Bigamy Is Not A Relevant Factor In Deciding Validity Of The Will: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that allegations of second marriage and bigamy, are not relevant to the main issue of the Will's validity and Will executed by the deceased was upheld in accordance with statutory compliance and established legal principles. The appeal involved a case where a man executed a Will before his death, and there were disputes regarding its validity. He had two marriages and several children.
A two-judge Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Karol further held that, “As far as the allegations of second marriage and bigamy are concerned, we refrain from entertaining such submissions as the same is not a relevant factor in deciding the main lis, which is confined to the validity of the Will.
Initially, a succession certificate was issued in favor of one of the plaintiffs, but this decision was later reversed by the High Court, which recognized the authenticity of the Will. Subsequently, proceedings were initiated for a grant of Probate or Letter of Administration, and the Civil Court upheld the validity of the Will based on the testimony of an attesting witness. The High Court also affirmed this decision.
Advocate Ashutosh Garg appeared for the Appellants and Advocate Sumeer Sodhi appeared for the Respondents.
The key issue before the Court was whether there were sufficient grounds to interfere with the concurrent findings regarding the validity of the Will.
The Court discussed the relevant provisions dealing with the validity and execution of the Will under Section 63 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. These provisions require specific formalities to be followed for Will's execution.
The Court cited several principles from previous judgments to establish the criteria for proving the validity of a Will, including the requirement for statutory compliance, the test of a prudent mind, and the responsibility of the propounder to dispel any suspicious circumstances. The Court added, “In short, apart from statutory compliance, broadly it has to be proved that (a) the testator signed the Will out of his own free Will, (b) at the time of execution he had a sound state of mind, (c) he was aware of the nature and effect thereof and (d) the Will was not executed under any suspicious circumstances.”
After analyzing the facts of the case, the Court found that the Will had been duly executed in accordance with the law. There was no evidence to suggest that the testator was not in a sound state of mind or that the Will was executed under suspicious circumstances. The Court added, “we are of the opinion that there is no evidence on record to conclude that the deceased was not in a fit or stable mental condition at the time of execution of a Will, or that a Will was executed under suspicious circumstances, or the presence of any element of undue influence.”
The Court concluded that both lower courts had correctly upheld the validity of the Will, and therefore, the appeal was dismissed. The Court also refrained from considering allegations of second marriage and bigamy, as they were not relevant to the main issue of the Will's validity.Cause Title: Meena Pradhan & Ors. v. Kamla Pradhan & Anr., [2023INSC847]