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Smt. Rajjoo Devi Vs. Nageshwar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Nos. 74 and 75 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1965All267; [1964(9)FLR391]; (1965)ILLJ20All
ActsProvident Funds Act, 1925 - Sections 4(1) and 5(2); Succession Act, 1925 - Sections 370 and 372
AppellantSmt. Rajjoo Devi
RespondentNageshwar and ors.
Advocates:Harish Chandra, Adv.
DispositionRevision allowed
Excerpt:
..... - - they also alleged that girja dutt pandey sad made an oral will in their favour and in favour of ram kishore and ram swarup. 2. the revision applications came up before the for hearing on march 10, 1964. the question primarily before me is whether there has been a failure on the part of the learned district judge to exercise jurisdiction vested in him. ' after considering the question, their lordships were of opinion that the railway company did not act in good faith and were not entitled to the indemnity afforded by section 7 of the provident funds act, 1925. the 1935 decision was before their lordships......no. 4 of 1959.both the appeals were dealt with together. by judgment dated 27th february, 1961 the learned district judge. unnao allowed both the appeals holding that no succession certificate could be granted in respect of provident fund money. he relied merely on a decision reported in assam bengal rlv. v. atul chandra son : air1937cal314 . against that judgment shrimati rajjoo devi has filed two revision applications as two appeals had been filed before the district judge. both the revision applications arise out of the same case and the parties are the same. they have been argued together. i have heard the learned counsel for the applicant and the learned counsel for nagesh-war. the other two opposite parties are absent in both the revision applications despite service. this judgment.....
Judgment:

B.N. Nigam, J.

1. Shrimati Rajjoo filed an application under Section 372 of the Indian Succession Act of 1925 praying for a succession certificate in respect of Rs. 1315/12/- at the credit of Girja Dutt Pandey, a peon in the Railway Department as his provident fund. Girja Dutt Pandey retired from service on 27th May, 1954 but before he could withdraw the amount he died on 29th October, 1954. The petitioner claimed herself to be the sister of Girja Dutt Pandey. Three other persons laid claim to the same amount. Radhey Shiam and Radha Krishna stated that they were the sister's song of Girja Dutt Pandey. They also alleged that Girja Dutt Pandey sad made an oral will in their favour and in favour of Ram Kishore and Ram Swarup.

It is further pleaded that Shrimati Rajjoo had executed a deed of relinquishment in favour of her sister's sons. Wageshwar also laid claim to the amount as descendant from a common ancestor Daya Ram. The parties proceeded to trial on the basis of nine issues. The learned Munsif was finally of the opinion that Shrimati Rajjoo Devi was entitled to the amount in dispute. Against that order, two appeals were preferred before the District Judge, Unnao. Radhey Shiam and Radha Krishna preferred Miscellaneous Civil Appeal No. 3 of 1959 and Nageshwar preferred Miscellaneous Civil Appeal No. 4 of 1959.

Both the appeals were dealt with together. By judgment dated 27th February, 1961 the learned District Judge. Unnao allowed both the appeals holding that no succession certificate could be granted in respect of provident fund money. He relied merely on a decision reported in Assam Bengal Rlv. v. Atul Chandra Son : AIR1937Cal314 . Against that judgment Shrimati Rajjoo Devi has filed two revision applications as two appeals had been filed before the District Judge. Both the revision applications arise out of the same case and the parties are the same. They have been argued together. I have heard the learned counsel for the applicant and the learned counsel for Nagesh-war. The other two opposite parties are absent in both the revision applications despite service. This judgment will govern both the revision petitions.

2. The revision applications came up before the for hearing on March 10, 1964. The question primarily before me is whether there has been a failure on the part of the learned District Judge to exercise jurisdiction vested in him. For a decision of that question, it is necessary to decide whether a succession certificate can be granted in respect of this amount. The question whether Shrimati Rajjoo Devi would be entitled to get the certificate has not been discussed by the learned District Judge on merits, ana, therefore, if it is held that a succession certificate can be granted, the matter will have to go back to the learned District Judde for a hearing on merits.

3. The contention of the learned counsel for the applicant is that a succession certificate could have been granted in respect of this amount. On the other hand, Mr. P. S. Trivedi who appears for Nageshwar has contended that the amount at the credit of a subscriber to a provdent fund is not a debt or a security and, therefore, a succession certificate cannot be granted. Learned counsel has referred me to Section 4 of the Provident Funds Act of 1925. The relevant portion of this section reads as follows:--

'When under the rules or any Government or Railway Provident Fund the sum standing to the credit of any subscriber .....has become payable ..... shall pay the sum .....to the subscriber or depositor, or, if he is dead, shall-

(a) .....

(b) If the whole sum or balance, as the case may be, does not exceed five thousand rupees,.....pay the same, .....to any person nominated to receive it under the rules of the Fund, or, if no person is so nominated, to any person appearing to him to be otherwise entitled to receive it; or

(c) in the case of any sum or balance .....which is not payable to any person under Clause (a) or (b) pay the same,--

(i) to any person nominated to receive it under the rules of the Fund, on production by such person of probate or letters of administration evidencing the grant to him of administration to the estate of the deceased or a certificate granted under the Succession Certificate Act, 1889.....entitling the holder thereof to receive payment of such sum, balance, or part.....' This section, in my opinion, itself envisages that in certain contingencies a succession certificate should be obtained to establish the light of persons claiming the amount, to receive the money. There is a reference to the Rules of the Raliway Provident Funds. Mr. P. S. Trivedi took time to obtain a copy of these rules, but on the next day he did not rely on the provisions of any such rules.

4. Section 5(2) of the Provident Funds Act, 1925 lays down as follows:

'Notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Succession Act, 1925 ...., any person, who becomes entitled to as aforesaid, may be granted a certificate under that Act .....entitling him to receive payment of such Bum or part, and such certificate shall not be deemed to be invalidated or superseded by any grant to any other person of probate or letters of administration to the estate of the deceased.'

I am, therefore, of opinion mat considering the matter under the Provident Funds Act, a succession certificate can be obtained in certain contingencies. It, therefore, follows that this Act itself envisages that a succession certificate may be issued by the Court in respect of Provident Fund money.

5. Learned counsel lor the opposite parties has relied on two decisions. The first is a case of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Smt. Hira Devi : [1952]1SCR765 it was held that a Receiver could not be appointed in respect of the Provident Fund money. Discussing the case of Jankinath v. Pramatha Nath 44 Cal W N 2fil at p. 266 their Lordships at p. 230, column No. 1 held as follows: --

Possibly the view was taken that on the death of the employee and in the absence of any dependent or nominee becoming entitled to the fund under the rules, it became money payable to the heirs of the deceased and lost its original nature of being a compulsory deposit.'

This passage which has been relied upon by the learned counsel to suggest that the money in the provident fund fe trust money and not a debt or security in respect of which a succession certificate may be issued, does not, in my opinion, support the contention of the learned counsel. In that case the Supreme Court was not discussing the question whether a succession certificate could issue in respect of an amount held in the provident fund. The decision mainly proceeded on the definition of 'compulsory deposit' in Section 2(a) of the Provident Funds Act (Act XIX of 1925) and particularly the last portion of the definition:

'and also any such subscription, deposit, contribution, interest or increment remaining to the credit of the subscriber or depositor after the happening of any such contingency.'

I am, therefore, of opinion that the learned counsel for the respondents cannot draw any support from this decision.

6. The other decision relied upon by the learned counsel is a decision of the Calcutta High Court in : AIR1937Cal314 . The facts indicate that the widow of Iyer had previously obtained a succession certificate in the Court of the District Judge, Trichinopoly. Subsequently, Atul Chandra Sen gave an application for a succession certificate in the Court of the District Judge of Chittagong. The certificate was refused. Atul Chandra Sen appealed. That decision is reported in Atul Chandra Sen v. Kaunammal : AIR1935Cal271 . According to the directions in that appellate judgment the matter was remanded to the District Judge and the District Judge granted a certificate to Atul Chandra Sen. Thereafter, Atul Chandra Sen made an attempt to realise the money from the Railway Company. There was difficulty and Atul Chandra Ben filed a civil suit. The main question before the Calcutta High Court was whether the Railway Company could be said to have made any payment in respect of a debt or security. It was said :--

'The real position of the Railway Company, or more accurately of the Railway Company's Provident Fund Institution was that it was in a sense a trustee (in one sense) of this fund on behalf or the person or persons ultimately entitled to participate in it.'

After considering the question, their Lordships were of opinion that the Railway Company did not act in good faith and were not entitled to the indemnity afforded by section 7 of the Provident Funds Act, 1925. The 1935 decision was before their Lordships. They even quoted from that Judgment but it is nowhere held that no succession certificate could be granted as the amount was not a debt or security. The previous decision was also a Bench decision and was binding on the latter Bench. In fact, their Lordships, deciding the 1937 case nowhere indicated any difference of opinion with the earlier decision.

7. The other decisions cited before me have really no great Importance. In Secy. of State v. Har Charan Das : AIR1929All417 , it was held that the provident fund was not attachable. In Mon Singh v. Mothi Bal AIR 1936 Mad 477. It was held that the heir of the nominee was entitled to the succession certificate. Actually this was a case in which an application for a succession certificate had been moved. In re Coses Farnandez, AIR 1933 Sind 101 it was held that a probate or a succession certificate was necessary If the amount was in excess of a certain figure.

8. Considering all the arguments before me, I am of opinion that the application for succession certificate was validly presented and the decision of the learned District Judge holding that no succession certificate could be granted, is not correct. The result is that the Judgment of the learned District Judge is set aside and both the miscellanous appeals will now be restored to their original number and be disposed of in accordance with law. The record will be returned to the Court of the District Judge Unnao without avoidable delay. These revision applications are allowed with costs against Nageshwar, opposite party, for he alone has contested the applications.


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