Narendraprasadji Pandey Vs. Swami K. Narayandasji & Ors  Insc 344 (13 May 2005)
Pal, Arijit Pasayat & C.K. Thakker
out of SLP (C) No. 15386 of 2004) WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3381 OF 2005 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 16128 of 2004) AND
CIVIL APPEAL NO.3382 OF 2005 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 17836 of 2004) ARIJIT
litigants come before courts raising disputes as to who shall function as Head
of a religious or financial institutions, and they travel through the corridors
of various courts and come before this Court, one wonders when do these persons
get time to think of purity sublime essences of religion and their duties as
a sad reflection on the credibility of the religious institutions.
Materialistic pursuits increasingly replace divine pursuits. The present case
at hand is no exception.
dispute centres round the question as to whether the removal of Ajendraprasadji
Narendraprasadji Pandey from the post of Acharya on the basis of a purported
resolution dated 11.5.2002 passed by a body calling itself Satsangha Maha Sabha
was valid. Intimately linked with this core issue is the legality of the action
taken to install Rakesh Prasadji Mahendra Prasadji. The dispute relates to Shri
Swaminarayan Sampradaya, Vadtal Gaddi. The concerned suit was filed before the
3rd Joint Civil Judge, Senior Division, Nadiad numbered as Special Civil Suit
application in terms of Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
1908 (in short the 'CPC') was filed and the same was allowed by order dated
1.10.2002 with the following directions:
application Exh.5 filed by the plaintiff against the defendant is hereby
allowed till final disposal of the application and I pass further order that
the defendant herein himself or his supporters be restrained from entering in
the Temple at Vadtal and subordinate Temples-Gadhada,
they shall not arrange any meeting without prior permission of the Government.
the defendant No.1 is removed from the post of Acharya therefore he shall not
perform duty of Acharya.
aforesaid interim order is granted till the final disposal of the suit.
I pass order that the defendant, his relatives or his followers shall not enter
in any temple of the Vadtal Trustee Board to perform "Darshan" or
"Puja". Further, they are directed not to act against the aforesaid
order. They can perform "Darshan" like other common man. They cannot
perform "Darshan" or "Puja" in the capacity of Acharya."
It is to be noted that an application in terms of Order 7 Rule 11 CPC was filed
which was rejected by the common order dated 1.10.2002. An appeal was filed
before the Gujarat High Court for staying operation of the order of the Trial
Court and seeking injunction restraining the appointment of any other person as
Acharya of the Southern Diocese. The appeal was admitted but no interim
protection was given. In the meantime, on 31.1.2003 the new Acharya was
appointed by the Committee constituted pursuant to the resolution on 11.5.2002.
An application was filed questioning the appointment of the new Acharya i.e.
Mahendraprasadji. Certain Satsanghis filed Special Civil Suit No.17 of 2003
questioning appointment of the new Acharya.
Leave Petition (C) No.3351 of 2003 was filed before this Court questioning
order of the Gujarat High Court in C.A. No.7520 of 2002 in A.O. No.421 of 2002.
This Court requested the Hon'ble Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court to
ensure early disposal of the appeal. The Appeal from Order No.421/2002, Appeal
from Order No.69/2003 and Civil Application No.611/2003 and other miscellaneous
applications were filed and by the impugned judgment the Appeal from Order
No.421/2002 was dismissed while no order was passed on other applications.
support of the appeals, primary stand taken is that the suit is misconceived in
view of the provisions contained in the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 (in short
the 'Act'), more particularly in the background of Sections 50 and 51 of the
said Act. The purported resolution of 11.5.2002 has no legal sanctity and the
removal of the erstwhile Acharya was done without any authority by a group of
people who were small in number compared to the large number of devotees and
persons belonging to the Sampradaya. The plaintiff had not established prima
facie case to show that the so-called body which had passed the resolution had
any authority or power to remove an Acharya. The High Court did not express any
view in those aspects and held that it was not the proper stage to decide the
issues. Though the present appellant's application in terms of Order 7 Rule 11
CPC was rejected that cannot and has not been taken as a ground to grant
injunction. As the order was a combined one, the appeal can be said to be
against the order rejecting the application in terms of Order 7 Rule 11 CPC.
The High Court's order suffers from various infirmities as the earlier
direction given to take up all the connected matters together was not kept in
view. While disposing of the matter, the High Court did not decide the points
raised by a group of Satsanghis in the connected matters.
counsel appearing for the respondents pointed out that the two courts have been
satisfied about the prima facie case and the suit which has been filed by the
group of Satsanghis supporting the erstwhile Acharya is a red-herring to
confuse the issues. The concerned appeal i.e. A.O.69/2003 was on board when the
appeal filed by Ajendraprasadji i.e. A.O.421/2002 was taken up. This according
to them is not a matter where any interference is called for under Article 136
of the Constitution of India, 1950.
to be noted that the legality of the appointment of Rakeshprasadji as Acharya
was questioned. So, as noted above the basic controversy revolves round the
question of the legality of the decision taken to remove Ajendraprasadji and
the legality of the appointment of Rakeshprasadji.
been argued by learned counsel for the appellant that the trial Court and the
High Court did not even examine the authority of the group of persons calling
itself Satsangh Mahasabha who passed the resolution to remove Ajendraprasadji.
It has been submitted by learned counsel for the respondents that in the past
it has been done by the Satsangh Mahasabha and, therefore, the plea that the
resolution was without authority cannot be sustained. In any event, the
previous Acharya - Ajendraprasadji himself had written a letter wanting
opportunity to place his side of the version before the body. It was pointed
out by learned counsel for the appellant that the letter in no way indicated a
concession to the position that the meeting convened could take a decision to
remove the Acharya. Even if it is accepted that the body passing the resolution
could in a given case adopt a resolution to remove the Acharya, the modalities
and the nature of the exercise of the power has to be proved by evidence. This
position appears to have been highlighted in the suit which forms the subject matter
of A.O.69/2003 before the High Court. Unfortunately, the High Court contrary to
its earlier directions that the connected matters are to be heard together does
not appear to have dealt with the pleas raised in that appeal.
both the appeals been taken up together, the stand of the parties would have
become clearer before the High Court. Additionally the High Court does not
appear to have dealt with the relevant aspects while affirming the order passed
by the trial Court.
appellant in appeal relating to SLP(C) NO.17836/2004 submitted that the
arguments were heard in respect of the appeal A.O.69/2003 but no findings have
been recorded. The High Court on the said appeal had practically rendered the
same infructuous by its decision in AO No.421/2003. We find that lot of
confusion has been created and the requisite care has not been taken to ensure
that all the connected matters were taken up together for effective
adjudication. The impugned judgment which forms the subject matter in appeal
relating to SLP(C) No.15386/2004 lacks clarity, analysis and precision. The
basic issues have not been addressed. On this score alone, we think it
appropriate to direct the High Court to hear the matter afresh along with the
appeal AO No.69/2003.
needless to note that while deciding the issue of injunction the Courts have to
consider the cumulative factors i.e. prima facie case, balance of convenience
and irreparable loss. Definite findings have to be given on these aspects, on a
prima facie basis. The impugned judgment of the High Court which forms the
subject matter of appeal relating to SLP(C) No.15386/2004 does not meet the
requirements. Therefore, without expressing any opinion on the merits and the
acceptability of the various issues, we deem it appropriate to remit the matter
to the High Court for fresh consideration.
the controversy is continuing unabated, it would be in the interest of the
parties if the appeals and connected matters are disposed of by the end of
September, 2005. It would also be proper for the trial Court to dispose of the
matter as was directed by the High Court earlier to dispose of the matter
expeditiously preferably by the end of November, 2005. Learned counsel for the
parties had assured us that they shall cooperate for early disposal of the
suits. We make it clear, as noted above, we have not expressed any opinion on
the merits and we have interfered primarily on the ground that the impugned
order of the High Court has been passed without taking note of the relevant
aspects and, therefore, deserves to be set aside for fresh consideration.
appeals are disposed of with no order as to costs.