The joint family consists male, his wife and unmarried daughter and his male descendants, their wives and unmarried daughters. It is patriarchal in character. Inside Hindu joint family, there is coparcenary. The Coparcener are the owners of the joint family property and Coparcener have the right of partition in that property.

Who is Coparcener?

          Only male members are the members of the coparcenary. Coparcenary consists of the common ancestor and three degrees of male lineal descendants. If uppermost ancestor dies one more degree is added and so on.   the relationship among Coparceners maybe father and son etc. or brothers or uncle or grandfather and the like.

Example –

If F dies S4  is added so on. To begin with, the coparcenary father and son relationship is necessary and for its continuation father’s presence is not necessary.

                F ——>>>> S1 ——>>> S2 ——>>> S3 ——->>> S4
If S1, S2 die in the middle the line is not extended. If S1, S2 die during the lifetime of F, the coparcenary consists of only F and S3 and if S3 dies F becomes sole surviving coparcener. Here S1, S2 and S3 are denoted by degrees and all the persons within degree are considered coparceners. A Coparcenary is open to only certain members of the joint family. It is Limited to four degrees only.

Who is Karta?

The joint family is a Patriarchal organization. The Seniormost male ascendant is the head of the joint family is called the Karta. He represents the family and acts on its behalf. In a family consisting of the father and his children, the father is Karta. When he dies his eldest son becomes Karta. Thus in a joint family consisting of brothers and eldest brother is the Karta.  It is open to the senior members to give up his right of Management. Then the junior to him can become the Carter. A woman cannot be a Corpus in R and so cannot be a copy of the family.

Can a Female be a Coparcener and Karta?

Only Copercenar can be a Karta. Under old Hindu Law, a Woman was not Coparcener so she could not be a Karta. (Ram Avadh v. Kedarnath. AIR 1976 All. 283) [Following commissioner of I.T. Vs. GS Mills, AIR 1966 SC.24] A Woman cannot be a Coparcener and hence, She cannot become the Manager / Karta of the Hindu Joint Family.

Relevant Case Law – 

Gangoji Rao Vs Channappa AIR 1983 Kant.222
   In this Case, A, a father has a wife and 2 minor sons. A died leaving behind his undivided interest in the joint family property.  the widow alienated the property. The alienation was challenged by the sons on the ground that a woman cannot be a Karta and hence cannot alienate the property. The widow justified the alienation, contending that it was made by necessity.  it was held that the alienation by the widow/mother in such situation is valid.  but on appeal, the Supreme Court admitted the contention of Sons and held that women cannot be a coparcener and Karta, Following commissioner of I.T. Vs. GS Mills, AIR 1966 SC.24.