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Difference between ‘Karta Guardian’ and ‘Natural Guardian’ under Hindu Law

The undivided interest of a minor in joint family property has been specifically excluded from the purview of the Act by excluding it from the meaning of the term ‘minor’s property’ as used in Section 6. Under the provisions of the Act the undivided interest of a minor in joint family property is excluded from the meaning of the term ‘minor’s property’ therefore, the law remains what it was in respect of minor’s interest in coparcenary property.

No District Court or other inferior Court may, under the Guardians and Ward Act, 1890, appoint a guardian in respect of a minor’s interest in coparcenary property under the management of the Karta of the minor’s family, such Karta being himself an adult, but the High Court’s always could and may, under their inherent powers, appoint a person other than the Karta as guardian of a minor’s interest in coparcenary property.

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The Karta is the guardian not only of his own minor children and wife, but also of the minor children and wives of other coparceners. Where all the coparceners of a joint family including the Karta are minor’s the Court may, even under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, appoint a guardian of the person of the Karta, and the coparcenary property in his charge, but such guardianship terminates ipso facto as soon as the Karta, who is the eldest among the coparceners attains majority.

Natural Guardian:

A natural guardian is one, who on account of his natural relationship with the minor becomes a guardian. In other words, a natural guardian is a person who takes care of the person of a minor or of his property or of both by virtue of his nearness in the blood relationship. Although Hindu law recognises a big band of guardians but the number of natural guardians is limited, as it can be seen in the Act itself.

The father is the natural guardian of his children during their minority and after him comes the mother. No one else can claim guardianship of the minor. The powers of the father to act as natural guardian do not come to an end simply because the child is being looked after by his aunt and is living with her.

The father may, in exercise of his discretion as guardian entrust the custody and education of his children to another, but the authority which he confers is revocable, subject to the statutory restrictions and the court’s order. The father’s rights over his minor child are absolute and uncontrolled. He is also the proper judge of the school in which to place his ward.

The Madras High Court has held that no one other than the father and failing him the mother has an absolute right to have the guardianship and custody of an unmarried Hindu minor girl. The Hindu law recognises primarily the father as the legal guardian and custodian of his unmarried minor daughter when he is alive.

Failing the father only the mother comes into picture and she should assume such guardianship and custody only in a contingency. Section 6 of the present Act does not make any substantial alteration in the law on the subject and gives legislative sanction to the principles well established already.

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