparcenaries.29

27
Ibid
28
Vijender Kumar, Hindu Law of Coparcenary And Its Composition, Visited on February 23, 2012 at
<http://scribd.com> , p.40
29
Ibid
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COPARCENARY PROPERTY
Although the preamble to the Hindu Succession Act declares that the act amends and codifies
Hindu law of intestate succession, yet third chapter deals with the testamentary succession
not impliedly but boldly and to some extends radically. The effect of this provision is that
when a person bequeaths his or her property by will, the succession under the act is excluded
and the property passes to the testamentary heirs.30

Where a Hindu dies after the commencement of the Amendment Act 2005, his interest in the
property of the joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara Law shall devolve by
testamentary or intestate succession and not by survivorship and the coparcenary property
shall be deemed to have been divided as if a partition had taken place. Any property to which
a female Hindu becomes entitled to under this Amendment Act 2005, shall be a property
capable of being disposed of by her by testamentary disposition i.e. by way of Will.31

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COPARCENARY PROPERTY


Unity of ownership: The ownership of property is vested in the whole body of the
coparceners.
In determinability of shares: The interest of a coparcener in the property is fluctuating
and is capable of being enlarged by deaths in the family and liable to be decreased by
births in the family.
Community of interest: No coparcener is entitled to any independent and exclusive
interest in the coparcenary property nor is he entitled to the exclusive possession of
any part of the coparcenary property. His right is that of an undivided interest.
Rights by birth: Coparcenary members acquire interest in the property by birth under
Mitakshara law while under Dayabhaga; nobody inherits any interest by birth.
Devolution of survivorship: One of the interesting features of Mitakshara coparcenary
is that on the death of a coparcener, his interest in the property passes on to other
coparceners by survivorship (i.e. to the members who are alive). In Dayabhaga, the
property devolves on the coparceners on the death of the holder.32

ELEMENTS OF A COPARCENARY PROPERTY


Ancestral property: The property which descends from father, grandfather or fathers
fathers father.

Property jointly acquired by the members of the joint family of HUF nucleus.

Separate property of a member donated to the joint cause with the intention of
abandoning all his separate claims on it, which becomes the property of joint family.

30
Sadhu Singh v. Gurudwara Sahib Narike (2006) 8 SCC 75
31
Supra Note 22, p.8
32
Ibid
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Property acquired by all or any of the coparceners with the aid of joint family funds.33

COPARCENERS POWER OF ALIENATION


Alienation is the capacity of a legal person to transfer a property or a property right to be sold
from to another. Restraints to alienation can be seen laws across the globe. In India, these
restraints are mostly seen in personal law concerning the testamentary succession of property.
Hindu Coparceners are a specific group of people, who according to Mitakshara law are not
allowed to alienate their joint family property. To unearth the logic behind this legal fiction, it
is necessary to trace back the history of Smritikars in Hindu law. Smritikars were those
people who documented the customs of different communities and emphasised that codes of
morality are not fixed by some divine authority, but must evolve with respect to the changing
requirements of generations and communities. They provide the commoners a code of
conduct which is considered to be the most authoritative of all. Even though they didnt hold
any punitive powers, their influence depended solely on the voluntary internalisation of such
value systems by the groups to which they addressed themselves to, and people's respect for
their judgment.34 Smritikars went on to state that the essence of a coparcenary under the
Mitakshara School of Hindu Law is community of interest and unity of possession. For this
five types of testamentary disposition are widely recognized: Gift, Legacy, Life Estate,
Demonstrative Legacy, Will.35

SALE AND MORTAGE


According to Bombay, Madras and Madhya Pradesh high courts a coparcener has power to
sell, mortgage or otherwise alienate for value his undivided interest without the consent of
other coparceners.36 In the rest of Mitakshara jurisdiction such alienations are not permitted
and a coparcener has no power to alienate his undivided interest by sale or mortgage, without
the consent of other coparceners.37

SOLE SURVIVING COPARCENER


A sole surviving coparcener has full right of alienation of the joint family property, but if at
the time of alienation another coparcener is in the womb, on his birth, he can challenge such
alienation. When the property passes on to the sole surviving coparcener, it assumes the
character of separate property as long as he doesnt have a son. The sole surviving coparcener
has the full power of alienating the property the way he likes, by sale, by mortgage or gift
since at the time of alienation there is no other member who has joint interest in the family
property.38 Such alienation cannot be challenged by a subsequently born or adopted son. But
if another member was in the womb of his mother at the time of alienation, the sole surviving

33
Ibid., p.9
34
Madhu Kishwar, From Manusmriti to Madhusmriti Flagellating a Mythical Enemy, The education council on
Indian traditions., Visited on February 23, 2012 at
<http://www.infinityfoundation.com/ECITmythicalframeset.htm>
35
Supra Note 33, p.10
36
Pandu v. Goma AIR 1919 Bom 84
37
Lakshmi v. Kala AIR 1977 All 509
38
Guramma v. Mallapa AIR 1964 SC 510
Coparcenary 12

coparcener doesnt have the power of alienation, ad if alienation has been made, such a
member can challenge the alienation or he may ratify it on attaining majority. This power is
not fettered by the contingency of an adoption being made by a widow in the family, a
contingency which may operate at all.39

THE AMENDMENT OF 2005 IN THE HINDU SUCCESSION ACT


The new Section 6 provides for parity of rights in the coparcenary property among male and
female members of a joint Hindu family on and from September 9, 2005. The Legislature has
now conferred substantive right in favour of the daughters. According to the new Section 6,
the daughter of a coparcener becomes a coparcener by birth in her own rights and liabilities in
the same manner as the son. The declaration in Section 6 that the daughter of the coparcener
shall have same rights and liabilities in the coparcenary property as she would have been a
son is unambiguous and unequivocal. Thus, on and from September 9, 2005, the daughter is
entitled to a share in the ancestral property and is a coparcener as if she had been a son. The
right accrued to a daughter in the property of a joint Hindu family governed by the
Mitakshara Law, by virtue of the 2005 Amendment Act, is absolute, except in the
circumstances provided in the proviso appended to sub-section (1) of Section 6. The excepted
categories to which new Section 6 of the 1956 Act is not applicable are two, namely, (i)
where the disposition or alienation including any partition has taken place before December
20, 2004; and (ii) where testamentary disposition of property has been made before
December 20, 2004. Sub- section (5) of Section 6 leaves no room for doubt as it provides that
this Section shall not apply to the partition which has been affected before December 20,
2004. For the purposes of new Section 6 it is explained that `partition means any partition
made by execution of a deed of partition duly registered under the Registration Act 1908 or
partition affected by a decree of a court.40

39
Supra Note 35, p.16
40
The SC Judgement dated 12-10-2012 on The Amendment of 2005 in The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, Visited
on February 23, 2012 at <http://ecopackindia.wordpress.com/tag/coparcenary/ >
Coparcenary 13

BIBLIOGRAPHY
BOOKS
SHARMA, B.K. Hindu Law, 3rd Edition. Allahabad: Central Law Publications, 2011.

E-ARTICLES
The SC Judgement dated 12-10-2012 on The Amendment of 2005 in The Hindu
Succession Act, 1956 at <http://ecopackindia.wordpress.com/tag/coparcenary/>
Pramod Singh. Women's Right In Coparcenary Property at
< http://leguminfo.com/node/71>
Online Family Law II Notes at <http://mayank-lawnotes.blogspot.in/2007/01/family-
law-ii.html>
Gautam Jayasurya, Testamentary Disposition of Coparceners at <http://scribd.com>
Vijender Kumar, Hindu Law of Coparcenary And Its Composition at
<http://scribd.com>