Question: I want to know what is the limitation period for filing a letter of administration in the Indian Succession Act? My father died in 2013. He had made a Will which was unknown to us. Recently his friend has informed us about Will and has advised to file a letter of administration. When we filed the case for administration of the estate, the court fixed a date for the hearing limitation matter. The court has said that our application is time barred hence, it will foremost decide the matter of limitation. Sir please suggest how we can protect our case which is time barred?
Asked from: Maharashtra
Limitation period for letter of administration
The Indian Succession Act does not provide any period of limitation towards application for letter of administration. Hence, the Indian Limitation Act 1963 will regulate the limitation periods pertaining to proceedings under Succession Act. Article 137 of the Limitation Act will apply in your case and the period of limitation for filing a letter of administration is three years.
In Kunverjeet Singh Khandpur vs Kirandeep Kaur and other, (2008) 8 SCC 463 the Supreme Court has held that:
Since the Act (Indian Succession Act) does not provide a limitation period hence it does not mean that there is no period of limitation in regard to matters concerning grant of probate or letters of administration. The limitation period will be decided according to Article 137 of the Limitation Act.
The period will start when you have the right or become entitled to seek a letter of administration from the court. You have accrued the right to administer your father’s property as his legal heir on the death of your father. Your father died in 2013 thus, the limitation period was last upto 2016.
Condonation of delay
Consequently, your application for granting a letter of administration became time barred as per the provision of Article 137. But Section 5 of the Limitation Act empowers the court to condone the delay if the person has some valid ground for not filing the case within time.
This section will also on the proceeding for letter of administration. The existence of Will was unknown to the legal heirs. Recently you came to know about it. Thus you can take a plea that due to being unaware about the existence of a will, you cannot initiate proceeding under Section 213 Indian Succession Act within time.
The letter of administration is filed under Section 213 of the Indian Succession Act. Section 213 is read as follows:
No right as executor or legatee can be established in any Court of Justice unless a Court of competent jurisdiction in India has granted probate of the will under which the right is claimed, or has granted letters of administration with the will or with a copy of an authenticated copy of the will annexed.
If the court satisfies that you have a genuine ground then it may extend the period of limitation and admit your case for granting letter of administration.
Also read: How to get succession certificate?