Allahabad High Court: No Registration Needed for Wills on Agricultural Holdings in Uttar Pradesh

The Allahabad High Court has recently clarified that wills concerning agricultural holdings in Uttar Pradesh are not mandated to undergo registration, thereby ensuring their validity. In the case of Pramila Tiwari vs Anil Kumar Mishra And 4 Others, a Division Bench comprising Justice Ajit Kumar and Justice Siddhartha Varma pronounced that the requirement for compulsory registration of wills under the UP Zamindari Abolition & Land Reforms (U.P.Z.A. & L.R.) Act, 1950 conflicted with Section 17 read with Section 40 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908.

Consequently, the court declared the pertinent amendment of Section 169(3) of the U.P.Z.A.L.R. Act void, thus upholding the validity of wills on agricultural holdings without registration.

Here’s what happened:

  • The ruling was made in response to a reference from a single-judge seeking clarity on the prospective or retrospective nature of the provision on compulsory registration of wills.
  • The Division Bench also questioned whether the State legislature, without the President’s assent, could enforce compulsory registration of wills.
  • Subjects like will, intestacy, and succession fall under the concurrent list of the Constitution, with a central legislation, the Registration Act, 1908, already addressing the registration of wills.
  • The Union List, State List, and Concurrent List delineate exclusive and shared legislative subjects between the Union and the States, with supremacy resting with the Union legislature in case of conflict.
  • The Court highlighted the procedure for modifying or amending a Central Act, requiring the President’s assent, as stipulated in Article 254 of the Constitution.
  • It noted that the Registration Act, 1908, governed the registration of documents, including wills, and any amendment to this act necessitated presidential assent.
  • The addition of Section 169(3) to the UPZA & LR Act in 2004 conflicted with the pre-existing central legislation, rendering it void due to repugnance.
  • The Court rejected the suggestion to merely interpret the provision narrowly, emphasizing the need to consider the socio-economic conditions of rural areas.
  • Referring to a NITI Aayog report highlighting the prevalence of multidimensional poverty in Uttar Pradesh, the Court underscored the challenges faced by rural populations.
  • While acknowledging the intention behind the provision to protect poor farmers from fraud, the Court cautioned against potential abuse of registered documents.
  • The Court asserted that any amendment to the Registration Act, 1908, required presidential assent, rendering the State’s attempt to amend it without such assent invalid.
  • Consequently, the Court struck down the provision for compulsory registration of wills in Uttar Pradesh.

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About the Author: Payal Singh