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Jarnail Singh vs Bhagwati(D) Tr.Lrs. on 29 November, 2018

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NON –REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO.5050 OF 2009

JARNAIL SINGH  ANR. … Appellants

VERSUS

BHAGWANTI (D) THR. LRS.  ORS. … Respondents

J U D G M E N T

N.V. RAMANA, J.

1. The   instant   appeal   is   preferred   by   the   unsuccessful

defendants   having   been   aggrieved   by   the   Judgment   and

decree passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
SATISH KUMAR YADAV

Chandigarh   in   regular   second   appeal   No.465/85   dated
Date: 2018.11.29
17:19:18 IST
Reason:

12.03.2008 whereby the High Court reversed the Judgment
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and   Decree   passed   by   the   first   appellate   Court   and

consequently decreed the suit.

2. A   few   facts   which   are   necessary   to   understand   the

controversy involved in this appeal in a nutshell are that the

respondents in this appeal have filed suit for possession of

the   suit  scheduled  properties.   To understand the claim  of

the   plaintiffs   in   respect   of   the   suit   schedule   property   it   is

necessary to have a look at the pedigree table as submitted

by the plaintiffs/respondents.

                                  Nainu Ram

Deva Ram   Mangal Ram Kirpo

Khushi Ram Jagan Nath Janti Ram
(Died Issueless) (Died Issueless)

                               Chanan Devi Purni Devi     Bhagwanti

       (Plaintiff­3)        (Plaintiff­2)    (Plaintiff­1)

3. Jagan   Nath   was   the   owner   of   the   suit   property   measuring

approximately   12   acres   of   valuable   agricultural   land   in

Ludhiana.     The   wife   of   Jagan   Nath   predeceased   him,
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thereafter   he   passed   away   issueless   on   20.11.1977.     The

respondents­plaintiffs   herein,   are   the   grand­daughters   of

Smt. Kirpo, who was the sister of father of Jagan Nath.  The

respondents­plaintiffs claim that by virtue of above relation

as depicted in the genealogy, they are entitled to inherit the

suit property belonging to Jagan Nath.   It is the case of the

respondents/plaintiffs   that   the   cause   of   action   for  the   suit

arose   when   the   appellants­defendants   have   forcibly   taken

possession   over   the   said   suit   property,   after   the   death   of

Jagan   Nath.     Therefore,   as   being   the   legal   heirs   of   Jagan

Nath respondents/plaintiffs are entitled for possession over

the suit property.  Hence they have come up with the present

suit for possession.

4. The appellants herein as defendants in the suit resisted the

suit on several grounds.   As per the written statement, the

suit is not properly valued for the purpose of the court fee

and jurisdiction. Defendants have denied the relationship of

the plaintiffs with late Jagan Nath, who is the owner of the

suit schedule property.   It was further averred that as late
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Jagan Nath was properly taken care of by the defendants, he

has executed a registered Will dated 17.09.1970 bequeathing

the properties in their favour;   the said Will was attested by

Sadhu Singh and Bachan Singh; but they have admitted the

factum   of   Jagan  Nath dying  issueless.   The relationship  of

plaintiffs   with   Kirpo   is   denied   and   stated   that   they   are   in

possession of the property from the last 15 to 16 years and

hence sought for the dismissal of the suit.

5. The Trial Court taking into consideration the dispute involved

in the case has framed four issues i.e.

1. Whether   the   plaintiffs   are   granddaughters   of
Kirpo   and   whether   Kirpo   was   real   sister   of
Mangal who was father of Jagan Nath.

2. Whether   Jagan   Nath   executed   a   valid   Will   in
favour of defendants.

3. Whether the suit properly valued for the purpose
of   Court   Fee   and   Jurisdiction.     What   is   the
market value of the properties (c) to (f) mentioned
in para 2 of the plaint.

4. Relief.

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6. The   Trial   Court   after   a   full­fledged   trial,   taking   into

consideration   both   oral   and   documentary   evidence   has

decreed   the   suit   by   holding   that   the   plaintiffs   are

granddaughters of Kirpo and Kirpo was real sister of Mangal

who  was   the   father   of  Jagan Nath.    While coming  to such

conclusion, the Court has also taken into consideration an

admission   made   by   the   defendants   in   a   suit   for   damages

against Krishna Devi where Jarnail Singh gave a statement

with regard to relationship of Plaintiffs with Jagan Nath as

per the genealogy.   When the defendants failed to give any

satisfactory explanation for denying admission coupled with

the other evidence led by the plaintiffs, Court has come to the

conclusion that relationship has been proved.  With regard to

the second issue of execution of registered Will in favour of

the   defendant,   Court   has   disbelieved   the   evidence   of

defendants   and   has   held   the   issue   against   the   defendants

holding that the genuineness of the Will was not proved.  The

3rd  issue   of   Court   Fee   was   held   against   the   plaintiffs   and

directed them to pay the deficit Court Fee within one week
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from the date of order.  Ultimately the Court has decreed the

suit.

7. The   unsatisfied   defendants   carried   the   matter   in   appeal

which is numbered as Civil Appeal No.617/163/1982.   The

lower   appellate   court   having   concurred   with   regard   to   the

findings   on   the   Will   has   taken   a   different   view   on   the

relationship of the plaintiffs with Jagan Nath and held that

“Exhibit PX” does not prove the relationship of the plaintiffs

and the Trial Court erred in relying on the admission of the

defendants   in   the   other   suit   and   accordingly   set   aside   the

Judgement and Decree of the Trial Court and consequently

dismissed the suit.

8. Aggrieved thereby, the plaintiffs carried the matter in second

appeal   to   the   High   Court   of   Punjab   and   Haryana   at

Chandigarh   and   the   High   Court  has   held  all  the  issues  in

favour   of   the   plaintiffs   and   set   aside   the   Judgment   and

decree of the first appellate court and decreed the suit.  Thus

the Trial Court Judgment and Decree was restored.   Hence

the appellants are before us in this appeal. 
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9. Heard   Mr.   Roshan   Lal   Batta,   learned   senior   counsel

appearing on behalf of the appellants and Mr. T.S. Doabia,

learned   senior   counsel   appearing   on   behalf   of   the

respondents.

10. Learned   senior   counsel   for   the   appellants   vehemently

contended that the Courts below as well as the High Court

have ignored the fact that there was a registered Will dated

17.09.1970, executed by Jagan Nath, which was witnessed

by Bachan Singh Numberdar and Sadhu Singh (DW­3), son

of   Chanan   Singh,   resident   of   village   Natt   to   which   Jagan

Nath, executor of the Will, belonged.  Learned senior counsel

further submitted that the said Will was executed as per the

requirement   of   Section   63   of   the   Indian   Succession   Act,

1925.  It is submitted by the learned senior counsel that the

Courts below as well as the High Court have ignored material

evidence   of   Mohinder   Singh   (P.W.3),   who   admitted   in   his

statement that Jagan Nath had cancelled his first Will dated

24.09.1964, executed by him, through the present Will dated

17.09.1970,   and   his admission clearly proves that the Will
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dated 17.09.1970 was executed by Jagan Nath because he

had mentioned the same in this Will and there was no other

Will   and   the   present   Will   had   been   made   in   favour   of   the

appellants.   It is further contended that the High Court has

ignored this material evidence and observed simply that this

admission of Mohinder Singh, a witness of plaintiffs, does not

in any manner prove the execution of Will in favour of the

appellants, which is in favour of only two brothers and not all

the five brothers in whose favour the Will was admitted by

Mohinder Singh to have been executed by Jagan Nath.  These

reasons   of   High   Court   in   not   considering   the   admission   of

Mohinder Singh (P.W.3) are wrong and untenable.

11. Learned senior counsel for the appellants further contended

that the lower Courts as well as the High Court have wrongly

and   illegally,   without   appreciating   the   full   statement   of

Sadhu   Singh   (DW­3),   held   that  he  is   not   the   same  person

who   had   attested   the   Will.     It   is   submitted   that   in   the

opening   sentence   of   the  cross­examination  of  Sadhu   Singh

(DW­3),  there was a typographical mistake which is clearly
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apparent after reading his whole statement.  Even otherwise

while giving his statement, he has mentioned himself on oath

as son of Chanan Singh but in cross­examination he stated

that, by mistake, this fact is wrongly so recorded.  From the

perusal of the Examination­in­Chief of Sadhu Singh (DW­3)

and whole of the cross­examination, the courts below as well

as the High Court had wrongly held that Sadhu Singh (DW­3)

is not the same person who witnessed the Will by putting his

thumb impression mark.

12. It is submitted by the learned senior counsel that at the time

of Examination­in­Chief, Sadhu Singh (DW­3) was 45 years

of   age.     He   had   also   executed   two   sale   deeds   dated

12.06.1981   and   17.06.1994,   which   have   been   attached   as

Annexures   P­11   and   P­12   with   the   SLP   paperbook,   which

have been produced by the appellants by way of additional

evidence.   These documents clearly prove that Sadhu Singh

is the same person who witnessed the Will dated 17.09.1970.
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13. The Advocate for Respondents/Plaintiffs argued in support of

Judgment of High Court.

14. Having heard the learned senior counsel on either side and

perused the material available on record the following issues

fall for consideration before this Court:­

1.     Whether   Jagan   Nath   executed   a   valid   Will   in
favour   of   the  defendants.    Whether  this  Court
can   interfere   with   the   concurrent   findings   of
facts?

2.   Whether the plaintiffs were able to establish the
relationship   with   Jagan   Nath   and   discharged
the burden of proof?

15. All the three courts below have given concurrent findings on

the   issue   of   genuineness   of   alleged   Will   against   the

defendants.     A   thorough   look   at   the   material   on   record

reveals   that   DW­3   stated   that   he   had   accompanied   Jagan

Nath along with attesting witness Bachan Singh (deceased) to

the   Scribe   Bishan   Dass   who   first   prepared   a   draft   Will,

thereafter prepared a pucca Will, which was attested by both

the   witnesses   and   thumb­marked   by   the   executor   Jagan

Nath.   Further  he stated that he is neither son of Chanan
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Singh   nor   are   the   defendants   his   cousins.     DW­3   Sadhu

Singh   further   stated   that   he   never   interacted   with   Jagan

Nath prior to the execution of the said Will nor was he on

visiting   terms   with   him.     It   was   admitted   that   the   only

relationship that existed between the parties was that of co­

villagers.  It was also admitted that Jagan Nath was illiterate.

DW­3   vaguely   put   forth   the   date   of   execution   to   be

somewhere 11 years ago.

16. The law regarding proof of valid Will is well settled by this

Court   in   catena   of   judgments.     Section   63   of   the   Indian

Succession Act 1925 mandates that the Will shall be attested

by two or more witnesses.  As per Section 68 of the Evidence

Act if only one attesting witness is alive the execution of the

Will can be proved by only one attesting witness subject to

the process of the Court and capable of giving evidence.   In

this   case   the   only   attesting   witness   DW­3   Sadhu   Singh’s

evidence does not inspire confidence in the mind of the Court

and   more   so it  creates suspicion in the mind of the Court

with   regard   to   execution   and   genuineness   of   the   Will.
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Coupled   with   this   the   evidence   of   defendant   Jarnail   Singh

created all the more cloud on the execution of Will.   Jarnail

Singh deposed that in lieu of services rendered by him Jagan

Nath executed the Will.  But the cross examination of Jarnail

Singh reveals that he was in Army from the year 1960­1979,

whereas the Will was executed in the year 1970.   In view of

the same it appears highly improbable that Jarnail Singh had

an opportunity to render any service to Jagan Nath.   Apart

from Jarnail Singh none of the other family members entered

into   the   witness   box   and   gave   statement   in   support   of

services rendered by them.   Moreover evidence reveals that

Jagan   Nath   was   a   Sarpanch   of   the   village   and   owned   12

Killas   of   land.     Hence,   it   is   highly   unbelievable   that   he

depended   on   defendants   who   are   neither   related   to   Jagan

Nath nor even belongs to the same community.

17. This   court   in   the   case   of  Lalitaben   Jayantilal   Popat   vs.

Pragnaben   Jamnadas   Kataria   and   Ors.  (2008)   15   SCC

365, held that:­
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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.  When such evidences
are brought on record, the Court may take aid of
the   presumptive   evidences   also.  (emphasis
supplied)

18. The   evidence   of   the   defendants   and   their   conduct   create

number of suspicious circumstances around the Will which

are detailed in the Judgment of Trial Court  first appellate

court.   The defendants could not prove the due execution of

the Will either as mandated under the Indian Succession Act

or as per the provisions of Indian Evidence Act.

19. In   the   pending   appeal   before   us   the   appellants   wanted   to

mark   certain   additional   documents   in   support   of   the

execution of the Will.  We are not inclined to look into those

documents as this Court generally will not interfere with the

concurrent findings of facts of three courtsunless there are

special circumstances warranting interference of this Court.

The appellantswere not able to convince this Court that the

findings of the Courts below are perverse, contrary to settled
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legal position or grave injustice has been done in view of non­

consideration of important piece of evidence.  We are in total

agreement with the Courts below that the defendants failed

to prove the execution and genuineness of the Will and such

a finding does not call for any interference from this Court.

This issue is answered against the appellants/defendants.  

20. In response to Issue No.2, on this aspect, the Trial Court has

held   that   the   plaintiffs   could   prove   the   relationship   with

Jagan Nath and they are entitled for possession of the suit

schedule property.  But the 1st appellate Court has arrived at

a different finding that the plaintiffs were not able to prove

that they are granddaughters of Kirpo and whether Kirpo was

real sister of Mangal who was father of Jagan Nath.  On the

contrary,   High   Court   has   observed   that   Jagan   Nath   was

undisputedly owner of the suit property and when the Will in

favour   of   defendants   is   not   proved,   then   plaintiffs   as

cognates,   inherited   the  suit property   from  Jagan  Nath  and

became   owner   thereof   and   are   therefore   entitled   to   seek

possession   of   the   suit   property   from   the   defendants.
15

Whereas,   admittedly   defendants   have   no   relationship   with

Jagan  Nath.     It  was  contended on behalf of the appellants

that the High Court erred in reversing the finding of fact by

the   appellate   court   which   the   High   Court   ought   not   have

interfered with.   We are unable to appreciate the argument

advanced on this aspect as the conclusion of the Trial Court

as   well   as   the   Appellate   Court   is   not   only     based   on   the

admission   made   by   the   defendants   with   regard   to   the

relationship   of   plaintiffs   with   Jagan   Nath,   but   also   taking

into   consideration   the   independent   Will   dated   17.04.1953

executed  by Khusi Ram – cousin brother of Jagan Nath in

favour of plaintiff No.1 and 3, the relationship between the

plaintiffs   and   other   family   members   was   clearly   mentioned

and the subsequent mutations   carried out pursuant to the

Will   strengthen   the   case   of   the   defendants.     The   pedigree

table also reveals that Khusi Ram and Jagan Nath have died

issueless which is an admitted fact thereby leaving Kirpo as

the only existing branch of the family.   But since Kirpo and

her   son   Janti   Ram   have   predeceased   Jagan   Nath,   the
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respondents/plaintiffs   are   the   nearest   cognates   of   Jagan

Nath   who   had   no   surviving   agnate.     The   High   Court   was

perfectly right in interfering with this question of fact more so

when the opinion of the 1st appellate court was perverse and

contrary to material available on record.  Issue is accordingly

answered against appellants/defendants.

21. In the light of the above findings on issues 1 and 2 we are of

the considered opinion that the judgment and decree of the

High Court requires no interference from this court. In the

aforesaid circumstances the appeal of the defendants has to

fail   and   accordingly   appeal   is   dismissed   by   confirming   the

judgment   and   decree   of   the   Trial   Court,   however,   without

costs.

……………………………………..J.

(N.V. Ramana)

………………………………………J.

(Mohan M. Shantanagoudar)

NEW DELHI,
NOVEMBER  29, 2018.

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