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Execution Of A Will Can Be Held To Be Proved When It Is Found To Be Ordinarily Free from Suspicious Circumstances, Reiterates SC [Read Judgment]

The Supreme Court has reiterated the settled law that execution of a Will must be held to have been proved not only when the statutory requirements for proving the Will are satisfied but the Will is also found to be ordinarily free from suspicious circumstances.

The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar was considering an appeal (Jarnail Singh vs. Bhagwanti) against the judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana which had upheld the concurrent findings of courts below that the genuineness of the Will allegedly executed by one Jagan Nath in favour of defendant in the suit, was not proved.

The bench observed that the evidence of the only attesting witness to the Will, in this case, does not inspire confidence in the mind of the court and more so it creates suspicion in the mind of the court with regard to execution and genuineness of the will.

The bench also narrated other circumstances which created suspicion. It said: “Jarnail Singh deposed that in lieu of services rendered by him Jagan Nath executed the Will. But the cross examination of Jarnail Singh reveals that he was in Army from the year 1960¬1979, whereas the Will was executed in the year 1970. In view of the same it appears highly improbable that Jarnail Singh had an opportunity to render any service to Jagan Nath. Apart from Jarnail Singh none of the other family members entered into the witness box and gave statement in support of services rendered by them. Moreover evidence reveals that Jagan Nath was a Sarpanch of the village and owned 12 Killas of land. Hence, it is highly unbelievable that he depended on defendants who are neither related to Jagan Nath nor even belongs to the same community.”

It also quoted the observations made in Lalitaben Jayantilal Popat vs. Pragnaben Jamnadas Kataria and Ors:It is trite law that execution of a Will must be held to have been proved not only when the statutory requirements for proving the will are satisfied but the will is also found to be ordinarily free from suspicious circumstances. When such evidences are brought on record, the Court may take aid of the presumptive evidences also.”

Agreeing with concurrent findings, the court said that the evidence of the defendants and their conduct create number of suspicious circumstances around the Will and thus they could not prove the due execution of the Will either as mandated under the Indian Succession Act or as per the provisions of Indian Evidence Act.

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