Indian Courts Rule That Women Can Become Legal Heads of Households

Indian Courts Rule That Women Can Become Legal Heads of Households

In news that has only recently been divulged to the public, Indian high courts have ruled that women can now be designated as karta, or head of the family.

In the Hindu religion, a karta is the person who is in charge of the joint family, which is a group of relatives tied together by ties of kinship and marriage and descended from a common ancestor.

Previously the position of the karta was one that was to only be held by the eldest male family member. However, in December, the Delhi high court was forced to rule on this mandate when a woman, who was the eldest member of her family business after the passing of her father and three uncles, claimed to be the heir, challenging her younger and less experienced nephew.

Lawyers in defense of the new verdict say that the previous ruling has “not only contributed to (female) discrimination on the ground of gender, but also has led to oppression and negation of her fundamental right of equality guaranteed by the Constitution having regard to the need to render social justice to women.”

This ruling is an extension of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, which brings women on a par with men with regard to inheritance in a Hindu undivided family. While there was an amendment to the act in 2005 that deemed the disqualification of females from being Karta to be void, this recent clarification now allows them to manage property and rituals of a joint family.


Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.