The meaning of family under section 2(31) of the Income Tax Act is not defined in the act itself. But we can take guidance from decisions by various high courts. Here are excerpts of courts orders in which the Hon’ble Supreme Court tried to explain the meaning of family.

meaning of family

Meaning of family defined by court

The phrase ‘family’ used in section 2(31) of the Income Tax Act came up before hon’ble Supreme Court in C. Krishna Prasad Vs. CIT [1974] 97 ITR 493 (SC) and it explained.

Meaning : Family’ connotes a group of people related by blood or marriage. According to shorter oxford english dictionary, 3rd edition, the word ‘family’ means the group consisting of parents and their children, whether living together or not; in a wider sense, all those who are nearly connected by blood or affinity; a person’s children regarded collectively; those descended or claiming descent from a common ancestor; a house, kindred, lineage; a race; a people or group of peoples. According to aristotle’s politics i, it is the characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, or just and unjust, and the association of living beings who have this sense make a family and a state.

The word ‘family’ always signifies a group. Plurality of persons is an essential attribute of a family. A single person, male or female, does not constitute a family. He or she would remain, what is inherent in the very nature of things, an individual, a lonely wayfarer till per chance he or she finds a mate. A family consisting of a single individual is a contradiction in terms. Section 2(31) of the 1961 act treats a huf as an entity distinct and different from an individual and it would be wrong not to keep that difference in view.

Section 2(31) of Income Tax Act

2(31). “person” includes—

(i) an individual,

(ii) a Hindu undivided family,

(iii) a company,

(iv) a firm,

(v) an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not,

(vi) a local authority, and

(vii) every artificial juridical person, not falling within any of the preceding sub-clauses.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause, an association of persons or a body of individuals or a local authority or an artificial juridical person shall be deemed to be a person, whether or not such person or body or authority or juridical person was formed or established or incorporated with the object of deriving income, profits or gains;

In this article, you can get guidance from supreme courts on the meaning of the family under Section 2(31) of the Income Tax Act.

Updated up to Finance Act 2021

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