Hindu joint family

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A joint family or undivided family is an extended family arrangement prevalent throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India, consisting of many generations living in the same home. All the daughters, or widowed relatives, all bound by the common relationship.[1] The joint family status being the result of birth, possession of joint cord that knits the members of the family together is not property but the relationship. The family is headed by a patriarch, usually the oldest male called, who makes decisions on economic and social matters on behalf of the entire family. The patriarch's wife generally exerts control over the kitchen, child rearing and minor religious practices. All money goes to the common pool and all property is held jointly.

There are several schools of laws. Broadly, systems of laws are very common. Family ties are given more importance than marital ties. The arrangement provides a kind of social security in a familial atmosphere.

Hindu Undivided Families[edit]

A Hindu Undivided Family (abbreviation: H.U.F) is a legal term related to the [Hindu Marriage Act]. Due to the development of the [Law of India/Indian legal system], of late, the female members are also given the right of share to the property in the H.U.F. The term ‘Hindu Undivided Family’ finds reference in the provisions of the income tax act but the expression is not defined in the act.

There are various aspects of Hindu Law which are relevant for the purpose assessment of income[2] and wealth in the status of Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) as well as the impact of the provisions of Hindu Succession Act 1956 as amended by Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 which are relevant for the purpose of assessment of income and wealth in the status of H.U.F under Income Tax Act 1961.

In the case of Surjit lal Chhabra 101 ITR 776 SC, wherein the court explained the scope of the said expression as under:

In the first place, joint family and undivided family are synonymous terms.The expression ‘Hindu Undivided Family’ must be construed in the sense, in which it is understood under the Hindu law. “A joint Hindu family consists of persons lineally descended from a common ancestor and includes their wives and unmarried daughters. The daughter, on marriage, ceases to be a member of her father's family and becomes a member of her husband’s family.”

That the Joint and Undivided Family is the normal condition of Hindu society. The presumption, therefore, is that the members of a Hindu family are living in a state of union, unless the contrary is established.


In Hindu undivided family, different relationships are addressed via different names. Nature of relationship also varies. Few relations are of equivalence, few of mutual respect and few are teasing in nature. In joint families in north and central India, between a bride or sister-in-law and her younger brother-in-law a joking or teasing relationship is common, while the relationship towards an older brother-in-law is that of respectfulness.[3]

In a traditional joint Hindu family, there is a subservient relationship between the wives of the brothers; that is to say, the patriarch’s wife is addressed as "Badi Bhabhi", meaning ‘eldest brother’s wife’. She is traditionally considered the mistress of the house, and is in charge of running the household affairs and overseeing the servants (if any). The subsequent younger brothers’ wives typically seek her advice and permission in regards to any matters/decisions regarding the household and rearing of the children. In popular culture, Hindi dramas typically display these relationships as contentious, as the badi bhabhi frequently abuses her position of power.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Talwar, Swati. "Meaning of HUF (Hindu Undivided Family)". Taxpaisa.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Detailed Analysis of HUF with Hindu Succession Act 1956 and Income Tax Act 1961". TopCAfirms.com. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Gender and Genre in the Folklore of Middle India - Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger". Books.google.com. 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 

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