This article is written by Sonakshi Phore, an advocate, who passed out from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), New Delhi(2020)pursuing a Certificate in Legal Drafting. This article has been edited by Ojuswi (Associate, Lawsikho).
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
Table of Contents
The provision of succession certificate is stated in the Indian succession act, 1925 with the types of property, be it movable or immovable of the deceased person.
A Document issued by the competent court (civil) with appropriate jurisdiction, whether in terms of territory or pecuniary, to the rightful heir of the person who died intestate can be termed a succession certificate. This certificate authorizes the successor to realize the debts and securities of the deceased person. This certificate is valid everywhere in the country. The importance of such a certificate differs with the kind of property, as movable property is of less importance as compared to immovable property.
Legal heirs can claim the properties of the person, who died intestate, with the succession certificate and it can be used as primary evidence of such. The classes of legal heirs are mentioned in The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 for Hindus. Whereas The Indian succession act is applicable irrespective of the religion.
Rights of a certificate holder
- Through the succession certificate, any person being a legal heir can claim the assets and properties of the deceased.
- To be the person who releases the debts and securities owed to or payable on behalf of the person who died.
- The holder shall also inherit the person’s debt and liabilities.
Who can apply for a certificate
- Spouse of the deceased.
- Children of the deceased. (Irrespective of gender)
- Parents of the deceased.
- Siblings of the deceased.
How to obtain a succession certificate
The role of the civil court comes into the picture, when the legal heir wants to obtain the succession certificate, The jurisdiction needs to be kept in mind, this can be ascertained by checking where the properties are situated. Names of all heirs and details about time and place of death should be specially and correctly mentioned in the application. Legal heirs are also bound to produce a death certificate. Once the petition is received, the court issues a notice in the newspaper, especially the local ones along with notice to respondents and if more than one, to all respondents. Within the period of 45 days from the issuance of a notice, the objection (if any) can be raised with necessary documentary proofs.
On the expiry of the time, if the court does not receive any responses and no one contests the petition, the court passes an order on the succession certificate in favour of the petitioner. For issuance of the certificate, the court levies a particular but reasonable percentage of the value of the estate as the court fee for granting of certification. This must be paid in the form of judicial stamp papers of a sufficient amount, after which the certificate shall be typed, duly signed, and delivered.
Validity of succession certificate
The succession certificate is valid anywhere within India. However, where a certificate has been granted in a foreign country, by an Indian representative (as appointed by the union government), if the certificate is properly stamped as per prescribed rules, then only the certificate will stand valid.
Effect of the certificate
If such payments, mentioned in the certificate, are made with bonafide intentions then this certificate will provide protection to all parties paying debts. Such payments shall be legally valid, and no further objections can be raised.
There is a separate provision for determining who all will fall in the category of legal heirs. Many times this question arises regarding the relation of caste and the time frame for succession certificate, but the truth is that there is no time limit prescribed for such and no relation of caste mentioned. The succession certificate, when issued by the court after all due procedures, comes into the category of a valid document.
There is also an alternative for the succession certificate, which is known as the legal heir certificate along with other documents. The procedure of succession certificate is time-consuming in comparison to others, therefore a legal heir certificate is preferred. Both can be used in establishing inheritance and aiding in the transfer of assets.
Section 381 of the act, states the effect of the certificate. The succession certificates endeavour to afford protection to the parties paying debts. Subject to the provisions of this Part, the certificate of the District Judge shall, with respect to the debts and securities specified therein, be conclusive as against the persons owing such debts or liable on such securities, and shall, notwithstanding any contravention of section 370, or other defects, afford full indemnity to all such persons as regards all payments made, or dealings had, in good faith in respect of such debts or securities to or with the person to whom the certificate was granted.
Section 376 of the Indian succession act, states that a District Judge may, on the application of the holder of a certificate under this Part, extend the certificate to any debt or security not originally specified therein, and every such extension shall have the same effect as if the debt or security to which the certificate is extended had been originally specified therein.
Below mentioned pointers are the situations in which no succession certificate can be granted:
- When Section 370 (1) of the Indian succession act applies, a succession certificate shall not be granted under this Part with respect to any debt or security to which a right is required by section 212 or section 213 to be established by letters of administration or probate.
- If Section 212 of the Act applies, no right to any part of the property of a person who has died intestate can be established in any Court of Justice unless letters of administration have first been granted by a Court of competent jurisdiction.
- When Section 213 of the Act applies that is Survival of powers on the death of one of several executors or administrators. Upon the death of one or more of several executors or administrators, in the absence of any direction to the contrary in the Will or grant of letters of administration, all the powers of the office become vested in the survivors or survivors.
- Also, nothing can prevent persons of other religions including the Christians to get the succession certificate and they can also get the benefit of such certification. There is a mindset that these provisions mentioned in the Indian succession act are only related to the Hindus, but the governance of uniform laws prevails over personal or provisions of family law.
Succession certificate and wills
Will plays a major role in the issuance of a succession certificate if a person dies intestate, In this case, only a succession certificate will come into the picture. If he otherwise dies leaving a will behind then the importance and requirement of a certificate will automatically become secondary. Because of the existence of a will, the entire estate shall vest on the executor, followed by instructions in the will. The provisions of section 370 of the Indian succession act state that no probate or LOA that is a letter of administration shall be granted under this Part with respect to any debt or security to which a right is required by section 212 or section 213 to be established by letters of administration or probate: Provided that nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to prevent the grant of a certificate to any person claiming to be entitled to the effects of a deceased Indian Christian, or any part thereof, with respect to any debt or security, by reason that a right thereto can be established by letters of administration under this Act.
Wills are more accurate and not confusing as it mentions the exact things and on the other hand, the succession certificate is time-consuming because of its requirements and other proper procedures. The procedure followed by banks and other financial institutions in absence of a will is also based upon the succession certificate.
In the case of Muthia vs Ramnatham, 1918 MWN 242, it was held that when the court grants the certificate, then the holder recovers the title through it and when the payment is made for the remaining amount of debt of the deceased and e, it is considered as a good discharge of debt. In the case of Srinivasa vs Gopalan, it was held that ” where any question arises regarding the debt belonging to the person died intestate cannot be decided merely on application of such.
Paramananda Chary vs Veerappan, AIR 1928 Madras 213: 82 IC 604 gives clarity about the conclusiveness of successive certificates which is clearly against the debtor. Also, if there is any person who claims to be the legal heir of the deceased, it does not lead to the invalidation of the succession certificate.
In the case of Ganga Prasad vs Mt. Saeedan, the concept of “good faith” has been discussed with respect to section 381 of the Indian succession act, which protects the debtors by providing full indemnity to the persons liable to pay the debts. For identification of legal heirs of deceased persons, one needs the legal heir certificate whereas the need for succession comes into the picture where it is necessary to establish the authenticity of the person claiming to be legal heirs and authorised then to pay off debts, liabilities, and other securities that the deceased was liable to pay.
As per the above facts and provisions under the Indian Succession Act, we can say that a succession certificate is for providing speedy remedy and quick decision in succession matters and is valid all over India. Upon fulfilling the necessary conditions, one can get a succession certificate.
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