New Delhi: The
Supreme Court has said that a document bequeathing a property will
remain just a piece of paper unless it is registered or attested
by two witnesses to qualify it as a will.
Upholding the finding arrived at by the Punjab and Haryana High
Court, the apex court said that a document by Rao Gajraj Singh was
neither a transfer of property as the same was not registered as
required under the provisions of the Indian Registration Act, 1908
nor was it a will as it was not attested by two witnesses as it
should have been done for a will.
"Thus, the writing executed by Rao Gajraj Singh, in the eyes of
law, was only a piece of paper, having no legal effect," said a
bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Anil R. Dave in their
recent judgment upholding the decision of the high court.
"Factually also, the said writing was not a will because it was
not attested by two attesting witnesses as is required to be done
for execution of a valid will. It is also a fact that the said
writing had not been registered," said that court.
Gajraj Singh, who died March 29, 1981, had executed a document,
which said that upon his death or the death of his wife, his
property would be inherited by the survivor. His wife Sumitra Devi,
who passed away June 6, 1989, executed a will June 1, 1989,
bequeathing the property to one of her eight children Narinder
Terming the document executed by Rao Gajraj Singh a piece of
paper, the court said that after his death, the suit would have to
be equally divided amongst his widow and eight sons.
Thus each of one them would get one-ninth share of the property
and as Sumitra Devi had bequeathed her share of property to
Narinder Singh Rao, he would get two-ninths.
"In view of the findings of fact arrived at by the courts below
and the legal position clarified hereinabove and by the high
court, in our opinion, the high court has committed no error and,
therefore, we see no reason to interfere with the impugned
judgment," the apex court said.