New Delhi: A father neglected by his son for a number of years is legally entitled to execute a will bequeathing his property in favour of his near relatives and deny him his due share, the Supreme Court has held.
The deprivation by the testator to his natural legal heirs in itself will not lead to a conclusion that there is suspicion in the will executed by him, said a Bench consisting of Justices S.B. Sinha and H.S. Bedi.It upheld the execution of a will by Sankaran Nair bequeathing his property to his sister’s children. His reason for denying his son, Madhavan Nair, a share in the property was that he neglected him (Sankaran Nair) when he was suffering from cancer and only his nephew and nieces took care of him.
Following differences with his wife Nanikutty Amma, Sankaran Nair was staying with his sister and her children, who met the entire cost of his treatment. He died in 1978.The wife, son and daughters of Madhavan Nair contested the will contending that its execution was surrounded by suspicious circumstances.
It was alleged that the beneficiaries took an active role in its execution. While the trial court decreed in favour of Madhavan Nair’s family, the Kerala High Court reversed the order.
Dismissing the appeal by Madhavan Nair’s family against this judgment, the Bench said, “We do not find in the fact situation obtaining herein that any such suspicious circumstance was existing.” Writing the judgment, Justice Sinha said, “The son was not meeting his father. He had not been attending to him. He was not even meeting the expenses for his [Sankaran Nair’s] treatment from 1959, when he lost his job, till his death in 1978. The testator was living with his sister and her children. If in that situation, if he executed a will in their favour, no exception thereto can be taken. Even then, something was left for the appellant son.”
Being totally dependent on the respondents, Sankaran Nair, suffering from cancer, was “bound to place implicit faith and confidence only in those who had been looking after him. The will was admittedly registered. The testator lived for seven years after the execution of the will. He could have changed his mind; he did not. The very fact that he did not take any step for cancellation of the will is itself a factor which the court may take into consideration for the purpose of upholding the same.”
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