[Case Brief] H.V. Nirmala & Another v/s R. Sharmila & Another, 2018

CaseH.V. Nirmala & Another v/s R. Sharmila & Another
Case NumberCivil Appeal Number 881 of 2018
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchJustice Abhay manohar Sapre and Justice Rk Agrawal
Author of the judgmentJustice Abhay Manohar Sapre
Decided On January 25, 2018
Relevant Act/SectionsIndian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 302, 201, 24

Indian Evidence Act, 1872- Section 106
Author of the briefLavanya Gupta

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

Ramaiah Reddy and his first wife (Hemavathi) had a daughter (Sharmila) and a son (Umesh). Hemavathi died in 1989. Ramaiah’s second wife was Nirmala and they had a son (Rakesh Babu). Ramaiah died in 1995. After Ramaiah’s death, Umesh filed a civil suit against Nirmala and Rakesh for partition of Ramaiah’s properties, which was based on the Will dated 20.05.1995. The Will was said to have been executed by Ramaiah in favour of Umesh, Nirmala and Rakesh. A compromised decree was then passed in respect of the civil suit in 1997. In 2011, Sharmila filed a civil suit in Bangalore Civil Court contending that the compromise decree of 1997 was not binding on her. Sharmila claimed that she was the lawful owner of properties specified in the Will dated 12.03.1980, executed by Ramaiah in Sharmila’s favour. Umesh, Nirmala and Rakesh denied the 1980 Will and supported the compromise decree. The Trial Court dismissed the suit on the grounds that Sharmila failed to prove the Will dated 12.03.1980. Sharmila then appealed before the Karnataka High Court, which allowed the appeal and set aside the Trial Court’s judgement. Subsequently, Nirmala and Rakesh filed an appeal by special leave in the Supreme Court.

Issues before the Court:

Whether the compromise decree was binding on Sharmila, after taking into consideration the Will dated 12.03.1980.

Ratio of the Court:

No, the compromise decree was not binding on Sharmila. The Will dated 12.03.1980 was a registered will and executed by Ramaiah in favour of Sharmila and Umesh, according to which the former left his property for his minor children, which is valid as per law. It is illogical to imply that there might be an act by the minors to coerce their father. Also, at the time when Sharmila had to prove the Will in the Trial Court, the Will was in the possession of Nirmala. Since, Sharmila did not possess the Will, she was unsuccessful in proving the Will as per law and could only rely on secondary evidence. Lastly, as Sharmila was not a party to the compromise decree, it was not binding on her. Thus, Sharmila could successfully prove the Will dated 12.03.1980 in accordance with the law and claim the properties mentioned therein.

Decision Held:

For the successful claim of properties, one needs to prove the Will in accordance with law. Sharmila took all the reasonable steps to prove the Will, but the Trial Court tagged it to be insufficient evident. It was only when the appeal came to the Supreme Court, that it was found that the evidence was proper. The Supreme Court thus, affirmed the High Court’s decision.

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