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Removing Trustees & Directing Trust To Conduct Elections Is Beyond Jurisdiction Of Public Trust Registrar: Madhya Pradesh High Court

Zeeshan Thomas
15 Jan 2022 5:16 AM GMT
Removing Trustees & Directing Trust To Conduct Elections Is Beyond Jurisdiction Of Public Trust Registrar: Madhya Pradesh High Court
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that Registrar of Public Trust has no discretionary power under the Madhya Pradesh Public Trust Act, 1951, to remove the existing Trustees and direct the Trust to conduct elections for the same. Justice Subodh Abhayankar was essentially dealing with a Writ Petition, wherein the Petitioners sought for quashing of the order dated 17.11.2021, passed...

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that Registrar of Public Trust has no discretionary power under the Madhya Pradesh Public Trust Act, 1951, to remove the existing Trustees and direct the Trust to conduct elections for the same.

Justice Subodh Abhayankar was essentially dealing with a Writ Petition, wherein the Petitioners sought for quashing of the order dated 17.11.2021, passed by the Registrar of Public Trust, District Barwani, wherein two of the Trustees were removed from their post, and the Trust, namely Shri Digamber Jain Siddh Kshetra Bawangajaji, was directed to conduct elections for the post of Trustees.

The case of the Petitioners was that being registered as a religious and charitable Trust, the same is governed by its own Constitution. The said document includes details of management, appointment and election of the Trust and that no deviation therefrom is permissible.

According to them, the Complainant/Respondent preferred an Application before the Registrar, without reference to the Provision of the Act, alleging that one of the Trustees of the Trust concerned, is illegally appointed.

Apart from removal of the Trustee, the Application also sought for stay on the election process initiated by the Trust.

The Petitioners alleged that the impugned order was passed by the authority against the principals of nature justice, without giving them an opportunity of being heard.

The Petitioners argued that the power exercised by the Registrar through the impugned order was beyond the duties assigned to him under Section 22 of the Act. Moreover, to pass any other order, the Registrar would have to file an Application before the District Judge under Section 26 of the Act to seek instructions.

They relied on two decisions of division benches of the court in Dalludas v. Registrar of Public Trusts, Hoshangabad and Sheoprasad Dubey v. Registrar, Public Trusts, Sagar & Ors. to substantiate their claims.

The Complainant/ Respondent submitted that the impugned order does not suffer from any infirmities. It was further argued that with respect to Section 26 of the Act, a bare perusal of his Application would reveal that it did not contain any ingredients under Section 26 of the Act, which therefore, did not call for reference of the case to the District Judge for directions.

He relied upon decisions of Supreme Court in Shri Sant Sadguru Janardan Swami (Moingiri Maharaj) Sahakari Dugdha Utpadak Sanstha and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors., and of the High Court in Mohanrao Wakode v. State of M.P. & Ors. and Shri Shri 1008 Kunwar Raj Rajeshwai Hindayla Darbar by Pn. Hariom Parakash Maharaj (Baba) v. State of M.P..

After examining the contentions of parties and the documents on record, the court held that no such discretion is available to the Registrar to remove the Trustees and to direct the Trust to conduct the election by appointing two new Trustees from Bharatvarshiya Digambar Jain Tirthkshetra Committee.

It was further observed that Section 25 of the Act lays down the procedure for filling the vacancies in the Board and not removing the Trustees. Similarly, Section 26 of the Act merely provides for the Registrar to file an Application seeking instructions from the District Judge if he's not satisfied by the functioning of the Trustees.

Citing the observations of the court in Dalluram case, the court noted that-

"In the considered opinion of this Court the dispute between the parties in the aforesaid public trust is in respect of its administration only, and for which the directions ought to have been sought from the District Judge as provided under Section 26 of the Act. Thus, the Registrar Public Trust, Barwani has clearly acted in excess of his jurisdiction to pass the impugned order which cannot be countenanced in the eyes of law."

Commenting on the decisions referred to by the Complainant, the court noted that since none of judgments were similar to the factual and legal matrix of the matter at hand, it was not bound by them in the present case. The court, wherefore, allowed the Petition and quashed the impugned order, directing the Registrar of Public Trust, District Barwani to take appropriate action in accordance with law for proper administration of the Public Trust.

Case Title: Saurabh & another v. State of M.P. & Ors 
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 6 

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