Succession Certificate

COVID-19 has made us all see unpredicted things and face the weirdest and most unexpected events of life, which we never ever thought to be a part of our lives even in the bad dreams. When our loved ones unexpectedly in sudden circumstances are no longer a part of us for sharing the physical substance of life, and in the modern world, where property (movable & immovable) concerns are taking a different level hype. In case a person is deceased without registering any Will, the role of Succession Suit comes into picture in which the family of the deceased can lawfully seek advice from court regarding the bifurcation of property (movable or immovable) to its legal heirs, which shall be final and binding unless any person aggrieved further appeal to the higher-level authorities.

What is Succession Certificate?

Succession Certificate is a document that is granted by a civil court to the legal heirs of a deceased who dies without leaving a will. It is granted by the court to realize the debts and securities of the deceased. It is issued by the government, usually to establish a relationship for claims relating to Insurance, pension, retirement benefits or service benefits of central and state government departments, Government undertakings etc.

According to Section 372 of the Hindu Succession Act, in order to obtain a succession certificate in Civil Court, the legal heirs can apply for a petition to the District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased person ordinarily resided.

Documents Required

A petition for succession certificate must contain the following particulars:

  • Time of death of the deceased;
  • Residence or details of properties of the deceased at the time of death within which Judge the jurisdiction falls under;
  • Details of family or other near relatives;
  • The rights of the petitioner;
  • Absence of any impediment to the grant of certificate;

How to Apply?

  • An application should be made to The District Judge under section 372 of the Act;
  • The petitioner must sign and verify the petition;
  • In case of The Hindu Succession Act (Act XXX OF 1956), the names of the heirs must be mentioned in the petition;
  • The debts and securities as to which the succession certificate is applied for should be mentioned;
  • The absence of any impediment u/sec. Sub section (1) of section 370 of the Act or any other provisions of the Act or any other enactments to the grant of succession certificate or to the validity of it in case of it was granted, must be mentioned.

Points to remember

  • The court fee has to be paid in the form of judicial stamp papers of the required amount, after which the certificate 
    is typed, duly signed and delivered. 
  • In addition to the court fee, the lawyer’s fee also needs to be taken into account. 
  • If the petition is not contested, the court usually issues a succession certificate in five to seven months. 

What next?

After obtaining the Succession Certificate, all the legal representatives of the deceased are liable to obtain their share in debts and claims from the banks (by following the prescribed procedure given by each bank) or other insurance and employee benefit schemes (either governmental or non-governmental) , according to the percentage given in the succession order by the Hon’ble Judge.

Usually, Succession Certificates are extended only upto the orders of the court, but, the District Judge can extend a succession certificate, only on the application of its holder and not of any other person.

Case Laws

  1. Muthia vs Ramnatham, 1918 MWN 242

It was held that the grant of certificate gives to the grantee a title to recover the debt due to the deceased, and payment to the grantee is a good discharge of the debt.

  • Srinivasa vs Gopalan

It was held that ” The question whether the debt belonged to the deceased is not a matter to be decided on an application for a succession Certificate.”

  • Paramananda Chary vs Veerappan, AIR 1928 Madras 213: 82 IC 604

It was held that ”The grant of succession certificate is conclusive against the debtor. Even if another person turns out to be the heir of the deceased, it does not follow that the certificate is invalid.” 

  • Ganga Prasad vs Saudan

It was observed that section 381 of the Act protects the debtors and affords full indemnity to the persons liable to pay the debts and in respect of the securities covered by the certificate as persons having the same paid in ”good faith”.

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