5 Most Important Duties and Liabilities of a Manager of a Joint Hindu Family

(c) Duty to spend reasonably

(d) Duty not to start a new business without the necessary consent

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(e) Duty not to alienate coparcenary property.

All above duties are briefly discussed below.

(a) Duty to render accounts:

The manager of a joint Hindu family is not supposed to keep accounts as long as the family remains a joint family. The only exception to this rule is when the nature of the family property and dealings is such that it becomes necessary to keep accounts.

Thus, no separate account need be kept of what each coparcener contributes to the family or of what he receives from it. Although the expenditure on behalf of the various coparceners is usually unequal, this does not create any debts between the coparceners inter se. If a coparcener is dissatisfied with the Karta’s management, his only remedy is to ask for a partition.

Even when a coparcener asks for a partition, he is not ordinarily entitled to require the manager to account for his past dealings. All that such a separating coparcener is entitled to is to an account of the family property as it exists at the time he demands the partition.

In other words, accounts are to be given on the basis of what has actually been spent, and not on what ought to have been spent, had the manager been more prudent and frugal. It is however, open to a coparcener to show that the expenditure alleged to have been incurred by the manager has not in fact been incurred or that he has not disclosed some joint family properties which are also liable for partition.

However, in exceptional cases, a manager can be called upon by the Court to give an account of past dealings. This can happen mainly in the following four cases :

(i) Where one member of the family has been entirely excluded from the enjoyment of the family property;

(ii) Where it is shown that the manager has been guilty of fraudulently converting the family income to his own private purposes;

(iii) Where there is a special agreement between the coparceners and the manager, under which the manager is liable to give past accounts;

(iv) Where a division of status is effected, but the actual partition by metes and bounds takes place later on. (In such a case, he is liable to account for the intervening period also.)

Under the law as interpreted in the State of West Bengal, a coparcener may, without bringing a suit for partition, call upon the manager to account for the past dealings and income of the coparcenary property. If the manager refuses to do so, he can be compelled by a Court to do so. (Abhaychandra v. Pyari Mohan, 5 Beng. L.R. 347)

(b) Duty to recover debts due to the family:

It is the duty of the Karta to realise and recover all the debts due to the family. He has no power to give up a debt due to the joint family, or give up a valuable claim of the joint family without any consideration for the same. He may, however, in the interests of the family, make a reasonable reduction in the amount of interest (or even the principal amount) due to the joint family.

(c) Duty to spend reasonably:

The Karta is bound to spend the joint family funds in a reasonable manner and for the purpose of the family only. His duty, however, is to spend reasonably, and not economically. He is under no obligation to economise or save, as a paid agent or trustee would be. If a coparcener feels that the Karta is spending more than what that coparcener approves of, his remedy is to ask for a partition.

(d) Duty not to start a new business without the necessary consent:

A Karta, even if he is a father, has no authority to start a new business, so as to impose upon the minor members, the risk of a new business; nor can the Karta impose such a risk upon the adult members, — unless they have expressly or impliedly consented to it. (This has been discussed at length earlier.)

(e) Duty not to alienate coparcenary property:

As seen earlier, it is the duty of the Karta not to alienate joint family property without the consent of all the coparceners, unless he is doing so for legal necessity or for the benefit of the estate.