21 July 2023 6:44 AM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Friday, sought details from the Registrar of the Allahabad High Court the civil suits filed in respect of the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah dispute at Mathura, which were sought to be consolidated and transferred to the High Court from the trial court.A Bench comprising Justice SK Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a plea challenging the order passed by...
The Supreme Court, on Friday, sought details from the Registrar of the Allahabad High Court the civil suits filed in respect of the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah dispute at Mathura, which were sought to be consolidated and transferred to the High Court from the trial court.
A Bench comprising Justice SK Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a plea challenging the order passed by the Allahabad High Court on May 26 to transfer all pending suits related to the Krishna Janambhoomi-Shahi Idgah dispute from the Mathura Court to itself.
During the short hearing today, the bench asked if it would not be better if the High Court decides the matter.
"Looking to the nature of the matter, is it not better that the High Court tries the matter?. Thinking aloud, if it is tried at a higher level...pendency of matter causes its own disquiet, one side or the other", Justice Kaul observed. Noting that multiple suits have been filed on the issue, Justice Kaul said :
"Multiplicity of proceedings and prolongation are not in the interest of anybody. The objective as we see it is to ensure that further proceedings are not filed in the present matter. It is in the larger interest of everybody that the matter is decided at a higher level".
Advocate Tasneem Ahmadi, the counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the suits were filed only from 2020 and the transfer petition was filed in respect of one suit which challenged a compromise decree of 1968. However, suits having different causes of action are also sought to be clubbed together. At this point, the bench asked if not the fundamental underlying issue of all the suits are not the same. "So is it not in the interest of everybody that the suits are consolidated and tried at the higher level at the earliest?", Justice Kaul said. The counsel argued that consolidation of suits having different causes of action cannot be done.
She added that the trial court is also equally competent to try the matter and pointed out that there is no considerable delay as the suits were filed from 2020. To this, Justice Kaul replied : "If the issue is settled at the High Court level, it will be better. The level of application of mind will be of a different level, one can say by sheer experience. And may be a better ability to handle the nature of the suit".
She added the transfer of the suits will deprive the parties of one appellate forum and that all parties do not have the wherewithal to travel to Allahabad for the trial.
"Considering that all cannot travel to Allahabad, let the trial be in Mathura", Ahmadi submitted.
"How many such cases are there? Let us call for all the details. We will ask the Registrar of the High Court. Then let us see how the trial should proceed. We are not fundamentally averse to trial court doing it or High Court doing it", Justice Kaul said. After this, the bench decided to call for the details from the High Court.
"We consider it appropriate to ask Registrar of HC to forward to us what are the suits that are sought to be consolidated by the impugned order. There appears to be a little generality to the direction issued. List after three weeks", the bench observed in the order. Advocate Mahmood Pracha and Advocate-on-Record RHA Sikander also represented the Masjid Trust Committee. Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appeared for the respondents (plaintiffs before the trial court).
The Special Leave Petition filed by Committee Of Management, Trust Shahi Masjid Idgah states that, “the Transfer Application was allowed by the High Court despite the fact that the proceedings in Suit No. 353 of 2022 from which the Transfer Application emanated, were stayed by a Coordinate Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad”. According to the petitioner, the High Court transferred other suits also to itself, even though no transfer applications were filed for those suits.
The petition, filed through Advocate-on-Record R.H.A. Sikander further states that the decision of transfer was made even without considering that the Suit was registered only on May 26, 2022, the petitioner states. According to the petition, the impugned judgment is rendered based solely on the apprehension of the respondents that if the suit is decided by the Trial Court itself it will take a long time.
In May, the Allahabad High Court allowed the transfer application moved by Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman and 7 others. It was observed:
“...looking to the fact that as many as 10 suits are stated to be pending before the civil court and also there 25 should be more suits that can be said to be pending and issue can be said to be seminal public importance affected the masses beyond tribe and beyond communities having not proceeded an inch further since their institution on merits for past two to three years, provides full justification for withdrawal of all the suits touching upon the issue involved in the suit from the civil court concerned to this Court under Section 24(1)(b) CPC."
In the said transfer application, it was argued that the issues involved in the suits pending before the Mathura Court concern crores of devotees of Lord Krishna and the matter is of national importance, hence, the same should be transferred to the High Court. The High Court allowed the petition and instructed the District Judge of Mathura to compile a list of all similar cases related to the subject matter and those related to it indirectly, either explicitly or implicitly.
[Case Title: Committee Of Management Trust Shahi Masjid Idgah v. Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman And Ors SLP(C) No. 14275/2023]
Click Here To Read/Download Order