Can the manager of properties of a person with schizophrenia make a will on behalf of the person after his/her death? The matter regarding the same came up for hearing in the Gujarat high court. The court seeks to know if the properties worth crores can be handed over to a trust created for the welfare of the person suffering.
A division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri will take up the matter next week. Earlier, a single-judge bench had rejected such a demand in 2018.
The petitioner, Vinayakrao Desai, 75, a retired lawyer from Vadodara, filed an appeal and questioned the provisions of Section 59 of the Indian Succession Act. The said section prohibits a person who is not of “sound mind” from making a will.
The case in question pertained to the properties that belonged to the daughter of his landlord, Shraddhaben Majmudar. She had a PhD and was employed as a lecturer but suffered from chronic schizophrenia after emotional trauma. The woman was unmarried, and Desai looked after her and helped her with institutionalisation in 1994. The woman passed away in January 2018 at an age of 76.
The Vadodara district court appointed Desai as a manager of Majmudar’s properties. Majmudar’s nephews challenged the court’s decision, but the high court in 2015 upheld the order.
Desai created the Shraddhanjali Manochikitsa Trust for the welfare of people like Majmudar’s daughter. He prepared a will to finance the trust’s activities and approached the court for probate of the will.
But the courts – both the district court and a single judge of the high court – rejected his stand in 2018. “Since the very intention, which is the soul of the will, cannot be found in the document of will made by the manager in the name of the person, it cannot be said to be the will of the person in the eyes of law,” the single judge observed.
Desai has challenged the provisions of the Act. The division bench will hear the matter next week.