1. This application for the issue of letters of administration with the copy of a will annexed was made by Mt. Nanhi and Devi Prasad. The will was alleged to have been executed by B. Kunj Behari Lal, the father of Mt. Nanhi and the grand-father of Devi Prasad. There was an objection by B. Kunj Behari Lal's second wife and her daughter. The application was that letters of administration should be issued to the Administrator-General. The question arose whether a third party could make an application of that kind and ultimately the Administrator-General was substituted with the consent of the Court for the original applicants. The question now is whether letters of administration should be issued to the Administrator-General. Two issues were framed on the objections of the other party, namely, (i) Was the will of 6th December 1932, validly executed by Kunj Behari Lal? and (2) Is the Administrator. General legally entitled to obtain letters of administration as claimed by him on the facts alleged?
2. On issue 1 a witness, Muhammad Azhar, a son of Syed Jawad Husain, has been examined. He has proved that the 'will was executed by Kunj Behari Lal in proper form and there is no reason to disbelieve his evidence. It is now not seriously contested that the will was validly executed. My finding on issue 1 is that the will of 6th December 1982 was validly executed by Kunj Behari Lal Issue 2 has given rise to considerable legal argument. It was argued by the objectors that letters of administration could be issued to the Administrator-General only under the provisions of Sections 9, 10 or 11, Administrator General's Act. At one time it seemed to me that this was a good argument because Section 8 upon which the applicants relied seemed merely to set forth an order of preference, that is, seemed to lay down only that the Administrator-General where he had a right to the issue of letters of administration was to be preferred to creditors or legatees other than universal legatees or friends of the deceased. On consideration, however, I have come to the conclusion that the Administrator-General is entitled to obtain letters of administration in this case. I have been mainly influenced by the provisions of Section 7 of the Act which says:
Any letters of administration, which are granted after the commencement of this Act by the High Court shall be granted to the Administrator-General of the division unless they are granted to the next-of-kin of the deceased.
3. There can be only one meaning to the words of this section. Letters of administration issued by a High Court can be issued only to the next-of-kin of the deceased or to the Administrator-General. Sections 9, 10 and 11 of the Act refer only to persons who are not exempted within the meaning of definition of exempted persons or to persons who live within the local limits of the ordinary civil jurisdiction of the High Courts at Presidency Towns. The person who executed the will was an exempted person and his assets were not within the local limits to which I have referred. The provisions of Sections 9,10 or 11 of the Act do not apply to him. If the provisions of Section 7 of the Act were not read to mean that letters of administration could be issued to the Administrator-General of the division even in respect of the estate of an exempted person, then for such an estate no letters of administration could be issued except to the next-of kin and that would have been contrary to the provisions of Section 231, Succession Act. It is true that the provisions of the Succession Act cannot be read to affect the rights of an Administrator General, but I do not think that the Administrator-General's Act without specifically saying so would have contemplated a repeal of the provisions of the Succession Act applied to persons other than the Administrator-General of a division. I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that the Administrator-General may apply for letters of administration in respect of any estate and that S. 8, Administrator-General's Act, must be read so as to mean that he will have a right in preference to creditors or legatees other than universal legatees or friends of the deceased in any Court other than a High Court. In a High Court, of course, he has preference under Section 7 over every body except the next-of -kin. Learned Counsel also drew my attention to Sections 31, 32 and 37, Administrator-General's Act. These sections would not be conclusive in my judgment. Section 31 applies only to the grant of certificates to certain persons by the Administrator-General that they are entitled to the assets of small estates valued at less than Rs. 2000/ and Section 32 says only that the Administrator General, if he does not issue a certificate in respect of these estates, may administer them without taking out letters of administration provided that the estates are not those of exempted persons or not within certain local limits. Section 32 does not say that the Administrator-General may not administer small estates of exempted persons if he obtains letters of administration. I am satisfied that letters of administration may issue to the Administrator-General in this case.
4. The second argument addressed to me by learned counsel for the objectors is that the Court has discretion and that it should not issue letters of administration because the objector who is the widow of the deceased is the sole legatee and is in possession of the estate. The position is that the deceased by his will left all his property to his widow for her life. After her death it was to go to her daughter and his other daughter by his first wife and after the deaths of the two daughters it was to pass to the other applicant, Devi Prasad and the sons of Mt. Nanhi. The property consists of certain houses and of a sum of Rs. 30,000 invested in cash certificates. That at least is the allegation of the applicant. The objectors in their objection said that the whole of the cash certificates were not the property of the estate and therefore there is obviously some dispute upon that question. Learned Counsel for the objectors has suggested that he might, if the case is adjourned, obtain an admission from his clients that the whole of the cash certificates are the property of the estate and consequently that there is no dispute which would justify the appointment of the Administrator. General to administer the estate. It does not seem to me that an admission if obtained now would greatly affect the issue. There is no doubt that the application was made because it was feared that the widow, who is in possession at the moment of the immovable property and who would, if the application was dismissed, obtain possession of the cash certificates, might realise the money due on the latter and spend it in which case the original applicants would have no redress. Prima facie it appears that the widow would have no other assets from which the original applicants could recover any amount which the widow had chosen to spend. In these circumstances it seems to me that there is justification for the appointment of the Administrator. General to administer the estate. Doubtless this will give rise to some expenditure, but the widow can scarcely complain because she took no steps to take out letters of administration herself or to guarantee the original applicants against loss in respect of the possibility of her disposing of the cash certificates. On the other hand, she must have raised considerable apprehension in their minds by her claim that some of the cash certificates which are recorded in her name or the name of her own daughter were not the property of the estate.
5. I may mention that learned counsel for the objectors has also raised the argument that the Administrator-General is not entitled to letters of administration because the widow is the universal legatee and while she is alive, no other person has any right. There is no force in this argument because the widow has taken no steps to take out letters of administration. She was, of course, not bound to do so, but if she failed to do so, that left it open to the Administrator-General to step in as he has done and there is nothing in the Succession Act, as I have already said, which can affect the rights of the Administrator-General. In these circumstances I grant the prayer made by the Administrator-General and direct that letters of administration be granted to him with the will annexed. The costs of these proceedings will be paid out of the estate.