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-Report by Sejal Jethva

ASHUTOSH SAMANTA (D) BY LRS. & ORS. VS SM. RANJAN BALA DASI & ORS., In this case, 3 related brothers’ property was distributed by will. In this case sections 68,69 and 71 of the Indian Evidence Act discuss.

FACTS

Three sons, Upendra, Anukul, and Mahadev were born to one Gosaidas Samanta (hence, “testator”). He left a will dated 16.11.1929 behind when he passed away, leaving behind his widow Bhagbati Das and three boys. Three heirs received the testator’s estate: his sons Anukul and Mahadev, as well as his grandson Shibu, who is the son of Upendra (who was not granted any share). A division deed was drawn between these three co-sharers on February 21, 1945. Upendra, who signed a disclaimer document for one portion of the assets Shibu sold with his share, appears to have accepted this arrangement.

The current appellant filed a claim in 1952, claiming that he was in possession of some of the testator’s real estate and that he had acquired them from Upendra.

APPELLANTS CONTENTION

Mr. Ranjan Mukherjee, Ld. Advocate contended on behalf of the appellant that the courts below could not have relied on the will and given the letters of administration in the absence of any proof that the will was properly performed. Given that the propounder had made several arguments, including one for adverse possession in a prior suit for division, it was argued that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding the will’s execution that raised questions about its veracity. Additionally, it was claimed that the lower courts could not have accepted the will based on Section 90 of the Evidence Act of 1872 and relied on the 1945 partition document or the ‘Nabadi’ alleged to have been

The appellant’s principal contention is that the courts below erred by relying on Section 90 of the Evidence Act of 1872 because the application for letters of administration was submitted after a significant amount of time had passed.

RESPONDENT’S CONTENTION

On the other hand, Mr. Bikash Kar Gupta, Ld. Advocate argued on behalf of the respondents that this court should not intervene in the current matter because the courts have made concurring factual findings. It was argued that the will had been properly proved and that there was no need to wait to ask the court for letters of administration.

The respondent argued that both the trial court and the High Court consistently expressed satisfaction that the elements required to prove the will had been met and that the courts did not base their conclusions solely on the assumption that the document was old. The respondent relied on the record and the findings made by both the trial court and the High Court.

JUDGEMENT

1. Wills cannot be proved only based on their age; wills must also be proven in accordance with Sections 63(c) of the Succession Act of 1925 and Section 68 of the Evidence Act of 1872, which preclude the use of Section 90’s presumption regarding the regularity of papers older than 30 years.

2. There are frequently circumstances when wills that would have otherwise met the legal conditions for being attested cannot be proven in accordance with the aforementioned two sections because the attesting witnesses are unavailable or if one of the witnesses denies having attested the will. Evidence Act of 1872 Sections 69 and 71.

3. In addition to the testimony of witnesses, the trial court also referred to the partition agreement that gave it effect and in which shares were distributed in line with the conditions of the will. This document was registered, and the appellant’s predecessor, the late Upendra, also signed a document acknowledging the will’s existence.

4. There can be only one conclusion, i.e., that the will was duly executed, and the propounder/respondent herein was successful in proving it, if all the aforementioned circumstances are taken into account in their entirety and one also keeps in mind the fact that none of Upendra’s heirs contested the grant of letters of administration.

5. After considering the discussion above, this court concludes that the conclusions in the High Court’s contested judgement are sound. As a result, the appeal is denied and rejected. There won’t be a cost-related order.

READ FULL JUDGEMENT: https://bit.ly/3YQttxZ

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