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An employee passed away and had nominated his parents as a nominee at the time of joining the organisation. As time passed, he was married and had children, but failed to update his nominees. He passed away and his wife has staked claim for the death benefits , being is spouse and legal heir.
On the other hand late employees' parents too stake a claim that the entire benefits should be awarded to them, as he had nominated them as nominees and nothing should be awarded to his wife and children. Rightly so, the spouse is eligible to the benefits, being the legal heir per Hindu marriage Act as she has produced the evidences of her legal marriage such as Marriage Certificate and birth certificate and school registration certificate of her child.
On the other hand, the parents, with their lawyer have contested that the nomination forms does not contain his signature . The nomination forms in fact had his electronic signature of the late employee.
How would the labour court view this?
The reason I am asking this is we are using technology in HR and if DocuSIgn signature is not accepted at Labour Courts, do we still use them?

Succession certificate from civil courts will be needed to clear the NE death benefits
Agreed..My second question was does Civil Courts honour electronic signatures?
With reference to your query, I can make a following observations:
1. The certificate having a digital signature is the conclusive proof of the nomination made by an employee in favor his parents.
2. Wife and children is also entitled to claim for the benefits since they are dependents defined under the Act even if there is no nomination in their favor.
3. However, parents need to prove that, they were dependent on the income of the deceased but wife and minor children need not prove.
Dr. Navin Kumar Koodamara
Faculty of Law and Management, Manipal Institute of Management
Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Udupi

It is the settled law that nomination is not a substitute for succession or inheritance. A nominee is only a trustee to receive the funds on behalf of the legal heirs of the deceased employee.
It is also a moot question whether the nomination which was furnished before the marriage, remains valid once the employee has married and has a family of his own who have been solely dependent on him.
It is my considered opinion that the benefits to the wife and the minor child. The parents can approach the court of law if they are so inclined.

Nominee to receive, but legal heir to own
This essentially means that the nominee will receive and hold the property of the deceased until he is legally bound to transfer or distribute it to the legal heirs of the deceased.
As per law, a nominee is a trustee, not the owner of the money/ assets. In other words, a nominee is only a caretaker of your money/ assets. The nominee will only hold your money/asset as a trustee and will be legally bound to transfer it to the legal heirs. For most investments, a legal heir is entitled to the deceased's money/ assets.
A legal heir certificate is different from a succession certificate, a succession certificate is generally issued by the civil court, but Legal Heir certificates are issued by the tahsildar of the district to recognize the actual deceased person living heirs.

The earlier nomination in favour of parents is legally valid as parents are family members as per the definition of family in the Gratuity Act.Of course he could change the nomination after marriage.On aquiring family the previous nomination will get nullified only if the nomination was in favour of a person who was not a family member.Here it not that case.
Legally employer can pay gratuity the last nominee as per his record.The wife can fight the civil case against the in laws for its possession.

The nominated person is eligible to receive the payments anything due from your end.
It is matter of right for nominee to decide to share the payments with other members of the family i.e. wife & children of the deceased employee.
To have the share by wife & children have to go to court for their peice of claim before the authority prior to disburse of payment.

Further to earlier posting, there is an inherent contradiction in that "On the other hand, the parents, with their lawyer have contested that the nomination forms does not contain his signature." Why should the parents contest the nominations when, admittedly, it is in their favour?
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