The Karnataka High Court has said that for exercising jurisdiction under Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the civil court is to first draw a factual finding from the material placed on record whether the Trust is a public charitable or a religious Trust and also whether the persons approaching the Court have any interest in the Trust.
A single judge bench of Justice R. Nataraj allowed the petition filed by Adarsha Sugama Sangeetha Academy and set aside the order granting leave to contesting Respondents herein, Vrinda S. Rao and Pushpa MK, to file a suit against them.
Before the trial court, the contesting Respondents herein claimed that Petitioner was a public charitable Trust of which Rao was a Trustee along with other pro-forma respondents. The Respondents alleged that the meetings of the Trust were not conducted regularly and that not even a single Annual General Body meeting of the Trust was held. They alleged that one of the Trustees, Sri G.Y. Bhagwan died long back and his place was not filled up. They also alleged that they noticed irregularities and misappropriation of funds.
The Trust on the other hand claimed that it is not a public charitable Trust and a perusal of the Trust deed does not disclose any charitable activities. Hence, the Trial Court cannot be clothed with the jurisdiction to entertain a petition.
It was also submitted that Pushpa MK was not a person interested in the affairs of the Trust and therefore, the Trial Court without considering the case of the petitioners on the anvil of the above, allowed the petition.
The bench said,
"Section 92 of the CPC is a special provision which provides for securing interest of the general public who are interested in a public charitable or religious Trust or an Institution. In order to maintain a suit under Section 92 of the CPC., persons applying should show the existence of a public charitable or a religious Trust or a purpose. There should be a clear breach of the terms of the Trust. Such a petition could be filed by two persons interested in the affairs of the Trust."
It added, "Once the threshold is fulfilled, the only question would be whether there is a breach of the Trust and if yes, the Court would determine the modalities of a scheme for the better and effective administration of the Trust under its supervision."
In the instant case, from a perusal of the impugned order, the High Court concluded that the Trial Court failed to apply its mind to the question whether the Trust was charitable or religious and whether the petitioners were really interested in the affairs of the Trust.
"The Court has proceeded on the assumption that the Trust is a public charitable Trust and that the petitioners are interested in the affairs of the Trust," it said while setting aside the impugned order and directing the Trial Court to expedite the consideration of the petition in accordance with law.
Case Title: ADARSHA SUGAMA SANGEETHA ACADEMY v. VRINDA S. RAO & others
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO.33264 OF 2016
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 324
Date of Order: 1ST DAY OF AUGUST, 2022
Appearance: Advocate RAJESH MAHALE, for Advocate D.S.JAYARAJ for petitioner; Advocate A.V.SRINIVAS, FOR R1; Advocate S.R.SREEPRASAD, FOR R2; Advocate RAJATH H.V, FOR R5