Diwan, Not State Govt Can Nominate Members Of Gurudwara Board; Bombay High Court Quashes State’s Notification

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In the case of Sardar Manjieeth Singh Jagan Singh. V. The State of Maharashtra, the Petition attacks the State Government notification issued, which nominated four persons to the Board of Directors of Nanded Gurudwara.

To expand it, the State nominated members on Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Shree Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Board from Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan, Nanded U/Sec. 6(1)(viii) of the Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Shri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Act, 1956 (for short “Act 1956”).

Arguments From The Petitioners

Mr. Gadhe, the learned Advocate for the petitioner contended that:

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The impugned notification is contrary to Section 6(1)(viii) of the Act 1956 on the following grounds:

The general committee has powers to nominate members to the board. The Government cannot finalize the names on their own or based on the proposal received by different persons claiming their position in Diwan as members of the Executive Committee.

As per Sec. 6(1) (viii) of the Act 1956 and Sec. 4 of the bye-laws of the Diwan, only the general committee of the Diwan can nominate four persons on Gurudwara Board. The general committee is empowered to take a policy decision and the Executive Committee is not vested with such powers. The general committee of the Diwan has not passed any resolution nominating persons for an appointment over the Gurudwara Board from Diwan.

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Two change reports are pending and the competent authority reported that names of working valid executive committee cannot be communicated.

The Government exceeded its jurisdiction while nominating the members. By accepting the recommendation by one fraction of Diwan, the Government indirectly declared the President of the Diwan, though the change report is yet to be approved. The notification is bad in law. The learned counsel relies on the judgment of this Court in a case of Murlidhar Janrao Kale Vs. State of Maharashtra and others reported in 2011 (3) BCR 850.

Nineteen defacto members of the Executive Committee are alive, but their consent was not obtained before the issuance of the impugned notification. No enquiry was also made in respect of resolution. The general committee of the Diwan has not passed any resolution, nor recommended the names of respondent Nos. 4 to 7 for an appointment over Gurudwara Board.

  1. The mere filing of change report does not entitle a person to become a valid member of the trust. The respondent Nos. 6 and 7 are not the members of the Diwan. Their initial membership is yet to be proved.
  2. The respondent No. 6 is the son of respondent No. 4 and respondent No. 7 is the brother of the respondent No. 8. The membership of respondent Nos. 5 to 7 is not confirmed by the general committee of Diwan. The Diwan has not recommended their names.

The contention of respondent Nos. 4 to 7 about the locus of the petitioner is erroneous.

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In the first affidavit filed by respondents, there is no whisper about the resolution or challenge to the locus standi of the petitioner.

Legal Backing: As per Section 2(18) of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act, the petitioner is the trustee and, therefore, has locus standi to file the petition.

The date of the resolution was forged. The respondents have committed perjury. The respondents have relied on resolution dated 30.12.2018 to contend that, based on said resolution, four members are appointed. In the said resolution names of respondent Nos. 5 and 7 were not recommended.

There are 421 members of the General Committee of the Diwan. As per Section 4(d) of the bye-laws of the Diwan 1/4th quorum is necessary, as such 105 members ought to have passed resolution. Out of eleven members, some of the member’s membership is yet to be proved. The resolution dated 30th December 2018 is not in the file of Government.

Arguments From The Respondents

Mr Deshmukh, the learned senior advocate for respondent Nos. 4 to 7 submits that:

  1. The petitioner does not have locus standi to file the present petition. He is not the member of the Diwan inter alia does not have the locus to assail the notification.
  2. The tenure of the Committee of Diwan is two years. The impugned Government notification does not constitute any alleged infringement of the rights of the petitioner. The petitioner has miserably failed to prove his locus.
  3. The learned senior advocate further submits that the petitioner is removed from the post of trustee of the Diwan vide resolution No. 4 of the working committee of the Diwan dated 14.04.2015 and the said resolution is not the subject matter of challenge till this date in any proceeding.
  4. The learned senior advocate submits that no error has been committed by the Government in issuing the notification.

The learned Additional Government Pleader for respondent Nos. 1 to 3 submits that:

  1. The Government had on 21.02.2015 wrote a letter to the Charity Commissioner, Mumbai asking him to opine as to who was authorized to represent the Gurudwara Board.
  2. There is no violation of Article 26 of the Constitution. The nominations of the members of the Gurudwara Board is necessary for the function of the Gurudwara.

Court’s Decision

The matter of debate in the present petition is the nominations of four members by Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan, Nanded (for short “Diwan”) under Section 6(1)(viii) of the Act 1956. Diwan is registered under the Hyderabad Registration of Societies Act 1350 Fasli. It is also a trust.

In four letters forwarded to the Government for the nomination of the members of the Diwan on the Gurudwara Board, there does not appear to be consistency. The Government on its own does not have the authority to nominate the members of Diwan on the Gurudwara Board.

The State ought to have sought further clarification from the Diwan before issuing notification nominating four members. It could not have picked and chosen members from various letters.

Except for the name of the respondent No. 4 appearing in all four letters issued by the Diwan and inconsistency concerning other names, it would not be possible to uphold the notification nominating respondent Nos. 4 to 7 as members of Diwan on the Gurudwara Board in toto.

Clause (viii) of Sub Section (1) of Section 6 of the Act 1956 does not authorize the Government to nominate the members of the Diwan on the Gurudwara Board and it is only the Diwan that can nominate the members.

The notification recommending respondent Nos. 4 to 7 is arbitrary. Arbitrariness has no role in a society governed by the rule of law. Arbitrariness is an antithesis to the rule of law, justice, equity, fair play and good conscience. The arbitrary action cannot withstand to test of law. The impugned notification is quashed and set aside.


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