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Legal fraternity: Deepa, Deepak have rights in Poes Garden

Legal fraternity: Deepa, Deepak have rights in Poes Garden
Deepa Jayakumar

Chennai: Deepa and Deepak, niece and nephew of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa have absolute statutory right to enter into Poes Garden, Jayalalithaa’s residence, as they are her legal heirs and nobody can prevent them from entering into the property, say legal luminaries.

Following the incidents that took place at Poes Garden on Sunday, in which Deepa was allegedly prevented from entering the Poes Garden, advocate N.S. Nandakumar, who appeared for one of the tenants in MGR Trust Will case, says Jayalalithaa in her affidavit filed before the Election Commission had declared her assets including Poes Garden, Kodanad and Hyderabad estates. Anybody can stay with Jayalalithaa during her lifetime, but after her death, the legal heirs Deepa and Deepak, children of Jayakumar, brother of Jayalalithaa, are entitled to inherit the properties.

When the properties were huge in value, normally it is the duty of a human being to register a “will” bequeathing the properties to anybody, he/she wishes. In this case, all the properties are self-acquired properties of Jayalalithaa except one portion of the Poes Garden. Therefore, the legal heirs of Jayalalithaa, namely Deepa and Deepak have rights to enter Poes Garden. All others stay on Poes Garden becomes unauthorized in law and in legal parlance, it is encroachment, Nandakumar added.

Senior advocate A. Sirajudeen said Jayalalithaa was the absolute owner of the Poes Garden bungalow till her demise. When she was alive, Sasikala Natarajan and her relatives were as her guests. It was admitted by them in their prosecution for possessing disproportionate assets.

Their status was only like a licencee which can be terminated by the owner at will. Now, on the demise of Jayalalithaa, the continuous staying of Sasikala and her relatives in Poes Garden could be only in the same capacity.

“Jayalalithaa had not left any class one legal heirs as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Hence, the properties left by her are inherited by the class two legal heirs. Deepa is the daughter of Jayalalithaa’s brother. So, as per the Hindu Succession Act, Deepa is the class two legal heir. In the absence of class one legal heir to late Jayalalithaa, Deepa and her brother Deepak jointly inherit the Poes Garden bungalow,” Sirajudeen said.

Deepa is the co-owner of Poes Garden and has statutory right to enter it as per choice and none can prevent her from entering it, he said. Nandakumar further said Deepa and Deepak can jointly or individually claim their shares. As per the Indian Succession Act, the claimant can move the high court for letters of administration without “will” or with “will” for administering the entire estate of Jayalalithaa. In the process, the liabilities should be discharged by the claimants who approach the court.

Since in this case certain persons were staying inside the house and appear to have been managing the assets, other than the legal heirs, any interested person can also approach the high court to grant administration in favour of administrator general or official trustee, giving reasons for such an administrator for administering the property.

Then the high court administrator will administer the properties till such time the legal heirs approach the court and obtain orders in their favour, he added. He said after a long time, if somebody claims unregistered “will”, it will lead to strong suspicion.

Where there is not a will…

When registered “will” is there, it should have been registered long before Jayalalithaa’s admission in the hospital. If there is a registered “will”, it should be produced before the Madras high court by filing a proper petition and getting appropriate orders in terms of the “will”. Then only the claimants/beneficiaries can enjoy the properties. MGR has given such a will only. Therefore, in the absence of any claimant moving the court with registered or unregistered “will”, Deepa and Deepak are the only legal heirs, who can enjoy the properties by approaching the court and getting an order for the same: Lawyer Nandakumar