Delhi High Court Decides When Mutual Will Comes Into Effect

Delhi High Court has, in a case, decided as to when a mutual will can be said to come into effect. The case pertained to a joint will executed on 31.03.2006. The will was executed by Late Wing Commander N.N. Bahl and Mrs. Sundri Bahl. Mrs. Bahl survived her husband. As per the will, on the death of any one spouse, the entire property was to “rest” with the surviving spouse. No one shall have any right or interest in the share of the deceased. Further, after the demise of both spouses, their eldest son, his daughter (their granddaughter) and younger son would be absolute owners of their respective shares.

The eldest son and his daughter filed a suit against Mrs. Bahl and her younger son. They sought for a permanent injunction against the defendants from dispossessing them of their shares. The Court framed two issues for the purposes of adjudication. Firstly, whether the will is a ‘mutual will’ and the date it came into effect. Secondly, whether section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act will have any effect. The section provides that a Hindu female is a full owner of any property acquired and possessed by her.

Decision of the Court

Justice Rajiv Sahai ruled that the will qualifies as a mutual will. Further, the mutual will came into effect when Mrs. Bahl took advantage of the benefits given to her thereunder. That, the rights of the ultimate beneficiaries of the will were crystallised when she did so. Thus, no changes whatsoever can be made to it. Moreover, Mrs. Bahl cannot claim her right under section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act. This is because she did not plead that the subject property was bequeathed to her in lieu of a pre-existing right.