The term “succession” is derived from Latin word “successionem” which means to come into another’s place. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 aims to consolidate all Indian laws with respect to succession. It has introduced the concept of succession certificate in order to resolve disputes regarding the property of those who died without leaving a will to determine the next legal heir to acquire their property and settle the debts and security which were due upon them.
What is a succession certificate?
When a person dies without leaving a will is considered to have died intestate. In such cases in order to determine legal heir, a succession certificate has to be established in order to grant authority over the deceased’s assets, debts and security. The succession certificate is governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925 which an object enables to certify the authenticity of the successor of a deceased person who has died without leaving a will. It not only secure the assets of the deceased but also provided indemnity to all person who was owing to the debt with respect to all the payments made them by the deceased. It is a mandatory procedure that is required to be followed in intestate cases.
The certificate has to mention the list of securities, debt, and assets of the deceased along with the details of the surviving legal heirs, information regarding the death of deceased. This signifies that the certified holder has obtained the rightful authority over the assets of the deceased. The grant of the certificate acts as a guarantee of title that aids in recovery of debt which was due to the deceased and thereby protects the lender from the loss and damages.
Who can apply for the succession certificate?
Any person who has attained the age of majority has a sound mind and an interest in the estate of the deceased are eligible to file an application for a succession certificate. However, it shall be pertinent to note that a minor through a guardian can also apply for a certificate.
Who shall issue the succession certificate?
Section 380 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 governs the applicability of the certificate in India. The district judge of the relevant jurisdiction has the authority to issue a succession certificate based on the petition made in the prescribed format within the jurisdiction where the deceased has resided.
The petition shall contain the following
a.) The complete details regarding date, time, death of the deceased along with a copy of the death certificate, proof of the ordinary residence of the deceased in cases where no such information is available then the details of his property that is within the jurisdiction where the application has been filled.
b.) The details regarding the residence and other basic information about the legal heirs attached with the copies of their ration card
c.) Information about the family and other next of kin of the deceased
d.) The debt and security in respect of which the certificate is applied for.
e.) The right of the petitioner.
f.) No Objection Certificate from the legal heirs.
g.) In case of any absence of any reason to invalidate the certificate, a declaration has to be made.
What is the procedure of obtaining the succession certificate?
The procedure to obtain a succession certificate requires the petitioner to file an application containing all the requisite information regarding the deceased and the legal heir. This application has to be verified, signed and has to be submitted to the district judge who has the appropriate jurisdiction along with the prescribed court fee as per the Court Fees Act 1870.
After the submission of the application the following steps to be taken by the petitioner:-
Step 1: The Judge on receiving the application shall scrutinize the application and if satisfied with particular shall admit the same.
Step 2: After the admission, the court will issue a notice in the national newspaper along with notice to all the respondents. The main aim of issuance of notice is to raise an objection, if any, before issuing the succession certificate. Such objection shall be raised within forty-five days from the date of the issue of notice. In case there is no response received regarding the objection of the certificate, then the court may issue a certificate in the favor of the applicant. But if in case there are any objections raised within the said period of forty-five days then the court will fix a date for hearing the contentions of the parties.
Step 3: On completion of hearing the case, the judge will decide whether the applicant has the appropriate right to apply for the application of the succession certificate. If the judge is satisfied with the petitioner, then he may issue the certificate attached with a court fee which shall levy a fixed percentage with specification regarding the debts and securities in the application. The certificate shall also acknowledge the rights and powers granted to the applicant with respect to receive interest or dividends on securities or transfer or negation securities. It shall also set forth the debt and security. Its grant of certificate is conclusive against the debtor. It shall not be held invalid even in case another person appears as the heir of the deceased.
Step 4: An indemnity bond to secure the entitled person shall be required to made and submitted to the Judge. A surety or some kind of security may also be attached. This is required in order to secure assets and prevent any loss or make good of any possible damages which may occur out of the usage of such a certificate.
What is the validity of the succession certificate?
The succession certificate is valid in Indian territory. In cases where the person requiring the certificate is a resident of a foreign country then he or she may request the government to appoint a representative of such foreign residence to effect the validity of the certificate. The certificate shall be stamped as per the Court fees Act, 1870. It shall be pertinent to note that the validity of the certificate can be extended in case of any debt recovery on an application made to the district judge only by the succession certificate holder which shall have the same effect as the original succession certificate.
What is the effect of succession certificate?
Subject to the provisions of section 381 of the Indian Succession Act, 1955, the effect of the certificate with respect to debts and securities shall be conclusive against those who owe such debts or have a liability towards such security. This shall not contravene with section 370 which states that any succession certificate cannot be granted with regard to any debt or security which is determined as a right is required to be established by either probate or letter of administration.
Can the succession certificate be revoked?
The certificate can be revoked on the following events:-
a.) The substance based on which the certificate obtained were defective in nature
b.) The certificate obtained by fraud means such as making false suggestion or concealment of material facts from the court.
c.) Allegation based on which the certificate was obtained were false and were made in ignorance or inadvertently
d.) Certificate has become inoperative in nature ;
e.) The decree has been revoked which were made with respect to debts or security as specified in the certificate.
The law of succession regulates rules of property devolution in those cases where a person died intestate i.e. without making a will with respect to the transfer of his or her property. The rules help in determined the person who shall be considered as the legal heir and percentage of the property to be transferred. The succession certificate acts as an authentic document that guarantees that the person who claims to be the legal heir of the deceased property is legitimate. It also aids to secure from the loss of debt or security which was due on the deceased by transfer such to the legal heir through the succession certificate.
Edited by Pushpamrita Roy
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Muthia v. Ramnatham, 1918 MWN 242
2. Paramananda Chary vs Veerappan AIR 1928 Madras 213:82 IC 604
3. Indian Succession Act, 1925