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Report No. 19

5. When Administrator-General may obtain grant (sections 9, 10, 11).-

Sections 9, 10 and 11 are very important. Section 9 applies to persons who are not exempted, that is primarily Europeans. Under this provision if a non-exempted person dies leaving within any State assets exceeding the value of two thousand rupees and if no person to whom any Court would have jurisdiction to commit administration of such assets has, within one month after his death, applied in such State for probate of his Will or for letters of administration of his estate, the Administrator-General of the State in which the assets are, has to take proceedings within a reasonable time to obtain from the High Court letters of administration of the estate of such person.

This section, it will be noticed, is not restricted to the ordinary original jurisdiction of the High Court, but extends to the entire State, in which the assets of a deceased non-exempted person are left. This section is closely connected with section 54.

6. Sections 10 and 11 may be considered together, as they are closely connected with each other. They apply to any person who dies leaving assets within the local limits of the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Court at a Presidency-town. It may become necessary to take immediate action to protect the assets from the danger of deterioration or waste before the determination of the person who is legally entitled to the properties or even where there is doubt whether the Administrator-General is entitled to letters of administration.

In such an event the High Court is empowered under section 11 to direct the Administrator-General to collect and take possession of the assets. Such an order entitles the Administrator-General to take the necessary proceedings in respect of such properties including, if he so chooses, proceedings for obtaining letters of administration. Section 10 also applies to any person who dies leaving assets within the local limits of the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of a High Court.

When on the application of the Administrator-General or of any person interested in the assets or in the due administration thereof, the High Court is satisfied that danger is to be apprehended of misappropriation, deterioration or waste of such assets, it may direct the Administrator-General to apply for letters of administration. The court may grant letters of administration unless the application is in respect of the estate of an exempted person and the court is satisfied that such grant is unnecessary for the protection of the assets. The substantial difference between sections 10 and 11 is that under the latter the court is empowered to direct the Administrator-General to collect and hold assets pending the determination of the right of succession or administration.

7. It will thus be seen, that whilst section 9 is in tended to apply exclusively to non-exempted persons, sections 10 and 11 are intended to apply exclusively to assets left within the local limits of the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Court. It may be pointed out in this connection that the only High Courts which have ordinary original civil jurisdiction are those of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.1 In short, where the deceased is an exempted person and has not left any assets within the limits of the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the three High Courts mentioned, the provisions of sections 9, 10 or 11 can have no application.

1. The framers of the Act did not make any provision adapting the provisions of sections 10 and 11 in respect of Provinces which the Governor-General in Council was empowered to create by section 58 and provided in section 3 that the Provincial Government may appoint in each Province an Administrator-General. The Adaptations of Laws Order, 1950, introduced the new terminology of "State" and "State Governments". Sections 10 and 11 have however been left intact.

8. The Indian Succession Act, 1925, contains some provisions1 for protecting the property of a deceased person, but these are of a more restricted character and are inadequate as they do not enable the District Judge to administer the properties.

1. Sections 192 to 201, 253 and 269.

9. We are of the opinion that since the object of the Administrator-General's Act is essentially to protect the property of a deceased person from being misappropriated or wasted, the availability of the protection should not be made dependent on such consideration as whether the person is an exempted person or not or whether the property is situated in one place or the other. In the changed context of the present set up of States and the constitutional provisions as to uniformity of laws and equality of treatment, such distinctions are not only out of tune with the present conditions, but also liable to be attacked as discriminatory.

It is high time that we freed the law relating to Administrators-General from the anomalous distinctions between Presidency-towns and Muffassil, which owe their origin to historical reasons, as also from the discrimination in favour of the so-called "non-exempted" persons, which has its origin in political consideration, and determined its content solely with reference to the need for protection and due administration of estates of deceased persons. We accordingly recommend that sections 9, 10 and 11 should be re-drafted with a view to securing the advantages of these provisions in all cases in which the same are necessary.

Administrator-Generals Act, 1913 Back

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