Trevelyan and Banerjee, JJ.
1. These two appeals arise out of an order made by the learned District Judge of Patna.
2. The facts, so far as they are material for the purpose of these cases, are very shortly these: A man named Mahadeo Pershad died in December 1894 leaving a will, probate of which was given to his widow, who died on the 29th August 1896. Mahadeo Pershad left a son who was then and is still a minor. The Court of Wards has obtained possession of the estate under the powers given to it by the Court of Wards' Act. At one time it seems that the Collector on behalf of the Court of Wards obtained an order appointing him Manager of the Estate under Act VIII of 1890. But under Section 42 of that Act he was subsequently discharged, so the matter is at present quite free from the effect of that order. The Collector has now applied to the Judge for letters of administration. An application has also been made by two ladies, Ganjessar Koer and Mohan Koer, who claim to be relations of the minor, and as such entitled to administer the estate of which the minor is the heir, namely, the estate of his father.
3. The learned District Judge has granted letters of administration to the Court of Wards and dismissed the application made by the ladies.
4. It is admitted by the learned Advocate-General that the Court of Wards is not a person, and that letters of administration cannot under the law be granted to it. It is obvious that the powers of the Court of Wards are limited by the terms of the Court of Wards Act. It is not necessary for us to go at any length into that question, as it has not been contested. It follows, therefore, that the order granting letters of administration to the Court of Wards cannot stand and must be set aside. The result is that the petition of the Collector must be dismissed with costs in both Courts.
5. With regard to the application made by the ladies, the learned Advocate-General suggests to us that there is no necessity for granting letters of administration at all, the property being in the hands of the Court of Wards. But we think that it is clear from the judgment of the learned District Judge that the ladies' application has not been considered independently and apart from the application of the Collector. It was only because the learned Judge thought that administration should be given to the Court of Wards that he dismissed the application of the ladies. Inasmuch as, in our opinion, the application of the Collector was a wrong one, the ladies are entitled to a consideration of their application. It maybe that on such consideration being given to it, it might appear that there is nothing to administer, nothing but the interest of the heir, and that that interest is in the hands of the Court of Wards. But if there be anything to administer then the question arises who is to be appointed administrator. The ladies are entitled to be heard on that question. There is a provision in Section 31 of the Probate and Administration Act for granting of letters of administration with the will annexed where a minor is the sole residuary legatee. In that case letters may be granted to the legal guardian of such minor or to such other person as the Court shall think fit. The learned Judge will have to act under that section if he finds that there is property which ought to be administered according to law. It must be understood that in all that we have said we are not expressing any opinion as to whether it is possible for the Collector in any way to acquire a sufficient status to oppose the application of the ladies. With regard to costs in the case in which the ladies are the applicants, we think that the proper order is that the costs of the appeal to this Court do abide the result.