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Lachhmi Narain Singh (D) Through LRs & Ors Vs Sarjug Singh (Dead) Through LRs & Ors: Genuineness Of Property Transaction Cannot Be Doubted Merely Because Thumb Impression Was Affixed Instead Of Signature

Megha Bindal ,
  19 August 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court of India
Brief :
In a probate case, the validity of a cancellation deed was challenged. The Supreme Court, in this case, observed that merely because a thumbprint is annexed instead of a signature, the genuineness of the property transaction cannot be doubted.
Citation :
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5823 OF 2011


Date of Judgment:
August 17, 2021

Coram:
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Parties:
Appellant(s) - Lachhmi Narain Singh (D) Through LRs & Ors.
Respondent(s) - Sarjug Singh (Dead) Through LRs. & Ors.

Facts

  • On 14.09.1960, Rajendra Singh (deceased) made a will in favour of Sarjug Singh. On August 21, 1963, the executor died without issue, leaving behind his sister, nephew, and probate applicant Sarjug Singh. Some relatives of the testator, Rajendra Singh, objected to Sarjug Singh's probate proceeding. The objectors claimed that the testator himself had canceled the will in question through a registered deed.
  • According to the applicant, the testator was sick, paralysed, and unable to attend the Sub Registrar's office to execute the registered cancellation deed. The applicant also questioned the testator's thumb impression on the will cancellation deed.
  • In the probate case brought by Sarjug Singh, the learned First Additional District Judge determined that the will is a genuine document. The learned judge concluded that the will was cancelled by registered deed a few months before Rajendra Singh died. The Court also examined the death certificate, concluding that the testator was not paralysed.
  • Sarjug Singh, who was aggrieved by the Trial Court's rejection of his probate case, filed a First Appeal with the High Court. Sarjug Singh passed away while the appeal was pending.
  • The testator's condition and the objectors' failure to produce the original of the cancellation deed and non­presentation of the material witnesses were all addressed by the High Court. In light of this, the Appellate Court determined that the deed cancelling the will should not be admitted into evidence. As a result, the High Court granted the probate and overturned the Trial Court's decision.

The present appeal before the Supreme Court was filed by the purchasers of the assets in question, who had previously supported the objector's case in the probate proceedings.

Issues Raised

  • Whether Rajendra Singh was within his physical and mental capacity to have revoked the will in favour of Sarjug Singh?
  • Whether thumb impression of Rajendra Singh on the registered document is genuine or not?

Analysis of the Judgment

  • The Supreme Court noted that the High Court referred to Rajendra Singh's health condition, which included paralysis before his death, and opined that the testator would not be able to visit the Sub­Registrar's Office to cancel the will due to his paralysis. It also pointed out that there was no suggestion or cross­examination of the objector's witnesses regarding the impersonation of the testator, Rajendra Singh, at the Sub­Registrar's Office.
  • The Apex Court was of the view that the evidence of the handwriting expert and attesting witnesses who testified on the genuineness of the cancellation deed was not given due weight by the High Court. As a result of impersonation and the testator's inability to register with the SubRegistrar, an incorrect presumption was made.
  • Further, moving on to the other issue, the testator's thumb impression on the cancellation deed, the Court noted that Rajendra Singh's thumb impression was on all four deeds he signed during his lifetime and not his signature. The Court added that a negative inference about the cancellation deed's genuineness could not be drawn simply because the testator chose to attach his thumb impression.
  • The Supreme Court stated that according to the opinion of the Bench, the High Court erroneously drew an inference regarding the conditions of the testator, when the deed for revocation was registered. It opined that it is nearly impossible to commit a forgery of thumb impression as every impression is unique on its own.

Conclusion

Hence, after referring to ample number of cases and all the other evidence, the Supreme Court concluded that in their opinion, the High Court erred when they ignored the material evidence. After considering all the other relevant facts, the Court held that the Trial Court was right when it held that Rajendra Singh was fit and that he had cancelled the will himself.

Further, the Court found merit in the case of the objectors. Hence, the appeal was set aside. The impugned order of the High Court was also set aside while restoring the judgement of the Trial Court.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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