MUMBAI News: Jaya Chedda, convicted of killing her former husband matka king Suresh Bhagat, will have to wait to stake a claim to inherit his property. The Supreme Court last week asked the Bombay high court to first hear her appeal against her conviction and then take up the testamentary petition over property. Under Section 25 of the Hindu Succession Act a person convicted of murder is disqualified from inheriting the deceased’s property. The high court had last year permitted Chedda to be added as a party in place of her deceased son in the testamentary petition. This order was challenged in the SC by Bhagat’s niece Tanuja Bhagat.
“We dispose of this petition with a request to the HC to first take up the criminal appeal for final hearing as expeditiously as possible. We are giving this indulgence to the parties keeping in mind the peculiar facts of this case, as the proceedings pending in the (testamentary plea) in the high court ought to proceed only after a final decision is rendered in the criminal appeal,” said a bench of Justice Ajay Khanwilkar and Justice Ajay Rastogi. “After the criminal appeal is finally disposed of, it will be open to the parties to request the HC to take up the civil suit and the testamentary proceedings for further hearing. The same be decided in accordance with law expeditiously.”
Bhagat and Chedda got married in 1979 and divorced in 2006. On June 13, 2008 Bhagat and six others were killed when a truck rammed into their SUV on the Alibaug-Pen Road. Investigations revealed that Jaya and Hitesh had planned the murder to take over the matka king’s business. In 2013, a sessions court convicted Jaya and her son of the murder. Bhagat’s mother, Maniben, had in 2008 filed a plea to administer her son’s properties. Maniben died in 2010 and in her will left the property to be shared by her grandchildren—children of her two other sons. The court had allowed Hitesh’s plea to be a party in the plea for administering the assets and had ordered 50% of the property should be protected. Hitesh died in jail in 2014, and his mother filed a plea to stand in for her son.
The grandchildren had opposed Chedda’s plea saying she was disqualified from inheriting the property. The high court, in December 2018, ordered that Chedda’s name be substituted in place of her deceased son Hitesh as his only heir and legal representative.