Ravindra Nath Agrawal vs Yogender Nath Agrawal on 12 February, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Ravindra Nath Agrawal vs Yogender Nath Agrawal on 12 February, 2021

Author: V. Ramasubramanian

Bench: V. Ramasubramanian

                                                      1


                                                                         REPORTABLE


                                   IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                     CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION


                             TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) No.970 OF 2016


          RAVINDER NATH AGARWAL                                          … PETITIONER

                                                    Versus

          YOGENDER NATH AGARWAL & ORS.                                   … RESPONDENT(S)

                                                    WITH

                            TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) No.2779 OF 2019




                                            JUDGMENT

1. While Transfer Petition (C) No.970 of 2016 is for the transfer of

a suit for partition, pending on the file of the Additional District

Judge, Saket Court, New Delhi to a Court of competent jurisdiction

in the District of Nainital, Uttarakhand, Transfer Petition (C)
Signature Not Verified

Rachna No.2779 of 2019 is for the transfer of a testamentary case pending
Digitally signed by
Date: 2021.02.12
18:21:43 IST
Reason:

on the file of the High Court of Uttarakhand, Nainital to the District
2

Court at Saket, New Delhi.

2. I have heard the learned counsel for the respective parties.

3. One Shri Badri Nath Agarwal, who was ordinarily a resident of

Village Bithoriya No.1, Tehsil Haldwani, District Nainital,

Uttarakhand, died on 07.05.2011, at the ripe old age of 91 years,

leaving behind him surviving, five sons and a daughter. They were

(1) Major Ravinder Nath Agarwal, (2) Surender Nath, (3) Narender

Nath, (4) Virender Nath Agarwal, (5) Lily Nath (daughter) and (6)

Yogender Nath Agarwal. Out of these six children, Shri Narender

Nath is now no more. He died on 06.09.2019 leaving behind his wife

Smt. Ira Joshi and two sons by name Nikhil Nath and Aditya Nath.

4. Claiming that his father Late Badri Nath executed his last Will

and Testament on 06.04.2011, cancelling and revoking his previous

Will dated 26.06.2005 and that under the last Will dated

06.04.2011, a vast extent of agricultural land in Village Bithoriya

No.1, Tehsil Haldwani, District Nainital, was bequeathed to him, the

eldest son Major Ravinder Nath Agarwal got mutation effected in his

favour in the revenue records, but the same became the subject

matter of a writ petition filed by Lily Nath on the file of the High
3

Court of Uttarakhand. Apart from filing a writ petition challenging

the mutation effected in favour of her eldest brother, Lily Nath also

filed a civil suit in Suit No.57 of 2011 on the file of Civil Judge,

Senior Division, Nainital seeking a decree of permanent injunction.

As a counter blast, Major Ravinder Nath, who claims to be the

legatee under the Will and who got mutation effected in his favour

in respect of one property, also filed civil suit in Suit No.72 of 2011

on the file of the Civil Judge, Senior Division seeking a decree of

permanent injunction.

5. Thereafter the last son Shri Yogender Nath, filed a suit in C.S

No.2745 of 2012 on the file of High Court of Delhi, for a partition of

all the properties left behind by Shri Badri Nath. The suit was filed

in September­2012. But in the year 2016, presumably after the

filing of the written statements, the said suit was transferred to the

file of the Additional District Judge, Saket Court, New Delhi and re­

numbered as C.S No.126 of 2016.

6. Immediately thereafter, Major Ravinder Nath Agarwal filed the

first of these transfer petitions namely T.P (C) No. 970 of 2016,

seeking the transfer of the partition suit pending on the file of the
4

Additional District Judge, Saket, New Delhi to the Court of District

Judge at Nainital, Uttarakhand. On 08.07.2016, this Court ordered

notice in the transfer petition and also granted stay of further

proceedings in the partition suit.

7. But a few days before this Court ordered notice and granted

stay, the plaintiff in the partition suit namely Sh. Yogender Nath

(last son) abandoned the suit and hence the only daughter Lily Nath

got herself transposed as the plaintiff, by moving an application

under Order XXIII Rule 1­A. The original plaintiff Yogender Nath

was transposed as defendant No.5.

8. On 09.10.2018, this Court passed an order in T.P (C) No. 970

of 2016, vacating the stay of further proceedings in the partition

suit earlier granted on 08.07.2016. Thereafter the eldest son Major

Ravinder Nath filed a petition in Testamentary Case No.01 of 2019

on the file of the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, seeking the

grant of letters of administration with the Will dated 06.04.2011

annexed thereto, under Section 276 read with Sections 250 and

273(b) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. Upon receipt of

summons in the said testamentary case, the daughter Lily Nath
5

came up with the second transfer petition namely T.P (C) No.2779

of 2019, praying for the transfer of the testamentary case from

Uttarakhand High Court to the District Court, Saket, New Delhi

where her partition suit is now pending, so that both could be tried

together.

9. Thus, I have on hand two transfer petitions, one of the year

2016, filed by the eldest son seeking a transfer of the partition suit

from the District Court, Saket, New Delhi to the District Court,

Nainital, Uttarakhand and another of the year 2019 filed by the

plaintiff in the partition suit seeking the transfer of the

testamentary case pending on the file of the High Court of

Uttarakhand to the District Court at Saket, to be tried together with

her partition suit. Since the eldest son Major Ravinder Nath, is the

petitioner in the first transfer petition, he shall hereinafter be

referred to as “the petitioner” and Ms. Lily Nath shall be referred to

as “the contesting respondent”.

10. Before I proceed further, it should be brought on record that

the earliest of the civil suits namely C.S No.57 of 2011 filed by the

daughter Lily Nath for a decree of permanent injunction, on the file
6

of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Nainital was dismissed for non­

prosecution on 27.11.2015. However, the second suit in C.S No.72

of 2011 filed by Major Ravinder Nath, seeking a decree of

permanent injunction is still pending on the file of the Civil Judge,

Senior Division, Nainital. I am not concerned with this civil suit, as

it is not the subject matter of any transfer petition.

11. The short question that arises for consideration in these

transfer petitions, is as to whether the partition suit pending on the

file of the District Court at Saket, New Delhi from the year 2016

(instituted in 2012), should be transferred to the District Court,

Nainital, Uttarakhand or whether the testamentary case pending on

the file of the High Court of Uttarakhand from 2019, should be

transferred to the District Court, Saket, so that it could be tried

along with the partition suit already pending there.

12. Before I take up for consideration, the rival contentions, three

important aspects have to be borne in mind. They are:­

(i) The High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital does not have

ordinary original civil jurisdiction, though it has jurisdiction to

entertain a testamentary case for the grant of probate or letters of
7

administration. Therefore, the partition suit pending in the District

Court, Saket cannot be transferred to the High Court of

Uttarakhand, but can be transferred only to a District Court in

Nainital. The District court, Nainital will not have jurisdiction to

grant probate/letters of administration in respect of a property

located outside its territorial limits, if its value exceeds Rs.10,000/­.

Per contra, both the High Court of Delhi as well as the District

Court, Saket, have jurisdiction to entertain an application for the

grant of probate/letters of administration subject to certain

conditions/restrictions;

(ii) The last Will and Testament dated 06.04.2011 set up by the

eldest son Major Ravinder Nath, covers two properties, one of which

is a MIG flat promoted by the Delhi Development Authority at

Saket, New Delhi. The other property is a bhumidhari land lying in

Khata No.741 measuring an extent of 6.8550 hectares in Village

Bithoriya No.1, Tehsil Haldwani, District Nainital, Uttarakhand,

along with a residential house, service quarters and sheds.

Therefore by virtue of Section 264(1) of the Indian Succession Act,

1925, the District Judge, Saket has jurisdiction to entertain a
8

petition for the grant letters of administration, at least in respect of

the property at Delhi; and

(iii) The partition suit was filed in the year 2012 on the file of the

High Court of Delhi and was transferred to the District Court, Saket

in the year 2016. At the time when the eldest son Major Ravinder

Nath came up with T.P (C) No.970 of 2016, no proceeding for the

grant of letters of administration was pending in the High Court of

Uttarakhand. Actually the petitioner in T.P (C) No.970 of 2016

chose to file a testamentary case in the High Court of Uttarakhand

only in January 2019, after the stay of partition suit granted in T.P

(C) No.970 of 2016 was vacated on 09.10.2018. Therefore it must be

remembered that the petitioner in T.P (C) No.970 of 2016 created a

situation that could be taken advantage of by him.

13. Keeping the above background in mind, let me now look at the

grounds on which the transfer of the partition suit from Delhi to

Nainital is sought. In the transfer petition T.P (C) No.970 of 2016

the petitioner has contended :

(i) that he was 68 years of age (at that time), suffering from
many diseases and undergoing cardiac care treatment
with implanted pace maker;

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(ii) that he had suffered a paralytic stroke on the right side
of the body and a blood clot in the brain;

(iii) that the respondents were already contesting the
mutation case in Haldwani;

(iv) that three of the respondents are foreign nationals
residing out of India;

(v) that the subject matter of the suit includes an immovable
property situate within the jurisdiction of the competent
Court in Nainital; and

(vi) that there is a bar of jurisdiction of other Courts under
Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms
Act.

14. In addition to the grounds indicated in the transfer petition, it

is also contended by Sh. Gopal Sankaranarayanan, learned Senior

Counsel and Sh. Manish Kumar, learned counsel for the petitioner

that in a petition for transfer, the location and convenience of the

parties, subject to the territorial jurisdiction of the Courts, should

also be taken into account; that in the testamentary case, an

application under Section 10 CPC was filed, but before the High

Court of Uttarakhand could pass orders on the application under

Section 10, the second transfer petition came to be filed; that

testamentary proceedings, being proceedings in rem, will have
10

primacy over other proceedings and, hence, the partition suit is

liable to be transferred; and that by virtue of Proviso (b) of Section

273 of the Indian Succession Act, any probate/letters of

administration granted by the District Court at Saket will not have

effect in other States, unless the value of the property and estate

affected beyond the limits of the State does not exceed Rs.10,000/­.

15. While Sh. Gopal Sankaranarayanan, learned Senior Counsel

cited the decisions of this Court in Ishwardeo Narain Singh vs.

Smt. Kamta Devi and Others.1 ; Chiranjilal Shrilal Goenka vs.

Jasjit Singh and Others2; T. Venkata Narayana and Others vs.

Venkata Subbamma (Smt.) (dead) & Others3; Balbir Singh Wasu

vs. Lakhbir Singh & Others4, Sh. Manish Kumar learned

Counsel relied upon Smt. Rukmani Devi and Others vs.

Narendra Lal Gupta5.

16. In response, Ms. Nitya Ramakrishnan and Sh. H.S. Sharma,

learned counsel appearing for the respondents contended that the

testamentary proceedings were initiated deliberately in Uttarakhand
1 AIR 1954 SC 280
2 (1993) 2 SCC 507
3 (1996) 4 SCC 457
4 (2005) 12 SCC 503
5 (1985) 1 SCC 144
11

after seven years of the institution of the partition suit in Delhi and

that the petitioner in the first transfer petition is guilty of abuse of

the process of Court.

17. As can be seen from the rival contentions, most of them are on

factual foundation. However, one contention advanced on behalf of

the petitioner, is purely legal and deserves a deeper scrutiny.

Therefore, I shall take up that contention first.

18. According to the petitioner, who is eldest of the siblings and

who has set up a Will, the proceedings in a testamentary case are

proceedings in rem and that, therefore, they will have primacy and

that, irrespective of the fact that the testamentary proceedings were

initiated much after the institution of the partition suit, the

partition suit and not the testamentary case, is liable to be

transferred. In support of these contentions, the learned counsel

appearing for the petitioner has relied upon certain decisions. The

first of these decisions is that of this Court in Ishwardeo Narain

Singh (supra). This Judgment is relied upon only for the limited

purpose of showing that a Court of probate is concerned only with

the question whether the document put forward as the last Will and
12

Testament was duly executed and attested in accordance with law

and whether at the time of execution, the testator was in a sound

and disposing state of mind. We are not concerned in this case with

the question as to the nature of the proceedings for probate or

letters of administration. Therefore, the said decision is of no

assistance for deciding the question on hand.

19. In Chiranjilal Shrilal Goenka (supra), the primary question

that arose was as to whether an arbitrator appointed by this Court,

by consent of parties, would have jurisdiction to deal even with the

proceedings for probate. Answering the question in the negative,

this Court held that the probate Court alone has been conferred

with the exclusive jurisdiction to grant probate or letters of

administration and that even by consent, the parties cannot confer

jurisdiction upon an arbitrator to adjudicate upon the proof or

validity of the Will. Obviously this decision is only on the question

of jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal relating to testamentary

proceedings and not about the right of a party to seek transfer of a

proceeding, from one Court to another, when both Courts are

claimed to have jurisdiction.

13

20. In T. Venkata Narayana (supra), the question before this

Court was whether secondary evidence could be led, in a suit for

injunction, to prove an alleged Will. This Court held that a suit for

injunction cannot be converted into a suit for probation of a Will

and that if the Will is to be proved according to law, it has to be by

way of a probate proceeding in the Court having competency and

jurisdiction according to the procedure prescribed in the Indian

Succession Act. But this decision does not lay down (and could not

have laid down) any proposition that all Wills executed by all

classes of persons in all areas throughout the country require

probate/letters of administration, as we shall see later.

21. Balbir Singh Wasu (supra) is the only case where this Court

was concerned with the question whether the proceedings for

probate initiated later in point of time than a suit for declaration

and injunction could proceed further or not. In this case, the party

who had first filed a suit for declaration and injunction before the

Court of a Civil Judge, sought stay of the probate proceedings

initiated by the opposite party in the High Court, later in point of

time, on the basis of Section 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The
14

High Court rejected the prayer for stay on the ground that the

pendency of the suit for declaration will not bar the High Court

from entertaining probate proceedings. Without answering the

question revolving around section 10, CPC directly, this Court held

in Balbir Singh Wasu: (i) that a decision on the appellant’s civil

suit would not conclude the probate proceedings; (ii) that the

question whether probate should be granted or not would still be

left to be determined by the High Court, though the decision of the

civil Court may be relevant even in those proceedings; and (iii) that

though the requirement of Section 213 of the Indian Succession

Act, for an executor to obtain probate, may not apply to all the

areas outside the presidency towns (or the notified areas), there is

no prohibition for an executor to apply for probate as a matter of

prudence or convenience, even in cases where they are not covered

by Section 213.

22. There are two interesting aspects to the decision in Balbir

Singh (supra). They are: (i) Without deciding the question whether

an application under Section 10 CPC would lie or not, this Court

transferred the probate proceedings from the High Court to a
15

District Court which was competent to entertain probate

proceedings and transferred the suit for declaration also to the

same Court so that both of them could be clubbed and heard

together. Unfortunately, this Court omitted to take note of the fact

that in cases where no probate is mandatorily required by law, the

Will could be relied upon in any civil action, even without getting it

probated. (ii) Balbir Singh followed another decision of this court

in Nirmala Devi vs. Arun Kumar Gupta6. It was a case where

probate proceedings were initiated in 1997 with respect to a Will of

the year 1984. A civil suit was already pending from 1987, but this

Court merely ordered the transfer of the civil suit pending on the

file of the sub­Judge to the Court of the District Judge where

probate proceedings were pending, so that both could be clubbed

together and disposed of.

23. This Court did not consider or did not have an occasion to

consider in any of the above decisions, the difference between cases

where a party is entitled to rely upon a Will in a judicial proceeding

even without getting probate/letters of administration and cases

where there is a bar for the production of a Will in a judicial
6 (2005) 12 SCC 505
16

proceeding without first getting probate/letters of administration.

The primacy to be accorded to probate proceedings would depend

upon the category to which the case belongs.

24. Having said that, let us now take a closer look at some of the

provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

25. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 is divided into 11 parts, with

some of the parts sub­divided into several chapters. Part VI of the

Act comprising of 23 Chapters, contains exhaustive provisions

relating to “Testamentary Succession”. Sections 57 to 191 of the Act

are included in this Part.

26. Part IX of the Act contains Sections 217 to 369, divided into

13 chapters. Chapter IV of Part IX contains provisions governing

“the practice in granting and revoking probates and letters of

administration.” Sections 264 to 302 are found in this Chapter. The

procedure for making an application for probate or for letters of

administration with the Will annexed, is provided in Section 276.

27. The District Judge is conferred with the jurisdiction to grant

and revoke probates and letters of administration in all cases within

his District, under Section 264 of the Act. Section 264 reads as
17

follows:­

“264. Jurisdiction of District Judge in granting and
revoking probates, etc.— (1) The District Judge shall have
jurisdiction in granting and revoking probates and letters of
administration in all cases within his district.

(2) Except in cases to which section 57 applies, no Court in
any local area beyond the limits of the towns of Calcutta,
Madras and Bombay, shall, where the deceased is a Hindu,
Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina or an exempted
person, receive applications for probate or letters of
administration until the State Government has, by a
notification in the Official Gazette, authorised it so to do.”

28. It may be seen from Sub­section (2) of Section 264, that it

imposes a bar upon the Courts in any local area beyond the limits

of the towns of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay, from receiving

applications for probate or letters of administration, until the State

Government, by a notification in the Official Gazette, authorized

them so to do, wherever the deceased is a Hindu, Muhammadan,

Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina or an exempted person. But the bar under

Sub­section (2) has no application to cases, to which Section 57

applies.

29. Section 57 of the Act reads as follows:

“57. Application of certain provisions of Part to a class
of Wills made by Hindus, etc.—The provisions of this Part
18

which are set out in Schedule III shall, subject to the
restrictions and modifications specified therein, apply—

(a) to all Wills and codicils made by any Hindu, Buddhist,
Sikh or Jaina on or after the first day of September, 1870,
within the territories which at the said date were subject to
the Lieutenant­Governor of Bengal or within the local limits of
the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Courts of
Judicature at Madras and Bombay; and

(b) to all such Wills and codicils made outside those territories
and limits so far as relates to immoveable property situate
within those territories or limits; [and

(c) to all Wills and codicils made by any Hindu, Buddhist,
Sikh or Jaina on or after the first day of January, 1927, to
which those provisions are not applied by clauses (a) and (b):]

Provided that marriage shall not revoke any such Will or
codicil.”

30. Schedule III of the Act contains a list of provisions which are

applicable, subject to certain restrictions and modifications, to all

the Wills described in clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Section 57.

31. The jurisdiction conferred upon the District Judge in Chapter

IV of Part IX, is also exercisable by the High Court, by virtue of the

concurrent jurisdiction conferred under Section 300. Section 300

reads as follows:

“300. Concurrent jurisdiction of High Court.—
19

(1) The High Court shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the
District Judge in the exercise of all the powers hereby conferred
upon the District Judge.

(2) Except in cases to which section 57 applies, no High Court,
in exercise of the concurrent jurisdiction hereby conferred over
any local area beyond the limits of the towns of Calcutta,
Madras and Bombay shall, where the deceased is a Hindu,
Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina or an exempted
person, receive applications for probate or letters of
administration until the State Government has, by a notification
in the Official Gazette, authorised it so to do.”

The bar under sub­Section (2) of Section 264 is found also in

sub­Section (2) of Section 300.

32. Part VIII of the Act which is perhaps the smallest among the

several parts of the Act, contains two important provisions in

Sections 212 and 213. They read as follows:

“212. Right to intestate’s property.—(1) No right to any
part of the property of a person who has died intestate can be
established in any Court of Justice, unless letters of
administration have first been granted by a Court of
competent jurisdiction.

(2) This section shall not apply in the case of the intestacy of
a Hindu, Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh, Jaina, [Indian
Christian or Parsi].

213. Right as executor or legatee when established.—
(1) No right as executor or legatee can be established in any
Court of Justice, unless a Court of competent jurisdiction in
[India] has granted probate of the Will under which the right is
20

claimed, or has granted letters of administration with the Will
or with a copy of an authenticated copy of the Will annexed.
(2) This section shall not apply in the case of Wills made by
Muhammadans [or Indian Christians], or and shall only apply

(i) in the case of Wills made by any Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh
or Jaina where such Wills are of the classes specified in
clauses (a) and (b) of section 57; and

(ii) in the case of Wills made by any Parsi dying, after the
commencement of the Indian Succession (Amendment)
Act
, 1962 (16 of 1962), where such Wills are made
within the local limits of the [ordinary original civil
jurisdiction] of the High Courts at Calcutta, Madras and
Bombay, and where such Wills are made outside those
limits, in so far as they relate to immoveable property
situated within those limits.]”

33. While Section 212 deals with the right to intestate’s property,

Section 213 deals with the establishment of the right as executor or

legatee under a Will. In simple terms these two Rules can be stated

as follows:(i) without first obtaining letters of administration from a

Court of competent jurisdiction, no right to any property of a person

other than a Hindu, Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh, Jaina, Indian

Christian or Parsi, who has died intestate, can be established in

any court of justice; (ii) no right as executor or legatee under a Will

(other than a Will made by a Muhammadan or Indian Christian)

can be established in any Court of justice unless probate of the Will
21

or letters of administration with the Will annexed, has been granted

by a court of competent jurisdiction.

34. But the second Rule stated above which is found in Section

213, is applicable only: (i) in the case of Wills made by any Hindu,

Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina, if those Wills are of the classes specified in

Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 57; and (ii) in the case of Wills made

by any Parsi dying after the commencement of the Amendment Act

16 of 1962, if such Wills are made within the local limits of the

ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Courts at Calcutta,

Madras and Bombay and in case such Wills have been made

outside those limits, in so far as they relate to immovable property

situate within those limits.

35. A cumulative reading of Sections 57, 213 and 264 would

show: (i) that a person claiming to be an executor or legatee under

a Will cannot rely upon the Will, in any proceeding before a Court of

justice, unless he has obtained probate (if an executor has been

appointed) or letters of administration with the Will annexed, if

such a Will has been executed by certain classes of persons; and

(ii) that the jurisdiction to grant probate or letters of administration
22

vests only in courts located within the towns of Calcutta, Madras or

Bombay and the Courts in any local area notified by the State

Government in the Official Gazette.

36. Therefore, what follows is that: (i) unless the testator belongs

to any of the classes of persons specified in the Act; and (ii) unless

the Will is made or some of the properties covered by the Will are

located, within the local limits of a notified area, there is no

necessity for an executor or a legatee under a Will to seek probate

or letters of administration. In fact, the decision in Balbir Singh

Wasu (supra) did not take note of the bar under Section 264(2)

when it opined in general terms in Paragraph 5 of the judgment

that “We do not read Section 213 as prohibiting the executor for

applying for probate as a matter of prudence or convenience to the

courts in other parts of the country not covered by Section

213”.

37. By virtue of Section 213(2)(i) read with Clauses (a) and (b) of

Section 57, the mandatory requirement to seek probate or letters of

administration for establishing a right as executor or legatee under
23

a Will, is applicable only to Wills made by a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh

or Jaina within the local limits of the ordinary original civil

jurisdiction of certain High Courts and to Wills made outside

those territories, to the extent they cover immovable property

situate within those territories. Therefore, there is no prohibition for

a person whose case falls outside the purview of these provisions,

from producing, relying upon and claiming a right under a Will, in

any proceeding instituted by others including the other legal heirs

for partition or other reliefs.

38. In the case on hand, the petitioner Ravinder Nath himself

proceeded (i) first to have mutation effected in the revenue records

and (ii) then to file a suit in O.S.No.72 of 2011 on the file of the

Civil Judge, Senior Division, Nainital, for a decree of permanent

injunction, on the basis of the very same last Will and Testament

dated 06.04.2011 of his father, without seeking letters of

administration. He did not think that Section 213(1) was a bar for

him to establish his right as a legatee under the Will, without

obtaining letters of administration.

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39. After having done so, the petitioner in T.P (C) No.970 of 2016

chose to file Testamentary Case No.01 of 2019 after 8 years of first

shooting a claim under the Will and that too after the vacation of

the stay of further proceedings in the partition suit by order dated

09.10.2018. Therefore, I cannot allow the petitioner in T.P (C) No.

970 of 2016 to make this Court a fait accompli.

40. The partition suit, which is pending on the file of the District

Court, Saket is actually 8 years old, as it was instituted on the file

of the High Court of Delhi in September, 2012 and was transferred

to the District Court in 2016. The written statement in the said suit

was filed by Major Ravinder Nath way back in November, 2012,

when the suit was pending in the High Court of Delhi as C.S

No.2745 of 2012. In Paragraph 8g of the written statement, the

petitioner has pleaded the execution of the disputed Will. The true

copy of the Will is stated to have been annexed as D­1/5, to the

written statement. Therefore, obviously Major Ravinder Nath was

convinced that there was no bar for him to establish his right as a

legatee under the will, even without first obtaining letters of

administration. Hence, his subsequent act of filing a testamentary
25

case before the High Court of Uttarakhand, is nothing but a ruse to

take advantage of the general proposition of law that probate

proceedings are proceedings in rem and that they should have

primacy. This argument is available only to a person who is

disabled by virtue of Section 213(1), from relying upon a Will in any

proceeding, without first obtaining probate/letters of

administration. Therefore, the legal contention raised on behalf of

the petitioner in T.P (C) No.970 of 2016 that the partition suit

should follow the testamentary case, is liable to be rejected in the

facts and circumstances of this case.

41. In fact, the petitioner in T.P (C) No.970 of 2016 is not even

helping himself by resorting to this. After having claimed way back

in November, 2012 that there was a Will, he chose to file the

testamentary proceedings only in January 2019, overlooking Article

137 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and certain decisions of this Court.

I am not going into those details, as it may prejudice his case.

42. Relying upon the decision of this Court in Smt. Rukmani

Devi and Others vs. Narendra Lal Gupta7 , it was contended by

Mr. Manish Kumar, learned counsel for the petitioner, that by
7 (1985) 1 SCC 144
26

virtue of Proviso (b) of Section 273 of the Indian Succession Act,

1925, any letters of administration granted by the District Court,

Saket cannot have effect in other States unless the value of the

property affected by the grant and located beyond the limits of the

State, does not exceed Rs.10,000/­.

43. But this argument is one of convenience. Nothing prevented the

petitioner from filing the testamentary proceedings in the High

Court of Delhi by taking advantage of Proviso (a) of Section 273 and

seeking the withdrawal of the suit for partition from the District

Court, Saket to the High Court to be tried together. Section 273

reads as follows:

“273. Conclusiveness of probate or letters of
administration.—Probate or letters of administration shall
have effect over all the property and estate, movable or
immovable, of the deceased, throughout the State in which the
same is or are granted, and shall be conclusive as to the
representative title against all debtors of the deceased, and all
persons holding property which belongs to him, and shall
afford full indemnity to all debtors, paying their debts and all
persons delivering up such property to the person to whom
such probate or letters of administration have been granted:
Provided that probates and letters of administration granted—

(a) by a High Court, or
27

(b) by a District Judge, where the deceased at the time of his
death had a fixed place of abode situate within the jurisdiction
of such Judge, and such Judge certifies that the value of the
property and estate affected beyond the limits of the State does
not exceed ten thousand rupees,
shall, unless otherwise directed by the grant, have like effect
throughout the other States

Therefore, the petitioner, taking advantage of the pendency of the

partition suit from 2012 to 2016, could have filed the testamentary

proceeding in the High Court of Delhi itself and relied upon Proviso

(a) of section 273, instead of now relying upon Proviso (b) of Section

273.

44. Having dealt with the legal contention, let me now move on to

the factual basis on which transfer of the partition suit is sought. It

is claimed by the learned senior counsel for the petitioner that the

petitioner is a senior citizen suffering from a host of health issues.

The attesters are also not residents of Delhi. Therefore, he argued

that at least the convenience of the parties may have to be taken

into account.

45. But in these days of virtual hearings, the location of the

parties is hardly a matter of concern. In fact, an application in
28

I.A.No.130939 of 2020 has been moved by the petitioner, seeking a

direction to examine one of the attesters either through video

conferencing or through court appointed commissioner, as he is 74

years of age, having a lot of medical issues and has also tested

positive for COVID­19.

46. The very fact that even according to the petitioner, the attester

can be examined through video conference or court appointed

commissioner would show that the place where the proceedings are

pending, is immaterial.

47. The fact that 3 out of the surviving 5 children are citizens of

other countries residing out of India and that therefore they cannot

have any objection to the proceedings being tried in Uttarakhand, is

not acceptable. It would have been open to the petitioner to raise

such a contention, had he chosen to make the first strike by filing

the testamentary proceedings in 2011 or 2012. He did not do so.

Therefore, even on facts, I find no ground to order the transfer of

the partition suit to the District Court, Nainital and hence, T.P (C)

No. 970 of 2016 is liable to be dismissed.

29

48. In so far as the second transfer petition is concerned, the relief

sought therein is to transfer the testamentary case pending in the

High Court of Uttarakhand to the District Court, Saket, Delhi. Since

the Will set up by the petitioner covers properties located both in

Nainital and Delhi, both these courts have concurrent jurisdiction.

But in view of Proviso (b) to Section 273, letters of administration

granted by a District Court cannot have validity in respect of a

property located outside the State, if its value exceeds Rs. 10,000/­.

However, this problem can be resolved by ordering the transfer of

the testamentary case to the High Court of Delhi and ordering the

transfer of the partition suit from the District Court, Saket back to

the High Court of Delhi.

49. Therefore, the Transfer Petitions are disposed of to the

following effect:­

(i) T.P (C) No.970 of 2016 is dismissed;

(ii) T.P (C) No.2779 of 2019 is allowed and the Testamentary
Case No.01 of 2019 pending on the file of the High Court of
Uttarakhand is ordered to be transferred to the file of the High
Court of Delhi;

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(iii) The partition suit in C.S No. 126 of 2016 pending on the
file of the Additional District Court, Saket at Delhi shall stand
transferred to the High Court of Delhi and clubbed along with
the testamentary proceeding and taken up together for
disposal. Considering that the partition suit is about 8 years
old, the High Court of Delhi may consider giving priority of
listing. The parties are at liberty to move applications for
examination of the witnesses including the attesters of the
Will, either through Video Conference or through Court
appointed Commissioners and applications for such reliefs
may be considered by the High Court favourably.

(iv) The parties shall bear their respective costs.

.……………………………. J.

(V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN)

New Delhi;

February 12, 2021.



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