March 9, 2024 In Uncategorized


A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justice C.T Ravikumar and Justice Rajesh Bindal passed a judgement dated 04.03.2024 in Thangam and Anr. V. Navamani Ammal Civil Appeal No. 8935 of 2011, where the Apex Court dismissed the Appeal filed by the Appellants which challenged the Madras High Court decision bearing Appeal No. 1344 of 1996 and observed that the a will / testament is valid, if it is supported and substantiated by material evidence and witnesses.


The present Appeal was filed to determine the genuineness of a registered Will dated 09.10.1984 executed by Palaniandi Udyar (Testator) in favour of Navamani Ammal who is the Respondent herein. The Testator was the husband of Appellant No. 1 Thangam and father of Appellant no. 2 Laila. The Testator possessed 8 acres of land and 3 houses, which was duly confirmed by his wife, the Appellant No.1 herein. The Respondent is the daughter of the brother of the Testator. Hence, out of love and affection, the Testator gave the Respondent 3.5 acres of land to the Respondent since he treated her like his daughter. The Appellant No.1 was the 3rd wife and widow of the Testator. The earlier two wives of the Testator had expired, and the Testator did not have any children from them.

A Suit bearing O.S. No. 402 of 1986 was filed by the Respondent in Additional District Munsif Court, Ariyalur. The need to file the suit arose more than 2 years after the death of the Testator as the possession of the Respondent was disturbed by the Appellants. The Suit was filed for declaration and injunction and the Trial Court had ordered the decision in favour of the Respondent. Hence, the Appellant filed an Appeal bearing no. Appeal Suit No. 7 of 1991 in the Court of Subordinate Judge, Ariyalur i.e. the 1st Appellate Court, which reversed the Trial Court’s Order. Aggrieved by the said Order, the Respondent filed a 2nd Appeal bearing Appeal No. 1344 of 1996, in the High Court of Madras which overruled the judgement of the 1st Appellate Court.

The primary contention made by the Appellants was that the execution of the Will was surrounded by various suspicious circumstances and deserves to be discarded as was rightly done by the 1st Appellate Court. The Appellants also contended that reconsideration of facts merely to come to another possible conclusion does not fall within the scope of consideration of a matter in second Appeal. The health of the Testator was also brought in question as he was suffering from asthma and chronic cough and it was submitted that he was not in a position to understand and comprehend the contents of the Will.

The Respondent contended that when a person executes his Will in favour of any relative or person other than the persons whose behalf the Will would naturally fall, it is indicative of the Testator’s deliberate action and intentions to do so. Furthermore, the Respondent was like the Testator’s own daughter, and it is clear that he only gave her a portion of his estate. The Appellants retained possession of the remaining properties. When the Testator’s health deteriorated, the Respondent was the only person who looked after him. The Appellants did not care for the Testator while he was unwell, nor did they take any steps to care for the properties he left behind after his death. The Respondent’s husband covered the cost of the Testator’s final rites. Thus, it was justified for the Testator to provide some part of his fortune to the Respondent out of love and affection.


I) Whether the Testator executed the Will with his complete sound mind?

II) Whether the testimonies of the Witnesses present at the time of execution of Will were reliable?

Decision by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court first examined the witness’s statements to determine whether the circumstances surrounding the execution of the Will were suspicious. PW-1/Respondent’s statements were examined to determine the Testator’s health around the time of the execution of the will. She testified that the Testator was in good health at the time of the execution of the will, although he had been suffering from asthma and cough for the past 5-6 years.

The Supreme Court also took into consideration the statement of DW-1/Appellant No. 1 who stated that 3 months before the death of the Testator, the Testator was not in good physique and was bed ridden for 3 months and she was taking care of him.

The Apex Court observed that the reason behind giving away 3.5 acres of land to the Respondent can be easily inferred from the material evidence. The Respondent took care of the Testator in his dying days while his wife was away attending her brother’s marriage, which was duly admitted by DW-1. Hence, the Hon’ble Court upheld the verdict given by the High Court. The Supreme Court also observed that the Appellants had mentioned in their written statements that they were still reaping the benefits of the contested and other properties that the Testator had left for them.

The Apex Court also took consideration of the fact that the Appellants had not provided the para-wise Reply in their Written Statement against the Plaint filed by the Plaintiff/Respondent. The Supreme Court relied on Order VIII Rules 3 and 5 of Code of Civil Procedure 1908, (CPC) (Denial to be specific), (Specific denial) which clearly provides for specific admission and denial of the pleadings in the Plaint. A general or evasive denial is not treated as sufficient.

The Apex Court also relied on the judgement of Lohia Properties (P) Ltd., Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Assam Vs. Atmaram Kumar (1993) 4 SCC 6 and reiterated the Para 14 and 15 of the judgement-

“14. What is stated in the above is, what amount to admit a fact on pleading while Rule 3 of Order 8 requires that the defendant must deal specifically with each allegation of fact of which he does not admit the truth.”

“15. Rule 5 provides that every allegation of fact in the plaint, if not denied in the written statement shall be taken to be admitted by the defendant. What this rule says is, that any allegation of fact must either be denied specifically or by a necessary implication or there should be at least a statement that the fact is not admitted. If the plea is not taken in that manner, then the allegation shall be taken to be admitted.”


The Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal filed by the Appellants and upheld the decision of Madras High Court by holding the Will as valid. The Apex Court also placed emphasis on importance of specific denial in the Written Statement against the pleadings of the Plaintiff. The Supreme Court also reiterated that if the plea is not specifically denied, then the allegation shall be taken to be admitted by the Defendants.

Editor’s Comments

Genuineness of a will is generally determined by the following facts a) Testamentary capacity of the testator, b) The will is dated, signed and witnessed, c) Absence of coercion, c) Intent of the testator, d) Proper disposal of property etc. In the event, that a will specially a registered will satisfies the above conditions, Courts will not interfere with the testator’s last wish. This is because Courts understand that a deceased testator cannot give evidence and as such the Court will have to look at surrounding circumstances and the evidence of the witnesses.  By and large disgruntled beneficiaries approach the Court claiming collusion, undue influence etc. only to ensure that they get all the properties. In most cases, the claims are not genuine and the Court can see through these fraudulent claims. In the above-mentioned case also, the Wife no. 3 and her daughter were dissatisfied Beneficiaries who failed in their duties to look after the Testator but were unwilling to accept his wish of having given some of the property to the niece who served him well in his last days.






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