Read Order: Kanwaljit Kaur v. Gurbax Singh (deceased through his LRs) & Others

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh May 11, 2022: While dealing with a regular second appeal assailing the concurrent findings on the alleged Will being shrouded in suspicious circumstances, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that 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 also when such Will is found to be ordinarily free from suspicious circumstances. 

Brief facts relevant to the present lis, before the Bench of Justice Alka Sarin, are that the plaintiff- respondents filed a suit for declaration to the effect that the plaintiffs and defendants (second to fourth) were co-owners co-sharers in joint possession over the property. Consequential relief of permanent injunction restraining the first defendant from interfering with the plaintiffs or  defendants (second to fourth) in the suit property or alienating, transferring or mortgaging the suit property, was also sought. 

According to the plaint, the property was left behind for the plaintiffs and  defendants (second to fourth) as being the legal heirs and representatives of Sh. Ajit Singh, who died in 2002, leaving behind, including the suit property, to the extent of 1/6 share each.

Ajit Singh’s wife predeceased him and the first defendant is the wife of Ajit Singh’s son (second defendant). It was claimed by the plaintiffs that the first defendant did not have any right, title or interest of any nature in the suit property but she was threatening to dispossess the plaintiffs and other defendants from the suit property on the basis of a forged and fabricated Will of Sh. Ajit Singh, which he never executed. 

On notice, written statement was filed by the first and the second defendants who denied that the plaintiffs and the third and fourth defendants inherited the suit property or that they had any right, title and interest in the suit property after the death of Sh. Ajit Singh. They also denied the claim of the plaintiff about being given 1/6th share and being co-sharers, rather they claimed that they took care of the said Ajit Singh and resultantly, he gave his property to them vide a will executed in 2002. 

The Suit was decreed by the Trial Court and the relief sought in the suit were granted. The Trial Court cited seven reasons as to why the Will was shrouded in suspicious circumstances and discarded the same. 

It was the claim of the first defendant that she got married to the second defendant four months prior to the execution of the Will, and this claim did not settle well with the Trial Court as it was of the view that this time span of four months was very less for the Testator to bequeath his immovable property in favour of the beneficiary. It was further held that the attesting witness failed to testify qua the genuineness and correctness of the Will since he stated in his cross-examination that he did not read the Will in question and even failed to disclose the name the scribe. Further, it was held that there were many discrepancies in the evidence of this witness. 

Aggrieved, the first defendant preferred an appeal which was dismissed. Hence, the second regular appeal was filed. 

The High Court opined at the very outset that whether a Will is surrounded by suspicious circumstances or not is essentially a question of fact and that in the present case the Courts below noticed that there were a large number of suspicious circumstances some of which appear on the face of the Will. 

The Court further observed that even the statutory requirements for proof of the Will were not complied with, thus in this light, the Court expounded that 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. 

Moreover, Justice Sarin observed that the counsel for the first defendant was not able to point out any evidence to establish the genuineness of the Will or remove the suspicious circumstances surrounding it.  Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed. 

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