The Bombay High Court on Thursday quashed and set aside a notification issued by the State government for appointment of four persons as directors of Nanded Gurudwara board and held as per Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Shri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Act, 1956, it is only the general committee of the Diwan that can nominate members to the board not the state government.
Division bench of Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice SD Kulkarni at Aurangabad bench were hearing a writ petition filed by Sardar Manjeet Singh who challenged the state's notification dated June 21, 2019 U/Section 6(1)(viii) of the said act of 1956.
Advocate Ganesh Gadhe appeared for the petitioner, AGP SB Yawalkar for the State, District Collector and Charity Commissioner, whereas Senior Advocate RS Deshmukh for the respondents who were appointed members of the board.
Advocate Gadhe submitted that the respondents have committed perjury as they relied upon a resolution dated December 30, 2018 to contend that, on the basis of said resolution, four members are appointed.
In the said resolution names of respondent Nos. 5 and 7 were not recommended. The said resolution is signed only by eleven members. There are 421 members of the General Committee of the Diwan. As per Sec. 6(1) (viii) of the Act 1956 and Sec. 4 of the bye-laws of the Diwan, only the general committee of the Diwan can nominate four persons on Gurudwara Board. The general committee is empowered to take policy decisions and the Executive Committee is not vested with such powers. The general committee of the Diwan has not passed any resolution nominating persons for appointment at the Gurudwara Board, Gadhe submitted.
At the very outset, Senior Advocate RS Deshmukh raised questions about the locus standi of the petitioner in the case. He also pointed out that the petitioner was removed from the post of trustee of the Diwan via notification of the working committee of the Diwan dated April 14, 2015 and said the resolution is not subject matter of challenge till this date in any proceeding.
AGP Yawalkar told the Court that the State Government had on February 21, 2015 wrote a letter to the Charity Commissioner, Mumbai asking him to opine as to who was authorized to represent the Gurudwara Board. The Charity Commissioner on March 17, 2015 replied that Sardar Gurucharan Singh Ghadisaj (Respondent No. 4) was the President of Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan.
In view of that, persons nominated by Sardar Gurucharan Singh Ghadisaj were accepted and notified as members of the Gurudwara Board in the year 2015. In the present matter Sardar Gurucharan Singh Ghadisaj has made recommendations of the persons from the Diwan to be nominated on the Gurudwara Board, and that is why the state issued the impugned notification.
After examining the said act of 1956, Court observed-
"Diwan is entitled to nominate four members on the Gurudwara Board. The term of the office of the member is three years from the date of constitution or until the constitution of the new board whichever is later. In the present matter, the whole dispute is about four members nominated by the Diwan Nanded.
Reading Section 6 of the Act 1956, it is manifest that the Government does not have powers to nominate the members under Section 6(1)(viii) of the Act 1956. It is only the Diwan that can nominate four members on the Gurudwara Board."
As for the eligibility of the four members who were nominated, Court said-
"In four letters forwarded to the Government for nomination of the members of the Diwan on the Gurudwara Board, there does not appear to be consistency.
Considering the inconsistency about the names to be nominated from the Diwan as members on the Gurudwara Board, the Government could not have issued the notification nominating the members of Diwan on the Gurudwara Board. Except the name of the respondent No. 4, we do not find consistency of other names in all the letters."
Finally, quashing the notification, the bench noted-
"The Government cannot arrogate the powers unto itself. The Government has usurped the powers of the Diwan. In a system governed by rule of law, the discretion and the exercise of power has to be confined within the defined limits. The decision or notification dehors the power under the Statute cannot be sustained. It is well settled that when a statute requires a particular thing to be done in a particular manner, it has to be done in that manner only. The notification recommending respondent Nos. 4 to 7 is arbitrary. Arbitrariness has no role in the society governed by rule of law. Arbitrariness is antithesis to the rule of law, justice, equity, fair play and good conscience. The arbitrary action cannot withstand to test of law."
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