Scope of Will: Civil law


Introduction:-

In this present article, the scope of power of attorney is brought into light with fulcrum of the landmark ruling of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Suraj Lamp & Industries Pvt Ltd. Vs. State of Haryana & Another , Special Leave Petition  (C) No.13917 of 2009, dated 11-10-2011 wherein the Apex Court discussed the ill effects of transfer of property by means of a General Power of Attorney / Will / Agreement to Sell, and the practical problems the same is causing.

This article is only limited to scope of Will as observed in  Suraj Lamp & Industries Pvt Ltd. Vs. State of Haryana & Another (supra),  In this ruling the Hon’ble Apex Court in para 14 observed the scope of Will as follows:-

Scope of Will
14. A will is the testament of the testator. It is a posthumous disposition of the estate of the testator directing distribution of his estate upon his death. It is not a transfer inter vivos. The two essential characteristics of a will are that it is intended to come into effect only after the death of the testator and is revocable at any time during the life time of the testator. It is said that so long as the testator is alive, a will is not be worth the paper on which it is written, as the testator can at any time revoke it. If the testator, who is not married, marries after making the will, by operation of law, the will stands revoked. (see sections 69 and 70 of Indian Succession Act, 1925). Registration of a will does not make it any more effective.
Conclusion
15. Therefore, a SA/GPA/WILL transaction does not convey any title nor create any interest in an immovable property. The observations by the Delhi High Court, in Asha M. Jain v. Canara Bank – 94 (2001) DLT 841, that the “concept of power of attorney sales have been recognized as a mode of transaction” when dealing with transactions by way of SA/GPA/WILL are unwarranted and not justified, unintendedly misleading the general public into thinking that SA/GPA/WILL transactions are some kind of a recognized or accepted mode of transfer and that it can be a valid substitute for a sale deed. Such decisions to the extent they recognize or accept SA/GPA/WILL transactions as concluded transfers, as contrasted from an agreement to transfer, are not good law.
16. We therefore reiterate that immovable property can be legally and lawfully transferred/conveyed only by a registered deed of conveyance. Transactions of the nature of `GPA sales’ or `SA/GPA/WILL transfers’ do not convey title and do not amount to transfer, nor can they be recognized or valid mode of transfer of immoveable property. The courts will not treat such transactions as completed or concluded transfers or as conveyances as they neither convey title nor create any interest in an immovable property. They cannot be recognized as deeds of title, except to the limited extent of section 53A of the TP Act. Such transactions cannot be relied upon or made the basis for mutations in Municipal or Revenue Records. What is stated above will apply not only to deeds of conveyance in regard to freehold property but also to transfer of leasehold property. A lease can be validly transferred only under a registered Assignment of Lease. It is time that an end is put to the pernicious practice of SA/GPA/WILL transactions known as GPA sales.
17. It has been submitted that making declaration that GPA sales and SA/GPA/WILL transfers are not legally valid modes of transfer is likely to create hardship to a large number of persons who have entered into such transactions and they should be given sufficient time to regularize the transactions by obtaining deeds of conveyance. It is also submitted that this decision should be made applicable prospectively to avoid hardship.
18. We have merely drawn attention to and reiterated the well-settled legal position that SA/GPA/WILL transactions are not `transfers’ or `sales’ and that such transactions cannot be treated as completed transfers or conveyances. They can continue to be treated as existing agreement of sale. Nothing prevents affected parties from getting registered Deeds of Conveyance to complete their title. The said `SA/GPA/WILL transactions’ may also be used to obtain specific performance or to defend possession under section 53A of TP Act. If they are entered before this day, they may be relied upon to apply for regularization of allotments/leases by Development Authorities. We make it clear that if the documents relating to `SA/GPA/WILL transactions’ has been accepted acted upon by DDA or other developmental authorities or by the Municipal or revenue authorities to effect mutation, they need not be disturbed, merely on account of this decision.
19. We make it clear that our observations are not intended to in any way affect the validity of sale agreements and powers of attorney executed in genuine transactions. For example, a person may give a power of attorney to his spouse, son, daughter, brother, sister or a relative to manage his affairs or to execute a deed of conveyance. A person may enter into a development agreement with a land developer or builder for developing the land either by forming plots or by constructing apartment buildings and in that behalf execute an agreement of sale and grant a Power of Attorney empowering the developer to execute agreements of sale or conveyances in regard to individual plots of land or undivided shares in the land relating to apartments in favour of prospective purchasers. In several States, the execution of such development agreements and powers of attorney are already regulated by law and subjected to specific stamp duty. Our observations regarding `SA/GPA/WILL transactions’ are not intended to apply to such bonafide/genuine transactions.
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