Decided on April 03,1968



- (1.) THIS is an application for Letter of Administration with the will annexed in respect of the assets and estate of the late Maharaja of Cochin, Sri Ramavarma, alias Ratna Varma Pareekshit Thampuran, who died on the 12th November 1964, at the Hill Palace, Tripunithura, within the jurisdiction of this court. The petitioner is the widow of the deceased. The deceased left no son or daughter or other lineal descendants or mother; and the petitioner is the sole heir of the deceased under the Hindu Succession Act by which he was governed. The deceased executed a will dated 3rd May 1952 under which he made two specific bequests of the properties described in schedules A and B of the will in favour respectively, of the petitioner and the widow of a deceased nephew, who was formerly the Palace Controller. The properties covered by these schedules in the will were later assigned to the legatees under documents dated 8 4 1954 and 29 4 1954 with rights of absolute ownership and immediate enjoyment. The will constituted the petitioner a residuary legatee of all other properties undisposed of by the testator at the time of his death. The personal assets of the deceased in respect of which Letters of Administration have been prayed for, are particularly described in Annexure A of the affidavit of valuation. Letters of Administration are prayed for in respect of this said assets.
(2.) A Caveat has been entered by the present Maharaja of Cochin. That the petitioner is the lawful heir of the deceased is not denied. That the petitioner is entitled to Letters of Administration with the will annexed in respect of the properties and assets covered by the will, is also not disputed. But on behalf of the Caveator, objection has been raised to the grant of Letters of Administration in respect of the assets mentioned in Annexure A to the affidavit. The Caveator's objection is that these belonged to the Stanam of the late Maharaja of Cochin, that the Maharaja had only a life estate in these assets but no disposing power, and that the Caveator as the successor in stanam of the late Maharaja is entitled to succeed to, and to deal with, these assets which form part of what has been described as the Palleera Muthalpidi Estate. Alternatively it is contended that the Maharaja of Cochin is a corporation sole, that the properties vested in the corporation sole and that the Palleera Muthalpidi Estate of which the assets in Annexure A form but a part is attached to the ruler ship of Cochin. It has been stated that on the demise of the Maharaja, the Palleera Muthalpidi Estate descended in-tact to the successor. The Caveator has not disputed either the authenticity or the due execution of the will. The following issues, were framed on 15 1 1968, after perusal of the draft issues submitted by counsel on either side, and after discussion with the counsel 1. Are items 1 to 8 in Annexure A assets of the Palleera Muthalpidi Estate belonging to the Maharaja of Ruler of Cochin as contended for by the respondent or are these or any of these items the private assets of the late Ramavarma (Pareekshit Thampuran) deceased? 2. Whether the securities mentioned in Annexure A-l. the shares in Annexure A-II and the car in Annexure A-III were acquired by deceased husband of petitioner as his private acquisitions with funds belonging to him and . or over which he had powers of disposal? 3. If the items in Annexure A belonged to the Palleera Muthalpidi estate, then is the petitioner entitled to Letters of Administration as prayed for? In respect of what all assets, if any, in Annexure A is the petitioner entitled to get Letters of Administration?
(3.) ARE the funds administered by the Private Secretary to His Highness the Maharaja of Cochin and any investments made by the Private Secretary in Banks or Securities the private properties of the Maharaia as contended for by the petitioner or do they belong to the Palleera Muthalpidi Estate as contended for by the respondent? Has there been a merger of item No. 7 in the Ann exure A in the Palleera Muthalpidi Estate as contended for by the respondent?;

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