Report No. 110
41.3. Section 317-Inventory and account.- Section 317 reads as under:
"317. (1) An executor or administrator shall within six months from the grant of probate or letters of administration, or within such further times as the Court which granted the probate or letters may appoint, exhibit in that Court an inventory containing a full and true estimate of all the property in possession, and all the credits, and also all the debts owing by any person to which the executor or administrator is entitled in that character; and shall, in like manner, within one year from the grant or within such further time as the said Court may appoint, exhibit an account of the estate, showing the assets which have come to his hands and the manner in which they have been applied or disposed of.
(2) The Court may prescribe the form in which an inventory or account under this section is to be exhibited.
(3) If an executor or administrator, on being required by the Court to exhibit an inventory or account under this section, intentionally omits to comply with the requisition he shall be deemed to have committed an offence under section 176 of the Indian Penal Code.
(4) The exhibition of an intentionally false story or account under this section shall be deemed to be an offence under section 193 of that Code."
41.4. Object of the section.-
The object of the provision regarding the exhibition of accounts, etc. under section 317 seems to be to ensure that the accounts, etc. are available for inspection by the parties interested in the administration of the estate.1 There is, however, no obligation to maintain accounts.2
1. See Chheda Lal v. Dulari, AIR 1930 Oudh 425 (426) (Srivastava, J.).
2. R.K. Ashere v. Temption Jehangir, AIR 1961 Guj 137 (140).
41.5. History of the section.-
The origin of section 317 has been thus described1-
"The Statute 21, Hen. VIII, c. 5, provides for the making of inventories by executors and administrators of all the goods, chattels, wares, merchandise as well movable as not movable whatsoever that were of the deceased, and by Stat. 22 and 23 Car. II, c. 10, section 1, an administrator must have entered into a bond conditioned amongst other things for his exhibiting into the registry of the court, at or "before a day specified, a true and perfect inventory of the goods, chattels, and credits of the deceased that come to his possession.
The bond given under the Court of Probate Act, 1857 (20 and 21 Vict, c. 77), is conditioned to make the inventory when lawfully called on, and to exhibit the same whenever required by law so to do.2 Sta. 22 and 23 Car. II c. 10, required executors or administrators to exhibit inventories, as part of their duty, without any proceeding to call upon them to do so."
According to the practice of the Prerogative Court, an executor was bound to file an inventory before grant of probate.3-4
1. Basu Succession Act, (1957), p. 912.
2. Williams on Executors, 11th Edn., p. 733.
3. Phillips v. Bignell, 1 Phill 240.
4. Williams on Executors, 11th Edn., p. 733.
41.6. Section mandatory.-
The provisions of section 317 are mandatory so that a provision in the will that the executor shall not be bound to render accounts is of no avail.1
1. Pearl Lai v. Bepin Beltari, AIR 1918 Cal 107.
41.7. Consequences of non-compliance.-
The consequences of non-compliance with section 317 are manifold. The executor has, under this section, statutory duties to perform, and until he has done that, he does not divest himself of the character of the executor. Non-filing of the inventory and accounts under section 317 leads to the following consequences1:
(1) The executor makes himself liable to punishment under section 176. Indian Penal Code, if the requirement of sub-section (3) of section 317 is fulfilled;
(2) the executor subjects himself, at the instance of an interested party, to an administration suit; and
(3) the grant is liable to be revoked,2 i.e. if the executor has wilfully and without reasonable cause omitted to exhibit the inventory or account;3-4 and
(4) it would be a breach of the bond also.5
1. Galati v. Reeves-Brown, AIR 1939 Lah 463 (464).
2. Santiram Das v. Prosad Das, AIR 1952 Cal 358.
3. Section 263, Explanation, clause (e).
4. As to section 263, see Anil Behari v. Latika, 1955 SCR 1026.
5. See Lachman Das v. Chater, 1888 ILR 10 All 29 (34).
41.8. A connected provision in the Act is section 291, under which an administration bond is required to be filed by every person to whom letters of administration are granted. It may, however, be noted that the Administrator-General is exempt from this requirement.1
1. Section 24, Administrator-General's Act, 1963.
41.9. Provisions in Administrator-General's Act.-
The relevant provisions in the Administrator-General's Act, 19631 may now be considered. Under section 5 of that Act, the Administrator-General is a corporation sole, having perpetual succession. Under section 6, the High Court is deemed to be the Court of competent jurisdiction as regards the grant of probate or letters of administration to the Administrator-General under any law for the time being in force.
Under section 26, no administration bond or other security is required from the Administrator-General. Under section 43, the accounts of the Administrator-General shall be audited by the prescribed person and in the prescribed manner. Under section 49, interested persons are entitled to inspect the accounts of the Administrator-General.
Section 53 provides that nothing contained in the Indian Succession Act, 1925, affects the rights, duties and privileges of any Administrator-General. Under section 62, the State Government may make rules for carrying into effect the purpose of the Act and for regulating the proceedings of the Administrator-General.
1. The Administrator-General's Act, 1963 (45 of 1963).
41.10. Corresponding provision in England.-
The corresponding provision in England1 (relevant portion of section 25, Administration of Estates Act is quoted below)-
"25. The personal representative of a deceased person shall, when lawfully required so to do, exhibit on oath in the court, a true and perfect inventory and account of the real and personal estate of the deceased, and the court shall have power as heretofore to require personal representative to bring in inventories."
1. Section 25, Administration of Estates Act, 1925 (15 Geo. 5, C. 23).
41.11. Practice in England regarding filing inventories.-
In actual practice, however, in England, the executor does not exhibit an inventory unless an application is made to the Registrar on summons for that purpose by some party interested.1
1. Williams on Executors, (1960), Vol. 1, p. 442.
41.12. Having regard to the form of affidavit for Inland Revenue, an application for an order to exhibit an inventory is very seldom made,1 in England. In Jenkins,2 an account was ordered to be delivered by the ex-administrator on the application of the executor under a will which was afterwards disclosed.
The English practice on the subject has been thus stated:-
"In practice, the representative never exhibits the inventory unless he is called upon to do so.3 The place of inventory is taken by the accounts rendered by the personal representative to the Inland Revenue authorities for the purpose of assessing the Death Duties."
1. See Williams on Executors, (1969), Vol. 1, p. 442.
2. Goods of Jenkins (in re:), (1897) 76 LT 164: 23 Diglot 250, Case No. 3081.
3. Myddleton v. Ruhout, (1797), 1 Phillim 244; Phillips v. Bignell, (1811) 1 Phillim 240.
41.13. Position in England regarding public Trustee.-
It may be stated that in England, the officer corresponding to the Administrator-General is the Public Trustee, governed by the Public Trustee Act, 1926. For our purpose, it is sufficient to refer to the relevant portion of section 11 of the Act quoted below1:-
"11. (4) Where any bond or security would be required from a private person upon the grant to him of administration, or upon his appointment to act in any capacity, the public trustee, if administration is granted to him or if he is appointed to act in such capacity as aforesaid, shall not be required to give such bond or security, but shall be subject to the same liabilities and duties as if he had given such bond or security."
1. Section 11, Public Trustee Act, 1906 (6 Edw. 7, c.5).
41.14. Case Law.-
Although there is considerable case law on the section, yet it is unnecessary to discuss it in detail1 for the present purpose.
1. Some of the cases are collected in Santiram Das v. Prashad Das, AIR 1952 Cal 358.