New Delhi: At a time when the entire nation is witnessing debate on women' entry in Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, Delhi High Court ruled that the eldest female member of a Hindu family can be its karta or the legal head, a position that has been reserved only for male members.
"If a male member of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), by virtue of his being the first-born eldest, can be a Karta, so can a female member. The court finds no restriction in law preventing the eldest female co-parcenor of an HUF, from being its Karta," Justice Najmi Waziri said.
Justice Waziri noted that female members of Hufs were earlier prevented from becoming its karta because they did not possess the necessary qualification of co-parcenership.
“The impediment, which prevented a female Huf member from becoming its karta, was that she did not possess the necessary qualification of co-parcenership... Now that this disqualification has been removed by the 2005 amendment, there is no reason why Hindu women should be denied the position of a karta,” Justice Waziri observed.
The verdict came on a suit filed by the eldest daughter of a business family in north Delhi, seeking entitlement as the head of the family after the demise of her father and three uncles.
The family had four brothers and after their deaths, the eldest son of a younger brother declared himself to be the next 'head'. This move was opposed by the daughter of the eldest brother, who according to her is now the senior most member in the family. A petition was filed by her in the Delhi High Court that challenged her younger cousin's claim to become the next head of the family.
The Karta or the head of a family occupies a position superior to other members in the family and has complete authority to manage the family's property, rituals and all other important matters.