CITATION: AIR 1967 SC 878
Key Words: undue influence, dominant position, unfair advantage
Plaintiff claimed that the will deed of his father conveying the entire property to defendant, plaintiff’s nephew, was brought about by exercising undue influence over the donor. To the contrary, the deed details that the gift of the property was made out of natural love and affection between the donor and defendant. Further, after the conveyance of the property to defendant, when some suit arose on the independent settlement deeds executed upon the transferred property (before the death of the plaintiff’s father,i.e. donor), donor explicitly filed the statement that “he no longer holds any interest in the property”. Nevertheless, High Court assumed the presence of undue influence vitiating the deed on account of the relations between the donor and defendant being of a grandparent and grandchild.
Whether the deed of gift was brought about by the undue influence?
Under Section 16 of the Indian Contract Act, the first thing to prove so as to claim undue influence is the existence of such a relationship between the parties that one is in a position to dominate the will of the other. But mere relationship of such a nature will not raise any presumption of undue influence; for it must be further proved that the defendant had used such a relation to obtain an unfair advantage over the plaintiff.
U/s 16(2)(a) the phrase “real or apparent authority” can be taken to mean “relations of the parties such that one naturally relied on the other for advise and the latter was in a position to dominate the will of the first in giving it”. The Court observed that no presumption of undue influence arises in case of gift to a son, grandson, son-in-law, although made during the donor’s illness or old age. Though, the relationship of solicitor-client, spiritual advisor and devotee, doctor-patient, parent and child are those in which such a presumption arises.
The statement filed by donor that “he no longer holds any interest in the property” shows that he was fully conscious and consented the transfer of property to the defendant. Further, the fact that donor was actively involved in the management of his property clearly proves that no undue influence was exercised over him.
Author: Vishrut Kansal
Editor: Vivek Verma