IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.5822 OF 2005
Pasupati Nath Das (dead) ……Appellants
Chanchal Kumar Das (dead) by L.Rs. and Ors. ..…Respondents
Uday Umesh Lalit, J.
1. This appeal challenges the correctness of the judgment and order
dated 4th February, 2005 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court at
Calcutta in Original Side Appeal No. 60 of 1984.
2. One Nandlal Das, husband of Shyama Sundari Dassi and father of two
Signature Not Verified
sons Kanailal Das and Pasupati Nath Das executed a Will on 12 th April, 1963
Digitally signed by
in respect of properties owned and possessed by him. Schedule to the Will
comprised of three parts. Properties mentioned in Part I and Part II of the
Schedule were given to the family deity Sri Jugal Kishore Jew known as Sri
Shyamaji at Tarapith temple of which deity the Testator was the shebait.
Thus, properties mentioned in Parts I II were to be Trust properties while
properties mentioned in Part III were to be devised in accordance with the
Will. Said Parts I, II and III of the Schedule to the Will were as under:
1. Garden house and land at Behalf known as “Nafar Kanan”
being Holding No.19, Nafar Chandra Das Road, Behalf in
the district of 24-Parganas together with Tank trees,
2. All that two storied premises No.10/1/3 Jagannath Sarkar
Lane, Kidderpore in the district of 24-Parganas, on part
whereof the same is erected.
3. All that brick built messuage land and premises being
No.1/3, Asha Babu Lane, Kidderpore in the district of 24
Parganas together with the land etc.
4. All that land and premises at 565 Diamond Harbour Road,
Behalf in the district of 24 Parganas which property was
purchased by me in the benami name of my wife (Smt.
Shyama Sundari Dassi) together with the structures and
5. Land and tank adjoining the above premises No.565
Diamond Harbour Road being portion of Holding No.19/2
Kamarpara Road in Behala in the district of 24 Parganas.
6. All that brick built two storied messuage land and premises
being No.55/2 Turff Road at Bhowanipore in the district of
24 Parganas purchased by me in the benami name of my
wife (Smt. Shyama Sundari Dassi).
1. Several Plots of land at Tarapith in Rampurhat in the district
of Birbhum including agricultural land measuring about 2
Bighas and homestead land purchased by me in the benami
name of my wife (Smt. Shyama Sundari Dassi) and the
buildings constructed on the homestead land measuring
about 3 ½ Bighas.
2. One Plot of land at Tarapith in Rampurhat in the district of
Birbhum purchased by me in my own name.
1. All that garden house and premises at Jasidih in the district
of Santhal Paraganas in Bihar purchased by me in the
benami name of my wife Smt. Shyama Sundari Dassi.
2. Tenancy right in premises No.157A, Dharamtolla Street,
together with pucca structures corrugated Tin sheds
constructed by me at my own and costs upon the greater part
of the said land.
In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 12th day
of April one thousand nine hundred and sixty three. …”
3. Nandlal Das died on 1st December, 1964 leaving behind his widow
and two sons. On 7th March, 1966 Kanailal Das died childless, leaving
behind his widow Smt. Purnima Rani Dassi. On 3 rd June, 1967 the other son
Pasupati Nath Das, the present appellant, as Executor named in the Will
dated 12th April, 1963 applied for grant of Probate of said Will by filing
Probate Case No. 101 of 1967 in Calcutta High Court. A joint caveat was
filed by Shyama Sundari Dassi and Purnima Rani Dassi. It was alleged that
by subsequent Deed of Revocation dated 15th October, 1963 the aforesaid
Will had stood revoked. The application for grant of Probate of the Will of
Nandlal Das, being a contentious cause was numbered as Testamentary Suit
No. 6 of 1971.
4. Shyama Sundari Dassi thereafter executed a registered Will on 12th
October, 1973. It was stated therein that she did not want her estate to go
into the hands of her younger son, the appellant; that while her husband was
alive he had cancelled and nullified the Will dated 12 th April, 1963 being
displeased with the behavior of said son and his family; that the estate left
behind by her husband devolved equally on her and two sons; that she had
received large sum of cash and ornaments from her sister and brother-in-law
and that the properties mentioned in the Schedule to the said Will were her
properties. By said Will, she appointed one Harendra Nath Das, Manager of
the estate to be the Executor, and stated that after her death one Menoka
Rani Dasi, her brother’s wife and Harendra Nath Das would get equal shares
in the property. The list of properties mentioned in Schedules Ka, Kha and
Ga to the Will dated 12th October, 1973 were as under:
“List of Properties included in Schedule Ka
My undivided ½ share in the properties mentioned 1 st, 2nd, 3rd
and 4th clauses of schedule Ka.
1. The premises No. 157A, Dharamtolla Street in the town
of Calcutta including the tenancy right and together the
business styled as the Indo-British Motor Industries
situated in the said premises and the interest in the said
2. No. 1013, Jagannath Sarkar Lane, Kidderpore, Calcutta-
23, District 24 Parganas – Three storied masonry house
and the land thereunder.
3. No. 13A, Ashu Babu Lane, Kidderpore, Calcutta, District
24 Parganas – Fallow land and the incomplete
4. The garden house at Behala known as Nafar Kanan (and)
the trees, rank and construction on it, Holding No.11
Nafar Das Road Behala.
5. Indu Bhaban, Jasidih, Santhal parganas, Bihar. The said
Indu Bhaban is the property purchased with my own
Introduction of the properties in Schedule Kha
1. District Birbhum, Police Station, Chowki and Sub-
Registry Rampurhat, Mouza Kamdebpur, J.L.No.61 Touzi
No.15, Khatian No.81, Dag No.9 within the said dag a
plot of land measuring 34 decimals proportionate Jama
Rs.2.19 Paises Sthitiban-Venue Rs.100/-.
2. Mouza same, Khatian No.64, present Khatian 87, Dag
No.7 the area of the land 20 decimals, proportionate jama.
62 paises, Sthitiban value Rs.300/-.
3. Mouza Kamdebpur, Khatian No.60, present No.86. Dag
No.8 homestead .5 decimals Dag No. 8300 danga 04
decimals Total 9 decimals only proportionate jama. 25
Paises Sthitiban value Rs.200/-.
4. In the district of Birbhum under the police Station,
Chowki and sub-Registry Rampurhat within the limits of
Mouza Chandipur, J.L.No.62, Touzi No.477, Khatian
No.130, present Khatian No.322, Dag No.748, House 07
decimals and the pucca house etc. standing thereon
including the fixtures proportionate jama. 25 Paises,
Raiyat Sthitiban value Rs.2210/-.
5. Mouza same, Khatian No.136, present Khatian
No.308,Dag No.902, North Pratap Doyen .16 decimals
out of .32 decimals Dag No.184, 8 as share in 111(?)
decimals .5 decimals, Dag No.67, Garh Layak Follow
(land) out of .8 decimals, 8 as. Share in this right, 4
decimals total 29 decimals only proportionate rent 10 as. 3
pies, Raiyat Sthiban value Rs.700/-
6. Mouza same, Khatian No.281, present No.321, Dag No.8,
Danga out of .42 decimals 8 as. Share in this right .21
decimals, Dag No.799, homestead, out of .08 decimals 8
as. Share in the right .04 decimals. Total .25 decimals
only proportionate jama 9 as. Raiyat Sthiban – value
7. District as aforesaid included in Mouza Kadebpur,
J.L.No.61, Khatian No.16, present No.5, Danga .94
decimals, dag No. 74 double crop yielding land 115
decimals, Total Rs.2.09 paises. Sthiban – value Rs.900/-
8. Mouza same, Khatian No.63, Present Khatian No.89, Dag
No.6 Dahar Saiyam out of .11 decimals the share in this
right, out of 14 decimals 1/3rd share .5 five decimals only
proportionate jama. 8.p.Total jama 4 as. Sthitiban – value
Landlond West Bangal Government, Schedule Ga
1. District Birbhum, Police Station Chowki, Sub-Registry
Rampurhat, Mouza Jamshedpur, J.L. No.61, Touzi No.15,
Khatian No.63, present Khatian No.89, Dag No.6, North
Behar, out of .16 decimals .31 decimals, proportionate
rent .01 P. Total jama .25 P. Value Rs.25/-
2. District 24 Parganas, Sub-Registry Behala, Police Station
Behala. Diamond Harbour Road, Holding No.308 and
Holding No.314, House No. 565, area 2 Bighas together
with the factory standing on including (illegible) shed and
adjoining boundary and land including some brick built
pucca factory premises having tin and asbestos on the
roof, privy, urinals, all the iron gates and the rooms under
the occupation of the durwans including fittings and
To this import in own accord having full sense and
without being instigated by others the deed has been
written in accordance with my own directions. Having
understood I sign and execute this will or last testament.
Finis 25th Aswin, 1380 B.S. corresponding to English
Calendar 12th October, 1973.”
5. In Testamentary Suit No. 6 of 1971, Shyama Sundari Dassi and
Harendra Nath Das gave evidence. By order dated 19th September, 1975
Single Judge of the High Court granted Probate of the will dated 12 th April,
1963 of Nandlal Das in favour of Pasupati Nath Das. On 22 nd September,
1975 Shyama Sundari Dassi died. Appeal No.371 of 1975 was thereafter
filed by Harendra Nath Das against the aforesaid judgment dated 19 th
September, 1975. Further, an application for grant of Probate of the Will
dated 12th October, 1973 executed by Shyama Sundari Dassi was filed by
Harendra Nath Das and Menoka Rani Dassi. Since a caveat was filed by
Pasupati Nath Das and the matter was contested, it was numbered as
Testamentary Suit No.8 of 1976.
6. In Testamentary Suit No.8 of 1976, following issues were framed by
Single Judge of the High Court
“i) Was the Will dated October 12, 1973 duly executed and
ii) Is the Will dated October 12, 1973 genuine?
iii) a) Did the testatrix Shyama Sundari Dassi have
testamentary capacity to execute Will?
b) Did the testatrix suffer from Senile Dementia at the
time of execution of the Will?
iv) Was the Will executed under undue influence exercised
by Harendra Nath Das?
v) To what relief, if any, the propounder is entitled?
7. On 14th October, 1982, the Division Bench of the High Court
dismissed Appeal No.371 of 1975 and confirmed the judgment and decree
dated 19th September, 1975 passed in Testamentary Suit No. 6 of 1971.
8. On 27th February, 1984 Single Judge of the High Court dismissed
Testamentary Suit No.8 of 1976 in which the grant of Probate of the Will
dated 12th October, 1973 of Shyama Sundari Dassi was sought. Issues i), ii)
and iiib) were found in favour of the propounders of the Will while issues
iiia) and iv) were answered against said propounders. This decision was
challenged by Harendra Nath Das and Menoka Rani Dassi by filing Appeal
No. 60 of 1984 before the Division Bench of the High Court.
9. Since there was no cross appeal, only two issues namely iiia) and iv)
were required to be considered by the Division Bench. After going through
the entirety of the matter the Division Bench accepted the appeal. On facts it
was found that there were no suspicious circumstances and that the testatrix
was in sound disposition of mind at the time of the execution of the Will.
The Division Bench observed as under:
“……….The fact remains that the solicitor was called at
the residence and the doctor was present. There is no allegation
of threat being given to the lady. There is no material to show
that there was any occasion for the testatrix to execute the Will
in favour of Harendra Nath to purchase peace. There is no
material to show that Harendra Nath had exploited the
sentiment of the lady or otherwise had exerted any force or fear
or had given any hopes.
……….The signature on each page and the signature of all
corrections are also indicative of the fact that she knew the
contents of the Will. The Will was read over and explained to
her and she had signed in the presence of the attesting
witnesses, which have since been so found by the learned
Single Judge… … …”
Directing that Probate as prayed for be granted, the appeal was
allowed by judgment and order dated 4th February, 2005, which decision is
presently under appeal.
10. During the pendency of this appeal, both Pasupati Nath Das and
Harendra Nath Das expired. The heirs of deceased Harendra Nath Das were
brought on record. Interlocutory Application Nos.5 and 8 seeking to bring
the heirs of the deceased Pasupati Nath Das on record are allowed. One of
the legal representatives of deceased Pasupati Nath Das is no more, and his
legal representatives are sought to be brought on record vide Interlocutory
Application No.11156 of 2018. Said application is also allowed. Cause title
shall stand amended accordingly.
11. We heard Mr. Raja Chatterjee, learned Advocate for the appellants and
Mr. Ajay Kumar Gupta, learned senior advocate for the respondents. It was
submitted by Mr. Chatterjee, learned Advocate that under the Will of
Nandlal Das, properties mentioned in Parts I and II of the Testament were
given in charity while those mentioned in Part III were given absolutely in
favour of his two sons and Shyama Sundari Dassi, the widow, was given
only a life estate and right of maintenance. Therefore, according to him,
Shyama Sundari Dassi could not have dealt with those properties which
were inherited from her husband. These submissions were countered by Mr.
Ajay Kumar Gupta, learned Senior Advocate who submitted that very
comparison of properties mentioned in respective Schedules to the Wills
would show that there were various properties which belonged to Shyama
Sundari Dassi in her individual capacity and that she was entitled to dispose
of the same by executing a Will.
12. We must, at the outset, say that the scope of the matter arising from
Probate proceedings is very limited. The scope of the matter is primarily
and principally regarding the genuineness of the execution of the testament
or Will. This part has been succinctly dealt with in a decision rendered by
this Court in Krishna Kumar Birla v. Rajendra Singh Lodha and Others.1.
Paragraphs 57, 66 and 67 of the said decision spell out the scope of the
enquiry in Probate proceedings as under:
1 (2008) 4 SCC 300
“57. The 1925 Act in this case has nothing to do with the law of
inheritance or succession which is otherwise governed by
statutory laws or the custom, as the case may be. It makes
detailed provisions as to how and in what manner an
application for grant of probate is to be filed, considered and
granted or refused. Rights and obligations of the parties as also
the executors and administrators appointed by the court are laid
down therein. Removal of the existing executors and
administrators and appointment of subsequent executors are
within the exclusive domain of the court. The jurisdiction of the
Probate Court is limited being confined only to consider the
genuineness of the will. A question of title arising under the Act
cannot be gone into the (sic probate) proceedings. Construction
of a will relating to the right, title and interest of any other
person is beyond the domain of the Probate Court. (Emphasis
66. We may, however, at the outset, notice a decision of this
Court in Elizabeth Antony v. Michel Charles John Chown
Lengera (1990) 3 SCC 333 which is binding on us. Therein, the
testatrix viz. one Mary Aline Browne, was the wife of one
Herbet Evander Browne, the eldest son of John Browne. Mary
died on 28-3-1972. She had executed a will on 12-3-1962. An
application for grant of a letter of administration with a copy of
the will annexed was filed by Michel. Petitioner Elizabeth
Antony and her husband Zoe Enid Browne filed caveats on the
plea that the said will was a forged document. The petitioner
therein also claimed that her daughter Browne had executed a
will on 23-6-1975 and she had executed a deed of gift in favour
of the petitioner. She also claimed herself to be a trustee of John
Browne Trust. The Probate Court held that they had no
caveatable interest. Caveatable interest, therefore, was claimed
as an executor and legatee of the will executed by Zoe Enid
Browne as also a deed of gift in respect of one item of the estate
executed in their favour. Caveatable interest was also claimed
on the premise that the petitioner was appointed a trustee of
John Browne Trust. This Court noticed a large number of High
Court judgments. It was, however, opined that the petitioner
therein failed to establish a caveatable interest stating: (SCC p.
336, para 6)
“6. … We have perused the entire order of the trial
court in the context. Admittedly neither the original nor a
copy of the will said to have been executed by Zoe Enid
Browne, was filed. Now coming to the trust, it is in the
evidence of PW 1 that John Browne Trust has come to an
end in March 1972 and the same was not in existence.
The trial court has considered both the documentary and
oral evidence in this regard and has rightly held that the
petitioner has no existing benefit from the trust. Likewise
the registered gift deed or a copy of it has not been filed.
Before the learned Single Judge of the High Court also
same contentions were put forward. The learned Judge
observed that from the objections filed by the caveator
she desires the court in the probate proceedings to uphold
her title on the strength of a gift deed and the trust deed.
It is observed:
‘Equally, the petitioner has not placed before
the court the will dated 23-6-1975 stated to
have been executed by Zoe Enid Browne to
establish that under the will dated 12-3-1962
stated to have been executed by Mary Aline
Browne some interest given to the petitioner
under the will dated 23-6-1975 of Zoe Enid
Browne, is liable to be in any manner
affected or otherwise displaced, by the grant
of letters of administration in respect of the
will dated 12-3-1962 stated to have been
executed by Mary Aline Browne.’
Accordingly, the learned Judge held that the petitioner
has not established that she has a caveatable interest justifying
her opposition to the probate proceedings for grant of letters of
administration. In this state of affairs, we are unable to agree
with the learned counsel that the petitioner has caveatable
This Court, thus, categorically opined that while granting a
probate, the court would not decide any dispute with regard to
title. A separate suit would be maintainable therefor. If probate
is granted, they have a remedy in terms of Section 263 of the
1925 Act also.
67. In the recent judgment of Kanwarjit Singh Dhillon v.
Hardyal Singh Dhillon (2007) 11 SCC 357 this Court inter alia
relying upon Chiranjilal Shrilal Goenka v. Jasjit Singh (1993)
2 SCC 507 and upon referring to a catena of decisions of the
High Court and this Court, held that the Probate Court does not
decide any question of title or of the existence of the property
itself.” (Emphasis by us)
13. We, therefore, confine ourselves only to the issue whether the
execution of the Will of which Probate is prayed for has been satisfactorily
proved and whether there are any suspicious circumstances impinging upon
the execution of the Will. Out of four issues, three were answered in favour
of the propounders of the Will by the Single Judge wherefrom no appeal was
preferred. The matter was thus limited in scope before the Division Bench
which, in any case, has answered the other issues also in favour of the
propounders of the Will. Having gone through the judgment under appeal,
we do not see any reason to take a different view in the matter nor has any
ground been made out to upset the decision under appeal.
14. We, thus, confirm the decision of the Division Bench. All the issues,
including those whether the properties in respect of both the Schedules are
identical or not will have to be raised and dealt with in properly instituted
proceedings. Reserving all those rights, we dismiss the present appeal. No
(Uday Umesh Lalit)
September 25, 2018.