Pentakota Satyanarayana & Ors vs Pentakota Seetharatnam & Ors
DATE OF ORDER:
29 September 2005
Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Dr. Ar. Lakshmanan
Petitioner: Pentakota Satyanarayana & Ors.
Respondent: Pentakota Seetharatnam & Ors.
Two appeals were filed against the ruling and decision issued by the High Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh in Hyderabad. The appellants’ appeals were all rejected by the High Court, which also partially overruled the cross objections to the extent stated in the judgement.The respondents in this case as well as certain other parties were prohibited from interfering with the properties listed in the plaint schedule by a decision for permanent injunction, which was also requested by the appellants in this case. The appellants filed yet another appeal, this time asking for an order of perpetual injunction prohibiting the respondents from interfering with the properties listed in the plaint schedule. The other two injunction lawsuits that the appellants brought were dismissed with costs. The High Court dismissed the four appeals that the appellants had filed. The respondents’ cross-objections were partially upheld.
- Section 68 - Proof of execution of document required by law to be attested. - If a document is required by law to be attested, it shall not be used as evidence until one attesting witness at least has been called for the purpose of proving its execution, if there be an attesting witness alive, and subject to the process of the Court and capable of giving evidence.
- Section 114 - Court may presume existence of certain facts. - The Court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case.
- Section 63 - Execution of unprivileged wills. - Every testator, not being a soldier employed in an expedition or engaged in actual warfareor an airman so employed or engaged, or a mariner at sea, shall execute his will according to the following rules:
- The testator shall sign or shall affix his mark to the will
- The signature or mark of the testator shall be so placed that it shall appear that it was intended thereby to give effect to the writing as a will.
- The will shall be attested by two or more witnesses.
- The first respondent in this case, Pentakota Seetharatnam, and Pentakota Srirammurthy, the father of the appellants, were married in 1952.
- The first wife and the husband did not have a very pleasant marriage. In 1954, Srirammurthy began residing with a woman named Alla Kantamma who had been caste-customarily divorced from her first husband.
- Alla Kantamma and Srirammurthy began cohabiting in the same village shortly after being divorced. Second wife Alla Kantamma was accepted.
- Two sons, Pentakota Satyanarayana and Pentakota Prasadarao, and a daughter, Villuri Susheela, were born to Srirammurthy and Alla Kantamma.
- Krishna Bhagavan, the second respondent, was born on 1st January, 1963. He is the youngest child of a man named Paramesu, Pentakota Srirammurthy's biological brother.
- When Krishna Bhagavan was barely 3 years old, both his parents passed away. He was raised by Pentakota Srirammurthy and fostered. Pentakota Srirammurthy, the father of the appellants, conducted the marriage of his daughter, the third appellant herein, and his son, the first appellant, on February 18, 1976, in a suitable manner and printed invitation cards in his own name as father.
- The appellants' father made provisions in his will for his first wife Seetharatnam, the first respondent in this case, and left the remaining assets to the appellants born through Alla Kantamma.
- Seetharatnam filed a suit seeking a decree for maintenance with a charge on Srirammurthy's half share in the plaint schedule property and to provide her separate residence.
- The second respondent, Krishna Bhagavan, filed a lawsuit, alleging for the first time that he was Seetharatnam and Srirammurthy's adopted son, and asking for a decree for partition and separate possession of his half of the family holdings.
- The appellants' father Srirammurthy contested both the suits. He denied the adoption of Krishna Bhagavan.
- Whether the second respondenr, Krishna Bhagavan is the adopted son of the first respondent Srirammurthy?
- Whether the Will is valid is proved in compliance with the requirement of Section 68 of the Evidence Act?
- Whether the Courts below have justified in decreeing the suits in favour of the respondents herein and dismissing the appeals filed by the appellants herein merely basing on surmises and conjectures and wrong application of law?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The learned counsel for the appellants made the argument that the impugned judgement and the order of the High Court are unjust andagainst the law, the weight of the evidence, and probabilities of the case. He argued that even though there is no evidence on file to conclusively demonstrate that the will was executed under suspicious circumstances, the High Court and the Courts below cannot ignore a registered Will when they have found that it is proved to be in violation of Section 68 of the Evidence Act, 1872.
- It was further submitted that the evidence indicates that the appellants' deceased father executed the Will of his own free will and without outside pressure, but the courts below failed to take note of this. In addition, he would contend that Respondent No. 2 Krishna Bhagavan was neither a member of the family nor an adopted child.
- The counsel further submitted that Pentakota Srirammurthy was allegedly alive when the lawsuits were filed and supplied a thorough written statement that was crucial to the decision-making process. He refuted the adoption claim and asserted that Krishna Bhagavan was the son of Pentakota Paramesu, his older brother, and that Krishna Bhagavan was never adopted but rather was merely cared for because his parents had passed away when he was still a child.
- The counsel for the appellant also provided arguments regarding the legal principles and its application to the facts of the particular case. He contends that the respondents have failed to establish that Pentakota Srirammurthy and Seetharatnam adopted Krishna Bhagavan and that the evidence fails to meet the legal standard for proof.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the appellants herein filed special leave petitions before this Court only against the suits filed by the respondents, which were upheld by the High Court, and no special leave petitions are filed against the dismissal of the suits filed by the appellants, which were upheld by the High Court, so the decrees in suits filed by the appellants have become final even though the appellants appealed against all of the suits and all of the appeals were dismissed.
- It is further submitted that the appellants have not made any submissions before the High Court that the land was not joint family property. Since there is no evidence or pleading to support the claim that the properties in question are the first defendant’s own self-acquired possessions, the High Court properly found that they are ancestral properties.
- The Court held that the stated adoption is false and invalid, and the alleged adopted son has no claim to the suit property or any money gained from it. Now that it has been conclusively established, the property in the suit is to belong to the appellants.
- The issue of paying the mesne earnings therefore does not arise. Since the court has now granted the appeals, the respondents must pay damages. The appellants are free to assert their right to the mesne earnings and pursue compensation from the respondents herein.
- As a result, the Court determined that the will was valid and authentic, and that both the appellants and Seetharatnam would be entitled to the properties specified in the will.
- The Court further held that the stated adoption is untrue, and as a result, Krishna Bhagavan, the alleged adopted son, has no right to or interest in any of the suit properties. In light of the fact that P. Seetharatnamhas received some properties through the Will according to Section 22 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, nevertheless, she is not eligible for any maintenance.
The appeals stand allowed. The High Court's rulings and those of the lower Courts are overturned. Despite the fact that this is clearly a situation where expenses should be awarded, the court did not do so considering the relationship of the parties.
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