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10th April, 2024 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/partnership-meaning-and-features-of-partnership/

Context: Supreme Court clarifies that when a partner in a business dies, their family members (legal heirs) are not personally responsible for the debts or obligations of the partnership. 


  • The recent Supreme Court case establishes a clear distinction between the legal and financial obligations of a deceased partner and their family members (legal heirs) regarding the partnership's liabilities.

The court's decision focuses on the concept of partner liability

  • Limited Liability of Heirs: The legal heirs of the deceased partner are not personally liable for the debts or obligations of the partnership.
  • Partnership agreements are contracts between living partners. When a partner dies, their partnership ends and their heirs don't automatically become partners.
  • Heirs inherit the deceased partner's share of the firm's assets (property and money) but don't inherit the ongoing business obligations.

Partnership Firm

  • A partnership firm is a type of business entity where two or more individuals come together to carry on a business to make a profit. The individuals who form a partnership are called partners, and they collectively manage and operate the business. Partnerships are governed by the Indian Partnership Act, 1932.

Characteristics of a Partnership Firm

  • Agreement: Partnerships are based on a partnership agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the partnership, including profit-sharing ratios, roles and responsibilities of partners, etc.
  • Liability: Partners have unlimited liability, meaning they are personally liable for the debts and obligations of the partnership. This is a key distinction from limited liability entities like companies.
  • Profit Sharing: Profits and losses of the partnership are shared among the partners as per the partnership agreement. By default, profits are shared equally unless specified otherwise.
  • Management: Partners collectively manage the affairs of the business, although specific roles and responsibilities may be assigned to individual partners based on the partnership agreement.
  • Duration: The existence of a partnership is not affected by the death, retirement, or insolvency of a partner unless specified otherwise in the partnership deed.

Formation of a Partnership Firm

  • Partnership Deed: Partners must execute a partnership deed specifying the terms of the partnership, such as the name of the firm, names and addresses of partners, nature of business, profit-sharing ratio, etc. In the absence of partnership deeds, profits and losses are likely to be shared equally among partners.
  • Registration: Although registration of a partnership firm is not mandatory, it is advisable to register the partnership with the Registrar of Firms. Registration provides legal recognition and certain benefits.
  • Opening a Bank Account: Partners can open a bank account in the name of the partnership firm using the partnership deed and other required documents.

Operations and Management

  • Decision Making: Major business decisions are taken collectively by the partners. However, day-to-day operations may be managed by designated partners or through mutual agreement.
  • Taxation: Partnerships are taxed as per the income tax rates applicable to individuals. The firm files a partnership tax return, and partners are individually taxed on their share of profits.
  • Legal Compliance: Partnerships must comply with applicable laws, including maintaining proper accounting records, filing tax returns, and adhering to regulatory requirements.

Dissolution of a Partnership Firm

  • A partnership firm may be dissolved due to various reasons, such as mutual agreement, expiration of term, death of a partner, insolvency, or court order. The process of dissolution involves settling the firm's liabilities, distributing assets, and settling accounts among partners.

Advantages of a Partnership Firm

  • Ease of Formation: Setting up a partnership is relatively easy and requires minimal formalities.
  • Shared Responsibility: Partners share the workload and responsibilities of running the business.
  • Flexibility: Partnerships offer flexibility in terms of decision-making and operations.

Disadvantages of a Partnership Firm

  • Unlimited Liability: Partners have unlimited liability, exposing personal assets to business risks.
  • Limited Growth Potential: Partnerships may face limitations in terms of raising capital and scalability compared to companies. 


  • A partnership firm in India is a popular form of business organisation where two or more individuals come together to carry on a business with shared responsibilities and profits. While partnerships offer simplicity and flexibility, they also come with certain risks and limitations. Understanding the legal framework and operational aspects of partnerships is crucial for forming a business structure.





Q. In the absence of a predefined profit-sharing ratio in a partnership deed, profits and losses are likely to be shared among partners based on:

A) The number of years of experience each partner brings.

B) The size of their office spaces within the firm.

C) The size of their capital within the firm.

D) An equal split

Answer: D