Law Insider India

Legal News, Current Trends and Legal Insight | Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Delhi High Court Emphasizes Pragmatic Approach in Contested Testamentary Cases, Condoning Delay Unless Excessive

2 min read

LI Network

Published on: December 07, 2023 at 11:42 IST

The Delhi High Court, in a recent ruling, underscored the need for a pragmatic approach in contested testamentary cases, stating that objections should not be summarily rejected on technical grounds unless an inordinate delay is evident.

Justice Rekha Palli, while addressing an application seeking the condonation of delay, stressed the significance of avoiding a hyper-technical perspective, particularly since the grant of probate of a will can significantly impact the testator’s line of succession.

The case involved respondents seeking an extension for filing objections beyond the initially granted six-week period, citing health issues and previous proceedings between the parties as reasons for the delay.

The petitioner and certain respondents contested the application, questioning the court’s authority to condone a delay exceeding 120 days in contested testamentary cases.

The petitioner argued that proceedings in contested testamentary cases, as per Section 295 of the Indian Succession Act, should adhere to Chapter VII of the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018. However, senior counsel YP Narula, representing the applicants, contended that the strict timelines of Chapter VII did not automatically apply to contested testamentary cases.

Justice Palli sided with the applicants, rejecting the petitioner’s assertion that the court lacked the power to condone delays beyond 120 days.

Acknowledging the unique nature of testamentary jurisdiction, where the court interprets the wishes of a deceased person, the judge emphasized that Chapter XXIX of the Rules does not prescribe the same strict timelines as Chapter VII for civil suits.

Regarding the sufficiency of grounds for the delay, the court noted the age of one applicant and deemed it unfit to adopt a hyper-technical view, especially given the potential impact on the testator’s succession.

Concluding that there was no gross delay and finding no reason to doubt the applicants’ plea, the court allowed the application, admitting the objections filed within nine days of the 120-day period.

Case Title: Vikas Malhotra v. The State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.