Can a single male constitute HUF?


Can a single male constitute HUF?

One of the most common questions is whether a single member can make an HUF?
Let us discuss it with the provision contained in the Income Tax Act – 1961.
1. Assessment in the status of a Hindu undivided family can be made only when there are two or more members of the Hindu undivided family, as held in C. Krishna Prasad vs. CIT (1974) 97 ITR 493(SC).
2.  In common parlance, Family signifies a group. A family consisting of a single individual is a contradiction in terms.  Section  2(31) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, treats a Hindu undivided family as an  entity distinct and different from an individual. Plurality of persons is necessarily an essential attribute of the term “family”. A single person, male or female does not constitute a family.
3.  Husband and wife can constitute HUF if property is received on partition.  An individual who receives ancestral property at a partition and who subsequently acquires family, but has no male issue, would hold that property only as the property of the family.
4. Under the Hindu law the wife of the coparcener is certainly a member of the family. Whatever be the school of Hindu law by which a person is governed, the basic concept of a Hindu undivided family in the sense of who can be its members is just the same. Thus, in order to constitute a joint family it is not always necessary that there must be two male members, held in CIT vs. Parshottamdas K. Panchal (2002) 257 ITR 96 (Guj).
5. In cases where the property held by the person who claims it to be his own, had in fact been held by a joint family earlier and is ipso facto capable of being held by other sharers as well in future if and when the family comes into existence and a son, whether by birth or adoption, is added thereto, such property continues to retain the character of joint family property, even when the family is reduced to a single male member as in the case of a sole surviving coparcener.  Though such a sole surviving coparcener may be assessable as an individual as he cannot be said to have a family, unless there are, in fact female joint family members in the family, the character of the property continues unaltered as joint family property though for the time being it is not shared with any other member of the family and may or may not be subject to any charge in favour of anyone else for any purpose.
6. When the assessee got married and acquired a family that family constituted a Hindu undivided family and the ancestral property which the assessee had received at the partition became the property of that Hindu undivided family. In cases where the property even at the time it vested in the hands of the family had the character of ancestral property the absence of  a son, who can claim partition, does not render what is joint family property, individual property. The test is not as to whether his issues are male or female. The test is whether the property was ancestral. Therefore an individual who receives ancestral property at partition and who subsequently acquires a family, but had no male issues would hold that property only a property of the Hindu undivided family, as held in  W.P.A.R Rajagopalan vs. C.W.T (2000) 241 ITR 344(Madras).


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