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The Limitation Act, 1963
The Code Of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1956
Article 64 in The Constitution Of India 1949
The Societies Registration Act, 1860

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Rajasthan High Court
Association Of Radha Swami Dera ... vs Pratap Singh And Ors. on 10 August, 1984
Equivalent citations: 1984 WLN UC 284
Author: S Byas
Bench: S Byas



JUDGMENT
 

S.S. Byas, J.

1. This is a plaintiff's appeal against the order of the learned Additional District Judge, Ganganagar dated May 4, 1972 by which the appellant's plaint was rejected under Order 7 Rule 11(d) of the Civil Procedure Code on the ground that it was time barred.

2. The plaintiff instituted a suit for the declaration and possession against the three defendants in the court of the District Judge, Ganganagar on April 12, 1972. As per averments made in the plaint, one Baba Bagga Singh of Tarantaron (Punjab) founded an institution for the propagation of the tenets and preaching of Radhaswami faith at Taran Taran. It came to be known as "Dera Baba Baggasighji Taran Taran." Baba Baggasingh initiated many disciples to this Order and acquired vast movable and immovable properties for the development and progress of his order. Baba Bagga bingh, in his life time, nominated Baba Dewasingh (who was his principal disciple) as his successor to the Dera Baba Baggasioghji On the death of Baba Baggasioghji, Baba Dewasingh succeeded to Baba Bagga singhji as his successor. Baba Dewasingh also acquired huge movable and immovable properties for the purpose of advancement and development of Radhasawami faith of Dfra Baba Baggasioghji Taran Taran. In 1960, Biba Dewasingh formed an Association ofSatsangies with him as its Patron This Association was named as "Association of Radhaswami Dera Baba Baggasioghji Taran Taran" with the object of propagation of the traditions and tenets of Radhaswami Dera Baba Baggasinghji Taran Taran and other allied objects mentioned in the Memorandum of Association annexed with the plaint. This Association was got registered in Panjab under the Societies Registration Act, 1960. The rules and regulations of the Association made a provision for constituting a governing body named as Executive Committee, Dera Radha Swami Baba Baggasinghji Tarantaran. This Executive Committee consisted of Kundansingh as Chairman, Kashmirsingh as Secretary, Ranaq Singh as Accountant M-mber, Bootasingh as Member, and Ram Lal as Joint Secretary The rules and regulations also made provisions about the management of the property which came or was to come to vest in the society. According to these provisions, the properties belonging to the society shall vest in the Executive Committee and the society, through its Executive Committee shall manage the properties of the society. There are also provisions in the rules and regulations for the removal of the Chairman, Secretary and other office bearers The rules and regulations also made a provision for the Patron of the society and Baba Dewasingh was the first Patron A right WHS granted to the patron to nominate a person to succeed him as patron, ff no such successor is nominated in writing by the Sant Satguru (Patron), a provision was made that the remaining members of the society would elect a person as its patron who has been duly initiated by a Sant Satguru. The patron so elected would be the Head of the Dera Radhaswami Baba Baggasinghji Taran Taran and he would be deemed to be the successor of the previous Sant Satguru. The Patron would be the ex-officio Chairman of the society In the event of there being no patron for the time being, his powers and functions are to vest in the Chairman of the Committee till the patron is appointed in accordance with the provisions of rules and regulations. But the Chairman of the Executive Committee, in no case, would be deemed to be the Sant Satguru. He is to, have the right and functions of a patron only. On December 15, 1960, Baba Dewasingh made a declaration of Trust for the proper management of the, property of the Dera Baba Baggasingbji situate in Punjab and Rajastban and got this Trurt registered. Baba Dewasingh appointed himself as the Sole Trustee under the Trust. As a sole trustee and in exercise of the rights conferred on him under the Trust, he transferred properties of Dera Baba Baggasinghji to the plaintiff Association. As such the properties of Dere Baba Baggasinghji came to vest, in the Executive Committee of the Society. On December 22, 1960, Baba Dewasingh passed away. He did not nominate anybody as his successor. As such, according to the rules and regulations of the society, the patron was to be elected by the remaining members of the society. Defencant Partapsingh was never elected as patron of the society by the members of the society. Defendant Partapsingh is also not qualified to be nominated or elected as Head of the Dera Baba Baggasing. Reasons were stated in para 9 of the plaint as how. he was not qualified, defendant Partap Singh some where in IV 62 made unlawful possession on Dera Baba Bagga Singhji and the properties of the Dera detailed out in Schedule 1 annexed with the plaint. He also started declaring himself as the, Head of the Dera and styled himself as Sant Satguru and patron of the society. With the help of some amti-social elements, he drove all the members of the society and the Executive Committee out of the Dera. In December 1966, one Gurunam Singh and some other persons jointly filed a civil suit in the Court of Senior Civil Judge, Ganganagar against the plaintiff association and defendant Partapsingh alleging therein that Partapsingh was not a Sant Satguru. Defendant. Partapsingh resisted the suit for sometime as patron and chairman of the plaintiff association but subsequently withdrew himself from that suit with the result that the suit was decreed ex-parte on December 2, 1969. In execution of that decree, the learned Additional District Judge, Ganganagar appointed one Jugrajsingh, Advocate as receiver of the properties of the Dera which were in the hands of defendants No. 1. The receiver took over the possession of these properties of the Dera. The matter travelled to this court on an appeal filed by defendant Partapsingh. The appeal was allowed on the short ground that the suit was not maintainable as the provisions of Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code were not complied with. The ex-parte judgment and decree were consequently set-aside While dismissing the appeal, this Court observed:

It appears to us that Dera has a considerable income on account of immovable property including the agricultural land and considerable portion of income is spent over the maintenance of Dera and for feeding and locking after the Satsangis. It would, therefore, be proper in the circumstances of this case and in view of willingness expressed by the learned Counsel for the non-petitioner, to binn down the non-petitioner, for the proper management of the properties of this institution. They shall keep correct and regular account of the income and expenditure of the Dera and submit the same in the court of Additional District Judge, Sri Ganganagar at the end of every third month after they have taken over the chaige of the properties. They would further give securities in a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- to the effect that they shall not in any way alienate, waste or misuse the properties belonging to the Dera. The possession of the properties shall not be delivered to them unless security in the terms mentioned above is furnished to the satisfaction of the Additional District Judge, Ganganagar.

4. That matter is now pending in special appeal before the Supreme Court. It was alleged that in that civil suit the question whether defendant Partapsingh was really the patron and chairman of the plaintiff association, was not gone into by this court. In view of the above observation of this Court, Kundansingh (through whom the present suit has been filed by the association; moved an application on March 20, 1972 that the properties of Dera be got delivered to him from the receiver. That application was dismissed by the learned Additional District Judge on the ground that it was not necessary to consider as who was the then chairman of the association. Again on March 20, 1972 an application was moved by Kundansingh of the similar defendants for possession of the Dera properties. This application was opposed by defendant Partapsingh totally on a false ground that Kundansingh had resigned from the Chairmanship of the plaintiff association. This application was also dismissed by the learned Additional District Judge by his order dated April 7, 1972 with observations that "if Kundansingh feels himself aggrieved in regard to his status as president, he may resort to such remedy which may be available to him in law. His status as such cannot be determined in these proceedings."

4. It was further alleged that in l-<66, defendant Partapsingh got printed the amended memorandum of rules and regulations of the plaintiff association as amended upto May, 17, 1965. It is alleged that this was wholly wrong on the part of defendant Partapsingh as the rules and regulations were not amended by as required by the relevant provisions of the original rules and regulations. The reliefs claimed were:

(1) declaration that Kundansingh is the Chairman of the Executive Committee and the other persons mentioned in para 4 of the plaint are its other office bearers;

(2) declaration that defendants No. 1, 2 and 3 are usurpers and have no right of whatsoever nature to possess, manage and control the properties in dispute belonging to the plaintiff association;

(3) that in consequence of the above declaration, possession of-the properties mentioned in Schedule 1 be delivered to the plaintiff association and (4) injunction restraining defendants No. 1 and 2 from taking possession of the properties as Chairman of the association.

5 The suit was registered and summons were issued to the defendants. Instead of filing the written statement, the defendants moved an application on April 27, 1972 purporting to be under Order 7 Rule II, C.P.C. It was a leged thereon that as per averments disclosed in the plaint and specially those in para 10, the suit was barred by time. As such the plaint should be rejected. The learned Additional District Judge heard the parties and by his impugned order allowed the objections taken by the defendants. He held the suit to be time barred and as such the plaint was rejected.

6. I have heard the learned Counsel for the parties and gone through the case file carefully.

7. Before proceeding further, it would be proper to briefly notice the reasons which prevailed over the learned Additional District Judge in arriving at the conclusion that the suit was barred by time. According to him (1) the relief of possession over the Dera properties could not be granted unless and until the plaintiffs were declared as the office bearers of the plaintiff association, (2) the officer bearers of the plaintiff association Kundansingh and others named in para 4 of the plaint were ousted from their respective offices in 1962, (3) the suit was governed by Articles 57 and 113 of the Schedule of the Limitation Act and (4) the cause of action accrued to the plaintiff in 1962. Since the suit was filed in April 1972 i.e. nearly after ten years of ire accrual of the cause of action, the suit was time barred. Mr. Mehta, learned Counsel appearing for the plaintiff-appellant contended that the whole approach of the court below was erroneous and unsustainable in law. It was argued that no where in the plaint it has been mentioned that the office bears of the plaintiff association were ousted from the office of the Executive Committee in 1962. They could be outside from the office only in accordance with the jules and regulations of the association and not otherwise. The taking over of forcible possession over the Dera properties by the defendant Partapsingh does not amount to be ouster of the office bearers of the plaintiffs association. The office bearers could be removed from the office of the plaintiff association only in accordance with the provisions made in the rules and regulations of the Society. It was not the case of the defendants that the office bearers of the plaintiff association were removed in 1962 in accordarce with these rules and regulations. It was, argued that the ouster or removal of the office bearer of the plaintiff association and their being dispossessed from the properties of the Dera are two distinct matters-The office bearers may be physically dispossessed from the Dera properties but that would not lead to the conclusion that they have been removed or ousted from the office. It was also argued that at any rate it was a question of fact whether the office bearers of the plaintiff association were or were not ousted or removed from their office in 1962. As such it being a complicated question of fact and law, it could not be decided in a summary and slip-short manner as was done by the court below.

8. It was on the other hand ontended by Mr Deedwania and Mr. Arora, learned Counsel appearing for the respondents that in the averments made in the plaint, one can easily read that the office bearers of the plaintiff association were removed or ousted from the the office in 1962. The foundation of the plaintiff's case rests on the office bearers holding the office of the association. They could not claim the possession of the Dera properties unless they hold the office of the association. Since they were ousted from the office in 1962, the suit was correctly held as barred by time. I have taken the respective submissions into consideration.

9. It is trite law that Order 7 Rule 11(d), C.P.C. authorises the rejection of a plaint where the suit appears, from the statement in the plaint, to be barred by any law. For this purpose, only the allegations and averments made in the plaint would be looked into. The court cannot travel beyond what has been averred and alleged in the plaint. In order to decide whether the suit appears to be barred by any law, the court can also look into the documents filed with the plaint.

10. The learned Additional District Judge was much impressed and lied away by the averments made in para 10 of the plaint. He inferred from the allegations and averments made in para 10 that the office bearers of plaintiff association were ousted or removed from the office in 62. It Would be useful to reproduce para 10 of the plaint, which reads as under That defendant No. 1 illegally and in an unauthorised manner occupied this Dera of Baba Baggasingh and took possession of the properties of the Dera mentioned in Schedule I and started saying that be is the Head of this Dera and styled himself as Sant Satguru and Patron of the Association. With the help of some anti-social elements he drove all the members of the society and of the Executive Committee out of this Dera and usurped the property of this Dera for his personal ends in flagrant contravention of the objects, rules and regulations of the Association. Members who refused to go were pressurised through the police and even false cases were concocted against some of them. The plaintiff Chairman also had to leave the Dera under these ciscumstances after about two years of the death of Baba Dewasinghji much against his wishes.

11. Now, plain reading of para 10 shows that what has been alleged is that defendant Partapsingh forcibly occupied the Dera and made unlawful possession over the properties of the Dera. He further started declaring himself as the Head of the Dera and as Sant Satguru and patron of the association. It is difficult to infer from the averments made in para 10 that the office beareis of the association were removed or ousted from the office in 1962 It is, of course, open to the court to draw inferences from the averments made in the plaint and to find out the real substance of the matter s of dispute between the parties. But the inference should not be artificial. The inference should be normal and natural. An inference cannot be drawn from the averments made in para 10 of the plaint that the office bearers of the plaintiff association, through whom the suit was filed were ousted from the office in 1962.

12. The court below appears to have been swayed that the acts of the 1 defendant Partapsing in illegally and unauthorisedly occupying the Dera, making unlawful possession over the properties of the Dera and his declaring himself as Patron, Sant Satguru and Head of the Dera amount to removal or ouster of the office beaiers of the plaintiff association. The approach of the court below does not appear correct.

13. Making unauthorised possession or occupation of the immovable properties or the building of the Dera is one thing and ousting or removing the office bearers from the office plaintiff association is another thing. These are two distinct matters, each one being independent of the other. The existence of one does not automatically lead to the existence of the other.

14. There is no allegation in the plaint that the office bearers of the plaintiff association were ousted or removed from their office of the Executive Committee. It was also argued that Baba Dewasingh passed away on December 22,. 1960 without nominating in writing any body as his successor. According to the rules of the society, if no successor is nominated in writing by the Sant Satguru, the patron is to be elected by the remaining members of the society. This allegation is not unfounded. Rule 3(iii) of the Rules and Regulations of the Society lays down that if no successors is nominated in writing by the Sant Satguru, the remaining members of the society may elect by majority of votes a person as its patron and the parton so elected shall be deemed to be the successor of the previous Sant Satguru. Admittedly, according to plaintiff, no such election of the patron and for that purpose of Sant Satguru had taken place. Defendant Partapsingh cannot be, thus, accepted as patron or Sant Satguru.

15. There are provisions in the rules and regulations of the society as to how a member of the executive committee can be removed or ousted from office. According to the plaintiff society, this procedure has not been followed and as such it cannot be said that the members of the executive committee have been removed or ousted from the office. In view of these circumstances it is difficult to agree with the court below that the office bearers of the plaintiff association or the executive committee were automatically removed or ousted from the office simply because defendant Partapsingh made unlawful possession over Dera Baba Baggasinghji and the properties of the Dera.

16. It is true that the present suit is governed by articles 58 and 113 of the Limitation Act for the purpose of limitation. Both these articles lay down that the suit is to be filed within three years from the day when the right to sue accrues. The question when a right to sue will accrue is not one easy to answer. It all depends upon the facts and circumstances in a given case. It is a question of fact as to when a right to sue has accrued and like any other fact requires evidence for decision. In the instant case, it is, therefore, a question of fact as to when the right to sue accrued to the plaintiffs. For the present it cannot be readily said that the right to sue for the office accrued as soon as defendant Partap Singh made unlawful possession over the Dera Baggasinghji and the properties of the Dera. This question being a question of fact requires evidence for its adjudication. The view of the court below that the right to sue for office accrued to the plaintiff and the cause of action thereby accrued as soon as defendant Partapsingh made unlawful possession over Dera Baba Baggasinghji or the properties of the Dera, amidst such circumstances cannot be maintained.

17. Mr. Mehta also raised the question that the plaintiff has sought reliefs further than a mere declaration. The main relief is the relief of possession over the Dera and the properties of the Dera. In such circumstances, the relief of declaration prayed by the plaintiff is only an ancillary one. As such, the suit should be governed for the purpose of limitation by Article 64 of the Limitation Act. There is no need to deal with this contention in view of the foregoing discussion.

18. For the reasons discussed above, the imougned order cannot be maintained and should be set aside. The proper course will be to send back the case to the Court below with certain directions.

19. In the result, the appeal of the plaintiff is allowed and the impugned order of the learned additional District Judge, Ganganagar dated May 4, 1972 is set-aside. The case will go back to him with directions to proceed with the trial of the suit. The defendants will file the written Statement and the necessary issues will be raised. In case the issue Relating to limitation can be disposed of on the respective allegations and averments of, the parties without taking evidence, it may be so decided treating it to be a prelimirary issue. If the said issue requires the evidence for its possession, it will be decided alone with other issues after recording the evidence. No order as to costs of this appeal.