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Revenue Authorities Have No Jurisdiction To Determine Genuineness Of Will : MP High Court

Shrutika Pandey
24 Aug 2021 9:11 AM GMT
Revenue Authorities Have No Jurisdiction To Determine Genuineness Of Will : MP High Court
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The Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that that a revenue authority does not have the power to determine the validity of a will while considering an application for mutation. Referring to an earlier judgment in Kusum Bai & Anr v. Ummedi Bai (2021), Justice Vishal Mishra held that it is for the civil court to adjudicate the validity of a Will as per Section 63 of...

The Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that that a revenue authority does not have the power to determine the validity of a will while considering an application for mutation.

 Referring to an earlier judgment in Kusum Bai & Anr v. Ummedi Bai (2021), Justice Vishal Mishra held that it is for the civil court to adjudicate the validity of a Will as per Section 63 of Indian Succession Act, 1925 and Section 98 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

Background

The matter arises assailing an order mutating the respondent's name in the revenue record based on a will. On the death of one Balikdas, both the parties had applied for mutation, the petitioner based on hereditary succession and the respondent based on a will. The petitioner's application was allowed by the Sub Divisional Officer [SDO], recording their name.

The respondents assailed the said order before the Upper Collector, which was dismissed; the matter was then put before the Additional Commissioner. Assailing the earlier orders, the respondent submitted that as Balikdas was unmarried and the Will favored the respondent, their names should be mutated in the records. Opposing the said submission, the petitioner argued that as per Section 8(c) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1959, as Balikdas has no heir, the property shall devolve on the agnates, i.e., blood relations through the male ancestor.

Advocate Prashant Singh Kaurav, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that, appreciating the said position of law, the SDO had passed the order of mutation, which the Collector affirmed. However, the Additional Collector failed to appreciate the said position while directing to mutate the name of the respondents based on the Will. He further argued that once the Will based on which the mutation is sought is objected to, then no mutation can be done based on Will.

Challenging the impugned order, the petitioners argue that the Revenue Authorities have no right to check the genuineness of the Will and mutate the name on the based on it; rather, it is the domain of Civil Courts. A mutation based on a will, if objected, is required to get the genuineness of the will be checked by filing appropriate proceedings before the Civil Courts. Mr. Kaurav referred to Kusum Bai & Anr v. Ummedi Bai (2021), where it was held that the Revenue Authorities have no jurisdiction to get the mutation done based on Will.

Advocate Abhishek Singh Bhadoriya, appearing for the respondents, justifies the impugned order stating that the Authorities duly checked the Will in question by getting their statements recorded. Mr. Bhadoriya argues that under the Hindu Succession Act, the petitioners must establish their succession for their names to be mutated on the said basis. Therefore, a title cannot arise over the property based on a mere entry in the Revenue Records based on the Will.

Findings

Referring to the decision in Kusum Bai, the Court noted that the Revenue Authorities have no jurisdiction of the Will. In Kusum Bai, the Court held that,

"From the perusal of the aforesaid provisions it is apparently clear that the acquisition of right is a crucial important aspect which is required to be kept in mind while deciding the application under section 110 of M.P. Land Revenue Code. The Tahsil Court who has dealing with the application under section 110 of M.P. Land Revenue Code has no jurisdiction to deal with the rights and title of the property in question. The Tahsildar has no jurisdiction to consider and decide the genuineness of the Will."

The Court also referred to the apex court decision in Niranjan Umeshchandra Joshi Vs. Mrudula Jyoti Rao (2006), where it was held that,

"The burden of proof that the Will has been validly executed and is a genuine document is on the propounder. The propounder is also required to prove that the testator has signed the Will and that he had put his signature out of his own free will having a sound disposition of mind and understood the nature and effect thereof. If sufficient evidence in this behalf is brought on record, the onus of the propounder may be held to have been discharged. But, the onus would be on the applicant to remove the suspicion by leading sufficient and cogent evidence if there exists any."

In the said case, the apex court held that in the case of proof of Will, a testator's signature alone would not prove the execution thereof if his mind may appear to be very feeble and debilitated. However, if a defense of fraud, coercion, or undue influence is raised, the burden would be on the caveator.

Discussing the several circumstances that cause suspicion, it was concluded that proof of a will does not ordinarily differ from proving any other document.

Quashing the impugned order, the Court reiterated the settled position that a will is to be proved by leading persuasive evidence. The heavy burden is on the propounder of the Will.

Title: Rajkumar Sharma & Ors v. Manjesh Kumar

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