V.G. Oak, J.
1. These three connected suits relate to the affairs of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Allahabad. The principal question raised in thesesuits is whether a certain constitution framed on behalf of this institution is valid.
2. There is not much dispute about facts. The admitted facts are these. Hindi Sahitya Sammelan (hereinafter referred to as the Sammelan) was established some years ago to popularise Hindi language and to develop Hindi literature. The Sammelan has been doing valuable work in the cause of Hindi language and literature during the last few years. The Sammelan has been registered under the Societies Registration Act (No. XXI of 1860). Certain rules were prepared in the year 1946 for the management of the Sammelan.
Those rules were in force for two or three years. The Constitution of India recognized Hindi as the official language of the country. It was felt by a large section of the Sammelan that, it was necessary to introduce fundamental changes in the object, programme and constitution of the Sammelan. The matter was taken up in the Hyderabad session held in December, 1949. A resolution was passed appointing a committee of 21 persons for drafting a new constitution for the Sammelan so as to make it fully representative of all Hindi regions of the country.
It was laid down in the resolution that, the new constitution should be placed for approval before a special session of the delegates of the Sammelan. The committee drafted a constitution. That draft was placed for approval before the special session of the Sammelan convened at Patna in June, 1950. However, that draft could not be passed by the Sammelan in the Patna special session. Resolution No. 1 was passed in the Patna special session appointing another committee of 11 persons for drafting a new constitution. A constitution was accordingly drafted.
It was to be taken up for consideration by the Sammelan in the session held at Kotah in December, 1950. But it was said that that draft became un-traceable. So resolution No. 11 was passed at the Kotah session on the subject of preparation of a new constitution. The committee of 11 persons appointed at the Patna special session was again directed to prepare a new constitution. It was Further laid down in the resolution that, the draft constitution would be deemed to have been adopted by the Sammelan as soon as the constitution received the assent of eight members of the committee. Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar was the President of the Sammelan in the year 1951, and Sri Rai Ram Charan Agarwala was the General Secretary.
3. Some members of the constitution committee met at Allahabad in July, 1951 for framing a new constitution. The new draft was signed by some of the members of the committee. It was announced that another meeting of the committee would be held on 28-8-1951 at the house of Sri Kanhaiya Lal Misra at Allahabad for final approval of the draft constitution. In the meanwhile eight members of the committee put their signatures on the draft constitution.
It was felt in certain quarters that, the new constitution came into force on 11-8-1951, when eight members put their signatures on the draft. It will be convenient to refer to the set of rules framed in 1946 as the 'old constitution', and to the rules or constitution prepared in August 1951 as the 'new constitution'.
4. On 28-8-1951 Sri Shridhar Misra and two others filed in the court of Munsif, Allahabad (West), Suit No. 567 of 1951 against Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar and 11 others with the following allegations. Resolution No. 1 passed at the Patna Special Session and resolution No. 11 passed at the Kotah session are both ultra vires and inoperative. Consequently the new constitution framed by the committee of 11 persons is also invalid. The plaintiffs, therefore, prayed for a declaration that, resolutions Nos. 1 and 11 passed at Patna and Kotah respectively, and the draft constitution framed by defendants Nos. 2 to 12 are ultra vires the Sammelan and are null and void.
At all events the constitution considered at the Patna special session is binding, and it was not permissible to frame another constitution. The plaintiffs also prayed for a permanent injunction restraining defendants Nos. 2 to 12 from holding a meeting of the constitution committee on 28-8-1951, from formally approving the draft constitution, and from giving effect to it.
5. The plaintiffs' claim was contested by Sri Rai Ram Charan Agarwala (defendant No. 2) and by Sri Mauli Chandra Sharma (defendant No. 7). These defendants maintained that the procedure adopted by the Sammelan at Hyderabad, Patna and Kotah was legal. It was pleaded that the Sammelan is an autonomous body, and the suit is not legally maintainable. The two defendants also alleged that the plaint has been undervalued, and the court fee paid on the plaint is insufficient. Defendant No. 2 claimed compensation under Section 35-A, C. P. C.
6. The following issues arose in the case :
1. Are resolutions Nos. 1 and 11 of Patna session and Kotah session respectively, and the draft constitution framed by defendants Nos. 2 to 12 ultra vires of the Sammelan and null and void?
2. Has this Court jurisdiction to try the suit?
3. Have plaintiffs any interest in the management of the affairs of defendant No. 13? Have the plaintiffs any right to maintain the suit?
4. Is the valuation given in the plaint undervalued and indefinite Is the court-fee paid insufficient ?
5. To what compensation, if any, is defendant No. 2 entitled under Section 35A, C. P. C.?
6. To what relief, if any, are plaintiffs entitled?
7. On 6-9-1951, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Allahabad through its Secretary and Sri Rai Ram, Charan Agarwala filed in the court of Munsif, Allahabad (West) Suit No. 604 of 1951 against Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar. According to the plaint, the new constitution came into force on 11-8-1951. The defendant called a meeting of the old Standing Committee of the Sammelan to consider the question of the new constitution and the conduct of plaintiff No. 2. The meeting was to be held at Allahabad on 9th September, 1951. The defendant was requested not to hold any such meeting. Rut the defendant paid no attention to the request. The plaintiffs, therefore, prayed for a declaration that, the office bearers of the Sammelan are bound by the new constitution prepared on 11-8-1951. The plaintiffs also prayed for an injunction restraining the defendant from holding the proposed meeting, or acting in accordance with the old constitution.
8. The claim was resisted by the defendant. The defendant pleaded that the constitution prepared at the Patna special session has now been traced, and is in the possession of the defendant. The resolutions Nos. 1 and 11 passed at Patna and Kotah respectively are ultra vires of the Sammelan.
9. The following issues were framed in this suit:
'1. Whether the new constitution prepared, approved and signed on 11-8-1951 is valid?
2. To what relief, if any, arc the plaintiffs entitled?'
10. On 10-9-1951 Hindi Sahitya Sammelan through its Secretary and Sri Rai Ram Charan Agarwala filed in the court of the Civil Judge, Allahabad Suit No. 75 of 1951 against Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar and seven others with the following allegations. The defendants and their party-men decided to declare the new constitution null and void and to bring plaintiff No. 2 in disrepute. Defendant No. 1 decided to call a meeting of the old Standing Committee of the Sammelan to consider the following three questions:
(a) to consider the conduct of plaintiff No. 2; (h) to consider the question of the newly prepared constitution; and
(c) any other matter arising with respect to the constitution.'
In Suit No. 604 of 1951, which was then pending before an Additional Munsif, the plaintiffs obtained a temporary injunction restraining the President of the Sammelan from considering the items referred to above. In spite of that temporary injunction by the Court, the defendants held a meeting on 9-9-1951. A resolution was passed in the meeting removing plaintiff No. 2 from the office of the General Secretary of the Sammelan and distributing various offices among the defendants themselves. The plaintiffs, therefore, prayed for a declaration that, the proceedings in the meeting held on 9-9-1951 affecting the position of plaintiff No. 2 and appointing new office bearers in place of old office bearers are ultra vires and null and void. The plaintiffs also prayed for an injunction restraining the defendants from giving effect to that resolution and from acting as the new office hearers.
11. Originally, there were only eight defendants in this suit. Later other members of the Standing Committee were impleaded as defendants, There are now as many as 186 defendants in suit No. 75 of 1951. One written statement was filed by Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar, defendant No. 1, Another written statement was filed on behalf of Sri Sita Ram Chaturvedi defendant No. 4, Sri Prabhat Misra defendant No. 8 and five other defendants. These defendants maintained that the resolution passed on 9-9-1951 is valid and effective, The Standing Committee is competent to appoint and remove office bearers. It was also pleaded that the suit relates to the internal management of the Sammelan. The suit is barred by Section 9, C. P C and Section 42, Specific Relief Act. It was pleaded that plaintiff No. 1 is not properly represented for filing the suit, and that plaintiff No. 2 is not entitled to file the suit.
12. The following issues were framed in the case:
1. Whether the resolution of Sthai Committee passed on 9-9-1951 affecting the position of plaintiff No 2 and appointing new office bearers in place of old ones is ultra vires, and null and void?
2 Is plaintiff No. 1 properly represented for filing this suit?
3. Is plaintiff No. 2 entitled to file this suit?
4. Is the suit barred by Section 9, C P. C. and section 42, Specific Relief Act?
5. Has the Court no power to entertain the suit as framed?
6. To what relief, if any, are the plaintiffs entitled
13. On 25-10-1951, the learned Civil Judge, of Allahabad passed an order in suit No 75 of 1951 appointing Sri Jagdish Swamp, Advocate, Allahabad as the Receiver for the property belonging to the Sammelan, Since then Sri JagdishSwarup has been looking after the affairs of the Sammelan. Hindi Sahitya Sammelan is now represented in this litigation through the Receiver. The Sammelan has been impleaded as defendant No. 13 in Suit No. 567 of 1951.
14. The three suits were withdrawn to the file of the High Court. The three suits have now been renumbered as Original Suit No. 1 of 1956, Suit No. 2 of 1956 and Suit No. 3 of 1956 respectively. The suits have been tried by this Court in the exercise of its extraordinary original civil jurisdiction. The three suits were consolidated with the consent of the parties.
15. I shall now deal with the three suits one by one. Firstly, I take up Suit No. 1 of 1956. This suit has been contested by defendants Nos. 2 and 7. In the following discussion the term 'defendants' will denote the contesting defendants, who have supported the new constitution.
16. Issue No. 1: This is the main issue in the case. Mr. A. P. Pande appearing for the defendants pointed out that, the new constitution has been framed by eminent persons such as Sri Purushottam Das Tandon. In the present case I am not called upon to express an opinion on the merits of the new constitution. I am only concerned with its validity.
17. Mr. S. N. Dwivedi appearing for the plaintiffs attacked resolution No. 1 passed at Patna and resolution No. 11 passed at Kotah on two grounds--(i) violation of Section 12 of the Societies Registration Act, and (ii) violation of Rule 46 of the old constitution of the Sammelan.
18. Section 12 of the Societies Registration Act deals with the alteration or extension of the purpose of a society. Section 12 runs thus:
'Whenever it shall appear to the governing body of any society registered under this Act, which has been established for any particular purpose or purposes, that it is advisable to alter, extend or abridge such purpose to or for other purposes within the meaning of this Act, or to amalgamate such society either wholly or partially with any other society such governing body may submit the proposition to the members of the society in a written or printed report and may convene a special meeting for the consideration thereof according to the regulations of the society;
But no such proposition shall be carried into effect unless such report shall have been delivered or sent by post to every member of the Society ten days previous to the special meeting convened by the governing body for the consideration thereof nor unless such proposition shall have been agreed to by the votes of three-fifths of the members delivered in person or by proxy, and confirmed by the votes of three-fifths of the members present at a second special meeting convened by the governing body at an interval of one month after the former meeting.'
Both the old constitution and the new constitution deal with the objects of the Sammelan. It has been urged for the plaintiffs that, the objects of the society have been altered without following the procedure prescribed by Section 12 of Societies Registration Act. The defendants concede that the procedure laid down by Section 12 of Societies Registration Act was not followed: But Mr. Gopal Swarup Pathak appearing for the defendants contended that, it was not obligatory to follow the procedure prescribed in Section 12 of the Act.
19. Mr. Pathak relied on Satyavrat Sidnantalankar v. Arya Samaj, Bombay AIR 1946 Bom 516. It was held in that case that, in spite of the provisions contained in Sections 6, 7 and 8, it is competent to a society to sue or be sued in the name of thesociety. These provisions are not inconsistent with the user of the registered name of the society in connection with legal proceedings. Section 6 of the Act deals with suits by and against societies. Section 7 deals with abatement of suits. Section 8 deals with enforcement of judgments against societies. Section 12 deals with alteration of the purpose of a society. A decision relating to Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Act is not of much assistance in deciding the question whether the provision of Section 12 is permissive or imperative.
20. It is impossible to accept the suggestion that, a society is not bound by the Societies Registration Act. A private institution need not get itself registered under the Societies Registration Act. But if an institution chooses to get itself registered under the Act, the institution is bound by the provisions of the Act. Whether the procedure laid down in Section 12 of the Act is directory or mandatory is another question. But a society registered under the Act cannot altogether ignore Section 12 of the Act.
21. In this connection it will be useful to consider the provision for dissolution of societies contained in Section 13 of the Act. Proviso 1 to Section 13 lays down that, no society shall be dissolved unless three-fifths of the members shall have expressed a wish for such dissolution. This proviso shows that it is not permissible to dissolve a registered society by a bare majority of members of the society.
22. Section 12 of Societies Registration Act lays down the following steps for alteration, extension or abridgment of the purpose or purposes of a society:
(i) Submission of the proposal by the governing body to members of the society;
(ii) ten days notice to members about the holding of a special meeting ;
(iii) convening a special meeting for the consideration of the proposal;
(iv) approval of the proposal by three-fifths of the members;
(v) convening another special meeting after a month; and
(vi) confirmation by three-fifths of members present at the second special meeting.'
It will be seen that a proposal for altering or extending the purpose of a society has to be, passed by a special majority of members. It is obvious that alteration of the purpose of a registered society cannot be brought about by a bare majority of members. In view of the detailed directions given in Section 12, it is not possible to regard the procedure as merely directory. I am of the opinion that, the procedure prescribed in Section 12 of Societies Registration Act for altering or extending the purpose of a registered society is mandatory.
23. Rule 2 of the old constitution of the Sammelan dealt with the objects of the society. Similarly, Rule 2 of the new constitution deals with the objects of the Sammelan, We find some difference in the provisions of Rule 2 of the old constitution and Rule 2 of the new constitution. The object mentioned in Clause (a) of Rule 2 of the old constitution was:
'To endeavour for the development and progress of Hindi literature in all its aspects.' The object mentioned in Clause (1) of Rule 2 of the new constitution is: 'To endeavour constantly for the cultural rise of India through development of Hindi language and literature.'
According to the old constitution, development of Hindi literature was the aim. According to the new constitution, development of Hindi literature is to be regarded as means for the cultural rise of the country. It is true that the idea of development of Hindi literature is common to both the constitutions. But there is a change in emphasis. Again,the object mentioned in Clause (6) of Rule 2 of the new constitution is; 'To popularise Hindi language and literature in foreign countries.' The old constitution did not contain any such provision about work in foreign countries. We thus find that there is some alteration in the objects of the Sammelan. In paragraph 3 of the plaint it was stated: '......it had become necessary to introducefundamental changes in the objects, programme and form of the Sammelan.'
Contents of paragraph 3 of the plaint were admitted in the written statements filed by defendants Nos.' 2 and 7. It cannot, therefore, be seriously urged that the changes made in Rule 2 of the constitution are merely verbal or trivial. There has been a material alteration in the objects of the Sammelan.
24. Mr. A. P. Pande tried to draw a distinction between the 'objects of a society' and 'purpose of a society.' He pointed out that the word 'purpose' has been used in Sections 1 and 12 of the Act, whereas the word 'object' has been used in Section 2 of the Act. According to Section 1, 'any seven or more-persons associated for any literary, scientific or charitable purpose, ......may ......form themselves into a society .....,.' Section 2 deals with the memorandum of association. Section 2 runs thus:
'The memorandum of association shall contain the following things (that is to say) the name of the society: the objects of the society: ......'
25. It appears that the words 'purpose' and 'objects' have been treated in the Act as synonymous words.
26. We have seen that there has been a material alteration in the objects of the Sammelan. Admittedly, the procedure laid down in Section 12 of the Act was not followed in making the changes in the objects of the Sammelan. The purpose of the society has been altered in contravention of Section 12 of the Societies Registration Act.
27. Mr. S.N. Dwivedi's nest contention was that, the constitution was amended without following the procedure laid down in Rule 46 of the old constitution. It will be convenient to summarise at this stage the material provisions of the old constitution. Rule 1 of the old constitution dealt with the name of the society. Rule .2 enumerated the objects of the society. Rule 4 dealt with membership. There are to be three members: (a) special members, (b) permanent members, and (c) ordinary members, An ordinary member has to pay an annual subscription of Rs. 12/-. According to Rule 7, Allahabad shall be the head office of the Sammelan. Rule 8 dealt with office bearers. The office bearers included the President, two Vice-Presidents, General Secretary and a number of Secretaries. Rule 9 dealt with the Standing Committee. Rule 10 prescribed the constitution of the Standing Committee. It was laid down in Rule 12 that, office bearers other than the President and the Publicity Secretary shall be elected in the first meeting of the Standing Committee. Rule 20 provided for an executive committee. Rule 28 laid down that the annual session of the Sammelan shall be ordinarily held during Christmas holidays. Rule 34 dealt with delegates to be sent to the sessions of the Sammelan. It was laid down in Rule 35 that, members of the Sammelan and certain other persons shall be deemed to be delegates in the session of the Sammelan. Rule 44 dealt with discipline. Rule 45 empowered the Standing Committee to frame subsidiary rules. A number of subsidiary rules have been framed accordingly. Rule 46 provided for amendment of rules.
28. Rule 46 is important. The rule is in Hindi. Rule 46 may be translated in English thus:
'46 (a). The delegates present in the Sammelan shall have power to amend these rules. The members of the Standing Committee and the affiliated provincial Sammelans shall have the right to move proposals for amendment, and such proposals should reach the General Secretary at least two monthsbefore the session of the Sammelan. It shall bethe duty of the General Secretary to send for publication in newspapers the proposals for amendmentof rules and put them up before the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee shall place eachof these proposals before the next session togetherwith its own views.
(b) The proposals for amendment of rules shall, like other proposals, be placed before the Sammelan by the Subjects Committee, and they shall, like other proposals, be passed by a majority of votes of the delegates. Only for shifting the head office, it shall be necessary that two-thirds of the delegates present, excluding the delegates residing in the citywhere the session of the Sammelan is held, should support the proposals for changing the place.'
29. The plaintiffs' contention is that, the newconstitution was not framed in accordance with Rule 46 of the old constitution. It was contended for the defendants that, Rule 46 of the old constitution need not be followed, if the Sammelan itself chooses to amend the rules. Rule 46 does not place any restriction on the powers of the Sammelan itself.
30. In order to decide whether the Sammelan was bound by Rule 46 of the old constitution, it will be convenient to discuss how constitutions are amended under other systems. Under the Indian Companies Act a memorandum of association has to be prepared. Section 16 of the Indian Companies Act provides for alteration of memorandum. Section 16 states:
'(1) A Company shall not alter the conditions! contained in its memorandum except in the cases, and in the mode and to the extent, for which express provision is made in this Act. . ........'
According to section 17, special resolution and confirmation by the Court are necessary for alteration of a memorandum. Section 26 of the Act deals with Articles of Association. Section 31 lays down that a Company may alter its articles by a special resolution.
30a. Part XX of the Constitution of India provides for amendment of the Constitution. Article 368 runs thus:
'An amendment of this Constitution may be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting, it shall be presented to the President for his assent. ..........'
It will be seen that, although Parliament is competent to amend the Constitution, the Constitution cannot he amended by a bare majority of members of Parliament present in the House. A special majority has been prescribed by Article 368. The Constitution of India was framed by a Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly was dissolved when the Constitution was framed. One can conceive another such Constituent Assembly.
Such Constituent Assembly may frame a new Constitution for the country, ignoring Part XX of the present Constitution. But such a step would be in the nature of a revolution. Ignoring the possibility of that revolutionary measure, the Constitution of India must be amended as laid down in Article 368 of the Constitution.
31. In Corpus Juris Secondum, Vol. 14, the law on Constitution and Rules has been stated on pages 3282 and 1283 thus:
'If a Club adopts a constitution and bye-laws, they constitute a contract between the Club and its members, binding on both, whether the Club is incorporated or not. ...... A bye-law of a Clubcan be adopted only on compliance with the provisions, if any, in the bye-laws therefor, and bye-laws, which are permanent and continuing rules of Government, can be amended or repealed only in the manner prescribed by the bye-laws.'
32. In the present case the old constitution was framed by the Sammelan in the year 1946. That constitution was in force for at least three years. The 46 rules contained in the old constitution govern the working of the association. The Sammelan was bound by its own rules. Of course it was open to the Sammelan to delete Rule 46. But the deletion of a particular rule could only be brought about as laid down in the rules. The Sammelan was bound by Rule 46 until it was deleted. It is not correct to say that Rule 46 did not apply, when the Sammelan itself wanted to amend the rules, The proposed amendment of rules had to be carried out in accordance with Rule 46 of the old constitution.
33. The question now arises whether Rule 46 is mandatory or only directory. There are two Clauses
(a) and (b) in Rule 46, The last sentence of Clause
(b) of Rule 46 is in these terms: 'Only for shifting the head office, it shall be necessary that two-thirds of the delegates present, excluding the delegates residing in the city where the session of the Sammelan is held, should support the proposals for changing the place.'
According to Rule 7 of the old constitution, Allahabad shall be the head office of the Sammelan. Rule 46 laid down the procedure in case it was considered expedient to shift the head office from Allahabad to some other place. It is laid down in Rule 46 that, for shifting the head office, a majority of two-thirds of the delegatas present, excluding local delegates, should support the proposal. It was conceded for the defendants that, even if a majority of members pass such a proposal, a bare majority is not competent to shift the head office. At least the last sentence of Rule 46 is mandatory. If the last sentence of Clause (b) is mandatory, there is no good reason why Clause (a) of Rule 46 should not also be mandatory.
34. At the commencement of Rule 46 it is noted that, the delegates present in the Sammelan shall have power to amend the rules. A procedure has been laid down for initiating such a proposal. The proposal has to be published in newspapers. The last sentence of Clause (a) of Rule 46 is:
'The Standing Committee shall place each of these proposals before the next session together with its own views.'
The first sentence and the last sentence of Clause (a) indicate that, it is the duty and privilege of the Sammelan itself to amend the rules if the Sammelan so chooses. The scheme laid down in Rule 46 is inconsistent with delegation of this task to a subordinate authority. Assuming that some of the steps mentioned in Clause (a) are directory only, the procedure laid down in Rule 46 as a whole appears to be mandatory.
35. Annexure 'A' to the plaint is a copy of resolution No. 16 passed in the Hyderabad session. It was laid down in that resolution that, the committee of 21 persons should get the draft constitution approved in a special session of the delegates. The procedure laid down in the resolution of the Hyderabad session was in accordance with Rule 46. But a different procedure was followed in the special session at Patna and in the ordinary session at Kotah. Annexure B to the plaint is a copy of resolution No. 1 passed in the special session atPatna. Annexure C to the plaint is a copy of resolution No. 11 passed in the session at Kotah.
According to the last two resolutions, the new constitution was to come into force as soon as eight members of the committee of 11 persons had approved of the draft constitution. There was no arrangement for placing the draft constitution for consideration by the Sammelan itself. The procedure laid down in the last two resolutions contravened Rule 46. It was open to the Sammelan to appoint a committee for preparing a draft constitution. But the ultimate responsibility for amending the constitution or rules was of the Sammelan itself. That task could not be delegated to the committee of 11 persons. For these two reasons, the two resolutions passed at Patna and Kotah are invalid,
36. Mr. S.N. Dwivedi further contended that the new constitution suffers from another defect. He contended that the new constitution was not framed as laid down in resolution 11 passed in the Kotah session. It was laid down in the Kotah resolution that, the new constitution should be framed consistent with the resolutions passed in the Kotah session. I was taken through the proceedings of the Kotah session. I do not find anything in the new constitution inconsistent with the resolutions passed at Kotah.
37. In the same connection, Mr. Dwivedi contended that the proceedings of the constitution committee in July and August 1951 were invalid for want of quorum. Only one witness was produced in the case. He is Sri Mauli Chandra Sharma (D.W. 1). He was the convener of the constitution committee. He stated that as convener he used to issue notice of the meeting held at Allahabad. We may, therefore, take it that, all the 11 members of the committee had notice of the meeting held at Allahabad in July 1951. Sri Sharma was himself unable to attend that meeting due to illness.
So the account of the meeting given by him is not from personal knowledge. However the plaintiffs did not dispute that such a meeting was held. Sri Sharma stated that six members of the committee attended the meeting. Mr. S. N. Dwivedi contended that the proceedings of the committee could not be valid unless at least eight members of the committee attended the meeting. In resolution No. I passed in the Patna session it was expressly laid down that, five shall be the quorum of the committee. There was no such clear direction on the question of quorum in resolution No. 11 passed in the Kotah session. Resolution No. 11 passed at Kotah ran thus:
'This session of the Sammelan directs the committee formed in the special session at Patna to prepare a constitution again in accordance with the resolutions adopted in the Kotah session. A constitution so framed and approved by at least eight members shall be deemed to be the authorised constitution adopted by the Sammelan.'
Mr. Dwivedi contended that according to this resolution, eight members would constitute a quorum for a meeting of the committee.
38. In Novel Frederrick Harwell v. John Jackson. : AIR1948All146 a Full Bench of Allahabad High Court had to consider the validity of the dissolution of a Club. The rules of the Club did not contain any provision for the dissolution of the Club by a vote of the majority. It was held by a majority of the Full Bench that, the dissolution of the Club could not be brought about by a majority vote, and that the Club could be dissolved only if all the members unanimously agreed that it be dissolved.
39. In Cook v. Ward, (1877) 2 CPD 255, a committee of three persons was appointed to actin the case of emergency. It was held by Lindley, J. on p. 263 that, whatever is done by the persons so selected must be the joint act of the three. It was not competent to the committee to delegate any of their powers to one or two of their members. In the present case Mr. Dwivedi did not go to the length of arguing that, all the eleven members of the constitution committee had to attend its meetings. He conceded that attendance by eight out of the 11 members would have been sufficient
40. In the case of Re Portuguese Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd., (1889) 42 Ch D 160 the articles of association of the company provided that shares should be allotted by the directors. It was held by North, J. that, two directors had no power to appoint themselves a quorum; and consequently allotment of shares was invalid.
41. In the case of Re Liverpool Household Stores Association, (1890) 59 LJ Ch 616 there was no quorum for a committee to whom powers had been delegated by the directors. It was held that all the acts of the committee must be done in the presence of all the members of the committee.
42. In the present case the Sammelan carries on literary activity. The 11 members of the constitution committee are residents of different parts of India. It is unreasonable to expect that all the 11 members of the committee had to attend a meeting before any business could be transacted. A committee of 11 persons was appointed in the Patna session. It was then laid down that five shall form the quorum. That committee had to continue the work after the Kotah session.
We may, therefore, take it that, the provision about quorum mentioned in resolution No. 1 of Patna session was to apply to subsequent proceedings also. Ordinarily, if a majority of members of a committee attend a meeting, the majority may be taken as forming the quorum. In the present case six members of the committee attended the meeting held at Allahabad in 1951. So whether we adopt the rule of quorum contained in resolution No. 1 of Patna session, or apply the general principle of majority of membership, the proceedings were not vitiated for want of quorum. It is not correct to say that eight was mentioned as the quorum in resolution No. 11 of Kotah session. Approval by eight members was laid down as the condition for coming into force of the new constitution. That was not the condition as regards quorum. The proceedings were not invalid merely because only six out of the 11 members attended the meeting at Allahabad.
43. I have shown above that the procedure followed by the Sammelan in preparing the new constitution contravened Section 12 of the Societies Registration Act, and also contravened Rule 46 of the old constitution. I, therefore, hold that resolution No. 1 of Patna session and resolution No. 11 of Kotah session are invalid in so tar as they contravened Section 12 of the Societies Registration Act and Rule 46 of the old constitution. For these reasons, the new constitution prepared in August 1951 is invalid.
44. Issue No. 2: The question whether such a suit is maintainable in the civil court will be discussed under issue No. 3. Issue No. 2 may be confined to the question of territorial jurisdiction. It was pointed out for the defendants that, Patna and Kotah lie beyond the territorial jurisdiction of this Court. However, Mr. Kedar Nath appearing for the defendants did not press the plea of territorial jurisdiction. The point may be disposed of briefly.
45. Section 20 of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with the place where a suit may be instituted. Section 20, C. P. C. runs thus:
'Subject to the limitations aforesaid, every suit shall be instituted in a Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction -
(c) the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises,
The present suit is mainly directed against the new constitution. The new constitution was framed at Allahabad. The most important part of the cause of action arose at Allahabad. So, under Clause (c) of Section 20, C. P. C., this Court has territorial jurisdiction to try the suit.
46. Issue No. 3: The defendants' contention is that the suit relates to the internal management of the Sammelan, and that a civil court has no jurisdiction to entertain such a suit.
47. The leading case on the subject is 'Foss v. Harbottle', (1843) 11 Hare 461. It was held by Sir James Wigram, Vice-Chancellor that the rule in such cases is that the corporation should sue in its own name and in its corporate character, or in the name of some one whom the law has appointed to be its representative.
48. In 'Mozley v. Alston', (1847) 16 LJ Ch 217, it was held that, individual share-holders cannot sustain a Bill in their own names respecting a matter common to all.
49. In 'Mac Dougall v. Gardiner', (1875) 1 Ch D 13, one share-holder filed a Bill on behalf of himself and alt other share-holders except the Directors, against the Directors and the Company complaining against the course taken at a meeting. It was held that the Court could not interfere in the internal management of the Company.
50. In 'V.N. Bhajckar v. K. M. Shinkar' AIR 1934 Bom 243, it was held that the Court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the internal management of a Joint Stock Company acting within its own powers. To redress a wrong done to a Company, the action must prima facie be brought by the Company itself. Even where a minority of share-holders are alleged to have been overborne by a majority, the former cannot complain of acts which are valid if done with the approval of the majority of the share-holders or are capable of being confirmed by the majority, mere irregularity or informality which can be remedied by the majority being insufficient,
51. In 'Nagappa v. Madras Race Club' : AIR1951Mad831 , it was held that the rule is that, a Court will not interfere with the ordinary management of a Company acting within its powers and has no jurisdiction to do so at the instance of the share-holders. A share-holder is entitled to institute a suit to enforce his individual rights against the Company, such as his right to vote or his right to stand as a Director of a Company at an election. If the share-holder, however, intends to obtain redress in respect of a wrong done to the Company or to recover moneys as damages alleged to be due to the Company, the action should ordinarily be brought by the Company itself.
In order, therefore, to enable a share-holder to institute a suit in the name of the Company, there must be sanction of the majority for corporate action. This rule is subject to the following exceptions, namely, that a share-holder or share-holders are entitled to bring an action (1) in respect of matters which are ultra vires the Company and which the majority of share-holders were incapable of sanctioning; (2) where the act complained of constitutes a fraud on the majority; (3) where the action of the majority is illegal; and (4) where a special resolution is required by the Articles of the Company and the Company obtains the assent of the majorityto such special resolution by a trick, or even where a Company authorised to do a particular thing only by a special resolution does it without a special resolution duly passed.
In that case the plaintiffs, who were members of the Madras Race Club registered under the Companies Act, brought a representative action against the Club and other members claiming that the meeting of the general body of the members held on a particular date was invalid and a declaration that the proposed amended Articles were not duly passed as required by Section 20, Companies Act, and were, therefore, ineffective. The question arose whether the suit as framed was maintainable. It was held by a Division Bench of Madras High Court that, since the plaintiffs complained of certain illegal acts, the suit fell within the third and fourth exceptions stated above, and was, therefore, maintainable.
52. The cases quoted above related to the working of Companies. But the same principle may be applied to Societies registered under the Societies Registration Act. In 'A. S. Krishnan v. M. Sundarum' AIR 1941 Bom 31.2, it was held by Kama, J. that, the position of a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act is like that of a Club or a Joint Stock Company. In order to redress a wrong done to the Company, action should prima facie be brought by the Company itself. But where the persons against whom the relief is sought themselves hold and control the majority of the shares of the Company and will not permit an action to be brought in the name of the Company, the share-holders complaining can bring an action in their own names.
53. The principle that emerges from the cases decided in England and in India is this. Ordinarily, the civil court will not interfere with the internal management of a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act at the instance of some of the members of the Society. But this rule is subject to the following exceptions: (1) Where the impugned action is ultra vires the Society; (2) the act complained of constitutes a fraud; and (3) where the impugned action is illegal. If a case falls under any of these exceptions, it is open to some of the members of the Society to file a suit in the civil court challenging the act done in the name of the Society.
54. For applying the principle laid down above, it will be convenient to consider the new constitution in two sections. One section of the new constitution deals with the objects of the Sammelan. The other section of the new constitution deals with other regulations as regards the management of the Sammelan. I have shown above that, in altering the objects of the Sammelan, Section 12 of the Societies Registration Act was contravened. This act of the Sammelan is illegal. So, this part of the plaintiffs' case falls under exception (3) mentioned above. It is open to the plaintiffs to bring the suit for challenging the act of the management in altering the objects of the Sammelan illegally.
55. In so far as amendment of other parts of the old constitution is concerned, no such illegality was involved. The only defect in the procedure was violation of Rule 46 of the old constitution. But that was not an illegality. Rule 46 has not got the force of law. That is a rule made by the Sammelan itself. A breach of a rule made by the. Society itself for its convenience is merely an irregularity and not an illegality. This part of the plaintiffs' case does not fall under any of the three exceptions mentioned above. This part of the case is covered by the general rule laid down in (1843) 2 Hare 461. The civil court should not intervene as regards this part of the plaintiffs' case. It may be pointed out that, in paragraph 19 of the plaintit was stated that, a large section of the Sammelan does not approve of the new constitution. If that is the true position, the plaintiffs should have taken steps to get a suit instituted by the Sammellan itself challenging this invalid proceeding.
56. It was urged for the defendants that the plaintiffs have no interest in the management of the Sammelan. This contention cannot be accepted.
57. In suit No. 3 of 1956, Sri Rai Ram Charan Agarwala, who is defendant No. 2 in suit No. 1 of 1956, has impleaded all the members of the Standing Committee. The plaintiffs of suit No. 1 of 1956 are defendants in suit No. 3 of 1956. It, therefore, appears that the present plaintiffs are members of the Standing Committee of the Sammelan. Being members of the Standing Committee, they are certainly interested in the affairs of the institution.
58. I, therefore, hold that the plaintiffs have got sufficient interest in the management of the affairs of the Sammelan. The plaintiffs are entitled to maintain the suit in so far as the new constitution altered the objects of the Sammelan. In other respects, the present suit is not maintainable.
59. Issue No. 4: The defendants have not shown how the plaint is undervalued, or the court fee paid on the plaint is insufficient. Both the parts of issue No. 4 are decided against the defendants.
60. Issue No. 5: The plaintiffs have succeeded in establishing the invalidity of the new constitution. The stand taken up by the defendants has been found to be incorrect. Defendant No. 2 is not entitled to any compensation under Section 35-A, C. P. C.
61. Issue No. 6: The plaintiffs claimed two reliefs. The first relief was for a declaration that, the two resolutions passed at Patna and Kotah, and the draft constitution are ultra vires the Sammelan and are null and void. It has been found under issue No. 3 that, although the plaintiffs have succeeded in establishing the invalidity of the proceedings, the suit is maintainable in part only. The declaration will, therefore, be confined to that part, which is illegal. The second relief claimed by the plaintiffs is for injunction.
A meeting of the constitution committee was to be held on 28-8-1951. That was several years ago. There is now no point in prohibiting the proposed meeting of 28-8-1951. The defendants will be prohibited from enforcing that part of the new constitution, which has been prepared illegally. Since the plaintiffs' claim partly succeeds and partly fails, parties may be ordered to bear their own costs.
62. Now I take up Suit No. 2 of 1956.
63. Issue No. 1: This matter has been fully discussed under issue No. 1 of suit No. 1 of 1956. I hold that the new constitution is invalid.
64. Issue No. 2: It follows that the plaintiffs are not entitled to any relief.
65. Lastly, we come to Suit No. 3 of 1956,
66. Issue No. 1 : This suit relates to the validity of the proceedings of the Standing Committee of 9-9-1951. Neither party filed a copy of the resolution dated 9-9-1951. No oral evidence on the point was produced by either party. Parties filed affidavits in the initial stage of the case on the question of appointment of a receiver. It is difficult to decide this issue satisfactorily on the basis of such meagre material.
67. Mr. A. P. Pande appearing for the plaintiffs challenged the proceedings of 9-9-1951 on the following grounds:
(1) The meeting was held in spite of the injunction granted by a civil court;
(2) the Standing Committee was not competent to remove old office bearers or to appoint new office bearers;
(3) want of advice from the Executive committee; and
(4) no charge was framed against plaintiff No. 2, and he was not given an opportunity to show cause against the proposed removal from office.
68. The civil court granted temporary injunction in Suit No. 604 of 1951 (now Suit No. 2 of 1956). Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar is the sole defendant in that suit. So, the order of injunction was directed against only one person, namely, Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar, It appears that Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar did not attend the meeting of 9-9-1951. If other members of the Standing Committee held such a meeting, that does not amount to disobedience of the order of injunction. It was perhaps in bad taste to hold such a meeting of the Standing Committee after a civil court had issued an order of injunction against the President of the Sammelan. But there was no direct disobedience of the order of injunction.
69. Rule 44 of the old constitution deals with discipline. The Standing Committee is authorised to remove an office bearer on being advised by the Executive Committee. It is not, therefore, correct to say that, the Standing Committee was not competent to remove the General Secretary. It is laid down in Rule 12 that, office bearers shall be elected in the first meeting of the Standing Committee. There is no express provision in the rules for tilling up a casual vacancy. In the absence of a specific rule on the point, the Standing Committee may exercise similar power subsequently also. It, therefore, appears that the Standing Committee was competent to remove office bearers, including plaintiff No. 2, and fill up vacancies by appointing new persons to the vacant posts.
70. We do not know whether action was taken by the Standing Committee after receiving advice from the Executive Committee. Neither party led any evidence on the point. It was urged for the plaintiffs that, under Section 106 of Indian Evidence Act, the burden of proof lay on the defendants. Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act states:
'When any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him.'
This section should be confined to those cases, where a fact is especially within the knowledge of any person. It may be that plaintiff No. 2 did not attend the meeting of the Standing Committee held on 9-9-1951. But it does not follow that, the matter was within the exclusive knowledge of defendants. Hindi Sahitya Sammelan through the Receiver is plaintiff No. 1. The Receiver has access to all the papers of the institution. It was quite easy for the Receiver to collect information about the circumstances under which the meeting was held on 9-9-1951.
71. In paragraph 14 of the plaint it is mentioned that, the first question to be considered in the meeting was the conduct of plaintiff No. 2 with respect to the charges levelled against him. It, therefore, appears that some charges were actually levelled against plaintiff No. 2. Plaintiff No. 2 did not appear in the witness-box to depose that, he did not get any opportunity for meeting those charges. Thus we find that the plaintiffs have been unable to establish any of the four grounds urged on their behalf against the validity of the proceedings of 9-9-1951. Under issue No 1 the burden of proof was on the plaintiffs. They have failed to discharge the burden. Issue No. 1 is, therefore, decided against the plaintiffs.
72. Issue No. 2: Initially, plaintiff No. 1 was described as Hindi Sahitya Sammelan through its Secretary. The description has now been amended. Plaintiff No. 1 has now been described as Hindi Sahitya Sammelan through the Receiver. At present the Receiver has full control over the affairs of the Sammelan. He is, therefore, the proper person to represent the Sammelan. I hold that plaintiff No. 1 is now properly represented in the suit.
73. Issue No. 3: It may be that plaintiff No. 2 was incompetent to claim some of the reliefs in his own name. But this is a case where plaintiff No. 2 has complained that, he has been wrongly removed from an office. This is a matter which concerns plaintiff No. 2 personally. Plaintiff No. 2 is, subject to the finding on issue No. 5, entitled to file the suit. It may be further pointed out that, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan through the Receiver is plaintiff No. 1 in the suit.
74. Issue No. 4 : The points raised under this issue were not pressed by Mr. S. N. Dwivedi. These points may be briefly disposed of.
75. Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure runs thus:
'The Courts shall (subject to the provisions herein contained) have jurisdiction to try suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred.
Explanation: A suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious lites or ceremonies.'
In the present case the question has been raised whether plaintiff No. 2 is entitled to hold a certain office of an Association. Explanation to Section 9, C. P. C. shows that, a suit in which the right to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature. Such a suit would be of civil nature even though no pay is attached to the office, It has not been shown that such a suit is barred by any express provision of law.
76. This is a suit for declaration. It was suggested for the defendants that, the plaintiffs should have prayed for further relief as laid down in the proviso to Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act. Now, the possible additional reliefs were for possession and injunction. The plaintiffs did not complain that, plaintiff No. 2 lost possession as a result of the meeting held on 9-9-1951. It is quite possible that, plaintiff No. 2 was able to carry on his duties as General Secretary in spite of the resolution dated 9-9-51. Plaintiff No. 2 may feel that, if the legal position is clarified by the Court, there will be no further difficulty in the way of plaintiff No. 2. So the plaintiffs were not bound to ask for further relief for possession or injunction.
77. I hold that the suit is not barred either by Section 9, C. P. C. or by Section 42, Specific Relief Act.
78. Issue No. 5 : The question of maintainability of such suits was discussed at full length under issue No. 3 of suit No. 1 of 1956. The plaintiffs' grievance in the present case is that, plaintiff No. 2 was wrongly removed from office and certain offices were wrongly filled up by the Standing Committee. These are all matters relating to the internal management of the Sammelan. Assuming that there was some irregularity in the proceedings of 9-9-1951, the plaintiffs have not succeeded in establishing any illegality. The present case does not fall under any of the three exceptions to the rule laid down in (.1843) 2 Hare 461. So Sri Raj Ram Charan Agarwala, plaintiff No. 2, was not competent to bring the suit before the civil court.
79. Hindi Sahitya Sammelan through its Secretary was mentioned initially as plaintiff No. 1. It is, however, to he noted that, plaintiff No. 2 was himself the General Secretary. Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar, defendant No. 1 is the President of the Sammelan. He has contested this suit. Obviously, the suit has not been filed with the President's consent. So, although in form the suit has been brought in the name of the Sammelan, in substance this is a suit brought by Sri Ram Charan Agarwala to improve his own position in the Sammelan. In other words, this is a suit brought by a member or an office bearer of a Society. On the principle laid down in (1843) 2 Hare 461, such a suit will not be maintainable in the civil court. I hold that the civil court ought not to entertain this suit.
80. Issue No. 6 : In view of the findings on issues Nos. 1 and 5, the plaintiffs are not entitled to any relief.
81. As already mentioned. Sri Jagdish Swarup, was appointed Receiver in October 1951. Mr. Kedar Nath appearing for the plaintiffs in suit No. 3 of 1956 suggested that, the Receiver should continue even after the decision of the suit. This would be an unusual step. The Receiver was appointed in 1951, because the legal position was obscure. The legal position having been cleared up, there is no particular necessity for continuing the management by the Receiver. Sri Jagdish Swarup is a busy Advocate. He has been pressing the Court for a long time for being relieved from this responsibility. It will be hard upon him, if he is asked to continue as a Receiver in spite of the decision of all the three connected suits. He may, therefore, be discharged.
82. The question now arises about handing ever of the charge. Ordinarily, the Receiver would have been asked to hand over charge to the General Secretary. But unfortunately there is a dispute as to which person is entitled to hold that office, Formerly, Sri Rai Ram Charan Agarwala was the General Secretary. He was removed from the office on 9-9-51, and another person was appointed in his place. There is some doubt about the validity of the proceedings of 9-9-1951. It will not, therefore, be proper to hand over charge either to Sri Rai Ram Charan Agarwala or to the new General Secretary.
Admittedly Sri Jai Chand Vidyalankar was the President of the Sammelan in 1951. Ordinarily, at President remains in office for one year only. But on account of this litigation, a new President could not be elected in place of Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar. He may be allowed to function as President of the Sammelan until a new President is elected and assumes office in accordance with rules. Since Sri Jaichand Vidyalankar is the present President of the Sammelan, charge may be made over to him.
83. These three connected suits have been pending for over seven years. This litigation must have caused much harm to the institution. On group has been supporting the old constitution, while the second group has been supporting the new constitution. I trust that the two sections will now sink their differences, and fully co-operate in the best interest of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan.
84. Suit No. 1 of 1956 is partly decreed. It is hereby declared that, resolution No. 1 of Patna session, resolution No. 11 of Kotah session, and the constitution framed in 1951 are invalid in so far as the amendment of the object or purpose (Uddeshya) is concerned. The defendants arc directed not to give effect to Rule 2 of the new constitution until the objects or purpose (Uddeshya) are amended by the Sammelan in accordance with law. Parties shall bear their own costs.
85. Suit No. 2 of 1956 is dismissed with costs.
86. Suit No. 3 of 1956 is dismissed with coststo the contesting defendants. Sri Jagdish Swamp,Receiver is hereby discharged. He should hand overall the property belonging to Hindi Sahitya Sammelanand charge of the affairs of the Sammelan to SriJaichand Vidyalankar. President of the Sammelan,or to such other person as ho may nominate inthis behalf.