Jun 22, 2023Homes and People

Coparcener as per Hindu Law|Legal Rights & Share in Property

by Godrej Properties Limited

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A coparcener, according to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, refers to an individual who receives a legal right to ancestral property by birth. A coparcener is also a member of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) and can call for the division of ancestral property. Let us understand more about coparceners and associated rights and responsibilities.

What is a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)?

A Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) is a concept in Hindu law that signifies the joint or undivided status of a Hindu family. It originates from a common ancestor and includes all descendants in the family, regardless of gender, along with wives and unmarried daughters. To constitute a HUF, there must be at least two members, male or female. While a daughter is considered part of the HUF until her marriage, she typically becomes a member of her husband's family after marriage.

Definition of Coparcener

Individuals born in a HUF become joint heirs to the ancestral property. This coparcenary rights extends up to the fourth generation and includes all the descendants of the common ancestor or Karta. To illustrate - Mahesh is the head or the Karta of the HUF; his coparceners include his son - Rohit, grandson - Vikram, and great-grandson - Aditya. However, Aditya’s son Ram can only become a coparcener upon Mahesh’s death.
 

Thus, the shares of coparceners change with the addition of new family members and the death of older members. Interestingly, while all coparceners are members of the HUF, not all HUF members are coparceners.

What is a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)?

A Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) is a concept in Hindu law that signifies the joint or undivided status of a Hindu family. It originates from a common ancestor and includes all descendants in the family, regardless of gender, along with wives and unmarried daughters. To constitute a HUF, there must be at least two members, male or female. While a daughter is considered part of the HUF until her marriage, she typically becomes a member of her husband's family after marriage.
 

Who Can be a Coparcener as per Hindu Law?

In Hindu law, the following individuals born into an HUF can be coparceners:
 

  • Male members born into the HUF
  • Sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons
  • Unmarried daughters
  • All members of the family who descend from a common ancestor
  • Wives of male members
  • Married daughters, who can be coparceners but not members of the HUF

Can Women Become Coparceners?

Before the amendment of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, women were not considered coparceners and did not possess rights to ancestral property after marriage. However, in 2005 amendments to the Hindu succession law were introduced. Women now hold coparcenary status, with equal rights and liabilities over the property. The Supreme Court of India ruled that daughters are coparceners by birth and retain this status even after marriage or their father's demise and their children inherit coparcenary status upon their demise.

Features of Coparceners’ Duties and Responsibilities in HUF

  • Equal Share: Irrespective of gender, all coparceners have a joint or equal share of the ancestral property. This share changes if a coparcener dies or if a new member is born into the family. Coparceners also enjoy a privileged status and specific rights in the HUF.
  • Inheritance and Succession: The HUF based on the Mitakshara system follows survivorship. Thus, upon his death, the share of a deceased coparcener devolves to his surviving coparceners, increasing their share of the ancestral property.
  • Partition of Property: A coparcener, irrespective of age, has the right to demand that the ancestral property be divided. However, he will receive a fixed share along with everyone else. Additionally, a coparcener cannot sell ancestral property without the consent of the other coparceners.
  • Maintenance Right: All coparceners have a right to receive maintenance of the ancestral property from the family estate. This maintenance ensures the well-being of a coparcener's wife and children or, in special cases, is used for his children’s marriage ceremony.
  • Patriarchal Inheritance: Coparcenary under the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 is inherited through the family’s male line, passing from father to son, and so on. Female members of the HUF were not considered coparceners until the amendment to the Hindu Law. Now both sons and daughters enjoy equal rights, with daughters remaining coparceners even after marriage.

Salient Features of the Hindu Succession Law

  • While the HUF laws apply to Hindus, even Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs follow them.
  • All the members of HUF are not coparceners. However, all coparceners are HUF members.
  • Self-acquired property is managed through a will, while coparceners encompass both family and self-acquired property.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can coparceners demand a share of the self-acquired property?

Ans: Self-acquired property belongs only to the owner and is managed through a will.
 

2. When did women receive equal rights to property under Hindu Law?

Ans: The 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, made women coparceners, meaning joint heirs to family property.

 

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