Shankaranand (D) by L.R. Vs. Mahant Sri Sadguru Sarnanand Etc. & Ors. 
INSC 995 (27 May 2008)
S.B. Sinha & Lokeshwar Singh Panta
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.19185 of 2006) REPORTABLE S.B. Sinha, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. Whether a disciple attached to a Mahant in one of the establishments run
by a Religious Trust will have locus standi to maintain an appeal from an order
of the District Judge allowing an application filed by the Trust under Section
92(1)(f) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (for short, the Code)
is the short question which arises for consideration in this appeal.
3. One Swami Sarupanand was the founder of the Math. He was disciple of
Swami Advaitanand. The latter was a religious preceptor of great learning and
had a large following. Swami Sarupanand took his Samadhi at Meerut in March
1936 and according to his wishes Swami Atmavivekanand became the Mahant. He was
succeeded by Swami Harsewanand who in turn was succeeded by Swami
Swami Harshankaranand died on 22.02.1993. He had three disciples;
Sarnanand, Premanand and Smt. Tapesara. Premanand died on 10.06.2005. He was
succeeded by Swami Shankaranand. Appellant is said to have succeeded Swami
Shankaranand. Appellant contends that succession to the office of Mahant is by
nomination. Any person so nominated adopts the life of a sanyasi. He leads the
life of celibacy and religious mendicancy.
4. A dispute in regard to the office of the Mahant after the death of Swami
Atmavivekanand arose in between one Swami Harsewanand on the one side and Sri
Krishna Singh on the other.
This Court held Swami Harsewanand to be the successor of Swami
Atmavivekanand. After his death, Swami Harshankaranand was substituted in place
of Swami Harsewanand in the aforementioned litigation before this Court.
Whether he would acquire the status as a successor Mahant or not was left open.
One Sri Krishna Singh filed Suit No. 153/80 questioning the status of Swami
Harshankaranand as a Mahant of the Math in question commonly known as Garhwaghat
The question in regard to the holder of the office is still pending before
this Court in Civil Appeal No. 5550 of 2003.
5. Mahant Satguru Sarananand who also was a disciple of Swami
Harshankaranand was in-charge of the Garhwaghat Math. He entered into an
agreement for sale with the respondent No.3 which is also a Public Trust. A sum
of Rs. 35,50,000/- was the agreed amount of consideration for the said land.
Out of the said amount Rs.33,00,000/- was paid in advance. An application for
grant of permission to sell the said property was filed on 02.07.1990. It was
advertised in two local newspapers. No objection having been received,
permission as sought for was granted by the learned District Judge by an order
Name of the respondent No. 3 was mutated in the revenue records on
31.1.1994. An application was filed by the respondent No. 3 before the Hardwar
Development Authority for grant of sanction of building plans on 15.10.1993. It
was allowed by an order dated 2.6.1994. Huge constructions have since been
raised by the respondent No. 3.
Respondent No. 3 popularly known as Gayatri Pariwar Shanti Kunj on the said
land has developed: (1) A Research Laboratory known as Brahma Varchas
Shodh Sansthan, and (2) Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya.
It has also a network of 4000 Shakti Peeths, 25,000 Pragya Sansthans and
30,000 Swadhyaya Mandals etc., which regularly organize Satsang,
Discourses, Inspiring songs, and discussions on various
problems in their areas to advance the noble cause of the mission. In fact,
these serve as local centres of which Shantikunj is the Headquarter.
6. Appellant preferred an appeal before the High Court of Allahabad on
15.11.1994 only, which was transferred to the Uttranchal High Court.
By a reason of a judgment and order dated 19.5.2006, the said appeal has
been dismissed, inter alia, on the ground that the appellant was not a person
aggrieved to maintain the same.
7. Mr. A.K. Ganguli, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellant would submit that the High Court committed a serious error insofar as
it failed to take into consideration that the appellant had no knowledge about
coming of existence of the said agreement for sale as also the order granting
sanction by the District Judge. The learned counsel would contend that the
minimum valuation of the property as per the report of the valuer should have
been Rs. 72 lakhs and not Rs.35,50,000/- as has been found by the learned
District Judge. In any event, it was urged that having regard to the fact that
the dispute in regard to Mahantship between the interested parties being
pending consideration before this Court, the High Court committed a serious
error in passing the impugned judgment.
8. Mr. S.R. Singh, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondent No. 3 and Mr. Adkar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
other respondent, on the other hand, supported the impugned judgment.
9. Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides for special power of
the District Judge in regard to Public Trusts both charitable and religious. An
application for sale of the Trust property must be filed before the District
Judge and only on his approval the same can be effected.
In a case of this nature judiciary exercises the jurisdiction of parens
patriae and, thus, when an objection is filed for grant of sanction in terms of
Section 92(1)(f) of the Code, the same should receive serious consideration.
The High Court thus may not be entirely correct in opining that the appellant
had no locus standi to maintain an appeal. It is true that the appellant is
said to be in-charge of a Math situated at Varanasi. However, it is contended
that he really stays at Mirzapur.
According to the respondents, he has nothing to do with the Math in
question. But, that is to say, no person being a third party to the
application, would not be a person aggrieved, in a case of this
nature cannot be sustained, if the appellant establishes that he is otherwise
interested in the welfare of the Trust.
10. The High Court in its judgment noticed:
10. Even according to the case of the appellant Swami Har Shankaranand
was the Mahant of the Math. The appellant in the injunction application filed
before the Appellate Court has claimed himself to be succeeding Mahant of the
Math Garhwa Ghat on the death of Swami Har Shankaranand. The Counter
affidavit has been filed by the respondents before the High Court as Annexure C.A.
10 to the counter affidavit, which is judgment dated 3.5.1991 passed by X Addl.
District Judge, shows that Swami Sarananad, respondent No.1 has become Mahant
after death of Swami Har Shankaranand. The aforesaid order dated 3.5.1991 also
shows that appellant Premanand was not declared to be the Mahant. Again in view
of Annexure C.A. 8 to the counter affidavit it reveals that the competent
authority in mutation proceeding vide order dated 15.6.1993 came to the
conclusion that Chadar Mahanthi was given to Swami Satguru Sarananad
and not to appellant Premanand on the death of Swami Har Shankaranand. Further
paragraph 4(g) to (r) and (s) of the aforesaid counter affidavit reveal that
Suit No. 153/1980 which was sought to be converted was initially filed
challenging the status of Swami Har Shankaranand as Mahant of Math Garhwa
Ghat and the High Court vide judgment dated 15.5.2002 passed in W.P. No.
46291 of 2000 has quashed the entire proceedings of suit No.
153/1980. Therefore at present Suit No. 153/1980 is not pending, hence under
the aforesaid circumstances it is quite clear that the appellant Premanand is
not Mahant of Math Garhwa Ghat hence he cannot be said to be an
aggrieved party as well as does not have any locus to maintain the aforesaid
appeal. Swami Premanand who had filed the appeal is now dead and there is a
dispute regarding the succession of Swami Premanand, but once it is held that
Swami Premanand has no locus or grievance to maintain the aforesaid appeal,
therefore after the death of Swami Premanand who is the appellant in this case,
there is nothing on record to indicate as to how the person claiming succession
to late Swami Premanand is aggrieved by the impugned order. It is also not
in dispute that Swami Premanand was not a party to the proceedings before the
learned District Judge. It, however, did not mean that a person who was not a
party to the proceedings cannot prefer an appeal. The question in regard to the
extension of locus standi of a person to prefer an appeal has recently been
considered in Machindranath disposed of on 29.04.2008, wherein it was held that
in a case where a persons right to obtain compensation may be defeated by
a judgment passed in a connected matter, he would have a right of appeal.
Unfortunately, the High Court has not considered this aspect of the matter.
But in view of the order proposed to be passed, it is not necessary to deal
with this aspect of the matter any further.
11. The learned counsel for the parties, however, have taken us through the
entire records. From the affidavit filed by the third respondent, it appears
that it is running a Trust which serves a larger public interest. A large
number of constructions have already been made.
Constructions started in the year 1994 and have been completed in 1995.
Various activities have been going on at that place.
Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 also have purchased an alternative land and raised
constructions thereon at a cost of Rs.10 lakhs. In this view of the matter, in
our opinion, no useful purpose would be served in entertaining the appeal.
Furthermore, the appellant cannot be permitted to prefer an appeal only because
he is interested in the result of Civil Appeal No. 5550 of 2003 which is
pending before this Court. He is not a party thereto. He is not claiming
Mahantship in his individual capacity in respect of the establishment at Hardwar.
It is accepted at the Bar that the said Civil Appeal has got nothing to do with
the property in question.
Furthermore, the nature of the property when sold was not Abadi
but was a jungle land. It is also not in dispute that the name of
Sadguru Sarnanand was also mutated in the revenue records pursuant to the order
dated 26.9.1983 in revenue proceedings.
12. We are, therefore, of the opinion that it is not a fit case for exercise
of extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. The
appeal is dismissed accordingly. There shall be no order as to costs.