In a relief to Senior Advocate Janak Dwarkadas, the Bombay High Court has quashed and set aside an order by the Joint Charity Commissioner wherein he refused to delete Dwarkadas’ name from the cause title of a revision application filed before him under Section 70 A of the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, 1951.
Justice SC Gupte was hearing a petition filed by the senior advocate challenging the said order of the Joint Charity Commissioner. The petitioner questioned his impleadment as a party in the matter on the ground that he was neither a necessary nor a proper party to the revision.
Bai Kabibai and Hansraji Morarji Charity Trust is registered under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act and the petitioner is an ex-trustee. What happened was that in 1985, the trustees entered into an agreement with a private developer to sell a piece of land owned by the trust in Ghatkopar. According to the said agreement, certain structures on the land were leased by the builders to the trust for a period of 99 years. Thereafter, the Charity Commissioner granted sanction for sale of the land in 1989.
Nine years later, the petitioner was inducted into the board of trustees of the said trust. In 2003, the structures on the said land leased out to the trust were surrendered by the trustees to the same developer. Thereafter a change report was filed before the Charity Commissioner who accepted the report and made requisite changes in the schedule of the properties of the trust.
In 2007, the petitioner resigned as a trustee and a change report notifying the same was accepted by the Charity Commissioner.
However, the 2003 order of the Charity Commissioner accepting the change report regarding the sale of certain structures to the developer was challenged and a revision application was filed in 2014. The applicant had added the petitioner’s name as a respondent in the application.
In 2015, the petitioner filed an application seeking discharge from the revision application on the ground that he had long ceased to be a trustee of the trust and was neither a necessary nor a proper party to the revision application. The Joint Charity Commissioner rejected the petitioner's discharge application in 2016. This order was challenged by the petitioner in a writ petition before the high court.
The high court, on June 29, 2016, directed the matter to be taken up by the Joint Charity Commissioner for a fresh decision “in the light of the observations made in this order”. The court had observed in the said order that it was incumbent upon the Joint Charity Commissioner to consider whether the petitioner was a necessary or a proper party to the revision application.
In October 2017, the Joint Charity Commissioner rejected the discharge application once again.
After hearing both parties in the matter and considering the impugned order rejecting the petitioner’s discharge, the court said:
“If the existence or validity of the change reported to the Charity Commissioner, is the only subject matter of inquiry before the Joint Charity Commissioner, the petitioner is evidently neither a proper nor a necessary party. He might still have been joined as a party respondent, if there was some particular relief to be claimed against him in person or he might have been noticed and allowed to showcause if there was any adverse order to be passed against him. That is what the Joint Charity Commissioner was expected to consider in the discharge application and that was the express basis on which the matter was remanded to the Joint Charity Commissioner for a fresh inquiry in accordance with law.”
It further noted:
“It is an elementary principle of law that a legal proceeding is initiated for redressal of a grievance; it seeks an appropriate relief in response to such grievance. All those parties in whose absence such grievance cannot be considered or such relief cannot be granted are termed as “necessary parties”, whilst all those other parties whose presence may be considered proper for an effective adjudication of the grievance are “proper parties” to such proceeding. Unless a party qualifies either as a necessary or a proper party, it cannot be joined.”
Thus, the court ordered the petitioner’s name to be deleted as a respondent in the matter and allowed the petition.