“Matter Primarily of Civil Nature” Allahabad High Court Quashes Criminal Proceedings in Disputed Will Case

In a significant ruling, the Allahabad High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against three family members accused of forging a will and causing the death of their elderly father. The case, which originated from a family dispute over property inheritance, highlights the court’s stance on the need for substantial evidence before initiating criminal trials.

Case Background:

The case (Application U/S 482 No. – 1820 of 2024) was filed by Santosh Kumar Sharma and others against the State of U.P. and another party. The applicants challenged a summoning order dated 02.12.2023 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Firozabad, in Complaint Case No. 22712 of 2022.

The complainant, Dev Kumar, had accused his brother Santosh Kumar Sharma, sister-in-law, and nephew of forcibly obtaining their father’s signatures on a will on 27.01.2017, excluding the complainant from inheritance. The father died the next day under allegedly suspicious circumstances.

Legal Issues and Court’s Decision:

1. Sufficiency of Evidence:

The court, presided over by Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery, found that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges under Sections 304 (culpable homicide) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.

2. Civil vs. Criminal Nature of the Case:

The court noted that the complainant had already filed a civil suit for cancellation of the will, suggesting that the matter was primarily of a civil nature.

3. Summoning Process:

The court emphasized that the process of summoning is a serious matter, especially for offenses like culpable homicide. It quoted from recent Supreme Court judgments to highlight the need for careful consideration before issuing summons.

Key Observations:

Justice Shamshery observed: “Without any post mortem report or without any statement of Doctor before Trial Court only on basis that executor of Will, a person aged about 80 years, died on very next day as well as without any medical report that he was a person of unsound mind, I do not find that there are sufficient ground to proceed against applicants to summon them under Section 304 IPC also.”

The court also noted: “At this stage there is no material before Trial Court as well as no reason has been assigned that there are sufficient ground to proceed against applicants to summon under Section 420 IPC.”


The High Court allowed the application, quashing both the summoning order dated 02.12.2023 and the entire proceedings of Complaint Case No. 22712 of 2022.

Legal Representation:

– For the Applicants: Mrs. Anita Singh, Kumari Poonam Rajpoot, Nirmla Kumari, Prem Babu Verma

– For the Opposite Party: Arvind Agrawal, G.A.

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