In a case, the decree holder died prior to filing of the execution petition and there is no appeal consideration. Can legal heirs of the decree holder / judgment creditors file implead petition without getting succession certificate for filing of the execution petition? Is it continuation of the suit?
Answer: If the decree holder has already died before filing the execution petition, it may be necessary for the legal heirs of the decree holders to first obtain succession certificate (or satisfy one of the other conditions, as mentioned below) before they can file the execution petition. This may be necessary in view of the provisions of Section 214 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, which is reproduced below:
“214. Proof of representative title a condition precedent to recovery through the Courts of debts from debtors of deceased persons.—(1) No Court shall—
(a) pass a decree against a debtor of a deceased person for payment of his debt to a person claiming on succession to be entitled to the effects of the deceased person or to any part thereof, or
(b) proceed, upon an application of a person claiming to be so entitled, to execute against such a debtor a decree or order for the payment of his debt, except on the production, by the person so claiming of,—
(i) a probate or letters of administration evidencing the grant to him of administration to the estate of the deceased, or
(ii) a certificate granted under Section 31 or Section 32 of the Administrators-General Act, 1913, and having the debt mentioned therein, or
(iii) a succession certificate granted under Part X and having the debt specified therein, or
(iv) a certificate granted under the Succession Certificate Act, 1889, or
(v) a certificate granted under Bombay Regulation No. VIII of 1827, and, if granted after the first day of May, 1889, having the debt specified therein.
(2) The word “debt” in sub-section (1) includes any debt except rent, revenue or profits payable in respect of land used for agricultural purposes.”
I feel that in such a situation, the execution petition may not be considered as a continuation, since a fresh execution petition is filed by the legal heirs.
However, if the execution petition had already been filed by the decree-holder and thereafter he dies, then the answer to this question may be different. In such a situation, there are some conflicting judgments of high courts and there appears to be no Supreme Court judgment on this issue. But, the general consensus appears to be that, in such a case, i.e., where the execution petition had already been filed by the decree-holder and thereafter he dies, it may not be necessary for the legal heirs to file succession certificate for continuing the execution petition already filed. Thus, where the legal representatives of the decree holder are continuing the execution proceedings already initiated by the decree holder before his death, production of succession certificate may not be necessary. In such a situation, obviously, it would be a continuation of the proceedings.
But, as mentioned above, if the legal heirs have to start a fresh execution petition after the death of the decree holder, Section 214 of the Indian Succession Act may be attracted and it may be necessary to first fulfil one of the conditions mentioned in that section, such as obtaining the succession certificate.
In the case of Akula Rangappa (Died By L.Rs.) v. Narayana Swamy, AIR 1988 AP 314, it was held by the Andhra Pradesh high court held as under:
“If a fresh application has to be filed then it is necessary that the legal representatives should obtain the succession certificate as enjoined under S.214(1) (b) of the Act. The golden rule that runs through the decisions of this Court are thus:
(1) Where a decree-holder himself files an execution application and he dies before executing the decree and recording the full satisfaction, the legal representatives are entitled to come on record without obtaining a succession certificate as required under S. 214(1)(b) of the Act.
(2) Where the legal representatives themselves are seeking to execute the decree obtained by the deceased decree-holder, then it is mandatory under S. 214(1)(b) of the Act to obtain a succession certificate and then to have the decree executed.”
In the case of Ramanatha Reddy vs K.V. Kuppuswami Mudaliar, AIR 1971 Madras 419, it was held that:
“It appears, therefore, that it is only when the legal representative files a fresh application for execution, Section 214 will stand attracted and not when he seeks to continue the execution petition initiated by the deceased decree-holder.”
Similarly, in the case of I. Basha Khan v. K.Selvaraj and others AIR 1999 Madras 374, it was held that no execution petition shall be initiated without the production of succession certificate as contemplated under Section 214(1)(b) of the Indian Succession Act.
In the case of S. Gowri v. G. Mangammal, decided by Madras High Court on 7 August, 2009 [C.R.P.(NPD).No.2557 of 2008 and M.P.No.1 of 2008], it was held that where the legal representatives of the decree holder are continuing the execution proceedings (i.e., it was not a fresh execution petition in this case), production of succession certificate is not necessary and in fact, they need not produce the succession certificate.