Friday, September 29, 2023

SC settles 65-yr-old dispute over will execution

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The Supreme Court yesterday (July 17) concluded a 65-year-long legal dispute regarding the execution of a will. The court passed its judgment in a case which was instituted in 1955. 

A division bench of Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph dismissed all appeals filed before the apex court challenging the Madras High Court judgment of 2007.

The dispute occurred in the Naidu family, where R. Venkitusamy Naidu had two sons, Lakshmiah Naidu and Rangaswami Naidu. Rangaswami was married to R. Krishnammal and the couple had no issues. Lakshmiah had four sons- Bakthavatsalam, Venkatapathy, Jagannathan and Ramaswamy.

After the death of Rangaswami Naidu, a ‘possession’ dispute started in the year 1955 between family members, Rangaswami’s widow and nephew on one side and Lakshmiah and his sons on the other.  According to the wife, Rangaswami died after executing a ‘will’. The magistrate, however, decided in favour of Lakshmiah, stating that they were in possession and found it unnecessary to make any discussion about the ‘will’.

A suit was filed again in 1958 by Krishnammal, the widow of Rangaswami which ended in a compromise decree. In1963, two other family members filed a suit which again resulted in a compromise decree. After Ramaswamy, died in 1976 and Krishnammal died in 1977, a suit was again filed for partition by A. Alagiriswami and partition was ordered by the sub-judge in Coimbatore. 

In 1982 a suit was filed against A. Alagiriswami after he entered into some sale transactions on the strength of a will by Rangaswami Naidu. The suit was filed by Lakshmiah Naidu’s sons, widow and daughters of Ramaswamy Naidu. The other defendants in the suit were nephews of Rangaswami Naidu and who were legatees under the will. The suit was filed for declaration of title and an injunction. 

This suit was tried along with another suit filed R. Alagiriswami for partition in 1983.

The legal heirs of Lakshmiah Naidu challenged the will on the ground that it was procured by coercion and undue influence. Their suit was decreed, while dismissing Alagiriswami’s suit, but the first appellate court reversed these findings. According to both the courts there was no proof of there being a partition in 1932. 

When an appeal was filed before Madras High Court in 2007, it allowed the second appeal, and restored the decree of the trial court. 

This order was challenged by various parties before the apex court in 2008. The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed all the appeals through its judgment. 

The apex court , on the question of validity and execution of a will, concluded that the ‘will’ was indeed executed by R. Naidu as his last will.

Before this the trial court had found that the will was not genuine and valid. While the will was found to be genuine by the first appellate court, the high court, in its second appeal, has found that the will was not proved. The Supreme Court, therefore, did not agree with the High Court’s decision regarding the ‘will’ being invalid. 

The court also noted that the appellants did not challenge the decree of the trial court and they were apparently sailing along with the appellants who were the legatees under the will. As no merit was found in their case and in the issues which fell for consideration, all the appeals were dismissed.

Read the judgment here;


– India Legal Bureau

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