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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Supreme Court declared that a testamentary court is responsible to examine and investigate materials produced by the parties to the case rather than basing the trial on ethical reasoning.
  • Unless there is a presence of circumstances that contradicts the Evidence Ordinance of India 1872 and Succession Act 1925 which leads to generating suspicion on the legality of a Will it should be considered.
  • When there is a lack of contradicting pleadings, denials and issues to examine and answer on behalf of Defendant/Respondents.
  • The appellate court has created suspicion on Exhibit P4 when there was none in existence; and disregarded Defendants fraudulent conduct. Which is prohibited under the principles of Law was heavily criticized by the Supreme Court.
  • And established sheer fact of a brother or a sister being excluded in the Will does not produce enough ground for suspicion.
  • The Bench represented by Honourable Supreme Court Justice Sanjay KishanKaul& M.M Sundresh delivered the ruling on 07th October 2021. Concluding the hearing of V. Prabhakara v. Basavaraj K. (Deceased) by Lr. & Another whilst setting legal precedence for perpetuity.


BACKGROUND

  • The property under question was under the ownership of Miss Jessie Jayalakshmi (deceased). She adopted the plaintiff/appellant to whom she was a maternal aunt. Defendant/Respondent 1 was the ex husband of said deceased. Defendant/Respondent 2 was an under aged child of Respondent 1. Respondent1 and 2 were squatting in the said property even after the divorce.
  • The deceased Ms Jessie had been taken care of by the appellant and had even settled the due mortgage payments.
  • Ms Jessie executed a Will in 1989.09.04 in favour of appellant. Appellant's sister PW3 accompanied Ms. Jessie to the office of sub-registrar while PW2 appellant's brother attested the said registered Will.
  • After the demise of Ms. Jessie Appellant's request to respondents to vacate the land was not met. Hence, the case at Trial Court had been filled by appellant which was decreed in favour of the plaintiff in 2003.
  • The appeal case was filled by defendants at High court which rebut the decision of Trial court through creating mere suspicion. Even then Appellate Court agreed with Trial court regarding fraudulent Exhibit D1.
  • Hence an appeal was made to the Supreme Court.


Observations of the Apex Court

  • Unless a Will presented by a party/parties contradicts section 68 of Evidence Ordinance of India 1872 and section 63 of Succession Act 1925 such document should be taken into consideration by the court.
  • “The Appeal Court's misinterpretation of the presence of Ms. Kantha Lakshmi (PW3) Creates error as she is (PW2) and appellant's sister who witnessed the execution of the Will and has not made a demur.”
  • “Execution of Exhibit P4 has not been denied by respondents. Both Appeal Court and Trial Court have observed that the document presented by respondents to Exhibit D1 to be fraudulent and forged”
  • “Lack of pleadings against and issues to be solved at trial doesn't permit the court to make suspicion against the party whose case is robust . It is not within the purview of Civil Procedure Code Oder VI Rule2,3,4 and 5 interpreting “pleadings” establishes defendant must make specific pleadings while denial should be specific. And rule 4 limits the availability for evasive denial. As for rule 5 established absence of denial of an averment of the plaint is considered as an acceptance”

What are your thoughts on exclusion of a sister or a brother from a Will? Should it be considered as a ground for suspicion? Share your views in the comments section below.

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