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Why SC rejected Nirmohi Akhara’s claims on shebait rights

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Mahant Dharam Das

While taking up the issue of Nirmohi Akhara and shebait rights, the Supreme Court observed that the course of dealing with the maintainability of Suit No. 5 hinged on the question whether Nirmohi Akhara was a shebait, and whether it had acted in a manner pre-judicial to the interests of the idol.

The Supreme Court observed that where there exists an express deed of dedication identifying the shebait, the position in law with respect to who can sue on behalf of an idol is as follows:

I) The right to sue vests exclusively in the lawfully appointed shebait

II) Where the shebait acts in a manner negligent or hostile to the interests of the idol through express action or inaction, any person who is interested in the endowment may institute a suit on behalf of the idol

III) The exact nature of the interest possessed by the next friend, and whether the next friend is bona fide are matters of substantive law and that if the same is contested, it must be adjudicated upon by the court

The Supreme Court noted the conditional modification of the position of Nirmohi Akhara opposing the maintainability of the suit filed by the idol through the next friend provided that Nirmohi Akhara is independently allowed to maintain its status as shebait, and stated that such a position is untenable in a court of law.

Clearly noting the contradiction, it was observed that since Nirmohi Akhara had always maintained that it was the shebait to the idol, which if accepted by the court of law, would mean that it alone had the right to sue, to the exclusion of the next friend, i.e., in Suit No.5. The Suit No.5 could therefore only stand if the court concluded that Nirmohi Akhara had acted contrary to the interests of the idol.

In the absence of an express deed of dedication in the present case, the Nirmohi Akhara had claimed de facto shebaitship on the basis of its long standing presence at the disputed site.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court pointed out that the fact that Suit No.5 was instituted by the next friend 30 years after the suit instituted by Nirmohi Akhara, and both suits were adjudicated together clearly showed there was no determination made about the shebaitship of Nirmohi Akhara yet at that time.

Clarifying the position of a de facto shebait, as claimed by Nirmohi Akhara, the Supreme Court observed that a single or stray act of management does not vest a person with the rights of a de facto shebait and that such person must demonstrate long, uninterrupted and exclusive possession and management of the property in question.

In this regard, the Supreme Court observed that although Nirmohi Akhara denied the incidents of December 22/23, 1949 (when late Baba Abhiram Das had placed idols in the inner sanctum as per records and proceedings) at the disputed structure, the claim of Nirmohi Akhara that it was in possession of the inner courtyard has already been rejected on the basis of the evidence on record.

The Supreme Court further noted that the Nirmohi Akhara had failed to prove that at the material time, the disputed structure was a temple which was in its possession and that no such incident had taken place on December 22/23, 1949.

Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that in the absence of exclusive possession of the inner courtyard, the claim of the Nirmohi Akhara that it was managing the inner courtyard as shebait does not arise.

(The writer was a strategic counsel to the heads of the parent bodies of both Nirwani and Nirmohi Akharas in the resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. He can be contacted at [email protected])

Cities

Man tries to kill wife who got sex change to get married

Soon the couple started staying separately. The husband shifted to Kotla Mubarakpur while the wife remained in the double storey building in Amar Colony.

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Gyanendra Shukla

New Delhi, July 14: Four years back, a young man changed his sex. Three years on, she fell in love with a man. Both decided to marry. However, in a year tragedy struck and husband Gyanendra Shukla slit his wife’s throat and left her to die.

The brutal attack took place in South Delhi’s Amar Colony. Shukla expected his wife not to survive when he fled leaving her in a pool of blood.

The woman, not only survived but gathered enough strength to made a video call to her father and tell him about the gruesome attack that took place on July 11.

“The father made a PCR call from Gurugram, while the profusely bleeding wife dragged herself to the door and started knocking with a hammer to raise an alarm and get someone’s help because her vocal chords were slashed,” said DCP South East Delhi R.P. Meena. Her neighbours shifted her to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Shukla was arrested the same day. He hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district.

His interrogation revealed that he got married on March 13, 2019. His family members were against the marriage. Soon after marriage the relationship turned sour as he could not accept the outgoing nature of his wife.

He lost confidence in the relationship and started suspecting his wife at every turn. He checked her messages and did not approve of her partying.

The couple initially stayed with the wife’s family but the father-in-law asked them to leave as the woman’s family could not take the daily dose of quarrel. The couple shifted to Lajpat Nagar-IV area and moved into a rented accommodation. Their disputes were endless and converted into routine quarrels.

Soon the couple started staying separately. The husband shifted to Kotla Mubarakpur while the wife remained in the double storey building in Amar Colony.

On Saturday, he decided to kill her and end it once and for all. Shukla has been booked for attempt to murder.

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Delhi Gymkhana Club turned from ‘vyayamshala’ to ‘madhushala’: Govt

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Delhi Gymkhana Club

New Delhi, Jul 14 : The Central government has filed an appeal challenging the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order, which allowed it to appoint two members (Central government nominees) to the Board (General Committee) of the Delhi Gymkhana Club (DGC), instead of appointing an administrator to manage its affairs.

In an appeal before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), the Centre said that the NCLT has erred in not granting effective safeguards and an efficacious remedy.

“While allotting membership of the Club, the company has been treated like a ‘Riyaasat’ (kingdom) of the persons, especially the GC members, by misusing MoA and the AoA of the company. It is not out of place to submit here that over the years, the activities of the Club have been turned over from a ‘vyayamshala’ to a ‘madhushala’ and the functioning of the General Committee is like ‘siyasat’,” the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said in the plea in the NCLAT.

The MCA argued that the violations are of extremely serious and grave nature, which indicates the GC members have been acting autocratically to the benefit of a few chosen members of the club, at the expense of the general public.

“It has to be borne in mind that the Board of companies function on majority decisions, here by permitting appointment of only two nominees, the Tribunal has provided inadequate relief and cosmetic representation on the Board will not cure mismanagement and the gravity of the rot that has set deep in the management of DGC,” it contended.

The plea said that the continuing management of affairs by successive GCs, “have pervasively twisted the objects of the company, to benefit a select few, who managed to remain in control of the DGC, through an unauthorised and complicated hereditary succession mechanism”.

“The admission process can only be described as ‘parivaar-vaad’. The general public applicants are being made to wait for decades (in some cases since 1972) for membership of the club, all the while (the club) having unauthorisedly collecting lakhs of rupees in the form of registration fees, process fees, enhanced registration fees etc, over and above the entrance fee,” it said.

The plea contended that the NCLT accepted most of MCA’s submission and also agreed with its allegations, yet it refused to grant interim relief sought.

“Till quite recently the unauthorisedly collected fee was not even refunded to the unsuccessful or waitlisted applicants. These nefarious activities by the GC of DGC are being carried out on prime land of 27.03 acres in New Delhi, all the while paying a miniscule amount of rent on the perpetual lease from the Ministry of Urban Affairs,” contended the plea.

In its June 27 order, the NCLT declined to suspend the club’s General Committee and also the appointment of an administrator as sought by the Centre, but instead directed it to appoint two of its nominees in the GC to monitor the affairs of the club, along with other GC members and give suggestions.

The ministry had moved the NCLT asking for replacement of the directors of the club with government nominees to run the affairs of the company, and in the interim relief, asked for suspension of the GC and for appointment of an administrator until the final order is granted.

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Covid positive staff at PAC meet sparks scare among MPs

Now, calls are being made to all those who attended the meeting, asking them to remain quarantined as a matter of precaution.

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adhir ranjan chowdhury congress

New Delhi, July 14 : In what could spell trouble for different Parliamentary committee meetings which have resumed after almost four months, all those who attended the Department Related Standing Committee for Public Accounts or PAC meet have been advised to go into quarantine after a staff who was present at the meeting tested positive for Covid-19.

Most members like Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury or DMK’s T.R. Baalu, who attended the meet and went back after meeting several people, have been informed about the official who was present at the PAC meet and later tested positive.

The meeting took place on July 10, while the official tested positive on Tuesday, which essentially means that the 18 MPs who attended the meeting carried on with their normal life for the last few days. The PAC has a total of 20 members, out of which 15 are from the Lok Sabha and 5 from the Rajya Sabha.

Among the 18 MPs who attended the meeting were the committee’s chairperson Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, senior DMK leader and former Union Minister T.R. Baalu, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrashekhar, senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav and Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Ray, among others.

Now, calls are being made to all those who attended the meeting, asking them to remain quarantined as a matter of precaution.

On Tuesday evening, Rajeev Chandrashekhar tweeted, “Ok, so I came to Delhi. Attended Parliamentary Committee meeting on 10th. Turns out one staff of Committee secretariat has tested COVID positive today. So I am headed to 7 days quarantine.”

With the gradual resumption of different committee meetings, the government is exploring the possibility of convening a short Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have explored all the possibilities, including using a substitute venue like Vigyan Bhawan, to ensure seating with “do gaaz ki doori”, but none were big enough to accommodate the entire Parliament together.

With this incident, many parliamentarians believe that the fate of other parliamentary committees and even the Monsoon Session has now become uncertain.

Earlier, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had complained about thin attendance, arguing for a virtual meeting, which both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have turned down.

Significantly, on Tuesday, two key BJP leaders — MoS Jitendra Singh and party General Secretary Ram Madhav — went into self quarantine after BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir chief Ravinder Raina tested positive for coronavirus.

Just two days back, Raina had accompanied both the leaders to offer condolences to the family of Wasim Bari, a local BJP leader who was killed along with his father and brother by terrorists in Bandipora town in north Kashmir.

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