Section 372 the Indian Succession Act 1925- Succession Certificate

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Succession Certificate: Section 372  [The Indian Succession Act, 1925]

372 Application for certificate. —

(1) Application for such a certificate shall be made to the District Judge by a petition signed and verified by or on behalf of the applicant in the manner prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) for the signing and verification of a plaint by or on behalf of a plaintiff, and setting forth the following particulars, namely:—

(a) the time of the death of the deceased;

(b) the ordinary residence of the deceased at the time of his death and, if such residence was not within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Judge to whom the application is made, then the property of the deceased within those limits;

(c) the family or other near relatives of the deceased and their respective residences;

(d) the right in which the petitioner claims;

(e) the absence of any impediment under section 370 or under any other provision of this Act or any other enactment, to the grant of the certificate or to the validity thereof if it were granted; and

(f) the debts and securities in respect of which the certificate is applied for.

(2) If the petition contains any averment which the person verifying it knows or believes to be false, or does not believe to be true, that person shall be deemed to have committed an offence under section 198 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860).

56 [(3) Application for such a certificate may be made in respect of any debt or debts due to the deceased creditor or in respect of portions thereof.]

Condition: When a person dies and his debtors want to discharge their debt. It is not certain that who is the legal heir of the deceased person. The debtors want to pay the debt as well as protect their interest. In this condition section 372 of the Indian Succession Act provides to issue a certificate to a person and authorise him to collect all debts without any risk. The debtor can easily make the payment to the certificate holder.

Legal effect of certificate: The grant of a certificate does not establish a title of the grantee as the heir of the deceased, but only furnishes him with authority to collect his debts and allows the debtors to make payments to him without incurring any risk.

In Banarsi Dass v. Teeku Dutta, (2005) 4 SCC 449; the Supreme Court held that the main object of a succession certificate is to facilitate collection of debts on succession and to protect persons who deal with the alleged representatives of the deceased persons. Such a certificate does not give any general power of administration on the estate of the deceased. The grant of a certificate does not establish title of the grantee as the heir of the deceased.

A succession certificate is intended as noted above to protect the debtors, which means that where a debtor of a deceased person either voluntarily pays his debt to a person holding a certificate under the Act, or is compelled by the decree of a court to pay it to the person, he is lawfully discharged.

Procedure: the applicant will file a petition before the district judge, with proper verification and court fee. The court after receiving the petition shall issue notice to the person to whom he thinks fit to hear and fix a day for hearing. On the day the court after hearing all the parties to the petition shall issue a certificate. If the court thinks fit, it can take a bond with one or more sureties from the certificate holder. The court takes the bond to protect the interest of legal heirs of deceased and to prevent the misuse of certificate.

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