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Cirumstances at time of will execution crucial: SC
December, 26th 2006

The Supreme Court has held that for a will to be valid, signature of the testator alone would not be sufficient and it also has also to be proved that he/she was in proper state of mind at the time of making the will.

"The propounder is required to prove that testator has signed the will, and he had put his signature out of his own free will having a sound disposition of mind," said a bench comprising of Justices S B Sinha and Markandey Katju.

The case involved the Will of Umeshchandra Joshi, owner of Ramtirth Brahmi Hair Oil company, who had seven sons and three daughters but he had bequeathed all his property on his second son, depriving the rest.

The will was drafted in the ICU of a hospital where he was undergoing treatment. He was being treated by a doctor who was a student of the beneficiary. The will was executed in the presence of two witnesses who were also close to the beneficiary.

Family members who were deprived questioned the genuineness of the Will and accused the beneficary of playing fraud on family members.

Raising suspicion on the cirumstances surrounding the will a division Judge Bench of High Court held that the witnesses to the will are interested persons, and evidence adduced in support of execution of the will was unsatifactory.

Upholding the verdict of High Court, the Supreme Court also took notice of the meticulously drafted bill and held "When he was admitted in ICU, he would not be permitted to carry documents. It is unnatural that he would remember all the detail of his assets."

"An inference can, therefore, be safely drawn that Appellant (Beneficiary) had a role to play in execution of the will," the bench held.

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