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The litigation splurge, which started in the year 1955 in a Naidu-family in the name of a Will, has come to a stop today when the Supreme Court pronounced the judgment dismissing all the appeals against the Madras High Court judgment of 2007.

The facts of the case begin with the two sons of Venkatusawmy Naidu Lakshmiah Naidu and Rangaswamy Naidu. Rangaswamy was married to R. Krishnammal and the couple did not have any issues. Whereas Lakshmiah had four sons. The dispute among the family members started in the year 1955 after the death of Rangaswami Naidu. In a proceeding under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal procedure, the magistrate did not make any discussion, finding it unnecessary and returned a finding that Lakshmiah and his sons are in possession.

Krishnammal filed a suit in a compromise decree in 1958. The suit ended in a compromise. In 1963, disputes resurfaced when two persons named R. Alagiriwami Naidu and V. Kalyanswami (family members of the deceased) filed a suit, which also resulted in a compromise decree. Ramaswamy, son of Laksmiah, died in 1976 and Krishnammal died in 1977. After these deaths, Alagiriswami Naidu again filed a suit for partition. Sub Judge, Coimbatore decreed the suit and ordered partition.

Sons of Lakshmiah Naidu, widow and daughters of Ramaswamy Naidu filed a suit in 1982 against R. Alagiriswami after he entered into some sale transactions on the strength of a will by Rangaswami Naidu. The other defendants in the suit were nephews of Rangasawmi Naidu who were legatees under the will. The plaintiffs sought a declaration of title and prayed for an injunction. In 1983, R. Alagiriswami filed suit for partition. Both these suits were tried together.

The legal heirs of Lakshmi Naidu attacked the will on the ground that it was procured by coercion and undue influence. The suit filed by Alagirirswami came to be dismissed whereas the suit filed by the legal heirs of Lakshmi Naidu, came to be decreed by the first appellate court. Both the courts found that there was no proof that the partition took place in 1932. In 2007, Madras High court restored the decree of the trial court.

The Supreme Court observed Section 69 of Evidence Act as,

“Reverting to Section 69 of the Evidence Act, we are of the view that the requirement therein would be if the signature of the person executing the document is proved to be in his handwriting, then attestation of one attesting witness is to be proved to be in his handwriting. In other words, in a case covered under Section 69 of the Evidence Act, the requirement pertinent to Section 68 of the Evidence Act that the attestation by both the witnesses is to be proved by examining at least one attesting witness, is dispensed with. It may be that the proof given by the attesting witness, within the meaning of Section 69 of the Evidence Act, may contain evidence relating to the attestation by the other attesting witness but that is not the same thing as stating it to be the legal requirement under the Section to be that attestation by both the witnesses is to be proved in a case covered by Section 69 of the Evidence Act. In short, in a case covered under Section 69 of the Evidence Act, what is to be proved as far as the attesting witness is concerned, is, that the attestation of one of the attesting witnesses is in his handwriting. The language of the Section is clear and unambiguous. Section 68 of the Evidence Act, as interpreted by this Court, contemplates attestation of both attesting witnesses to be proved. But that is not the requirement in Section 69 of the Evidence Act.

The Supreme Court finally concluded that the will was executed by R. Naidu as his last will.


View/Download Judgement: Judgment



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