Topic: Rani Purnima Debi and another vs. Kumar Khagendra Narayan Deb and another

Rani Purnima Debi and another vs. Kumar Khagendra Narayan Deb and another
Bench: Wanchoo, K.N., Gupta, K.C. Das, Dayal, Raghubar - Citation: 1962 Air 567 1962 Scr Supl. (3) 195 - Citator Info : F 1964 Sc 529 (4), F 1974 Sc1999 (7), R 1982 Sc 133 (7,8), F 1990 Sc 396 (21) - Date Of Judgment: 22/08/1961


ACT:
Will-Proof-Suspicious circumstances surrounding execution- Registration of Mill, if dispels all suspicions.

HEADNOTE:
One K    filed an application for the grant of     letters of administration    with the will attached.     This will gave     the entire    property to K, a distant relation of the testator, subject     to K maintaining the testator's widow    and sister; other relations including the testator's daughter    were completely left out. There were     other     suspicious circumstances surrounding the will viz., that the testator's signatures were not his usual signatures and were not in the same ink as the rest of the will and that the testator    used to sign blank papers for use in his cases in court and    used to send them to his lawyer through his servants. The    will was later registered without the testator appearing before the sub-registrar and the sub-registrar only    sending     his clerk to the residence of the testator for the purpose.     Out of 16    persons who signed the will as    attesting witnesses only 4     were produced to prove the will. The    trial court held that the     will was duly    executed and attested     and ordered the issue of letters of administration with the will annexed to K. 'On appeal the High Co t affirmed the order of the trial court holding that the suspicious circumstances were dispelled by the registration of the will. Held, that the due execution and attestation of the    will were not proved. In view of the suspicious circumstances it was the duty of the propounder of the will to prove     due execution and attestation by satisfactory evidence which would lead the court to the conclusion that the suspicious circumstances had been dispelled. This he had failed to do. The four attesting witnesses produced were interested     and unreliable; none of the independent witnesses who bad signed the will were produced. The mere fact that the will     was registered was     not by itself     sufficient to     dispel     the suspicions without scrutiny of the evidence of registration. Registration would dispel the doubt as to the genuineness of the will only if it was made in such a manner that it     was brought     home to the testator that the document of which he was admitting execution was a will disposing of his property and the testator thereafter admitted     its execution     and signed    in token thereof. In the present case, the regis- tration     was done in a perfunctory manner and the evidence did not establish that the testator knew that the document the

execution of which he admitted before    the sub-registrar's clerk was his     will.     The witnesses produced to prove registration, even if they    are treated as attesting witnesses, failed to prove due execution and     attestation of the will.

H.Venkatachala Iyengar v. B. N. Thimmajamma, (1959) Supp. 1 S. C. R.1426, applied.

JUDGMENT:

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 373/587 Appeal by special leave from the judgment and decree dated February 2, 1954, of the Assam High Court in First Appeal No. 19 of 1950 (Probate).

S. P. Desai and Naunit Lal, for the appellants. K. R. Krishnaswami, for respondent No. 1.

1961.    August,22. The judgment of the Court was delivered by

WANCHOO, J.-This is an appeal by special leave against     the judgment of the Assam High Court in a probate matter.    The main appellant is Rani Purnima- Debi widow of Kumar Chandra 'Narayan. Deb (hereinafter called the testator), who    died in June 1946.     The second appellant     is the testator's married     daughter. And application was made by Kumar Khagendra Narayan Deb     (hereinafter referred     to as     the respondent) before the District Delegate, Gauhati in August 1946 for grant of letters of administration with the    will annexed. The case of the respondent was that the testator had executed,a.will on December 29, 1943, in favour of     the respondent by which the, testator gave his ,entire property to the respondent subject to the respondent's     maintaining the testator's widow and sister. Objections were filed on behalf    of the     appellants to     the grant of     letters of administration on the basis of the will propounded by     the respondent and     three    main grounds were urged in    that connection, namely-(i)     that the will     was not duly     and legally.executed and attested, (ii) that the testator had no sound disposing mind at the time he executed the will,     and (iii) that the will was the ',outcome of unite influence and coercion exercised by     the respondent. While 'the application of the

respondent was pending, another application for probate of another     will said to have been executed by the testator' a few months before his death was made    by Kumar Dwijendra Narayan Deb. The appellants- objected to that will also on the same grounds and further added that will was a forgery 'Dwjendra Narayan did not dispute the     execution 'of     the will. in favour of the respondent but contended that    will had been revoked by the later will in his favour.     The respondent, however contended: that the '.will in favour of Kumar Dwijendra Narayan.Deb' was a for

The two suits     arising out of     the two applications     for probate     were. eventually tried together by the Subordinate Judge at Gauhati. He held that the,    will propounded by Kumar Dwijendra Narayan Deb was not genuine and therefore dismissed his    application. As 'to the win propounded by the, respondent it was held that it was duly executed     and attested and was made by the testator at a time when he     had sound disposing state of mind and that it was not made under any undue influence and coercion. Consequently     the application of     the respondent was allowed and     letters of administration    With the copy of the    will annexed were ordered to be issued to him.

This was followed by three appeals to the High Court.     One of the     appeals was by the present appellants and    they contested the issue of letters of administration in favour of     the resp ondent    the other two appeals were by     Kumar Dwijendra Narayan Deb.    By one appeal he contested the issue of letters of administration to the respondent and by     the other he contested the finding of' the Subordinate Judge that the will propounded-by him was not genuine. The three appeals were heard by the High Court together and it upheld the finding of the trial court that the will in favour     of Dwijendra Narayan was not genuine ; in     consequence, the,. two appears filed by him were dismissed. This order of     the High Court has become final and

we are not concerned in the present appeal with the    will propounded by    Dwijendre, Narayan. In the appeal. by     the appellants, the High Court upheld the findings of the trial court and dismissed the appeal. The High     Court     was conscious of the fact that there were     certain suspicious circumstances attending the execution of the     , will in favour of the respondent, but it held that as the will    pro- pounded     by the respondent was later registered     in January 1944 'the suspicion attending the execution of the will     was dispelled by the fact of registration. The     High Court therefore held that due, execution and attestation of     the will had been     proved     and it was also proved that     the testator was of sound disposing state of mind at the time of the execution    and that there was no undue influence, or coercion exercised on the testator by     the respondent in connection with the execution of the will.

The appeal before the High Court was heard by     a Division Bench and separate but concurring judgments were delivered by the learned Judges composing the Bench. Ram Labhaya J. who delivered the main judgment was not we much impressed by the alleged suspicious circumstances and held that whatever suspicion there might be was dispelled by the fact of     the registration of the will later.     The learned Chief Justice, who was the other Judge, and who substantially agreed    with Ram Labhaya J. was more impressed by the existence of suspicious circumstances relating to     the execution     and attestation of the will even so he held     that     the registration of the will was a complete answer to     the suspicious circumstances which undoubtedly existed in this. case.    In the     event both the     learned Judges agreed in dismissing the appeal.     Eventually the appellants came to this Court by way of special leave which was granted ;     and that is how the matter has come up before us. Before we consider the facts of this case it is well to     set out the principles which govern the,

proving     of a will. This was considered b this Court in H. Venkatachala Iyengar v. B. N. Thimmajamma(1). It     was observed in that case that the mode of proving a will     did not ordinarily differ     from that of     proving any other document except as to the special requirement of attestation prescribed in    the case of a will by s.63 of     the Indian Succession Act. The onus of proving the will was on     the propounder and in the absence of suspicious circumstances surrounding the execution of the will proof of    testamentary capacity and signature of the. testator as required by     law was sufficient to discharge the onus. Where, however, there were' suspicious circumstances, the onus would be on the propounder to explain them to the satisfaction of the Court before    the will could be accepted as genuine. If     the caveats alleged undue influence, fraud or coercion, the onus would be on him to prove the same. Even where there were no such plea,% but the circumstances gave rise to     doubts, it was for the propounder to satisfy the     conscience of     the Court.    Further, what are suspicious circumstances was    also considered in    this case. The alleged signature of     the testator might be very shaky and doubtful and    evidence in support     of the propounder's case that the signature in question was the signature of the testator might not remove the doubt created by the appearance of the signature.,     The condition of the testator's mind might appear to be    very feeble    and debilitated and evidence     adduced might     not succeed     in removing the legitimate doubt as to     the mental capacity of the testator ; the dispositions made in the will might appear to be unnatural, improbable or unfair in the light of relevant circumstances ; or     I the     will might otherwise indicate that the said dispositions might not be the result of the testator's free will and mind. In    such cases, the Court would naturally expect that all legitimate suspicions should be completely removed before the document was accepted as the last will of

(1) [1959] supp. 1 S.C.R.426.

the testator.,, Farther, a propounder himself might take a prominent part in the execution of the will which, conferred on him     substantial benefits.     If this was     so it     was generally treated as a suspicious circumstance attending the execution of the will and the propounder was    required to remove    the doubts by clear and satisfactory evidence.     But even where' there were suspicious circumstances and     the propounder succeeded in removing them, the Court would grant probate though the will might be unnatural and might cut off wholly or in part near relations.

It was urged before us that in view of concurrent findings of the courts below we should be slow to disturb them.     In view, however, of the suspicious circumstances noted by     the High Court and some differences in 'the approach of the     two learned,Judges    composing the Bench, we permitted learned counsel     for parties to go into the entire evidence so    that we may be able to judge whether the High Court was right in its conclusion that the fact of registration had dispelled all suspicions.

Let as now turn to the, facts relating to the execution of this will. We' have already pointed out that the High Court    was of     the view that there., were     suspicious circumstances attending the execution of the will and    that it was an unnatural will. The testator left behind him     his widow and his married daughter (who are appellants before us) and an unmarried sister who was dependent upon    him. Besides these, the testator had a number of other relations who were much nearer to him than the respondent. Even if we leave out of account the married daughter and the other nearer     relations, the widow-,'and,    the, sister    were certainly expected to be properlyprovided for     by the testator. It is not in dispute thatthe     relations between the testator and his wife and sister were good.     In these circumstances we should have expected something better than what is provided in the will for those two. All    that the will says is that the wife and the

sister would be suitably maintained by the respondent during their life-time. No amount is specified which should be given to these two ladies as maintenance and no charge is created     on the properties left by the testator     which    were considerable.    In effect, the two ladies were left to     the tender mercies     of the respondent in the matter of their maintenance. Further the result of this will is that the daughter would be completely disinherited. The testate or had a number of children but all have died many years before and only one daughter was alive at the time of     his death. She was married and on behalf of the propounder it is    Raid that the relations between the testator and her husband were not very happy. The evidence, however, does not show    that the relations between the testator and his son-in-law    were particularly strained at the time of the execution of     the will. In any case there is no satisfactory evidence to show that relations between the testator and his daughter    were bad even if the relations between him and his son-in-law were not of the best.    In the circumstances we should    have expected the testator     to make some     provision for     the daughter, particularly     when it is said that she was     not well-off. There is no doubt therefore that the will is most unnatural and that is a suspicious circumstance which    must be satisfactorily explained before the respondent can     get letters of administration.

Another suspicious circumstance is that the respondent    gets the sole benefit under the will subject to the     maintenance of the wife and the sister and he was certainly taking    part in the execution of the will on the date it was executed. In such ,circumstances the respondent was required to remove the said suspicion by clear    and satisfactory evidence. Whether     he has done so or not will be considered by us later.

Another suspicious circumstance is that the signature of the testator does not appear to be his usual signature. That is why a lot of questions

were put to the witnesses whether the testator     signed the will with his left hand or right hand and evidence was    also given that the right hand of the testator had been injured sometime before.

Another     suspicious circumstance is that it has been proved in this case that the testator used to sign blank papers for use in     his cases in court and used to send them to     his lawyer through his servants and these papers could be in the possession of Rameswar Sarma, the lawyer of the testator, who has appeared as a witness to prove the will and who was, according to his evidence, consulted by the testator in this matter.     Such papers could also be found in the possession of the testator's mukhtars. Therefore it was    possible to manufacture a will on papers already signed by the testator ; and that is certainly a suspicious circumstance which     had to be overcome in this case.

Lastly, the High Court has noticed that the signature of the testator is not in the same ink and may not be with the same pen with which the body of the will is written.     The difference in ink may not ordinarily be a matter for various suspicion; even so it has to be explained in the peculiar circumstances of this case when blank papers containing     the testator's signature were available.

Let us     now turn to the proof of execution that has    been given in this case to see if the suspicions raised above have been dispelled. The will was alleged to be executed at Na-hawli. It    bears the signatures of as many     as sixteen persons     as attesting witnesses ; but of these     only three were examined on behalf of the respondent. The respondent also appeared    in the witness box. These three attesting witnesses are Biswanath Bhattacharya, Rameswar     Sarma,     and Kulendra Narayan Deb. None of these witnesses     is independent and it was certainly possible for the respondent to produce other witnesses out of the sixteen who 203

would not be so interested in him. Bhattacharya is     the Purohit     of the respondent and that obviously makes him a person    interested in the respondent. Ku Kulendra Narayan Deb is the first cousin of the respondent and    therefore a near relation    who would be interested     in him. Rameswar Sarma is a lawyer. He was admittedly working for the test- ator as such    during his life-time.     He was questioned whether     after the death of the testator he had     become     the lawyer    of the respondent. He denied that. Obviously    this must have been done by him with the idea of posing that he was an independent witness; but his    son-in-law Dayanand Goswami, who had already appeared for the respondent, admitted that     Sarma    was the present pleader of     the respondent. It is obvious therefore that Sarma tried to pose as an independent witness by. denying what his son-in- law had already stated about his connection with     the respondent. In the circumstances he cannot also be held to be a disinterested witness, which he tried to be. Besides, none of these three witnesses belong to Na-hawli, where     the execution of the will took place. The evidence also shows that among the sixteen persons who attested the will there were persons who were both independent and respectable    like Banshidhar Goswami, a doctor, Jammi-ud-din, an elder of     the village     and Baneswar Deka, a retired Sarishtedar ; but no attempt     was made to produce these witnesses to     dispel     the suspicion arising from the circumstances which we    have already mentioned.

Apart from the witnesses being interested,     the actual evidence given by them also does not in our opinion dispel the suspicion    aroused     in this case.     Bhattacharya,     for example, said that he had been invited by the    testator to attend the adoption of respondent as his son and he went on that date to Na-hawli for that purpose. He further    said that he had gone on a cycle straight to Na-hawali and     did not meet anyone on the way. It seems strange 204

that this witness should have been invited to be present at an adoption when what the testator was intending to do     was to execute a will. Probably it was felt that a Purohit would be more     likely to be invited to an adoption     and therefore this     story    was put in his mouth. Further Bhattacharya is contradicted by the respondent and Kulendra Narayan     who say that Bhattacharya had been staying at Kulendra Narayan's place for two days before and had    gone from there to Na-hawli with the respondent and     his father and Kulendra Narayan. The story therefore that Bhattacharya was invited by the testator is obviously false and if he did go to    Na-hawli it must have been in the company of     the respondent and his father whose Purohit he was. As to the execution itself the witnesses differ on one    very important matter. Bhattacharya said that the wife of     the testator was also present at the execution of the will     and raised    no objection.     He was asked     if any one there suggested that she should also sign and he said that he     did not remember.    Kulendra Narayan also said that the wife of the testator was present when the will was executed and     did not object. He even went to the length of saying that     she said that what her husband wanted to do had been done and the respondent     was her son also. The     respondent on     the other hand says that the wife of the testator along with the other women was sitting in the doorway of a room adjoining the portico.    He does not suggest that the wife of     the testator was     present while     the will was executed. Similarly, Rameswara Sarma stated that the appellant    Rani was in the adjoining house about 20 yards away and did     not come near her husband when the will was executed. Now     the fact whether the appellant Rani was present or not when     the will was executed was of great importance and of the    four witnesses who have deposed about the execution of the    will including the respondent, two say one thing and the other two say something

quite contradictory. In these circumstances the inference would be that the story about the execution has been made up and that is why there are    contradictions    on such an important mater. In any case there contradictions hardly help to dispel the suspicion aroused by the circumstances already mentioned above,

A good deal of reliance has been placed on the statement of Rameswar Sarma who has been practicing as a pleader since 1929 and became an advocate sometimes in 1948/1949. He     was counsel     for the testator for the last few years before     his death.     Ordinarily, therefore, his    evidence would     be entitled to great weight because of his connection with     the testator and his standing is a lawyer, and if it is accepted much of the suspicion might be dispelled, for he has given explanations as to why the testator made such a will and has also referred to the advice tendered by him to the testator in this connection to provide something more beneficial     for the daughter,    the wife and the sister and the testator's refusal     to do     so. But we should have expected from a witness of this kind strict regard for truth and if 'we were sure that the witness had strict regard for truth we might have believed    his statement.    As we have already pointed out, however this witness does not appear to have    much regard for truth and tried to pose as an independent witness by denying that he was working as     a lawyer for     the respondent, when his son-in-law had already admitted that he was the present pleader of    the respondent. In these circumstances we can place no reliance on his evidence, for if he    was capable of denying his connection with     the respondent he-     can be capable of colluding with     the respondent in manufacturing the will on signed blank papers which were admittedly available to him and others. Looking at the     evidence of the three attesting witnesses and     the respondent broadly, we must say that     evidence does     not dispel the suspicion as to the due execution and attestation of this will.

The High Court was also conscious of     the fact hat     the evidence as to the execution and attestation of the will was not very adequate, for the learned chief Justice observed that the evidence on the point of actual execution might not be very adequate; but the view taken by the High Court     was that more evidence was not    necessary in view of     the pleadings of the parties. In this connection the High Court relied on Dwijendra Narayan Deb's acceptance of the will in favour    of the     respondent. This in our opinion was     not justified so far as the appellants were concerned, for an admission of Diwijendra Narayan Deb who must now be held to have put forward a forged will could not be an added circumstance to support the inadequate evidence led by     the respondent. We are further of the opinion that the    High Court was not justified in executing the inadequacy of     the evidence to prove the due execution and attestation of     the will on the basis of the pleadings of the parties. It is true that the appellants did not say in so many words    that the will propounded by the respondent was a forgery as    they did about the will propounded by Dwijendra Narayan Deb; even so the appellants had put the respondent to strict proof of due and legal execution and attestation of the will     and there was an issue to that effect. This was    not a    case where the due and legal execution and attestation of     the will was admitted and the only disputes were that     the testator had not a sound disposing state of mind or     had acted under undue influence    or coercion.    Though     the appellants did not go to the length of     characterising     the will as a forgery as they did in the     case of the    will propounded by    Dwijendra Narayan, they     certainly put     the respondent to strict proof of legal and due execution     and attestation of the will. In such circumstances it was     the duty of the respondent, particularly in the    presence of auspicious circumstances which have been noted by the    High Court, to prove the due execution and attestation of     the will by

satisfactory evidence     which    would lead Court to     the conclusion that the suspicious circumstances had    been dispelled. We do not see how the evidence which has    been characterised by the High Court as inadequate would suffice to dispel the suspicious circumstances which undoubtedly are present     in this case.    We have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion, apart from the question of registration with which we shall deal presently, that it the evidence which has been produced in     this case were all the evidence available to prove the due execution and attestation of     the will, there could be no doubt that the respondent had failed to satisfy the Court and dispel the suspicious circumstances which were undoubtedly present in this case. Let us now turn to the registration of the will, for it is on the registration that the High Court has relied strongly to dispel whatever it also considered suspicious in    this case.    The contention     of Mr. Desai     on behalf of     the appellants in this connection is that registration may be an added circumstance in favour of the genuineness of the will and may be taken into account in    considering whether suspicious circumstances had been dispelled, but the    High Court was not right on the facts of this case     in relying mainly    on the registration to hold that all suspicions relating to this unnatural will had been dispelled. There is no doubt that this will was registered on    January     27, 1944, and there is an endorsement on the will to the effect that the testator had admitted the execution of it. It will therefore be necessary to examine the     circumstances    more closely than the High Court seems to have done in this case. It appears that an application was made by the    mukhtar-i-am of the testator (and not by the testator himself) on January 16, 1944, before the Sub-Registrar for registration of     the will on commission. The Sub-Registrar himself did not go to execute     the commission but sent a clerk of his named Arabali, though the reason given in the application for     the issue of

commission viz., respectability was not justified in     law and no commission should have been issued at all. This clerk was apparently     a resident of the same area in which     the testator was living and knew him from before. It is a matter worthy of note in the circumstances of this case     the person who went to inquire from the testator whether he     had executed the will was not the     Sub-Registrar himself     who would be a more responsible officer than his clerk. Anyhow, the evidence of the clerk is that he    found the testator quite hale and hearty.    The testator came out from the inner apartment to the verandah of the house and admitted     the execution of the will. Thereafter the testator signed at the bottom    of the     will in token of his having admitted     the genuineness of     the will and Dehiram Bora identified     the testator. Thereafter Arabali took the document to the office of the Sub-Registrar and it was registered. It is on    this registration that the High Court has relied very strongly for dispelling the suspicion arising in this case. Before we consider the evidence on this aspect of the matter further, we should like to refer to a point which seems to have weighed with the High Court in judging the value of registration.    The High Court thought that four witnesses signed the will at the time of its registration. It is     not quite clear what the High Court meant by this, namely whether the High Court thought that these four witnesses also attested    the will ; but a perusal of the    will transcribed in     the record (Ex. 3) shows that this is     not correct, for the only person who signed at the bottom of the will at the time of the visit of Arabali besides Arabali himself and the testator, was Dehiram Bora. Learned counsel for the respondent was unable to satisfy us how the    High Court got the impression that four witnesses had signed at the bottom of the will presumably as a matter of attestation when the registration clerk came on commission. We    must therefore proceed on the footing that the High Court was not 209

right in the view that four persons had signed the will, whatever that may mean, when Arabali came for registration ; and insofar as the High Court judgment was influenced by this circumstance, it suffers from an infirmity. However, let us look at what actually happened when Arabali came for the    registration of     the will. Arabali's     own statement on this point is that he examined Chandra Narayan Deb (i.e. the     testator) at Majikuchi who admitted     the execution of the will.    This is all that Arabali has said in this connection. There is nothing in the evidence to    show that the will was read over to the testator or was read by him before he admitted execution of it.     What exactly passed between     Arabali and the testator at this time has also     not been given by Arabali and the exact words used by him in this connection and the exact reply of the testator are also absent    from the evidence. It is true that it     is broadly stated by Arabali that he examined the testator who admitted the execution of the will. That in our opinion is hardly sufficient in    a case of this kind to    dispel    the serious suspicion which attaches to the due execution     and attestation of this will. Further the evidence of Arabali is that Dehiram Bora identified the testator.    That is     all the part assigned by Arabali to Dehiram Bora,    besides     the fact that Dehiram Bora signed at the bottom of the    will thereafter. Arabali does not say that Dehiram Bora     was present when the testator had admitted the execution of     the will or that the testator signed at the bottom of the    will in the presence of Dehiram Bora and Dehiram Bora signed it in the presence of the testator. of course, Arabali    does say that the testator signed at the bottom of the will in his presence, though he does not say that he signed it in the presence of the testator.     We are     referring to    this aspect    of the matter, for it. has been urged that even if the execution and attestation of December 29, 1943, is, open 210

to doubt the    will must be held to be     duly executed     and attested before Arabali and Dehiram Bora.

Coming    now to the evidence of Dehiram Bora, he began by saying    that he was present when the will in favour of     the respondent was executed by the testator. Exactly what he meant by this is not clear because he was undoubtedly     pot present     when the will was executed on December 29, 1943. However, he went on    to say that it     was registered in Majikuchi. He identified the testator    before     the registration clerk, Arabli, there. After identification be signed at the bottom of the document as identifier. Thus in his examination-in-chief Dehiram Bora merely stated that he signed    at the bottom of the will as an identifier and     did not say that Arabali had put any questions to the testator about the execution of the will, and     that the testator admitted the execution. In cross-examination he said    that the testator signed in his presence at the bottom of     the will.    He, however, never said that the will was read    over to the     testator or was read by him and that the testator admitted the execution of the will to him and thereafter he signed    the will at the bottom.     Thus all that one finds is that he signed as a person who identified the testater. If therefore these two witnesses, namely, Arabali     and Dehiram     Bora are to be treated as attesting witnesses     for the purpose of s.63 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925     (39 of 1925), it is clear that they completely fail to prove due execution and attestation of the Will as required by    that section. So all that we come to is that there is a    bald statement of Arabali to the effect that' he examined     the testator who admitted the execution of the will and there is the statement    of Dehiram Bora that     at that time     he identified the testator before Arabali.     It is on this    that the will was later registered by the Sub-Registrar. We may refer to one more circumstance that has     been urged before us. It is said that the will

undoubtedly existed in January 1944 as evidenced by     its registration. Therefore, if this was not a genuine will of the testator he would have taken steps to revoke it, for he died almost 21 years after the registration of the will. This, however,     assumes that    the testator knew of     the existence of this will.     If he did not know of the existence of this will there would be no question of his revoking     it, however     long afterwards he might have died. Now     the evidence that    the testator knew of the existence of    this will consists only of what happened on December 29, 1943 and on the date when Arabali went to Majikuchi on commission in connection with the registration of the will. We    have already     dealt with the evidence with respect to these     two dates and if that evidence is insufficient to prove     due execution and attestation of the will, as we hold it is, it would also be insufficient to show that the testator    knew after the end of January 1944, that such a will existed. In the absence, therefore, of the knowledge of the testator, about the existence of this will, this     circumstance loses all its force.

There is no doubt that 'if a will has been registered,    that is a    circumstance which may, having regard to     the circumstances,    prove its genuineness.     But the mere    fact that a will is registered will not by itself be sufficient to dispel all suspicion regarding it where suspicion exists, without submitting the evidence of registration to a close examination. If the evidence as to registration on a close examination reveals that the registration was made in such a manner    that it was brought home to the testator that     the document of which he was admitting execution    was a    will disposing of his property and thereafter he admitted     its execution and signed it in token thereof, the registration will dispel the doubt as to the genuineness of the will. But if     the evidence as to registration shows that it     was done in a perfunctory manner, that the officer     registering the will did not read it over to the testator or did not 212

bring home to him that he was admitting the execution of a will or did not satisfy himself in some other way (as,     for example, by seeing the testator reading the will) that     the testator knew that it was a will the execution of which he was admitting, the fact that the will Was registered would not be of much value.    It is not unknown that    registration may take place without the executant really knowing what he was registering. Law reports are full of cases in which registered wills have not been acted upon (see' for example, Vellasaway Sarvai v. L. Sivaraman Servai, (1) Surendra    Nath Lahiri v. Jnanendra Nath Lahiri ( 2 )and Girji Datt Singh v. Gangotri Datt    Singh)(3). Therefore,     the mere fact of registration may not    by itself be enough to     dispel     all suspicion that may attach to the execution and     attestation of a will; though the fact that there has been    registration would be an important circumstance in favour of the    will being genuine if the evidence as to registration establishes that the testator admitted the execution of the will after knowing     that it was a will the execution of which he     was admitting.

The question therefore is whether in the circumstances of the present case the evidence as to registration discloses that the testator knew that he was admitting the execution of a will when he is said to have put down his signature at the bottom of the will in the presence of Arabali. We    have scrutinized that evidence carefully and we must say that the evidence falls short of satisfying us in the circumstances of this case that the testator knew that the document     the execution of which he was admitting before Arabali and at the bottom of which he signed was his will. Therefore we are left with the bald fact of registration which in     our opinion is insufficient in the circumstances of this case to dispel the suspicious circumstances which

(1) (1930) I.L.R. 8 Ran. 179.
(2) A.I.R. 1932 Cal. 574.
(3) A.I.R. 1955 S.C. 346.

we have enumerated above. We are therefore not satisfied about the due execution and attestation of this will by     the testator and hold that the propounder has been unable to dispel    the suspicious circumstances    which surround     the execution and     attestation    of this will. In     the circumstances, no letters of administration in favour of the respondent can 'be granted on the basis of it. We therefore allow the appeal, set aside. the .judgments of the High Court and the trial court and dismiss the    suit arising     out of the application for probate made by     the respondent. The appellants will get their cost,% throughout from the respondent, Kumar Khagendra Narayan Deb. Appeal allowed.