The Will which is not last and final:

Probate of incomplete Will:

The Will in question (Ex.PW1/H) is drawn on two pages and is complete in itself and does not leave any scope for any other codicilconcerning the estate of the deceased, particularly when bequeath has been made not only of the immovable property and the bank account but also as regards the other assets of testatrix in the residuary clause, which reads as under: –

“2. I also direct that in the event of my acquiring any further movable or immovable assets hereinafter or any other assets that I may have forgotten to mention in the present Will the same shall devolve upon my daughter Mrs. Kavita Kanwar.”

Now, from the evidence on record and from the stand of the appellant, there is little to doubt that there had been several other assets of the testatrix apart from the said immovable property and the bank account.By virtue of the aforesaid residuary clause, all such other assets are bequeathed to the appellant. In the given scenario, two serious questions perforce acquire immediate attention. One that while making the application seeking probate, the appellant did not divulge all other assets which were to come in her hands by virtue of the said residuary clause of the Will in question.

Secondly, when there had not been any direction in the two page Will in question for making payment to anyone or parting with any movable to anyone, what had been the reason for the appellant making payment to different persons, including her own sons, the daughter of the attesting witness and the daughter of the respondent No. 1 apart from giving car to the daughter of the respondent No. 1 and jewelleries to the respondent No. 1 (as alleged in the written submissions before the10 In paragraph 8.2 herein before, we have reproduced the major contents of the application seeking probate with its Annexure-B wherein, only the said immovable property and the amount lying in the bank account were stated; and in paragraph 12 of the application, the appellant mentioned the immovable property as the only asset likely to come in her hands with the referred stipulations.

Both these questions on the conduct of the appellant onlythicken the suspicious circumstances surrounding the Will in question.

Neither Last nor Final Will:

On the other hand, as soon as the possibility of existence of such third page carrying the desire and directions of the testatrix about distribution of her other movable property is taken into account, the document Ex.PW1/H loses all its worth because it cannot be said the testatrix executed the same after understanding the meaning and purport of its contents. If she had the desire of distribution of movable property in a different manner and to different persons (as alleged by the appellant before the High Court), the aforesaid residuary clause would not have occurred in the Will in question at all. Secondly, if it is assumed that the testatrix issued separate directions about distribution of her assets de hors the Will then, the Will in question ceases to be her last Will.
Hence, to cap all the suspicious circumstances, the aforesaid equivocal stand of the appellant, as regards the third page of the Will and her assertion of having acted in accordance with the “directions” in the said third page of the Will, effectively knocks the entire case of the appellant down to the bottom. The suspicions arising because of the facts and factors  noticed herein before, including the unnatural exclusion of the respondents from estate; uncertain and rather inexecutable stipulation about construction by the appellant for the purpose of the respondent No.1; active role played by the appellant in execution of the Will and yet seeking to avoid the factum of her role by incomplete and vague statements; and the  witnesses having contradicted the appellant on material particulars etc.,have not only gone unexplained but are confounded beyond repair with such vacillating stand of the appellant regarding the said third page of the Will of the testatrix.
(As per the submissions made before the High Court, the appellant indeed carried out the directions contained in such third page of the Will.)

The verdict of Supreme Court:

The discussion foregoing is sufficient to find that thick clouds of suspicious circumstances are hovering over the Will in question which have not been cleared; rather every suspicious circumstance is confounded by another and the curious case of the alleged third page of the Will effectively and completely demolishes the case of the appellant. Put differently, it is difficult to be satisfied that what is literally coming out of the document in question had been the last wish and desire of the testatrix as regards succession of her estate. On the contrary, we find enough and cogent reasons to affirm the material findings of the Trial Court and the High Court that it cannot be said that the testatrix executed and signed the document in question as her Will after having understood the meaning, effect and purport of the contents.

The result, inevitable, is that this appeal deserves to be dismissed.
[Source: Kavita Kanwar vs. Pamela Mehta decided by SC on 19th May 2020)

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