Succession of property of Indian national, in this case by an Indian Christian, by a foreign national was put to question on the basis of the application of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. In the present appeal filed by the appellant challenging the High Court of Uttaranchal order dated 22/08/2005, the bench of Justice NV Ramana and Justice Abdul Nazeer of the Supreme Court answered in the affirmative regarding the question of law placed before it.
The brief facts of the case are that the late BC Singh and his wife SL Singh were Christians. After his wife expired, BC Singh filed a suit against one JM Utarid for possession of the property and for damages on the ground that they were the licensees in respect of the suit property and that their license had been terminated. The suit got dismissed and later the high court upheld the dismissal.
The contentions placed by the appellant was that he was the sole owner of the property and the Respondent was the real sister of Dr. SL Singh, the wife of the appellant. It was also iterated that the property in dispute was purchased by the Dr. B.C. Singh and Dr. S.L. Singh. Therefore, each of them hold equal share in the entire property. Accordingly, the respondent was entitled to being the co-owner of the suit property after the death of Dr. SL Singh.
The Bench, while placing reference to Section 42 to 48 of the Indian Succession Act, observed as follows:
“It is clear from this provision that in case the intestate has not left a lineal descendant, nor father, nor mother, the property shall be divided equally between his brothers and sisters and the child or children of such of them as may have died before him, such children taking equal shares only the shares which their respective parents would have taken if leaving at the intestate death. In the instant case, Dr. S.L. Singh has left behind her sister, Ida Utarid. She has not left behind any lineal descendant. Ida Utarid was the only near kindred and preferential heir of the intestate and she would have succeeded to 1/4th share in the property.
19. It is only when intestate has left neither lineal descendant, nor parent, nor brother and nor sister, the property has to be divided among those relatives of the intestate who are in the nearest degree of kindred to him.”
The Apex Court dismissed the contentions of the Defendant No 1 stating that the first defendant being a distant kindred is not entitled to succeed any share in the property since the intestate has left behind her real sister. The judgement and decree of the High Court was accordingly set aside and judgment of the First Appellate Court was reinstated.
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