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Notices Not Sent To Agnates Of Deceased, Applicant Trying To Hide Existence Of 'Will' From Them: Jharkhand High Court Dismisses Probate Application

Shrutika Pandey
29 April 2022 1:30 PM GMT
Notices Not Sent To Agnates Of Deceased, Applicant Trying To Hide Existence Of Will From Them: Jharkhand High Court Dismisses Probate Application
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The Jharkhand High Court expressed shock in a case where notices were not issued to agnates of a deceased, whose purported Will was sought to be executed by the applicant. It noted that no general notices in the locality were issued and the same were only sent to the State. Thus refusing to entertain the appeal against dismissal of probate application, Justice Ananda Sen observed,"This is...

The Jharkhand High Court expressed shock in a case where notices were not issued to agnates of a deceased, whose purported Will was sought to be executed by the applicant. It noted that no general notices in the locality were issued and the same were only sent to the State.

Thus refusing to entertain the appeal against dismissal of probate application, Justice Ananda Sen observed,

"This is a circumstance, which strikes the conscience of the Court. It is not explained as to why agnates of the deceased, who were alive, have not been made a party nor general notices were issued in the locality. Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant also cannot give any proper explanation. This suggests that the claimant is trying to hide the existence of the WILL from the agnates."

The petitioner filed a petition under Section 276 of the Indian Succession Act, praying for a grant of probate of the Will. He stated that as Most. Mutari had got no legal heir, she request him to look after her and in lieu of such executed a WILL in his favour. The will was unregistered after the death of Most. Mutari, as there was no executor, the applicant applied for a grant of probate.

The Trial Court held that the WILL was not properly executed and the said document is not trust-worthy and is doubtful. 

In appeal, the High Court referred to the case of Shivakumar & Ors v. Sharanabasappa & Ors. and held that if there are any suspicious circumstances, the onus is on the propounder to explain those circumstances to the satisfaction of the Court. Only after being fully satisfied with the explanation, it was observed that the Court should pass an order in granting probate of the will. It remarked,

"Even in absence of any plea of fraud, coercion or undue influence in relation to the execution of the will, but, if there are circumstances, which gives rise to doubt about the genuineness of the will, it is for the propounder to satisfy the conscience of the Court. The onus is upon the propounded."

It thus held that at the execution of the will, all the circumstances surrounding the said will should be above suspicion, and every bit of doubt must be explained properly by the propounder. It referred to a catena of precedents to note that it is clear that if there is strong suspicion against the genuineness of the will and if there are any circumstances to the point that there are grounds of some doubt in the execution of the said will by the testator, the Court can refuse the grant of probate.

Considering the proposition of law and the evidence in the instant case the Court noted that a discrepancy emerges amidst the statement of the witnesses. Another thing that the Court noted is the applicant in his examination-in-chief (which is a typed and duly affidavit document sworn by him) states that he is producing the death certificate of Most. Mutari, whereas when the entire record is placed, there was no death certificate in it.

The Court noted that the District Judge had rightly rejected the application considering all these discrepancies. The witnesses are not trustworthy, and there is doubt about the execution of the will.

Case Title: Ram Kumar Singh v. The State of Jharkhand

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Jha) 41

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