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Even though the mother is shown as nominee, widowed wife is also equally entitled to a share in the insurances and death benefits of deceased son= the 1st respondent and the appellant, being the wife and the mother of the deceased respectively, come within the meaning of Class I heirs as per Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, and therefore, the 1st respondent along with the appellant is entitled to a share in the amounts shown in the petition schedule as also the amount claimed by the appellant as counter-claim and also the death benefits payable by the employer of the deceased. =nomination does not confer any beneficial interest on the nominee and the amounts so received by the nominee are to be distributed according to Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

THE HONOURABLE SRI JUSTICE N.V. RAMANA

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THE HONOURABLE SRI JUSTICE B. CHANDRA KUMAR

 

 

Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No.941 of 2010

 

 

JUDGMENT:   (Per Hon’ble Sri Justice N.V. Ramana)

 

          This civil miscellaneous appeal is directed against the order dated 30.08.2010 passed in O.P. No. 1634 of 2007 by the learned IV Additional District Judge (Fast Track Court), Warangal.

          Brief facts of the case are that the 1st respondent herein is the widow of late G. Sharath Chandra, who is no other than the son of the appellant herein and who died intestate in a motor accident. The 
1st respondent stating that her husband G. Sharath Chandra died in a motor accident and that she being his legally wedded wife, is entitled to the amounts under the insurance policies obtained by him during his lifetime as also the death benefits payable by his employer, and that as the appellant herein is trying to withdraw all those amounts, taking advantage of the fact that she was shown as nominee in some of the insurance policies, obtained by the deceased, filed the present O.P. before the Court below, praying to issue her Succession Certificate, as per the provisions of Section 372 of the Indian Succession Act. 

          The appellant herein resisted the petition by filing counter, inter alia, stating that the 1st respondent did not look after the deceased while he was undergoing treatment in the hospital for the injuries sustained by him in the motor accident, that she being being a Hindu wife, did not attend his funeral ceremony and last rites, and as such, she cannot be treated as wife to succeed the properties of the deceased and is not entitled to claim any share in his properties.  She further stated that the 1st respondent suppressed about one other insurance policy obtained by the deceased, for an amount of Rs. 4,00,000/-, with a mala fide intention to appropriate the entire amount under the said policy for her benefit, by excluding the appellant, and as such claimed share in the said amount, as a counter-claim

          The Court below, having considered the rival contentions of the parties and the material on record, held that the 1st respondent and the appellant, being the wife and the mother of the deceased respectively, come within the meaning of Class I heirs as per Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, and therefore, the 1st respondent along with the appellant is entitled to a share in the amounts shown in the petition schedule as also the amount claimed by the appellant as counter-claim and also the death benefits payable by the employer of the deceased.  

So far as the contention of the appellant that since she is shown as nominee in the insurance policies, she alone is entitled to the amounts under those polices and the 1st respondent is not entitled to any share in it, is concerned, the Court below, relying on the judgments of the apex Court as regards the powers of nominee, rejected the said contention of the appellant and held that merely because the appellant is shown as nominee in most of the insurance policies, she will not get any exclusive right in the amounts insured and the 1strespondent is entitled to a share in the said amounts.  Having held so, the Court below allowed the petition filed by the 1st respondent herein, holding that she is entitled to half share in the amounts claimed in the petition schedule as also the other amounts payable by the 6th respondent-employer as detailed in paragraph 4 of its counter, and in the amount claimed as counter-claim by the appellant, and the appellant is entitled to the remaining half share.  Aggrieved thereby, the appellant-mother preferred the present appeal.

          Heard the learned counsel for the appellant and the learned counsel for the 1st respondent and perused the order under appeal and other material available on record.

          Admittedly, the appellant is the mother and the 1st respondent is the wife of the deceased namely G. Sharath Chandra, who died in a motor accident. 

Though the appellant contends that the 1st respondent did not attend on the deceased while he was undergoing treatment in the hospital for the injuries sustained by him in the motor accident, and that she did not attend the funeral and last rites of the deceased, and therefore, she cannot be treated as wife and successor of the deceased and cannot claim any share in the amounts in question, the fact remains, the mother and widow of a Hindu male died intestate, come within the meaning of Class I heirs as specified in the schedule of the Act, as per the provisions of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, and the property of the deceased firstly devolve upon them, along with other heirs as specified in the schedule.  Thus, the 1st respondent, being the widow of the deceased, as one of the class I heirs of the deceased, is entitled to a share in the property of the deceased, along with the appellant, and accordingly, we hold so. 

So far as the other contention raised by the appellant that since she is shown as nominee in most of the insurance policies obtained by the deceased, she alone is entitled to receive the amounts under those polices, is concerned, it is to be noted that the apex Court in its decision in Sarbati Devi v. Usha Devi[1], has categorically held that a mere nomination does not have the effect of conferring to the nominee any beneficial interest in the amount payable under the life insurance policy, on the death of the assured, the nomination only indicates the hand which is authorized to receive the amount on payment of which the insurer gets a valid discharge of its liability under the policy, and the amount, however, can be claimed by the heirs of the assured in accordance with the law of succession.  Following these principles, the apex Court in Shipra Sengupta v. Mridul Sengupta[2], held that nomination does not confer any beneficial interest on the nominee and the amounts so received by the nominee are to be distributed according to Hindu Succession Act, 1956.   The trial Court, in view of this settled legal position, held that merely because the appellant is shown as nominee in most of the insurance policies, the appellant will not get any exclusive right in the amounts insured and the 1st respondent is equally entitled to a share in the said amounts, and accordingly passed the order under appeal, holding the 1st respondent and the appellant equally entitled to the amounts in question, and we find no reason whatsoever to interfere with the said finding recorded by the Court below, by exercising the appellate jurisdiction.

          The civil miscellaneous appeal is devoid of merit and the same is accordingly dismissed.  No costs.

_____________

N.V. RAMANA, J

__________________

B. CHANDRA KUMAR, J

7th December, 2010

IBL


[1] (1984) 1 SCC 424

[2]  (2009) 10 SCC 680

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