Delhi High Court: ‘Mutual Will’ comes Into Effect On The Death Of Either Of The Joint Testators

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In the recent judgment passed by the High Court of Delhi in the case of Vickram Bhal & Anr. v. Siddhartha Bhal, it has been held that the rights in favour of the ultimate beneficiary under the mutual will accrue on the demise of either of the executants and during the lifetime of the other executant of the mutual will.

Brief Facts

Late Commander Wing N.N Bhal and Mrs Sundri Bahl executed a joint will dated on 31.03.2006. Mr N.N Bahl predeceased Mrs Bahl. As per the clauses of the will, after the demise of one spouse, the entire suit property is to ‘rest’ with the other spouse & no one else shall have a right or interest in the share of the deceased and after the demise of both of them, their eldest son, granddaughter and younger son will be the absolute owner of their respective shares.

Their eldest son along with his daughter filed a suit thereby inter alia seeking the relief of permanent injunction against his mother and brother from dispossessing them from their respective shares of the property as per said will. The suit was at the stage of framing of issues.

The two plaintiffs initiated this action for a permanent injunction restraining the two defendants from dispossessing the two plaintiffs from the first and second floor along with the garage on the ground floor of the Property No. D859, New Friends Colony, New Delhi and from selling, alienating or establishing third party rights in the property and for a compulsory injunction directing the agency. 

Arguments Of Plaintiff:

The plaintiff counsel argued that the cause of action for this suit was the defendant’s claim no. 2 has been the sole owner of the property upon Wing Commander N.N Bahl’s demise and to have the right to deal with the property. It is further claimed that the defendant no.2 has also instituted a lawsuit after the settlement of the present lawsuit to regain custody of the portion of the property in the custody of the two plaintiffs and which case is pending before the Additional District Judge Trial, Delhi.

Next, the plaintiff argues that the plaintiff now wants to amend the lawsuit to provide relief from the argument that the defendant no. 2 can not execute a Will against the Will dated March 31 2006. While the plaintiff counsel continued to term the document of 31 march 2006 a ‘mutual will,’ but no such nomenclature is contained on the document and it is not deemed acceptable to use that nomenclature which may have any legal connotations. Plaintiff counsel’s attention is also drawn to Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, and it has been questioned whether, in addition to the language of the Will of 31 March 2006, Wing Commander N.N. Bahl’s share in the aforementioned property is entirely in the defendant 2 Sundri N. Bahl. On 3rd April 2019 and 9th, May 2019 the senior counsel appearing for the plaintiffs was also heard and the attorney for the defendants was also heard.

The counsel of the plaintiffs claims that at the point of a review of the proposal of alteration, merits of the amendments are not entered into. On 3rd April 2019 and 9th, May 2019 the senior counsel appearing for the plaintiffs was also heard and the attorney of the defendant was also heard.

Arguments Of Defendant:

The two defendants, Siddhartha Bahl and Sundari N. Bahl challenged the suit by filing a joint written statement arguing that the defendant no. 2 was the co-owner of the property No. D-859 Friends Colony New Delhi and her friend Wing Commander N.N was killed.

Bahl was made the sole and absolute owner of the property on 3rd September 2015. The Wing Commander N.N. Bahl and defendant no.2 executed a registered Will on 31st March 2006 during the lifetime of Wing Commander N.N Bahl and his wife Sundari N.

Bahl wished to grant the surviving spouse, the rights, title, and interest in that property to the exclusion of others shows that Bahl had an absolute legacy of the property to his wife defendant no.2 was the absolute proprietor. Wing Commander N.N. Bahl is refused, along with the lawsuit, a copy of Will dated 31st March 2006 filled by the plaintiff there is no cause of action in favour of the plaintiff and against the accused.

After the death of Wing Commander N.N Bahl, the plaintiff no.1, taking advantage of the emotional state of the defendant no.2, issued executed letters, documents, collected signatures on blank papers, allegedly submitted to the Air Force for the retirement, and removed sums on the pretext of making payments to the authorities as well as the possession of the first and second floors and workshops in the house.

The plaintiff misunderstands the Will of 31st March 2006; the said Will was quite clear; the defendant no.2 become the sole owner of the property; there has been no expressed or implied agreement, as the plaintiff stated.

Judgment

The Court decided the mutual will aspect only to the extent that it creates an interest in favour of the executor named in the trial. After the death of both of them, the plaintiff no.1 Vickram Bahl will be the absolute owner of the entire first floor of the main house and the adjacent servant’s quarter at the top of the garage building. The defendant no.1 Siddhartha Bahl shall be the absolute owner of the entire ground floor of the main house, including the garage building of the first floor, the front lawn and, the seatback.

Plaintiff no.2 Saachi Bahl will own the entire second floor of the main house and ½ on the second floor and ½ in the unbuilt second quarter.

The two claimants and the defendant no.1 shall be the joint owner of the driveway, the internal staircase, the external staircase with the bathroom under it, the roof, and the ground below.

Resultantly, a decree is passed, in favour of the plaintiffs and jointly and severally against two defendants,

  • It is ordered that the grant of the permanent injunction against dispossession from the first and second floors of the house no. D-859, New Friends Colony, New Delhi be granted to the plaintiffs within sixty days of the delivery to the defendant no.2 of peaceful vacant physical possession of the garage at the ground floor.
  • A permanent injunction prohibiting the transfer, sale, or development of any third party right, title, or interest of the house No. D-859 New Friends Colony, New Delhi, by the defendant.

The parties however left to bear their own cost.


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