The two issues in question placed before the Bombay High Court with respect to the applicability of the relevant provisions of the Limitation Act to filing of Administration suits were as follows:
- Whether Article 110 of the Limitation Act, 1963, has any application to a suit for administration of the estate of a deceased person?
- What is the period of limitation for filing of a suit for administration and partition of the property, both movable and immovable left by deceased?
The suit for administration of the estate was filed pertaining to the Will & Testament dated 14th May 2001 of one Mrs. Roop Keshavraj Sakraney (the deceased). The Plaintiff were the beneficiaries under the said will and the Defendant No 1 was the husband of the deceased. It is plaintiffs’ case that though the deceased died on 24th October 2007, the said Will was suppressed by Defendant Nos 1 to 5 and the existence of the said Will came to light in or about April 2012. As attempts to amicably resolve the issues between the parties came to a naught, the present suit came to be filed on 16th March 2015.
It was during the hearing of this suit that the question of limitation on filing of administration suits were raised in an order dated September 26, 2016 passed by a single judge. This questions of law were placed before the bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari, Justice AA Sayed and Justice KR Shriram for examination into the facets of the law of limitation. While interpreting the relevant provisions of the law and analyzing judicial precedents, the Bench observed as follows:
“If one considered the Limitation Act, 1963, it does not prescribe a specific article for determining the period of limitation in an administration suit. The period of limitation for a suit for administration would depend on the basis of the nature of the suit and also plaintiffs before the court. This is because an administration suit could be by a creditor for recovery of his debt or legal heirs as done in this suit. Thus, an administration suit is not a type of a suit which would be governed by a fixed or designated article but is one in which the Article to be applied for determining the period of limitation would depend entirely on the nature of the reliefs claimed therein.”
With reference to application of Articles 106, 110 and 113 of the Limitation Act in the present case, the Bench concluded as follows:
“In the circumstances, there cannot be a straitjacket formula to determine the period of limitation for filing an administration suit. The pleadings and the prayers of a suit for administration would have to be analysed and thereafter, the relevant Article is to be made applicable. The onus will be on the party claiming benefit of shorter period of limitation to establish that the case fell within the special rule limiting the period of a shorter time. If in a situation two articles of the law may be wide enough to cover a given right of suit and the Court is unable to come to a conclusion that one applies more specifically than the other, then it should lean in favour of the application which would destroy it.”
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