Supreme Court of India
Jarnail Singh vs Bhagwati(D) Tr.Lrs. on 29 November, 2018Author: ……………………………………..J. 1 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

12.03.2008 whereby the High Court reversed the Judgment
2 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,
3 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
4 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.
56. 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
6 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. 
7 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
8 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
9 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.
10 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
11 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.
12 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:­
13 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
14 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
16 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.

(N.V. Ramana) ………………………………………J.
(Mohan M. Shantanagoudar) NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER  29, 2018.

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