The Official Trustees Act, 1913

The Official Trustees Act, 1913 (Act No. 11 of 1913) was assented and passed by Governor General of India in Council on 27th February, 1913, with the view to amend and consolidate the laws relating to constitution of the Office of Official Trustee. The Section 1 provides for short title and also for the extension of it, to the entire British India which was to include British Baluchistan and the Sonthal Parganas and also subjected to the British and Indian population. Section 2 of the Act deals with interpretation clause wherein certain terms used under this Act are being defined for correct interpretation of the provisions of this Act. And section 3 clarifies that the High Courts at presidency town should have jurisdiction for any matters connected with this Act.

The Part II (i.e. from section 4 to 6) of the Act is important so far as it is connected with the office of Official Trustee, wherein section 4 prescribes for official trustees as there should be appointment of Official Trustees by the Government, for every presidencies of Bengal, Madras (now Chennai) and Bombay (now Mumbai). Sub section (2) is dealing with qualification of person to be appointed to Office of Official Trustee. Similarly, there should be an appointment of Deputy official trustees for assisting those Official Trustees. Section 6 says that such Official Trustee to be the corporation sole by its name as Official Trustee of the Bombay and etc. and therefore, the Official trustee should have all similarities, as that of registered companies.

Another part i.e. Part III of the Act deals Official Trustee’s rights, duties, etc. Section 7 thereof provides for powers and obligations of Official Trustee as similar to that of ordinary trustees. Section 8 makes provisions as to appointment of official trustee with consent as trustee of settlement by grantor. Similarly, section 9 of the Act deals with provision as to appointment of official trustee by will, wherein it is provided that the executor of such will or administrator of estate should transfer the concerned property and on such transfer should vest in such Official Trustee. Even as per section 10, the High Courts are empowered to appoint Official Trustee for the properties being subjected to the trust but without trustee. The Private trustees are empowered under section 11 of the Act to appoint Official Trustees when such private trustees, or surviving or continuing trustees and all beneficiaries are in favour of such appointment. Further Section 12 of the Act makes provisions as to payment or transfer to the Official Trustees, of any legacy, share or gift in the assets of deceased persons, for which any infant or lunatic is entitled.

Similarly, Part IV of the Act is dealing with provisions as to charging fees by Official Trustees for his rendering duties either in percentage or otherwise as per choice given by the Government. And part fifth of the Act deals with auditing provisions, wherein section 19 of the Act says that, at least once in every year the accounts of such Official Trustees are to be audited by persons prescribed by the Government in given manner. Such officers should posses the powers of Civil Court as provided under the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) in respect of given matters. The Section 22 of the Act is essential as to right of beneficiary connected with inspection of accounts. Such beneficiaries can also claim copies of accounts on payment of certain prescribed fees.

Lastly, the miscellaneous provisions are contained under Part VI of the Act, where section 23 says that when any amount remained unpaid to the beneficiary for whom the same was retained with Official trustees or when Official trustees was unable to trace entitled person thereof till the laps of period of twelve years then such amount or moneys be transferred to the account of Government of India. And when any such person claimed such amount then as per section 24 of the Act, the Government of India should upon satisfaction by the prescribed authority, pay to the claimant that amount. And if the claim was not proved to the satisfaction before such prescribed authority, then as per section 24(2) of the Act, the claimant is entitled to move petition to the High Court against the secretary of State for India for decision. The High Court is empowered under section 25 of the Act to order vesting of trust property in the Official Trustee. Another important provision under this Part is section 29 of the Act, where Official trustee can transfer the property to original trustee or any other trustee thereof or even to any person on direction of the Court. Section 30 of the Act empowers the Government under this Act to frame rules for serving for objects and purposes of this Act and also for the matters provided under this Act under different clauses enlisted under sub section (2) thereof. And as per last provisions i.e. section 33 of the Act, the scheduled Acts given under Schedule annexed with this Act, are required to be repealed, such enactments includes, The Official Trustees Act, 1864, The Probate and Administration Act, 1890 and The Administrators General and Official Trustees Act, 1902. All these Acts’ provisions extending to what given under this Schedule, are required to be repealed under this provision.

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.