Hindu Law

Nomination in connection with Mutt

In Sri Mahalinga Thambiran Swamigal Vs. His Holiness Sri La Sri Kasivasi Arulnandi Thambiran Swamigal, . this Court had held as under:

The definition of “Will” in Section 2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 would show that it is the legal declaration of the intention of a testator with respect to his property which he desires to be carried into effect after his death. By exercising the power of nomination, the head of a Mutt is not disposing of any property belonging to him which is to take effect after his death. He is simply exercising a power to which he is entitled to under the usage of the institution. A nomination makes the nominee stand in a peculiar relationship with the head of the Mutt and the Hindu community and that relationship invests him with the capacity to succeed to the headship of the Mutt. A nomination takes effect in presenti. It is the declaration of the intention of the head of the Mutt for the time being as to who his successor would be; therefore, although it is said that the usage in the Mutt is that the power of nomination is exercisable by will, it is really a misnomer, because, a will in the genuine sense of the term can have no effect in presenti There can be no dispute that a nomination can be made by deed or word of mouth. In such a case, the nomination invests the nominee with a present status. That status gives him the capacity to succeed to the headship of the Mutt on the death of the incumbent for the time being. If that is the effect of the nomination when made by deed or word of mouth, we find it difficult to say that when a nomination is made by will, it does not take effect in presenti. and that it can be cancelled by executing another will revoking the former will. Such, at any rate, does not seem to be the concept of nomination in the law relating to Hindu Religious Endowments.

A nomination need not partake of the character of a will in the matter of its revocability, merely because the power of nomination is exercised by a will. In other words, the nature or character of a nomination does not depend upon the type of document under which the power is exercised. If a nomination is otherwise irrevocable except for good cause, it does not become revocable without good cause, merely because the power is exercised by a will. If the power of nomination is exercised by a will, it is pro-tanto a non-testamentary instrument. A document can be partly testamentary and partly non-testamentary.

In Ram Nath Das Vs. Ram Nagina Choubey and Others, , the head of the Mutt for the time being exercised his power of nomination more or less in terms of Exhibit B-1 here, namely, by making the nomination of a successor and providing that he will be the owner of the properties and charities of the Mutt and also of the other properties standing in the name of the head of the Mutt. The Court held that so far as the nomination and devolution of the properties of the Mutt were concerned, the will operated as a non-testamentary instrument. The Court said that the condition which must be satisfied before a document can be called a will is that there must be some disposition of property and that the document must contain a declaration of the intention of the testator not with respect to any thing but with respect to his property. According to the Court, if there is a declaration of intention with respect to his successor, it cannot constitute a will even if the document were to state that the nominee will become the owner of the properties of the Mutt after the death of the executant of the will as that is only a statement of the legal consequence of the nomination.

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