Ghose and Gordon, JJ.
1. This is an appeal against an order of the District Judge of 24-Pargannas made on the application of Annopurna Dasi for letters of administration in respect of the estate left by one Boroda Prosad Bysack. This gentleman died some years ago, leaving the petitioner Annopurna Dasi, his widow, as his lawful heir. She has ever since the death of Boroda Prosad been in possession of the estate : she now applies for letters of administration.
2. The reason why letters of administration are now required is said to be this, that the estate is heavily involved, that is to say, there is a debt to the extent of Rs. 25,000, and this debt has to be discharged, and that it would be necessary to obtain the permission of the District Judge before any portion of the estate could be sold or mortgaged in order to raise money for the purpose in question.
3. This application was opposed by her daughter Kallayani Dasi and one of her grandsons, Lal Behari Bysack. They alleged, in the first instance, that no letters of administration were required; and secondly, that should the Court think it necessary to grant letters of administration, one or either of them might be associated with the lady in the administration.
4. Evidence was gone into in the Court below with a view to show how the estate had been managed since the death of Boroda Prosad; and an attempt was made on behalf of the opposite party to show that there had been a great deal of mismanagement or malversation by somebody or other. But the learned District Judge is of opinion that although the debt of Rs. 19,000 which was left by Boroda Prosad has now increased to Rs. 25,000, still it has not been shown that Annopurna has misapplied any money. The Judge is apparently of opinion, so far as we can gather from his judgment, that the main reason why the estate is involved is that the lady has had to support a large number of dependants, inclusive of the family of her daughter. It appears that her daughter, her daughter's husband, and her daughter's father-in-law, and a number of children born to her daughter, have been living with the lady, as well as her brother Panchanan Mallik. The lady has had to spend a great deal of money upon these individuals, and has had to give away in marriage several children born to her daughter, educate them, and incur various other expenses consequent upon their being with her. No doubt, as it seems to us, there has been some mismanagement of the estate, otherwise we cannot conceive how, with the income that the estate yields, which we understand to be about Rs. 900 a month, the debts went on increasing year after year, and no strenuous effort was made to diminish the liabilities.
5. But it appears that it was conceded before the learned District Judge by the opposite side, that there was a necessity to the extent of Rs. 25,000, and that some steps should be taken in order to clear off the debts. That being so, we do not think that it is necessary for the purpose of the present proceeding to enquire any further into the reasons which led to the debts increasing year after year.
6. The District Judge is apparently of opinion, so far as we can gather from his judgment, that letters of administration should be granted to the petitioner but he is at the same time of opinion that such letters of administration should be granted clogged with a condition, and that condition is that either her daughter or her grandson should be joined with her in the grant.
7. We do not think that this order is warranted by the Probate and Administration Act. Under Section 23 or the Act, letters of administration should be granted to such person who, according to the rules for the distribution of the estate of an intestate, would be entitled to the whole or any part of the estate. So that the applicant Annopurna Dasi was entitled under that section to the letters of administration which she asked for. No doubt it was quite open to the Judge to refuse her application upon sufficient grounds; but that is not what he has done.
8. The Judge has proceeded upon Section 41 of the Probate Act in directing that either Kallayani Dasi or Lal Behari Bysack should be associated with the applicant in the administration of the estate. We have carefully considered this section and other sections of the Act which bear upon this matter; and we do not think that the Judge has taken a right view. We think that Section 41 applies to a case whore, for some just cause, the person who is legally entitled to letters of administration ought to be superseded, and the grant made to another person. As we read the Act, there is no authority for saying that it is in the power of the District Judge, acting under Section 41 to direct that somebody else, who has no present interest in the estate, should be associated with the person who under Section 23 is legally entitled to letters of administration. That being so, we think that the learned District Judge has erred in holding that the grant of administration to the applicant should be clogged with the condition mentioned.
9. We have had some hesitation in making up our mind as to whether, regard being had to the fact that there has been some mismanagement, letters of administration should be granted to the applicant. But after full consideration, we do not think we should he justified in refusing her application. We have however, considered how the action of the applicant in the management of the estate could be controlled. There are one or two sections of the Probate Act which bear upon this matter, and to which we would desire to call attention. One is Section 781 under which it is incumbent upon the District Court to call upon the administrator to give security; and the other is Section 98, under which an executor or administrator is to submit accounts from time to time; and it seems to us that if these two sections of the Act be kept in view, and if the applicant be called upon by the District Judge from time to time to submit proper accounts, much of the evils which are now complained of, and which we think do exist would be avoided.
10. We accordingly direct that the order of the District Judge be set aside, and that letters of administration be granted to the applicant without any condition but subject to this, that before letters of administration are granted to her, she should give sufficient security to the satisfaction of the District Judge, and that the District Judge should see that she does submit proper accounts from time to time in accordance with Section 982. We make no order as to costs.
1 Administration bond.
[Section 78: Every person to whom any grant of letters of administration is committed, and, if the Judge so direct, any person to whom probate is granted, shall give a bond to the Judge of the District Court to enure for the benefit of the Judge for the time being, with one or more surety or sureties, engaging for the due collection, getting in, and administering the estate of the deceased, which bond shall be in such form as the Judge from time to time by any general or special order directs.]
2 Inventory and account.
[Section 98: An executor or administrator shall within six months from the grant of probate or letters of administration, exhibit in the Court by which the same has or have been granted an inventory containing a full and true estimate of all the property in possession, and all the credits, and also all the debts owing by any person or persons to which the executor or administrator is entitled in that character, and shall in like manner, within one year from the date aforesaid, exhibit an account of the estate, showing the assets that have come to his hands, and the manner in which they have been applied or disposed of.]