CASE: P.Samuel Sundar Kumar & Other v. Reorganised Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints
The Original Side Appeal was filed challenging the common order passed by the court. The Respondent was a registered society and a Global Organisation. Its International Headquarters was in Missouri, USA. The respondent society had filed the suit for relief of declaration and recovery of possession of the suit property and for relief of permanent injunction for restraining the appellants from trespassing into the suit property.
The Respondent had also filed a petition for an ad-interim injunction against the Appellants for restraining them against interference in the worship and other activities of the Respondent’s Church. The injunction was also granted.
The First Appellant, P. Samuel Sundar Kumar had applied for vacating the same. By a common order, the learned Judge had allowed the injunction petition and dismissed the Application to vacate the injunction.
Arguments Before the Court
The Church was in the suit property. The parties admitted that the prayers and other religious services were conducted. However, the dispute arose because of the power wrangle between the parties to take up the management and administration of the properties of the society and the activities of the Church. The Appellants argued that the order of injunction could not be granted in a suit filed for recovery of possession and the Respondent had no cause of action to file the suit. The Appellants had not accepted the authority of Prince Daniel by contending that he was not properly elected. However, the letter of notice of his appointment stated that he had been functioning as President with the approval of the Head Quarters and some minutes of the meetings also confirmed the contention of the Respondent.
The Respondent had also contended that the first Appellant, P. Samuel Sundar Kumar was the former President. In his tenure, he had mismanaged the assets and affairs of the society and enriched himself, his wife, son-in-law, and his daughter into the helms of the Church while submitting the minutes of the meeting that he and his wife shared power in controlling the affairs of the Church, which also favoured nepotism. After receiving the letter from the Head Quarters about his unapproved actions, the same was continued.
Further, a resolution to allow a monthly pension to P. Samuel Sundar Kumar was passed. From the meetings, it was observed that files relating to the Second Appellant, Dass Builders & Promoters business were housed in a room and a portion of the suit property was allowed for running the office of Dass Builders & Promoters. The son-in-law and daughter of the First Appellant were inducted and allowed to gain prominence.
The First Appellant had continued to own the house in the suit property by residing there, even after his tenure was over and he was placed under the ‘ministerial silence’ through the letter of the Head Quarters. Thus, the Respondents contended that these materials on record were sufficient to make out a prima facie case.
The Court had observed that the conduct of the prayers and other ceremonies of the Church could not be allowed to remain uncertain until the issues involved in this suit are tried and decided. The power struggle between the two parties could not be a hindrance to the worshippers who came to the Church to receive the services conducted there, regularly.
Though this suit was filed for declaration and recovery of possession, events of disturbance to the peaceful conduction of the prayers in the Church had erupted during its pendency. The pendency of this suit could neither stall nor confuse the affairs of the Church, especially when materials were available to show that the First Appellant had caused interference and disturbance to the functions of the Church.
The court had also observed that no prejudice was going to be caused to the Appellants if the Church activities are allowed to be conducted peacefully by granting an order of injunction. If the injunction was not granted, threats of violence and uncertainty would erupt now and then. It would disrupt the harmony and disturb the worshippers. Such damages could not be redressed any time later.
The Court had also observed that there were also prima facie materials available to support the allegations of the Respondent. It supported that during the tenure of the first Appellant, he had allowed his kith and kin to play dominance. To get relief of injunction, it was sufficient for the respondent to make out a prima facie case and prove that there was a balance of convenience in his favour, and denying the relief would cause irreparable loss. The Respondent had successfully proved these elements before the Court.
As assured by the Respondent that the possession of the First Appellant in the house situated in the suit property would not be disturbed until the disposal of the suit, even though the affairs of the Church were carried out to his exclusion. It was also admitted that the church and the house in the suit property were situated as distinct and separate portions. Hence, the order of the interim injunction could only help to maintain peace and harmony.
The Court had held that the learned Judge correctly evaluated the elements of a balance of convenience and irreparable loss before suiting the Plaintiff for relief. Further, it was rightly thought to grant an order of interim injunction for the peaceful worship and prayers carried out in the Church until the larger issues were decided through exhaustive trial. Thus, it had disallowed the application filed by the First Appellant to vacate the injunction. The court had opined not to interfere without any reason.
Thus the original side appeals were dismissed and the common order passed was confirmed. The Court had also highlighted to the parties that they could exercise due restraint and should not indulge in any way to alienate or encumber the suit properties till the suit was dismissed, considering the public interest.
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