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Raman Namboodiri Vs. Chaldean Syrian Bank Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.S. No. 106 of 1956 (M)
Judge
Reported inAIR1960Ker84
ActsSuccession Act, 1925 - Sections 214
AppellantRaman Namboodiri
RespondentChaldean Syrian Bank Ltd.
Appellant Advocate V.P. Gopalan Nambiar and; V.M. Karunakaran Nair, Advs.
Respondent Advocate T.S. Venkiteswara Iyer and; C.S. Ananthakrishna Iyer, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredVenkatalakshmi Ammal v. Central Bank of India Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....debt due to deceased without production of succession certificate - person who owes debt to deceased person is under no legal obligation to pay debt to person who does not produce succession certificate. - - 2. the plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest ra-man nambudiri deceased, had a savings as well as a fixed deposit account at the time of his death on 15-12-1953 with defendant, messrs. on demand by the plaintiff for transfer in his name of the amounts concerned, the defendants first required a consent statement from all the members of the illom and subsequently on the plaintiff's failure to produce the same, they called for a succession certificate. so much so, a court cannot pass a decree against its terms even if it is otherwise satisfied that the plaintiff is the real..........left by raman nambudiri, the plaintiff and his minor sons were made the sole legatees of these bank deposits. on demand by the plaintiff for transfer in his name of the amounts concerned, the defendants first required a consent statement from all the members of the illom and subsequently on the plaintiff's failure to produce the same, they called for a succession certificate. the plaintiff obtained succession, certificate on 22-10-1954, but limited to the savings deposit, the bank insisted upon a succession certificate for the entire amount, the plaintiff did not comply but filed this suit soon after, on 7-6-1955 demanding both the deposit amounts with all interest till date.3. the summons in the case was served to the defendants on 14-6-1955. entering appearance on 9-7-1955, the.....
Judgment:

V. Iyengar, J.

1. This appeal raises the question whether a person deriving title under the registered will of a deceased creditor, can claim to recover the debt due to the deceased, without production of a succession certificate.

2. The plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest Ra-man Nambudiri deceased, had a savings as well as a fixed deposit account at the time of his death on 15-12-1953 with defendant, Messrs. Chaldean Syrian Bank Ltd., Trichur. Under the registered will dated 3-6-1946 left by Raman Nambudiri, the plaintiff and his minor sons were made the sole legatees of these bank deposits. On demand by the plaintiff for transfer in his name of the amounts concerned, the defendants first required a consent statement from all the members of the illom and subsequently on the plaintiff's failure to produce the same, they called for a succession certificate. The plaintiff obtained succession, certificate on 22-10-1954, but limited to the savings deposit, The Bank insisted upon a succession certificate for the entire amount, The plaintiff did not comply but filed this suit soon after, on 7-6-1955 demanding both the deposit amounts with all interest till date.

3. The summons in the case was served to the defendants on 14-6-1955. Entering appearance on 9-7-1955, the defendants paid off the amounts covered by the succession certificate and set-up contest as to the plaintiff's balance claim without however depositing into Court the same or any portion thereof. Apparently on legal advice the plaintiff thereafter applied for and obtained extension certificate in respect of the fixed deposit amount and all the interest therein till date and filed the same in court on 8-11-1955. The defendants thereupon deposited into court the principal amount of Rs. 15,000 and interest thereon for the one year term only under the receipt ending 7-4-1954, amounting in all Rs. 15,675. The questions were therefore (i) the liability of the defendants for interest on the F.D., from 8-4-1954 and (ii) what should he the order as to costs.

4. On the first question, the Court below found that in the absence of production of succession certificate, the plaintiff was not entitled to demand the fixed deposit amount, and no further interest till suit was therefore payable. On the second question the court below found that the defendants were liable so far as the savings deposit was concerned, because they had no excuse to withhold the same even after the production of the succession certificate. The defendants were however exempt from liability for costs as regards the fixed deposit, because the suit had been necessitated by the plaintiffs default to obtain succession certificate. Hence this appeal by the plaintiff on the interest and costs disallowed; and learned counsel for the plaintiff says that the plaintiff cannot be denied interest from 28-2-1953, the date of his demand notice and also his costs in any event.

5. Now Section 214 of the Indian Succession Act (39 of 1925) forbids among others, the passing by a court of a decree against a debtor of a deceased person for payment of his debt to a person claiming on succession to be entitled to the effects of the deceased person or to any part thereof, except on production by the person so claiming of a succession certificate granted under Part X and having the debt specified therein. This section has been held to be mandatory. So much so, a court cannot pass a decree against its terms even if it is otherwise satisfied that the plaintiff is the real heir or the successor of the deceased. A conditional decree directing the production of a certificate before the execution of the decree has even been held to be illegal, And if the succession certificate is not produced before the decree and after an opportunity is given to the plaintiff, the only order the court can pass upon the suit is to dismiss it. So it was held in Ramurti v. Padmanabha, AIR 1932 Mad 301:

'An executor appointed by a will, for which probate need not be obtained is not exempted from the requirement of Section 214 to produce a succession certificate before he can get a decree for a debt due to the testator's estate. The words of the section clearly include such an executor.'

and the Court observed that the opinion of the Full Bench in Ramaiah v. Venkatasubbamma ILR 49 Mad 261; AIR 1928 Mad 434 regarding the vesting of the testator's property in an executor by a will for which probate is unnecessary, does not affect this question. And similarly the provisions in the Wills Act for the making of wills among others by registration was held not to affect this requirement as to succession certificate. See Ga-neshan v. Nadan Kutty, 10 Trav LJ 200. Reference may also be made to Thaker Das v. Firm Bashi Mal Kishen Chand, 64 Ind Cas 385 (Lab), where it was held on this exact question:

'A person who owes a debt to a deceased person is under no legal obligation to pay the debt to any person who does not produce a certificate or probate or Letters of Administration or some authority to collect the debts due to the deceased person. He can admit the liability but refuse to pay until his interests are safeguarded.'

6. Learned Counsel For the appellant referred to Venkatalakshmi Ammal v. Central Bank of India Ltd., (1956) 2 Mad LJ 114. There, a widow was claiming under the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act (18 of 1937), the amounts held by her husband under a savings bank account and Ramaswami J., held following the rule already settled that a claim by inheritance by virtue of special statutory right did not entail the taking out of a succession certificate, and the position of the widow was not made worse by there being a will in her favour which did not either enlarge or curtail her right to take her property of her husband as if her own. No doubt the learned Judge animadverted against the bank's requirement of a succession certificate in the face of a registered moffusal will 'which need not be probated', and particularly when it was a case of 'Home Savings Safe' where the cost of obtaining succession certificate would practically wipe off the interest on the deposit. But these observations cannot with respect, be held to lay down the law.

7. In this case the defendants were willing in the first instance to accommodate with a mere consent statement from all the illom members but the plaintiff was unable to help himself. The fact that subsequently the bank insisted upon production or a succession certificate means only that they stood upon their legal right. We do not of course commend their tardiness in the matter of payment into court, soon after suit. But that earned for them the liability in interest for the period after service On them of the summons till actual deposits, viz., 15-6-1955 to 24-11-1955, on all the amounts of Rs. 15,675. The decree of the court below is in the circumstances right and does not call for any interference.

8. The appeal fails in the result and is dismissed with costs.


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