The attempt by a man to claim his father's sprawling flat in south Mumbai has been thwarted after the Bombay High Court ruled that the copy of the will produced was fraudulent and fabricated.
Justice RD Dhanuka recently dismissed a testamentary suit by Satish Shah, saying, "The entire case of the plaintiff is based on falsehood and on a document which is proved to be false as is clear from the affidavit filed by the learned Notary Public and the statement made before this court in person which is uncontroverted."
The judge also ordered Satish to pay Rs25,000 to his brother Vikram towards costs of the case.
Satish stated his father Chandulal made a will in 1995 and that he expired on February 16, 1996. He filed a suit in December 2009 seeking probate (to validate the will) and submitted a certified copy of the will.
He claimed that the original will was filed separately and kept in a safe place in the office of the Prothonotary and Senior Master of the high court. The certified copy was notarized by advocate IB Sonavane on January 11, 2005.
The will described the 1,200sq ft flat and a garage in Divyalok building at Malabar Hill, worth more than Rs7 crore.
Pending the case, Satish filed a notice seeking permission to proceed with the notarized copy of the will as the original was not traceable. His counsel TG Vora, instructed by DR Mishra, argued that this was permitted under provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
However, the suit was opposed by his brother Vikram, who argued that the will was forged. Advocate Vivek Kantawala, who represented Vikram, pointed out that the notarized will did not mention the serial number at which it was notarized. This was required under the Notaries Act and the Notarial Rules, as well as an earlier court order.
Kantawala stated there was no explanation for the delay in filing the suit. The counsel also argued that the statement made on oath that the original will was filed separately and kept in a safe place was false.
On summons by the court in October 2011, Sonavane told the court that he had not notarized the will. He also stated that he could not produce his notary records for 2004-05 as they were destroyed alongwith other valuable properties during the heavy rain on July 26, 2005.
Sonavane reported this to the Vakola police, which had issued a certificate to him for the loss of records and materials. Subsequently, he passed away.
The court observed, "No opportunity can be granted to the plaintiff to proceed with the trial in view of such false and incorrect statement made before this court about existence of the original will and by producing such fabricated document."