The following are the fourteen main rights of a coparcener:
1. Community of interest and unity of possession:
No coparcener is entitled to exclusive possession of any part of the coparcenary property; nor is any coparcener entitled to any special interest in such property.
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As observed by the Privy Council in Katama Natchairv. Rajah of Shivagunga (1893 9 M.I.A. 539), “there is community of interest and unity of possession between all the members of the family”.
2. Share of Income:
A member of a joint family cannot, at any given moment, predicate what his share in the joint family property is. Such a share becomes defined only when a partition takes place. The reason is that his share is a fluctuating one, which is liable to be increased by deaths, and diminished by births, in the family. It follows from this that no member is also entitled to any definite share of the income of the property.
According to the principles governing a Hindu undivided family, the whole income of the joint family property must be brought to the common purse of the family, and then dealt with as per the rights of the members to enjoy such property.
3. Joint possession and enjoyment:
Each coparcener is entitled to joint possession and enjoyment of the family property. If he is excluded from doing so, he can enforce this right by way of a suit. He is not, however, bound to sue for partition. In a suit for joint possession, the Court would declare his right to joint possession, and further direct that he should be put into such joint possession.
4. Right against exclusion from joint family property:
If a coparcener is excluded by other coparceners from the use or enjoyment of the joint property, the Court may, by an injunction, restrain such coparceners from obstructing him in the enjoyment of the property.
In one case, A and Â were members of a joint family. A prevented Â from using a door which was the only means of access to the rooms which were in B’s occupation. It was held that, in the circumstances, the Court could, by injunction, restrain A from disturbing Â in the use of the door. (Anani v. Gopal, 1895, 19 Bom. 269)
In another case, A and Â were members of a joint family, which owned a shop in Poona. A prevented Â from entering the shop, inspecting the account books, and taking part in the general management of the shop. Â sued A for an injunction, restraining A from excluding Â from the joint possession and management of the shop, and the Bombay High Court held that Â was entitled to succeed. (Ganpat v. Annaji, 1899 23 Bom. 144)
5. Right of maintenance and other necessary expenses:
Every coparcener is entitled to be maintained out of the estate of the family. For this purpose, he is entitled to receive, from the coparcenary property, maintenance for himself, his wife and children, as also for those whom he is bound to maintain. Besides such maintenance, a coparcener is also entitled to get money from the coparcenary property for the purpose of the marriage of his children and for the performance of the sradha and upanayana ceremonies.
6. Right to restrain improper acts:
Every coparcener has the right to restrain improper acts on the part of other coparceners, where such acts cause substantial injury to his rights as a member of the family. Thus, if a coparcener erects a building on land belonging to the joint family, so as to materially alter the condition of the property, he may be restrained by an injunction from doing so.
7. Right to enforce partition:
Every adult coparcener is entitled to enforce a partition of a coparcenary property. He cannot, however, file a suit for a declaration of the amount of his share, as he has no definite share, until partition.
In one leading case (Appaji v. Ramchandra, 16 Bom. 29), the Bombay High Court held that there is one important exception to the above rule, namely, that where the father is joint with his own father or other collateral members, a son cannot enforce a partition against the will of the father. This exception is also recognised in the State of Punjab also, but not in other parts of India.
8. Right to account:
A coparcener has no right to ask for accounts from the manager as regards his dealing with the coparcenary property and the income thereof, unless of course, such coparcener is suing for a partition, in which case, he would have such a right.
9. Right of alienation:
No coparcener can dispose of his undivided interest in coparcenary property by gift. Nor can he alienate such interest for value, except in the State of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. An unauthorised alienation is not however, absolutely void; it is merely voidable at the option of the other coparceners.
However, it is open to a creditor, who has obtained a decree against the coparcener personally, to attach and sell his undivided interest, and if this is done, the purchaser can have his interest separated by a suit for partition.
10. Right to impeach unauthorised alienations:
Every coparcener has the right to impeach alienation by the manager, or any other coparcener, in excess of their powers. Such alienation can be impeached only by a coparcener or by a transferee who has acquired the entire interest of a joint family in the property alienated.
11. Right to renounce:
A coparcener has the right to renounce his interest in the coparcenary property. He can do so by expressing his intention to that effect, and if he does so, no other formalities would be necessary. Such a renunciation must, however, be in favour of the whole body of coparceners. Even if he renounces in favour of one individual member, the renunciation will operate for the benefit of all the coparceners.
12. Right of survivorship:
All the coparceners of a joint Hindu family have a right of survivorship in respect of the joint family property. Thus, if one coparcener dies, his undivided interest in such family passes by survivorship to the remaining coparceners, and not to his heirs by succession. (The circumstances in which this right of a coparcener does not exist have already been considered earlier.)
13. Right to make self-acquisition:
A coparcener has the right to acquire property of his own, and keep it as his self-acquired property. The other coparceners would have ho claim on such property.
14. Right to manage:
A coparcener, who is the senior-most member of the family, is entitled to manage the coparcenary property and business, and to look after the interests of the family on behalf of the other coparceners, unless he is incapacitated from doing so by illness or other like and sufficient cause.