June 1, 2024 In Uncategorized


In a recent case of Bharat Mohan Kohli vs State and Others, Test Case 48/2017, I.A. 1911/2021, a Single Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court comprising of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna passed a Judgment dated 29-05-2024 and observed that mere suffering from a terminal disease cannot be a ground to hold that the testator was not of a sound disposing mind to execute a Will. Further, as the Respondent failed to establish the alleged invalidity of execution of the Will, thus, the Petitioner was granted Letter of Administration in respect of the Testator’s Will.


i) In the present case, the Petitioner, Shri Bharat Mohan Kohli filed a Petition under Section 278 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 (Act) (Petition for letters of administration) read with Section 232 of the Act (Grant of administration to universal or residuary legatees) seeking grant of Letter of Administration in respect of the last Registered Will dated 27-10-2013 (Will) of Late Shri Man Mohan Kohli (Testator).

ii) Under the said Will, the Testator had named the Petitioner, Shri Bharat Mohan Kohli, his nephew, as the sole beneficiary and bequeathed his entire estate in his favour. The Petitioner’s father was named as one of the Executors of the Will. The aforesaid Petition was originally filed by the Executors of the Will. But the Executors passed away during the pendency of the case. Hence, Shri Bharat Mohan Kohli, the sole beneficiary, was substituted as the Petitioner in the case.

iii) The Testator died on 23-03-2015 leaving behind no Class I legal heirs. He was survived by 5 sisters and 2 brothers, who have been arrayed as Respondents in the present case.

iv) But the Will was not objected by the Respondents, except Respondent No. 12, Shri Ramesh Kohli and Respondent No. 13, Dr. Mrs. Indira Kohli Bhatia.

v) The Legal Representatives of the Respondent No. 13 filed an Application in the above Petition, but thereafter, they did not appear before the Bench. Hence, the High Court, vide Order dated 27-04-2018, dismissed their Application.

vi) The Respondent No. 8 and 10 failed to contest the Petition and hence, the High Court proceeded ex-parte on 09-08-2019.

vii) The Respondent No. 12, Shri Ramesh Kohli filed his objections to the Will on the ground that only one nephew, to the exclusion of all other nieces, nephew and Class II heirs, was made the beneficiary under the Will, which allegedly could have been by use of force or coercion against the Testator. He further objected on the ground that the properties to which the Will pertains, was the subject matter of several other legal proceedings between the Parties, which are pending before Ld. Arbitrator and out of which, some were Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) properties. Hence, there is no locus for grant of Will in respect of the properties in which the Testator had no right, title or interest. Therefore, all-in-all, the Will was alleged to have been forged and fabricated in regard to which the probate / letters of administration cannot be granted.

High Court Observations

1) That to prove the valid execution of unprivileged wills, the following ingredients have to be established:

a) Firstly, the Will was duly signed by the testator or bears the affixation of his Mark;

b) Secondly, the Mark so affixed or the signatures of the testator was so placed that it appears that it was indented to be executed by the Testator in the manner as specified and with a dispensing mind free from all extraneous influences;

c) Thirdly, it must be attested by two or more witnesses, each of whom should have seen the testator sign or put his mark on the Will. The Will must be signed by the witnesses in the presence of the testator, but it is not necessary that more than one witness should be present at the same time.

2) That in the present case the Executor of the Will, during his lifetime, had deposed about the validity of the Will. He further deposed that the Testator was in a fit and sound mind to execute the Will.

3) The witnesses, who had attested the Will, also deposed about valid execution of Will.

4) That although the Testator was undergoing treatment of cancer, his treating Doctor had also deposed that the Testator used to regularly discuss his line of medical treatment. The Doctor also did not suggest / state that the Testator was not in a sound and disposing mind.

5) That in fact, his diagnosis of Stage IV Cancer would have prompted him to make a Will and more importantly, as he had no Class-I Legal heirs.

6) Further, there is no document or medical proof to substantiate the Respondent No. 12’s objection that owing to the Testator’s medical condition, he was not in a sound and disposing mind to write a Will. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has in earlier cases observed that “the capacity to make a Will which is a mental exercise, is quite different from physical state of health. It was held that the mental incapacity is required to be proved by positive evidence.”

7) Further, during his illness, the Testator had attended various board meetings etc of a Company in which he was a Director and also attended the Arbitration proceedings pertaining to the property disputes. Thus, the mental soundness of the Testator would be established from the said facts. Further, in the said Arbitration proceedings, there was no objection taken by the Respondent(s) that the Testator was not in a sound disposing mind.

8) That with regard to bequeathing the entire estate of the Testator in favor of the Petitioner alone, in exclusion of the other nieces and nephews of the Testator, the High Court held that the Supreme Court has in earlier cases observed that “when reasons for unequal distribution have given in the Will itself, the same cannot be treated as a suspicious circumstance when the testamentary capacity of the testator has been established”.

9) In the present case, the Testator had explained reasons for excluding the other Class II legal heirs in his Will i.e. he had no relationship with his younger brother or other family members, who had not spoken to him for the last many years. Further, that he did not treat them as his relatives as they had not shown any regard to him and had created lot of bitterness. Hence, he had bequeathed his properties to the Petitioner, who had stayed with him since 1993 and had taken care of him during his illness.

10) Thus, the Respondent failed to prove that force, coercion or manipulation had been exercised by the Executors or the Beneficiary, in execution of the Testator’s Will.

11) Further, though, the Respondents had challenged the title of the Testator in the various properties mentioned in the Will, but the Bench held that “probate proceedings are confined to the valid execution of the Will and it does not concern itself with the entitlements/ ownership of the Testator in respect of the properties in respect of which the Will is executed.”


Thus, based on the aforesaid observations, the High Court held that the Respondent failed to produce any evidence to show that the Testator was not of a sound disposing mind or was incapacitated in making his Will or that the Will was a forged or fabricated document. Therefore, the High Court allowed the Petition and granted the Letter of Administration in favor of the Petitioner.


Harini Daliparthy

Senior Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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