Civil Appeal Nos. 9282 and 9286 of 2010 and 7004 of 2012. Case: Leela Rajagopal Vs Kamala Menon Cocharan. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberCivil Appeal Nos. 9282 and 9286 of 2010 and 7004 of 2012
JudgesRanjan Gogoi and R.K. Agrawal, JJ.
IssueIndian Succession Act, 1925 - Sections 281, 282; Constitution of India - Article 136
Judgement DateSeptember 08, 2014
CourtSupreme Court (India)


Ranjan Gogoi, J.

  1. All the three appeals being directed against the common judgment and order of the High Court dated 18.08.2009 were heard analogously and are being disposed of by this order.

  2. In the present appeals, which challenge a judgment of reversal passed by a Division Bench of the High Court of Madras, determination of what is essentially a question of fact confronts this Court exercising its jurisdiction Under Article 136 of the Constitution. The said question is with regard to the validity and legality of a Will dated 11.1.1982 executed by one K.P. Janaki Amma, the mother of the Appellants and the first Respondent. The learned Trial Judge by his order dated 23.01.2001 dismissed the probate proceedings instituted by the first Respondent (later converted into a Suit being T.O.S. No. 16 of 1994) by holding that the execution of the Will dated 11.1.1982 is surrounded by a host of suspicious circumstances rendering the same legally unacceptable. The aforesaid view of the learned Trial Judge of the High Court having been overturned by the Division Bench of the High Court by impugned order dated 18.08.2009, the present appeals have been filed.

  3. We have heard Mr. Krishnan Venugopal and Mr. Dhruv Mehta, learned Senior Counsels as well as Mr. T. Harish Kumar learned Counsel for the Appellants and Mr. Vijay Hansaria, learned Senior Counsel appearing for Respondent No. 1.

  4. Testator Late Janaki Amma had initially executed a Will dated 28.12.1981 bequeathing house property bearing No. 8, Malony Road, T. Nagar, Madras-17 in favour of the first Respondent Kamala Menon Cochran and her grand-daughter Geetha (daughter of her predeceased daughter Leela). The said Will, inter alia, contained a recital that the testator had 4 sons. In the Will dated 28.12.1981 the testator had acknowledged that her sons are all well settled in life and had properties purchased in their names during the life time of their father. The testator had further stated that she had suffered extreme bereavement on the death of her daughter Leela which occurred on 02.02.1975 and therefore out of the deep attachment for her grand-daughter, Geetha, and also as her second daughter K.P. Kamala Menon i.e. Respondent No. 1 aged 46 years who is a Principal in a College and a spinster she is bequeathing the house property in favour of her granddaughter and her daughter to the exclusion of her sons. The said Will dated 28.12.1981 was superseded/revoked by a subsequent Will dated 11.1.1982 which contained similar recitals as in the first Will dated 28.12.1981 except for the fact that instead of 4 sons the testator mentioned that she had 5 living sons. After the death of Janaki Amma which occurred on 27.04.1991 the Respondent No. 1 had instituted a probate proceedings which was later converted into a suit, as the Will was disputed by the sons of the deceased.

  5. The Appellants who were the Defendants in the suit and Respondents before the High Court had contested the legal validity of the Will dated 11.1.1982 by asserting that the same was not a valid instrument of conveyance executed on the free volition of the testator; rather it was dictated at the instance of the first Respondent-daughter who had exercised undue influence and coercion on the testator. To substantiate the contentions advanced, the contesting Defendants had led evidence to show that the Will was executed in circumstances which give rise to serious doubts, with regard to its voluntary execution by the testator.

  6. The learned Trial...

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