TIME India

Indian Court Rules That Hindu Women Can Now Be the Head of Their Own Families

A right hitherto reserved for the eldest male member

In a significant decision Monday, a top court in India’s capital city New Delhi ruled that women are eligible to become the legal head of a family, a position hitherto reserved only for the eldest male.

The Delhi High Court verdict said there is “no restriction” on a woman becoming a family’s karta — a role demarcated by ancient Hindu customs and scripture that defines the manager of a joint family, the Times of India reported.

The karta assumes a preeminent position within the family, which comes with the authority to handle its rituals, property, assets and other key matters.

According to the Times, Monday’s ruling in Delhi was the result of a lawsuit filed by the eldest daughter of one of the city’s business families, whose father was the eldest of four brothers. Following the deaths of all four, her cousin — the eldest son of a younger brother — had claimed he was the rightful karta.

However, the Delhi court’s Justice Najmi Waziri said: “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 decision follows (and, according to the court, is based on the precedent set by) a 2005 amendment to the South Asian nation’s Hindu Succession Act allowing women previously denied equal inheritance rights.

[Times of India]

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team