1. All these matters were heard together as the same were connected through a common link of administration of a religious-cum-philanthropic society, named Shri Ram Chandra Mission. It was established by late Shri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj and, on his death, unfortunately, disputes have arisen regarding his spiritual heirship to control the affairs of the Mission. The disputes, gave rise to several litigations and the above four are the result of such disputes between the parties.
2. Special Appeal No. 829 of 1995 has been filed under the provisions of Chapter VIII Rule 5 of the Allahabad High Court Rules and in this appeal the judgment and order dated 16-10-1995, passed by Hon. A.K. Benerji, J. of this High Court, has been impugned. The Hon'ble single Judge had allowed application No. A-415 filed before him and had rejected the plaint of Testamentary Suit No. 1 of 1994 under Section 7, Rule 11(a) CPC. The said testamentary suit was filed by Umesh Chandra Saxena and the Administrator General, U. P., were arrayed as defendants. The suit was tiled by Umesh Chandra Saxena and others for a letter of administration to Umesh Chandra Saxena in respect of the properties of Shri Ram Chandra Mission and for a declaration that petitioner No. 1 (Umesh Chandra Saxena) was the President of the Mission, Shahjahanpur and petitioner No. 2 was the Secretary thereof. There has been a further prayed that pending final adjudication interim grant may be made in favour of Umesh Chandra Saxena for the properties in question situate at Shahjahanpur with its Branches in India and abroad, or, in the alternative, to appoint a receiver in respect of entire estate of the deceased Shri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj as also of the Mission, Application No. A-415 was filed before the Hon'ble single Judge to say that although a suit was filed to obtain a declaration, the plaint did not disclose a cause of action at all and the reliefs had been camouflaged for the reasons that the relief of declaration, as claimed by plaintiff No. 1, was barred by limitation. A device was adopted to obtain an order which could not have been achieved by a directapplication. It was contended that Ram Chandra Mission was a society registered under the Societies Registration Act and a cause of action never existed for the petitioner to make a prayer for letters of administration. The Hon'ble single Judge considered the averments of the parties and the case laws relied upon by them and had opined that the reliefs claimed in the suit cannot be granted to the plaintiffs in a testamentary proceeding and the plaint was accordingly rejected under Order 7 Rule 11, CPC by an order dated 16-10-1995.
3. Special Appeal No. 561 of 1996 again proposes to be an appeal under Chapter VIII, Rule 5 of the Allahabad High Court Rules. It is directed against the judgment and order dated 24-5-1996 passed by Hon. A.K. Banerji, J. whereby he had rejected an amendment application of the plaintiff-appellants in O. S. No. 200 of 1983. The suit was between Uma Shanker and others (plaintiffs) and P. Rajagopalachari and others (defendants). The order in question in Original Suit No. 200 of 1983 indicates that through application No. A-28 the plaintiffs No. 1, 2 and 3 sought some amendments in the plaint of O. S. No. 200 of 1983 under the provisions of Order 6, Rule 17, C.P.C. read with Order 10, Rule 10 and Section 151, CPC. The suit was instituted in the year 1983 claiming, inter alia, that defendant No. 1 (P. Rajagopalachari) be restrained from acting as the President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission or from declaring himself as the President of t he Mission and from interfering in the affairs of the Mission. The suit was filed in a representative capacity after taking permission from the Court and the suit was contested by the defendants, who had filed written statement. The suit had been pending at the evidence stage when the application for amendment, as No. A-28, was filed by only two of the plaintiffs No. 1 and 3. They desired that Ram Chandra Mission, Deewan Jograj, Shahjahanpur, through Umesh Chandra Saxena be added as defendant No. 4 and Umesh Chandra Saxena, in his personal capacity, be added as defendant No. 5. Certain averments were also proposed to be added in the body of the plaint and in the relief clause. The Court was of the view that the plaintiff had not sought any relief against the persons proposed to be impleaded and as suchthese persons were not proper parties and their presence before the Court was not necessary for effectual and complete adjudication of the question involved in the suit. He was further of the view that the real purpose of the amendment application was to join Umesh Chandra Saxena as a party so that he could prosecute his own case and get a declaration that he was the President of the Mission. He accepted the defence version that under the cover of seeking amendment it was not open to any party to substitute a new cause of action or to change the nature of the suit or to substitute the subject matter of the suit. Accordingly, and for other reasons stated in the order, the Hon'ble single Judge refused to accept the amendment prayer and rejected it by his order dated 24-5-1996.
4. Special Appeal No. 580 of 1997 was preferred by Umesh Chandra Saxena in his personal capacity as the President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission as also on behalf of the Mission itself. This appeal was directed against the judgment and order dated 10-7-1997 passed by Hon. A.K. Banerji, J. whereby the Hon'ble single judge had dismissed Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 37023 of 1994 between these parties. Two writ petitions were decided by a single order, one was Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 22657 of 1991 between Ram Chandra Mission and others and State of U. P., and the other was Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 37023 of 1994 between Ram Chandra Mission and another and State of U. P. The first mentioned writ petition was filed by Ram Chandra Mission, Shahjahanpur, through its Secretary, B.D. Mahajan under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the validity and legality of action of the Registrar of Firms, Societies and Chits of U. P. at Lucknow and the Assistant Registrar thereof at Bareilly, who had refused to recognise the working committee of Shri Ram Chandra Mission headed by Dr. S.P. Srivastava as President and B.D. Mahajan as Secretary, A writ of mandamus was sought in this writ petition upon the aforesaid Registrar and the Assistant Registrar to recognise the working committee of Ram Chandra Mission as per order passed under Section 25 of the Societies Registration Act by the Prescribed Authority and further to grant afresh certificate of renewal for registration to the petitioner.
5. The second writ petition covered by the order was Writ Petition No. 37023 of 1994 which also was filed on behalf of Shri Ram Chandra Mission by its President, Umesh Chandra Saxena, together with others which included B.D. Mahajan also. In this application the aforesaid Registrar and the Assistant Registrar were made parties and P. Rajgopalachari were also arrayed as respondents. A writ of certiorari was sought for the purpose of quashing an order dated 29-9-1994 passed by the Assistant Registrar, Bareilly, and a writ of mandamus was also sought for the purpose of a declaration that Umesh Chandra Saxena was the successor President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission. A further declaration was sought that the deed dated 16-4-1982, which was relied upon by Umesh Chandra Saxena, was a valid one and the nomination deed dated 23-3-1974, relied upon by respondent No. 4, was forged and invalid. These two writ petitions were connected with testamentary Suit No. 1 of 1994 and were taken up by the same Hon'ble single Judge along with the aforesaid testamentary suit. After the decision in testamentary suit No. 1 of 1994 there was a direction that the two writ petitions be listed along with O. S. No. 200 of 1983 and O. S. No. 127 of 1994 and these suits had also been decided separately. At the time of argument of these two writ petitions it was accepted by Sri B.B. Paul, appearing for the petitioners in writ petition No. 22657 of 1991 that the said writ petition was not being pressed and the same be dismissed as withdrawn. The remaining writ petition alone was decided through the order impugned in this appeal and the writ petition was dismissed giving rise to the present appeal.
6. Special Appeal No. 594 of 1997 was filed by Umesh Chandra Saxena against the judgment dated 10-7-1997 recorded by Hon. A.K. Banerji, J. upon an application No. A-12 in O. S. No. 127 of 1994. This order was recorded in a suit in which Shri Ram Chandra Mission figured as plaintiff No. 1 through its President, Sri P. Rajgopalachari and Umesh Chandra Saxena were arrayed as defendants. The plaintiff's made a prayer through application No. A-12 to permit them to withdraw suit No. 127 of 1994 withpermission to file a fresh suit. After hearing the parties the Hon'ble single Judge has recorded his order dated 10-7-1997 and permitted withdrawal of the suit with liberty to file a fresh suit subject to payment of Rs. 2000/- as costs to be paid to defendant No. 1 within a period of one month.
7. From the aforesaid brief statements of the original proceedings and the orders impugned in the instant appeals it appears that the real dispute between the parties is for administration of the properties of the Mission, named Shri Ram Chandra Mission, with its Headquarters at Shahjahanpur, U. P., and Branches in India and abroad. It is felt necessary that some relevant facts concerning the Mission, as per pleadings of the parties, be indicated at this stage.
8. Shri Ram Chandra Mission. Shahjahanpur, (for short called as 'the Mission') is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, the first registration having been done in 1945. This society has branches and centres through out the globe. It has its own memorandum of association, a constitution, and a set of bye-laws of internal governance. The Mission was established by Shri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj, a wealthy person, out of his own properties and he was the founder President of the Mission till his life time. It was claimed by Sri U.C. Saxena that he had the right to nominate his successor and in the absence of any nomination by him, the office of the President was to be inherited by his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession. Sri U.C. Saxena and Sri S.C. Saxena, the two petitioners in the application for letters of administration, as also Sri Prakash Chandra Saxena, a respondent therein, are sons of Shri Ram Chandra, also known as Mahatma Ram Chandra Ji and Babu Ji Maharaj, while Smt. Maya Indira and Smt. Chhaya Saxena, both respondents in the above application are daughters of Shri Ram Chandra. The respondent in that petition, Sri P. Rajgopalachari, is a disciple of Shri Ram Chandra. It was the case of Sri U.C. Saxena that in the year 1974 Sri P. Rajgopalachari had been the Secretary of the Mission. It was alleged that taking advantage of his position as the Secretary and of a serious illness of Sri Ram Chandra, Sri P. Rajagopalachari got certain blank papers signed by Shri Ram Chandra on the plea of smooth functioning of the Mission. Subsequently, after his recovery, Shri Ram Chandra Ji removed Sri P. Rajgopalachari from the office of the Secretary and appointed Sri S.A. Sarnad (another respondent in that application) as the Secretary. It was claimed by Sri U.C. Saxena that on 30-12-1976 Shri Ram Chandra executed a registered will for one of his properties in favour of him. It was claimed that Sri U.C. Saxena, Sri S.C. Saxena and Sri P.C. Saxena were the spiritual representative of Sri Ram Chandra in the direct line of succession. It was further asserted that Shri Ram Chandra had repeatedly nominated Sri U.C. Saxena as the successor President of the Mission during the period from 29-3-1982 to 18-4-1983. The other members of the society accepted this nomination. However, according to Sri U.C. Saxena, Sri P. Rajgopalachari started alleging that he was the President of the Mission on, the basis of a nomination dated 23-3-1974, although no such nomination was actually made by Shri Ram Chandra. It was stated that even on the words of that nomination paper Sri P. Rajgopalachari was nominated as the President of Sahaj Marg only. It was indicated in that petition that after the death of Shri Ram Chandra, the founder President of the Mission, there were three sets of claimants. Sri U.C. Saxena claimed the office as the son of the founder President and as his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession. Sri S.P. Srivastava and Sri B.D. Mahajan claimed as Chairman/President and Secretary of the working committee of the Mission while Sri P. Rajgopalachari claimed the office on the basis of the alleged nomination dated 23-3-1974. It was admitted that litigations had been pending between several groups in various Courts in India. It was claimed that the controversy, however, came to an end in view of certain orders passed by the Prescribed Authority/S.D.M. Shahjahanpur, who had held that the working committee of the Mission headed by Dr. S.P. Srivastava and Sri B.D. Mahajan was valid and the claim of Sri P. Rajgopalachari was not acceptable. It was stated in the application for letters of administration that a large number of members of the Mission had decided that Sri U.C. Saxena was to work as the President of the Mission but Sri P. Rajagopalachari and personsin his group were not ready in accept him as thePresident, although duly nominated by Shri RamChandra.
9. The case of the respondents in the letters of administration application was made out in the counter affidavit sworn by R.J. Memani, respondent No. 12 in the petition. It appears from this affidavit that the founder President, Shri Ram Chandra, was considered an incarnation of the Almighty by his disciples and followers. There is no denial that the Mission was established by him and he was the President of the Mission. There is further no denial that the Mission is a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act. The Presidents, following the founder, were to come by way of nomination only and in no other way, neither through election nor otherwise. It was asserted that the Master (meaning thereby the founder President) had nominated Sri P. Rajgopalachari as his spiritual representative and as the President of the Mission after the Mahasamadhi of the Master and this nomination was made on 23-3-1974. It was asserted that Sri Rajagopalachari had been functioning as the President since the departure of the Master. It was asserted further that in addition to the properties with which the Mission was started, Shri Ram Chandra had other personal properties also. Sri Umesh Chandra, Sarvesh Chandra and Prakash Chandra are the sons of Shri Ram Chandra Ji and the will spoken of by Sri U.C. Saxena was in respect of the personal properties of Sri Ram Chandra Ji and had no jural relationship with the property of the Mission. The will could not be connected with the functioning of the Mission or with the office of the President. Under the constitution of the Mission, the properly owned by the Mission vests in the Mission only and the constitution also spoke of the procedure for appointment of Working Committee. The sons of the Master, however, were allegedly interested in mundane properties rather than the spiritual attainment of their father and as per the counter affidavit this had pained the Master to a great extent. They were successor to the Master so far as his personal properties in a physical world were concerned, but for the properties of the Mission, which was a subject-matter of his spiritual attainment only, Sri P. Rajgopalachari was the spiritual son in the direct line of succession. When the Master departed from the physical world, his sons started asserting succession to the office of the President of the Mission and the working committee found the claims baseless. It was asserted that the three sons of the Master got a Civil Suit No. 200 of 1983 filed in the Court of Civil Judge, Shahjahanpur. It was a suit for a declaration that Sri P. Rajgopalachari was not the President of the Mission and for enjoining him from asserting himself as the President.
10. The petitioners for letter of administration brought on record the rules and constitution of Sri Ram Chandra Mission under the clause Organisation. It is indicated that the Mission shall work under the sole guidance and control of the founder or his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession and he shall be the President of the Mission. It is further indicated under the head Constitution and Working that the President shall select a working committee from amongst the members of the Mission to assist him in all matters pertaining to the control and organisation of the Mission and the President shall appoint from amongst the members of the working committee, the following office-bearers, viz. the Secretary, Joint Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor. It is also mentioned in the constitution that the President shall nominate from amongst his spiritual succours any person as his representative, who, as such, will enjoy all the powers and authority vested in the President.
11. The petitioners in the application for letters of administration also annexed a printed copy of 'Constitution and Bye-Laws' of the Mission. This was a print of 1978. Under the head Organisation at Article No. 3, in Sub-clause (b), it is indicated that the Mission shall work under the sole guidance and control of the founder or his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession and he shall be the President of the Mission. Under the head Constitution & Working in Article 4 herein at Sub-clause (b) the same words have been reiterated as were found in the earlier mentioned Rules & Constitution, but thereafter a clause, as follows, has been added in the Constitution printed in 1978 wherein it has been stated that 'The President, at his discretion of or as the situation demands, may appoint any office-bearers other than the above, who may or may not be members of the Working Committee of the Mission and he may entrust any duties, as he deems fit, to such Office-bearers.' This was followed by Sub-clause (c) which is a reproduction of the earlier Sub-clause (c) and found in the Rules and Constitution.
12. A printed copy of bye-laws was also annexed and under the head Possession of the Mission-Management & Control of. It is indicated that lands, buildings, furniture & fittings, accessories and appurtenances thereto, printing press, books, periodicals, journals and other publications and the copy-right thereof and all the movable and immovable property acquired by or belonging to the Mission, or to any of its Branches, training centres or any other affiliated institution, shall be owned, held, and possessed by Shri Ram Chandra Mission, Shahjahanpur, U. P. and shall be managed and controlled by the working Committee in consultation on with the President.
13. The respondents also relied on a copy of the Rules and Constitution of the Mission and the preamble therein indicates that the Mission was founded not after the name of the founder President, Shri Ram Chandra Ji but to commemorate the name of Samarth Guru Maharaj of Fatehpur, a spiritual Master by his successor and representative Sri Ram Chandra Ji of Shahjahanpur, 'at the earnest request of some of the disciples and associates of the Samarth Guru' in order to fulfil the sacred Mission of the Master and to serve humanity in an organised way. This preamble, however, differs from the preamble of the rules and constitution of the Mission annexed to the application for letters of administration. In Article 3 of the Constitution at Sub-clause (b) it is indicated here also that the Mission shall work under the sole guidance and control of the founder or his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession and he shall be the President of the Mission and it is further indicated in Article 4 that the President shall select a Working Committee and appoint the Secretary, Joint Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor from amongst the members of the Working Committee. This copy also contains a clause after Sub-clause (b) which was not there in the copy of the Constitution filed along with the application. A copy of the bye-laws was also attached to the counter affidavit and it also covers in Article 4 the management and control of the possession of the Mission.
14. The counter affidavit was annexed with the nomination of P. Rajgopalachari as the representative of the Master to work as the President of the Mission in the Sahaj Marg. This is signed by Shri Ram Chandra, the President of the Mission, and it bears the date of 23-3-1974.
14-A. From the averments and counter averments certain things come out very clearly -- (1) The Mission was established by Shri Ram Chandra Ji of Shahjahanpur and initially Shri Ram Chandra Ji gave away his properties to the Mission, but he had other personal properties also, (2) the Mission is a Society basically for spiritual attainment and is registered under the Societies Registration Act and it has its own constitution and bye-laws for running the day to day affairs of the society, (3) the founder President was to control the affairs of the Mission and was empowered by the rules, constitution and bye-laws to nominate working committee, (4) the working committee was to manage the day to day business of the society under the guidance of the president. The Constitution provided that the founder President will continue and thereafter his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession will become the President. It also empowered the President to nominate from amongst his spiritual disciples any person as his representative, who, as such, would enjoy all the powers and authorities vested in the President.
15. With this background of the facts concerning the Mission we would now take up the individual appeals with their individual problems.
16. For the sake of convenience we are first taking up Special Appeal No. 504 of 1997. The order impugned in this case was recorded on 10-7-1997 in O. S. No. 127 of 1994. This original suit was brought by Shri Ram Chandra Mission through its President, Sri P. Rajgopalachari, naming Umesh Chandra Saxena and others as defendants. This suit was allowed to be withdrawn in terms of Application No. A-12 filed therein with permission to file a fresh suit. The impugned order was passed on 10-7-1997. The suit was basically for a permanent injunction with prayersto restrain the defendants from holding any function in the name of the President or other office bearers of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, Shahjahanpur, and for restraining defendant No. 1, Umesh Chandra Saxena, from holding the birthday function of Babu Ji Maharaj from 29-4-1994 to 1-5-94 under the banner of Shri Ram Chandra Mission under the alleged Presidentship of Umesh Chandra Saxena. There was further prayer for restraining him from collecting money in any manner for any purpose whatsoever in the name of Shri Ram Chandra Mission and from opening or operating any bank account in the Bank of Baroda or from opening any other bank account in the name of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, Shahjahanpur.
17. The application marked A-12 was filed on 14-3-96 with a prayer to permit withdrawal of the suit with permission to file it afresh, if occasion arose. It was indicated in the application that during pendency of the suit certain developments had taken place by way of conversion of Testamentary Case No. 8 of 1993 to a Testamentary suit No. 1 of 1994 and a decision therein and fifing of a further Suit No. 697 of 1995 by Umesh Chandra Saxena before the District Court, Allahabad. It was further indicated, that orders were passed in favour of Ram Chandra Mission by the Registrar of Societies, Bareilly. The plaintiff in the suit also submitted through this application that the purpose of the suit related to a function that was to be held at Shahjahanpur from 29-4-1994 to 1-5-1994 and the period had already expired. It was, therefore, thought necessary that for many reasons the plaint was to be amended to keep these further developments on record and to ask for appropriate reliefs. It was also indicated that for certain defendants no subsisting cause of action continued so far as this suit was concerned. A point was further taken that a notice under Section 80, C.P.C. was necessary to be given to defendant No. 9 (the Assistant Registrar of Societies of Bareilly) and so far as that defendant was concerned it was a formal and technical defect -- which was to be removed. Under the totality of these circumstances, the prayer for withdrawal with the liberty to file a suit afresh was filed.
18. This application in O. S. N. 127 of 1994 was opposed by the defendants and a counteraffidavit was filed by Umesh Chandra Saxena, which was sworn on 10-3-1997. An objection was taken that all the plaintiffs had not joined in filing the withdrawal application nor did P. Rajgopalachari had indicated in the affidavit that the withdrawal application was filed on behalf of all the plaintiffs. It was stated further that O. S. No. 697 of 1995, filed by Umesh Chandra Saxena in the Civil Court at Allahabad, was still sub judice and P. Rajgopalachari and others had not filed their written statement till the date of swearing of this affidavit. As regards the orders of the Registrar of Societies, it was indicated that the said orders were challenged in two writ petitions. It was contended that no notice under Section 80, C.P.C. was needed with reference to defendant No. 1 and in fact the State of U. P. was not at all a party in O. S. No. 127 of 1994. According to the defendant, there was no cause/sufficient cause to permit the plaintiff to withdraw the aforesaid suit with liberty to file a fresh suit.
19. A perusal of the order of the Hon'ble single Judge dated 10-7-1997 shows that his Lordship had indicated the brief statements of fact on which the suit was based and the prayers made. Issues were framed in the suit after filing of written statement but recording of evidence had not commenced. At that stage only the application for withdrawal was filed. The Hon'ble single Judge had also indicated what were the grounds taken by the plaintiff and what were the objections. The Court had taken pains to quote the relevant provisions of the law concerning withdrawal of a suit as per Order 23, C.P.C. and had referred to certain decisions as well and thereafter recorded the order. The Court was aware of the passage of lime between the date of filing and the date of withdrawal and had recorded an order for payment of costs as well.
20. In the grounds of appeal it was urged that the Hon'ble single Judge had manifestly committed errors of law and had acted arbitrarily. It was staled that the application itself was not maintainable under the provisions of Order 23, Rule 1. C. P. C. and the Hon'ble Court had omitted to take note of the fact of pendency of a civil revision bearing No. 162 of 1994 against an order recorded by the Civil Judge, Shahjanpur in another original suit. In the affidavit opposing the application before the Court this point, however, was not urged. It was further stated in the grounds of appeal that the Hon'ble Judge had omitted to note the submission of the appellants that O. S. No. 127 of 1994 was bad for want of notice under Section 80, C.P.C. This plea goes counter to the objection taken before the Court of trial where it was urged that no notice under Section 80, C.P.C. was necessary. It was further stated that Sri Arun Dave, who had filed O. S. No. 127 of 1994, on behalf of P. Rajgopalachari, had no locus standi to file the suit. Another ground was taken in this appeal to say that the cause of action in O. S. No. 127 of 1994 had 'disappeared/ vanished'. It was contended in the grounds of appeal that the application for withdrawal and the objection thereto were heard on 7-4-1994 and the orders were passed only on 10-7-1997, i.e. after more than three months and that caused failure of justice.
21. In the course of arguments Sri B.P. Patil appearing for the appellants, pressed these very points which were raised in his grounds of appeal and reliance was placed on several decisions, including the ones reported in : 4SCR945 and AIR 1940 Bombay 121 (FB). It was also urged that a suit No. 142 of 1986 was also withdrawn on 1-1-1994.
22. It was argued on behalf of the respondents by Sri A. Kumar that there were papers on record to show that several litigations were started by different persons, all claiming to be spiritual heirs of Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj at different stages and in view thereof it was necessary to make a consolidated prayer against all such persons in a single suit and withdrawal of the suit was necessary with permission to file it afresh, if need be. Sri Kumar also placed reliance on a series of decisions in support of his contentions.
23. Order 23 covers withdrawal and adjustment of suit. Rule I therein permits withdrawal and Sub-rule (3) is important for our purposes and is quoted below :
'(3) Where the Court is satisfied.-
(a) that a suit must fail by reason of some formal defect, or
(b) that there are sufficient grounds for allowing the plaintiff to institute a fresh suit for thesubject-matter of a suit or part of a claim,
it may on such terms as it thinks fit, grant the plaintiff permission to withdraw from such suit or such part of the claim with liberty to institute a fresh suit in respect of the subject-matter of such suit or such part of the claim.'
24. One of the grounds under which withdrawal be permitted with liberty to sue afresh is that a suit must fail by reasons of some formal defect. It was the plea of the plaintiffs that Section 80, CPC notice was not served upon defendant No. 9 and for this formal defect the suit would have failed. Although, this contention was not accepted before the Court below, in the grounds of appeal the appellants accepted in unambiguous terms that the suit itself was not maintainable for want of notice under Section 80, CPC. Thus, it must be stated that the suit was such that it would have failed by reason of the formal defect of absence of notice under Section 80, CPC.
25. As to what is formal defect was explained by the Supreme Court in the case reported in : 4SCR945 as also by the Bombay High Court in the case reported in AIR 1940 Bombay 121, which have been relied upon by the appellant's counsel.
26. Before the Bombay High Court in the case under reference, there was a prayer for withdrawal at the appellate stage in order to file another suit claiming title to the site and the suit was one for injunction. The Court explained what was 'formal defect', and observed that the expression 'formal defect' was to be given wide and liberal meaning and must be deemed to connote every kind of defect which does not affect the merits of the case, whether that defect be fatal to the suit or not. 'Formal defect' includes, according to the Bombay High Court as per this decision, misjoinder of parties or of the matters in suit, rejection of a material document for not having a proper stamp and the erroneous valuation of the subject-matter of the suit. However, in the facts of the particular case, the Court was of the view that where the plaintiff had prayed for an injunction on the basis of his being the owner of the site which he claimed to be an accretion to his land as an alluvion and the suit was dismissed for want of proof, the plaintiff could not have withdrawn the suit at the appellatestage to file another claiming title to the site insuit on the ground of adverse possession as therewas no defect of form in the suit but a defect ofsubstance.
27. Before the Supreme Court the question of validity of a notice under Section 80, C.P.C. was raised in the case under reference. It was observed that 'the object of the notice under Section 80, CPC is to give the Government of the public servant concerned an opportunity to reconsider its or his legal position and if that course is justified to make amends or settle the claim out of Court. The section is imperative and must be strictly construed. Failure to serve a notice complying with the requirements of the statute will entail dismissal of the suit'. In the peculiar facts of the case before the Supreme Court, however, it was held that the notice served was proper. But the explanation of the object of the notice clearly indicates that failure to serve a notice would entail dismissal of the suit. Thus, defect of notice, although formal one, may prove fatal to the suit and this defect is fully covered by Order 23, Rule 1 (3) (a), CPC.
28. The Hon'ble single Judge was alive of thesituation, as observed above in this judgment. Itis now an undisputed fact in terms of the groundsof appeal that the suit was bad for absence ofnotice under Section 80, C.P.C. If not for otherreasons, for this reason alone the exercise ofpowers under Order 23, Rule 1(3) was a properone whereby the Court had allowed withdrawalof the suit with liberty to file it afresh. Thequestion of necessity of notice to pro formadefendant No. 9 may not further be discussed inview of the admitted position of law in terms ofthe grounds of appeal.
29. The suit was filed basically for an injunction to avoid a certain contingency, but together with it certain claim of Umesh Chandra Saxena, was also sought to be resisted. The aforesaid contingency had passed over but the claim of Umesh Chandra Saxena was a persisting one as was evident through the filing of different suits and applications before different authorities. It was also argued by Sri Agit Kumar that at different points of time different persons claimed spiritual heirship to the founder of the Mission. If the plaintiff thought it proper to consolidate all theclaims to bring them under one suit to avoid multiplicity of litigation that would also be a sufficient ground as contemplated under Order 23, Rule 1 (3) (b), C. P. C. to allow withdrawal of the suit with liberty to file it afresh on the same cause of action or on some other cause or action.
30. In the light of these discussions, it must be held that the order dated 10-7-1997 recorded by the Hon'ble single Judge in O. S. No. 127 of 1997 needs no interference in appeal. This appeal must, therefore, stand dismissed.
31. The next matter that we propose to take up is Special Appeal No. 561 of 1996, directed against an order refusing amendment in Suit No. 200 of 1983. It is undisputed that this suit has since been withdrawn after the filing of the instant appeal. An order was recorded on 21-8-1998 by us in the course of hearing of the consolidated arguments in all these appeals and a portion of the order dated 21-8-1998, so far it relates to the instant appeal, is quoted below :
'This appeal is directed against refusal of a prayer for amendment of a plaint in O. S. No. 200 of 1983 and it is not disputed that the suit itself has been withdrawn. There remains nothing for amendment any more and as such the present appeal is also infructuous. There is no further necessity of proceeding with this Appeal No. 561 of 1996.'
At the time of recording this order, a submission was made to us on behalf of the learned counsel for the appellants that he was really eager for a direction that any observation made at the time of rejection of the application under Order 6, Rule 17, CPC may not prejudice the cases of the parties in the other connected dispute. We had then observed that 'This submission will be considered if at all any reference to these observations is made in any of the matters pending between the parties.' In view of the order recorded on 21-8-1998 Specified Appeal No. 561 of 1996 is infructuous and is liable to be dismissed on that score without even going to the merits of the matter. We affirm our observation made on 21-8-1998 that if at all any reference is made in any of the other connected appeals to any comments of the Hon'ble single Judge while rejecting the prayer under Order 6, Rule 17, CPC, this Court will not be overweighed by such observation unless the facts and circumstances of the individual appeals lead us to the same conclusion.
32. We may now take up Special Appeal No. 580 of 1997 filed on behalf of Shri Ram Chandra Mission through Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena as also by Sri Saxena and others in their alleged capacity of office bearers of the Mission. The order impugned in this appeal was again one recorded by the Hon'ble single Judge on 10-7-1997 of this High Court in dismissing Civil Misc. writ petition No. 37023 of 1994. The aforesaid writ petition together with civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 22657 of 1991 were taken up together and were disposed of by a single Order, which is now in question. It appears that there is no grievance of the present appellants so far Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 22657 of 1991 is concerned. Writ Petition No. 22657 of 1991 was moved under Article 226 of the Constitution impugning certain action of the Registrar of Firms, Societies and Chits, U. P. and the Assistant Registrar refusing to recognise the working committee of the Mission allegedly headed by Dr. S.P. Srivastava as the President and Sri B.D. Mahajan as the Secretary. A writ of mandamus was sought for so that the respondents-Registrars be directed to recognise this working committee in terms of the orders under Section 25 of the Societies Registration Act by the Prescribed Authority. The connected Writ Petition No. 37023 of 1994 was filed on behalf of the Mission through its President, Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena, and others including the aforesaid Sri B.D. Mahajan, against many respondents including the State and the aforesaid Registrar and the Assistant Registrar, as also the aforesaid Sri P. Rajgopalachari and others. A writ of certiorari was prayed therein for quashing an order dated 29-9-1994 passed by the Assistant Registrar of Societies at Bareilly and for a writ of mandamus for a declaration that Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena was the successor president of the Mission. A prayer was there for a declaration that the deed dated 16-4-1982 relied upon by Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena was valid and the nomination deed dated 23-3-1974 relied upon by Sri P. Rajgopalachari was forged and invalid. The order impugned in this appeal makes it clear and thesituation is also not disputed in this appeal that Writ Petition No. 22657 of 1991 was not pressed and was to be dismissed as withdrawn as due to certain intervening developments the said writ petition had become infructuous. This prayer of the petition being dismissed as withdrawn was opposed to by the respondents before the Court of first instance. It was submitted on their behalf that the two writ petitions covered contradictory allegations and averments and the aforesaid writ petition was being withdrawn only to avoid embarrassment of the writ petitioners. The Court was of the view that when the petitioners themselves wanted to withdraw the writ petition the Court could not stand on the way and to compel them to continue to press the writ petition. The Court, therefore, observed that 'It would not be proper for this Court not to permit the petitioner to withdraw his writ petition as not pressed.' But the Court allowed the respondents to refer to the contradictions between the averments made in these two writ petitions. It appears that the respondents did not come up in appeal against the order permitting withdrawal of Writ Petition No. 22657 of 1991.
33. The order dated 29-9-1994 that was challenged in other Writ Petition No. 37023 of 1994 was annexed as Annexure '25' to the writ petition. This order (in Hindi) was recorded by Sri Satyendra Singh Gangwar, Assistant Registrar of Societies, Bareilly. The Assistant Registrar was approached by a big group of members of the Mission for an action under Section 25(2) of the Societies Registration Act (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') for the purpose of convening a meeting of the general body of the Society to elect the president and other office bearers. Three signatories to this application were made respondents Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to the writ petition. The prayer made in this application was reiterated on 1-10-1993 by three members only, i.e. respondents Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to the Writ Petition. These persons had again moved an application to the same effect on 6-10-93. It appears further that due to alleged inaction on the part of the Registrar and the Assistant Registrar of the Societies, these persons had moved Writ Petition No. 40897 of 1993 and Umesh Chandra Saxena, P. Rajgopalachari and S.P. Srivastava were arrayed as respondents in the last mentioned writ petition. However, the High Court did not issue any notice upon that writ petition and disposed of the same with a direction upon the Registrar and the Assistant Registrar of the Societies to redress the grievance of the aforesaid three persons in accordance with law and in terms of the Act. Only thereafter the order now impugned was recorded. It is noteworthy that in Writ Petition No. 40897 of 1993 the Court had observed that 'It is not a fit case for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. However, if any application has been filed by the petitioners before respondents 2 and 3, respondents 2 and 3 may consider and dispose of that matter in accordance with law and the societies Registration Act at a very early date. 'This order was recorded by Hon. S.R. Misra, J. on 3-9-1993. The Assistant Registrar before recording the final order had issued several interim directions as well. By this letter to S.A. Sarnad, Secretary of the Mission, dated 16-2-1994 the Assistant Registrar indicated that till the matter was decided no action taken by Mr. Sarnad could be taken as valid. A further letter was issued to the same gentleman on 12-4-1994 making certain queries and again on 7-7-1994 it was indicated that if S.A. Sarnad and Kashi Ram Agarwal, who were noticed, failed to produce their evidence, the matter would be taken up ex parte. A similar notice was issued on 5-8-1994 as well. Sushil Kumar (respondent No. 13 in the writ petition) also intimated the Registrar and the Assistant Registrar about further developments in the Society and of the litigations already initiated. With this background the order impugned in the writ petition was moved.
34. It appears that the Assistant Registrar was approached for exercising his powers under Section 25(2) of the Act as applicable to the State of U. P. Section 25 of the Act covers disputes regarding election of office-bearers. It empowers the prescribed authority, on a reference made to it by the Registrar or by at least one-fourth of the members of a society registered in U. P. to hear and decide in a summary manner any doubt or dispute in respect of the election or continuance in office of an office-bearer of such society, and the prescribed authority under the above circumstances might pass such orders in respect thereofas it deemed fit. A proviso to this section empowers setting aside of an election by the prescribed authority to his satisfaction of corrupt practice/ improper rejection of nomination, etc. Sub-section (2) of Section 25 of the Act reads as follows :
'(2) Where by an order made under Sub-section (1), an election is set aside or an office-bearer is held no longer entitled to continue in office or where the Registrar is satisfied that any election of office-bearers of a society has not been held within the time specified in the rules of that society, he may call meeting of the general body of such society for electing such office bearer or office-bearers, and such meeting shall be prescribed over and be conducted by the Registrar or by any officer authorised by him in this behalf, and the provisions in the rules of the society relating to meetings and elections shall apply to such meeting and elections with necessary modifications.'
Further sub-section provides that 'Where a meeting is called by the Registrar under Sub-section (2), no other meeting shall be called for the purpose of election by any other authority or by any person claiming to be an office-bearer of the society.' An explanation shows that for the purpose of this section, the prescribed authority would mean an officer or Court authorised in this behalf by the State Government by notification published in the Official Gazette.
35. A reading of the above proviso indicates that exercise of the powers under Sub-section (1) of Section 25 lies with the prescribed authority, as indicated in the explanation, who is to be authorised by notification of the Government published in the Official Gazette. If the prescribed authority sets aside the election or if an office-bearer is held no longer entitled to continue in office under Sub-section (1) or if the Registrar is satisfied that the election of the office-bearers of a society had not been held in the times specified in the rules then and then only the Registrar may call a meeting of the general body of such society for electing such office bearers and the meeting is to be prescribed over by the Registrar. The scope of Section 25(2) to invoke the powers of the Registrar directly, without an order under Sub-section (1) of Section 25,is very limited. The Registrar must be satisfied before acting under this sub-section that any election of office-bearers of a society had not been held within the time specified in the rules of that society.
36. With the aforesaid facts and law in the background, we may now examine the order impugned in the writ petition. This order dated 29-9-1994 was passed on the applications of three persons, who were arrayed as respondents Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to the writ petition. After setting the facts that were brought to his notice the Assistant Registrar had formulated the following points :
(1) Whether the proceedings could be referred to the Pargana Adhikari under Section 25(2) of the Societies Registration Act
(2) Whether the election of the president of the Society could be directed or not
(3) Whether an unregistered will could be taken note of when the matter was sub judice before the High Court
(4) Whether the membership of the society could be determined
The Assistant Registrar found that according to the registered rules there was no provision for determining the number of members and there was no membership fee prescribed. Both the parties had made allegations before the Assistant Registrar for misappropriation of fund of the Society. Both the parties made allegations against each other of making forgery regarding nomination and will. The Assistant Registrar observed that the registered rules provided for nomination of the future President by the present incumbent. He found that the party, the followers of Umesh Chandra Saxena, could not have insisted for action under Section 25(2) of the Act. The followers of Umesh Chandra Saxena were, according to the Assistant Registrar, less than one-fourth of the members shown in the list. The Assistant Registrar, accordingly, observed that there could not have been any reference to the Pargana Adhikari. He was further of the view that according to Rule 3(2) of the Society, a President could not be elected, while the dispute relate only to the post of the President, which was to be made by nominations only. The Society had no formal membership fee. Any person having faith in spirituality was entitled to join the Mission. The number of such members was shown to be 1635 by the followers of Umesh Chandra Saxena, while the followers of P. Rajgopalachari placed the numbers at more than 4000. The Assistant Registrar was of the view that when the unregistered will was pending for a decision before the High Court, till such decision is taken Sri Rajgopalchari would continue to work as the President of the Society.
37. In the writ petition all those disputes, claims and counter-claims were brought on record which were, perhaps, beyond the scope of decision in the writ petition as the writ Court was not called upon to give any decision on a disputed fact. The scope of the writ petition was very limited. It was only to be seen if the powers of the Registrar/Assistant Registrar were duly invoked and, if so, whether there was a failure on the part of such authority to exercise such power. The matter of nomination through will or nomination deed was not at all a matter to be considered in the writ petition and more so when the same was in consideration in the suit for letters of administration, unfortunately, in every litigation the same set of facts were pleaded and it was insisted that a decision be given on those disputed facts.
38. Before the Hon'ble single Judge the petition was moved by Umesh Chandra Saxena claiming himself as President of the Mission and it was mainly contended before him that while passing the impugned order dated 29-9-1994 the Assistant Registrar of Societies did not give any notice to Umesh Chandra Saxena, although he was the President of the Mission and as such a party interested. The failure on the part of the Assistant Registrar to give Sri Saxena an opportunity of hearing, was highlighted as a measure which alone, according to the writ petitioner, was sufficient to vitiate the proceedings on the ground of violation of principle of natural justice. It was further contended before the Hon'ble single Judge that the material facts and evidence had not been considered nor were Rules 3(b) and 4(h) of the Society were properly looked into and analysed. The writ petition was opposed before the Hon'ble single Judge on the ground that it was a mala fide application filed with an ulterior motive and wasan abuse of the process of the Court. It was contended by way of reply to the writ petition, that successive writ petitions were being filed by different persons and successive other litigation were also initiated. Initially some persons were shown as the President but subsequently the stand was changed. Two contradictory stands were taken in the two writ petitions which were heard together and this was the reason for withdrawing the other writ petition. The Hon'ble single Judge had held that the Registrar was approached by Sushil Kumar and others canvassing the case of Umesh Chandra Saxena for recognising him as the President and, thus, the petitioners before the Registrar were given full opportunity to produce their evidence and individual notice to Umesh Chandra Saxena was not necessary. Moreover, he did not, by himself, make any effort to file any application for renewal of registration of the Society showing himself to be the President, although S.P. Srivastava and B.D. Mahajan had done so at earlier points of time. The Hon'ble single Judge was aware of the situation that there had been an interim order dated 31-7-1984 passed in F.A.F.O. No. 439 of 1984 whereby the High Court had directed that Sri P. Rajgopalachari was to act as the President, subject to certain conditions regarding disposal of property and that order was confirmed by the Supreme Court despite contest. Accordingly, the Hon'ble single Judge upheld the order of the Registrar whereby the Registrar had directed that till the dispute regarding nomination was decided by the High Court, P. Rajgopalachari was to continue to be the President.
39. According to the Rules of the Society, the post of the President was not an elective one, nor were the members of the working committee to be elected. The rules required the President to nominate the members of the working committee. The Act requires that a Society is to be formed by a memorandum of association and registration by at least seven persons associated with the society. The memorandum of association is to contain the name of the society, the objects of the society, and the names, addresses and occupations of the governors, council, directors, committee, or other governing body to whom, by the rules of the society the management of itsaffairs is entrusted. A copy of the rules and regulations of the society, certified to be a correct copy by not less than three of the members of the governing body, is to be filed with the memorandum of association. When such memorandum and certified copy of the rules with the required particulars are presented by the Secretary of the Society before the Registrar, he shall certify under his hand that the society is registered under this Act. A registration fee is to be paid for this purpose. Section 3-A of this Act speaks of renewal of certificate of registration. Once a society is registered and a certificate of registration is issued, it would remain in force for a period of five years from the date of issue. If any question arises whether any society is entitled to get itself registered in accordance with Section 3 or to get the certificate of registration renewed, the matter shall be referred to the State Government, as provided in Section 3-B of the Act. Section 4 of the Act requires that once in every year, on or before the fourteenth day succeeding the day which, according to the rules of the society, the annual general meeting of the society is held, or, if the rules do not provide for an annual general meeting in the month of January, a list shall be filed with the Registrar giving the names, addresses and occupations of the governors council, directors, committee, or other governing body then entrusted with the management of the affairs of the society. If at all the managing committee is elected, then the signatures of the old elected members shall be obtained in the list. As observed the rules of the society do not speak of an elected President or an elected working committee. Section 25 of the Act covers disputes regarding election of office-bearers and the Registrar's intervention is possible on his satisfaction that any election of office-bearers of a society has not been held within the time specified in the rules. If there be no election provided in the rules, naturally Section 25(1) or (2) of the Act would not come into play. The applications before the Registrar, however, proposed an interference under Section 25(2) of the Act and the Registrar refused to interfere not on the ground that no election was necessary but on another ground that the matter was sub judice before the High Court. It is true that the Registrar in this application had no authority to direct any body to continue in office, but that is to be read not as a direction but as a reiteration of an interim order given by the High Court. Looking from this angle the very application before the Assistant Registrar for action under Section 25(2) of the Act was untenable and so was the writ petition against the order of the Registrar, when the Registrar had no authority to take action under Section 25(2) of the Act, a writ could not have been issued for performance of any duty under that section. Although this approach to the subject and the reasoning for this order are different from the approach and reasoning of the Hon'ble single Judge, we are of the view that the writ petition was rightly dismissed as not tenable.
40. The only remaining matter in Special Appeal No. 829 of 1995 is to be taken up next. A brief narration of the facts behind this appeal has been given in pages 1 and 2 of this judgment as also in pages 7 to 13. To recapitulate, it may be stated that Shri U.C. Saxena and others had filed an application for issuance of letters of administration for the properties of the Ram Chandra Mission and upon contest the application was registered as Testamentary Suit No. 1 of 1994. Sri Saxena and others had made the prayer on the basis of certain document whereby Sri Saxena was nominated as the successor to the founder President, Shri Ram Chandra Ji. Reliance was placed on the rules of the society and its bye-laws and the claim was hotly contested by Sri P. Rajgopalachari and others, according to whom, Sri P. Rajgopalachari alone was the spiritual successor to Shri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj for the affairs of the Mission, on the basis of a document said to have been written by the founder President. At an advanced stage of the proceedings of the suit an application No. A-415 was filed before the Hon'ble single Judge dealing with the testamentary suit to say that the suit was one for obtaining certain declaration, but the plaint did not disclose a cause of action at all and in fact the reliefs had been camouflaged as the plaintiffs did know that the relief for declaration, as claimed therein, was barred by limitation. This objection was heard and decided by the order dated 16-10-1995 and the plaint was rejected under Order 7, Rule 11, C.P.C.
41. The order of the Hon'ble single Judge dated 16-10-1995 indicates that the Court was aware of the relief sought for and he had categorised the reliefs under five heads, which are as under:
(1) Grant of letters of administration in favour of Shri U.C. Saxena in respect of the properties of Sri Ram Chandra Mission throughout India and abroad.
(2) Declaration that Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena was the President of the Mission and the second petitioner was the Secretary thereof,
(3) An interim grant during pendency of the application,
(4) In the alternative appointment of a receiver in respect of the entire estate of deceased Sri Ram Chandra and of Ram Chandra Mission, and
(5) Any other relief.
The main trust of the appellants before the Hon'ble single Judge was on a registered will dated 30-12-1976 executed by Sri Ram Chandra Ji for one of his personal properties in favour of Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena and another. It was further urged on behalf of the petitioner-appellants before the Hon'ble single Judge that taking advantage of his proximity to Sri Ram Chandra Ji, Sri P. Rajgopalachari had manufactured a deed of nomination, said to have been signed by Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj, by utilising some signed blank papers and thereby claiming to be the President of the Mission. Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena and others had indicated before the Hon'ble single Judge that some of the properties, which were mentioned in the registered will, as aforesaid, stood recorded in the names of the sons and daughters of Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj, but for his remaining movables and immovables as also of the estate of the Mission, only Sri Umesh Chandra Saxena and his brothers and sisters were the joint legal successors.
42. The case of Sri P. Rajgopalachari and others, as was placed before the Hon'ble single Judge, was that the matter having become contentious, the application for letters of administration was liable to be converted to a suit and it was done and issues were framed, but the suit was bad and should have been dismissed or the plaint should have been rejected.
43. The application No. A-415, that was moved before the court below, made the following relevant averments:
(a) The Ram Chandra Mission was a society registered under the Societies Registration Act and the Will dated 30-12-1976 did not cover any property of the Mission. It was solely for certain personal properties of Sri Ram Chandra Ji.
(b) The properties of the society vested in the society itself under Section 5 of the Societies Registration Act and could never have vested in; any individual.
(c) Section 5-A of the Societies Registration Act imposed a restriction on the transfer of property of a registered society without previous approval of the principal Court of original civil jurisdiction.
(d) the petitioners had never been authorised by the society to file the instant application and no cause of action ever arose to them.
(e) There could not have been any Will for the properties of the society as the society being juristic person could never execute any Will.
(f) Chapter XXX Rule 6 of the Allahabad High Court Rules permitted an application for letters of administration when there is a Will made under the Indian Succession Act. In the absence of any Will by the Society, which is an impossibility under the law, there could not have been any application for letters of administration.
(g) The theory of nomination dated 16-4-1982 was introduced subsequent to the institution of the testamentary case and even conceding the making this nomination, it could not be read as Will as it does not conform to the requirements of a valid Will.
(h) The plaint did not disclose any cause of action so far respondents Nos. 8 to 12 were concerned. Petitioner No. 3 was neither the executor nor the beneficiary in the alleged Will dated 30-12-76 and as such no application for letters of administration would have been filed at his instance.
(i) The prayers made in this application No. A-415 were for dismissal of the suit in its entirety, or in the alternative against respondents Nos. 8 to 12, for rejection of the plaint in its entirety or at least, against respondents Nos. 8 to 12 and for pronouncement of judgment at once.
44. Order 7, Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with rejection of plaint and it reads as under:
'11. Rejection of plaint.-- The plaint shall be rejected to the following cases:
(a) Where it docs not disclose a cause of action ;
(b) where the relief claimed is undervalued and the plaintiff, on being required by the Court to correct the valuation within a time to be fixed by the Court, fails to do so;
(c) where the relief claimed is properly valued, but the plaint is returned upon paper insufficiently stamped, and the plaintiff, on being required by the Court to supply the requisite stamp paper within a time to be fixed by the Court, fails to do so;
(d) Where the suit appears from the statement in the plaint to be barred by any law :
Provided that the time fixed by the Court for the correction of the valuation or supplying of the requisite stamp-paper shall not be extended unless the Court, for the reasons to be recorded, is satisfied that the plaintiff was prevented by any cause of an exceptional nature from correcting the valuation or supplying the requisite stamp-paper, as the case may be, within the time fixed by the Court and that refusal to extend such time would cause grave injustice to the plaintiff.'
It casts a duty upon the Court itself to reject a plaint when the conditions indicated in Rule 11(a) to (d) are found existing.
45. The Hon'ble single Judge was confronted not only with the prayer for rejection of the plaint as per application No. A-415 but also with a preliminary objection on behalf of the petitioner-appellants that when written, statement was filed and issues were framed therein, a prayer for rejection of plaint could not be entertained as the said provisions would only be invoked prior to the filing of the written statement. Without going to the merits of the application for rejection of plaint, it may be stated at this stage itself that the preliminary objection was rightly rejected by the Hon'ble single Judge. Order 7, Rule 11, C.P.C., as already observed, casts a duty upon the Court to reject a plaint if the circumstances indicated therein were existing. It cannot be the law that this power of the Court would be curtailed in any manner simply because the Court had proceeded to some length, without application of mind on this point. The rule itself does not indicate anywhere that the power is to be exercised upon anapplication, or if such an application is filed it should be at any particular stage. We must and do agree that the opinion of the Hon'ble Single Judge that the preliminary objection regarding the state of moving an application under Order 7 Rule 11, C.P.C. was not acceptable. We would only add that an action under Order 7, Rule 11, C.P.C. does not await an application by any party. It is the duty of the Court to reject a plaint if the reasons therefore are found existing from a reading of the plaint itself and not from a reading of the defence or other documents.
46. It appears that a second preliminary objection was also raised before the Hon'ble single Judge, concerning the application under Order 7, Rule 11, C.P.C. It was contended before him that in a proceeding for letters of administration all the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure were not to be applied and as such the powers under Order 7 Rule 11, C.P.C. could not be invoked. The Hon'ble single Judge disagreed with this objection also making a reference to Section 141, C.P.C. which provides that the procedure provided in the Code of Civil Procedure in regard to suits would be followed, as far as it can be made applicable, in all proceedings in any Court of Civil Jurisdiction. He was of the view that the proceeding for grant of letters of administration was one in which the Court exercised its civil jurisdiction and as such all rigours of the Code of Civil Procedure would be applicable. The Hon'ble Judge further relied on Rule 39 of Chapter XXX of the Allahabad High Court Rules to say that when the matter become contentious the application for letters of administration would be treated and registered as a suit and the petition was to be read as a plaint and the objection as written statement, and, as such the testamentary suit was a suit for all purposes under the Code of Civil Procedure and no exception could be taken to invocation of Order 7 Rule 11, C.P.C. We find no reason to disagree with this aspect of the finding of the Hon'ble single Judge.
47. During this appeal, another objection was taken, of a preliminary nature, on the ground that the Allahabad High Court Rules in Chapter XXX indicate as to what would be the pro forma for an application for letters of administration and the instant application was one following that pro forma in toto and by a deeming provision only the application was to be regarded as a suit an objection may not be entertained to say that the application was bad for non-disclosure of cause of action. This point would be taken up along with the merits of the case as it would be necessary to see what is a cause of action, even for an application letters of administration.
48. After rejecting the two preliminary objections, the Hon'ble single Judge had proceeded to discuss the merits of the application. It was urged before the trial Judge on behalf of the defendant-respondents that the suit was really meant to seek a declaration from the Court that petitioner No. 1 was the President of the society and for the purpose of that declaration no cause of action had ever been indicated. This non-disclosure, according to the defendants, was a deliberate act as the plaintiffs knew that the claim in that regard Was barred by law. Only for that purpose a device was sorted out to claim a relief of letters of administration, based on that declaration which was barred under the law. In the course of arguments in this appeal, Sri Ajit Kumar, appearing for the respondents, further submitted that in fact no cause of action for issuance of letters of administration had ever arisen as the property of the Mission was being administered, in fact, by Sri P. Rajgopalachari as its President on nomination from the founder President and dispute, if any, regarding his right to claim as President could be decided in a properly framed regular suit and not in a proceeding for grant of letters of administration.
49. It is necessary to go through the provisions of the Indian Succession Act regarding letters of administration. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 in its preamble states that it is an Act to consolidate the law applicable to intestate and testamentary succession. The use of the terms 'intestate' and 'testamentary' and 'succession' suggests that the provisions of the Act are to apply in the matter of 'succession' to a person either according to his will or otherwise when there is no will executed by such person. The definitions section (Section 2) says that in this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context. 'Administrator' means a person appointed by competent authority to administer the estate of a deceased person when there is no executor. The law defines what is 'probate' and what is a 'will', but there is no definition ofthe term 'letters of administration'. An 'executor' has been defined to mean a person to whom the execution of the last will of a deceased person is, by the testator's appointment, confided. The provisions on 'letters of administration' and 'administration of assets of deceased' are covered in Part IX of the Act. Section 217 thereunder speaks that in case of intestate succession administration of the assets of the deceased shall be made or carried out in accordance with the provisions of this Part. This also suggests that the law for letters of administration would be applicable in respect of the assets of a deceased person only reference may also be made to the earlier Part VIII, precisely to Section 212, which provides that no right to any part of the property of a person who has died intestate can be established in any Court of Justice, unless letters of administration have first been granted by a Court of competent jurisdiction. This again suggests that it is only in respect of properties of a deceased person, in case of dying without a will, that a letter of administration to intestate property could be claimed. Section 218 (1) also gives the same suggestion and the text reads as follows :
'218. To whom administration may be granted, where deceased is a Hindu. Muhammadan. Buddhist. Sikh. Jaina or exempted person.-- (1) If the deceased has died intestate, and was a Hindu, Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina or an exempted person, administration of his estate may be granted to any person who, according to the rules for the distribution of the estate applicable in the case of such deceased, would be entitled to the whole or any part of such deceased's estate.'
With this background of the law, we may now look to the averment in the plaint whereby the present appellants had made a prayer for some declaration and for the letters of administration.
50. The averments have already been indicated in the earlier paragraphs of this judgment. After describing that the Mission was established by Shri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj it was stated that the Mission/Society was established with his own properties and he had been the president of the Mission till his life time with a right to nominate his successor. In the absence of any such nomination the office was to be inherited by his spiritual representative in the direct line of succession. The plaint also made averments about a registered will executed by Shri Ram Chandra Jai Maharaj on 30-12-1976 for one of his properties in favour of Sri U.C. Saxena and Sri Sarvesh Chandra Saxena. The averments were made that Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj left petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 and respondents Nos. 5, 6 and 7 as sons and daughters and amongst them petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 together with respondent No. 5 were the spiritual representatives of Sri Ram Chandra Ji in the direct line of succession. It was further averred that he had repeatedly nominated Sri U.C. Saxena as the successor president to himself. Allegations were there that the respondent, Sri P. Rajgopalachari, had allegedly forged a paper in his favour and on the basis of that was claiming to be the nominee of the last president. It was asserted that after the death of Sri Ram Chandra Ji there were three sets of claimants; (1) the petitioner, Sri U.C. Saxena, as the son and spiritual representative in the direct line, (2) Sri S.P. Srivastava and Sri R.D. Mahajan as Chairman/President and Secretary of the working committee of the Mission, and (3) Sri P. Rajgopalachari on the basis of alleged nomination deed dated 28-3-1974. References were made to different proceedings including the proceedings before the prescribed authority under the Societies Registration Act. Paragraph 27 of the plaint indicated the list of some movable and immovable properties of the said society/Mission possessed, control led and administered by Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj, Paragraph 28 of the plaint also indicated various other movable and immovable properties of Sri Ram Chandra Ji including that of the Mission of which he was the founder president. According to paragraph 30 these properties of Sri Ram Chandra Mission were fully described in Annexure '16' to the petition. It was asserted that Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj died intestate. The prayers were specific. Letters of administration were sought to be granted to the petitioners, in particular to petitioner No. 1, in respect of the properties in question having effect throughout India and abroad. There has been a further prayer for a declaration that petitioner No. 1 was the president of Ram Chandra Mission and petitioner No. 2 was the secretary thereof. There was an interim prayer to the effect that pending final adjudication there may be an interim grant in favour of petitioner No. 1 in respect of the properties in question including that of Ram Chandra Mission, Shahjahanpur centre and branches thereofin India and abroad and for appointment of areceiver in the alternative for the entire estate ofdeceased Sri Ram Chandra Ji and that of RamChandra. Mission.
51. The plaint is silent as to which property belong personally to Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj and which one was the property of the Mission. The law is clear that if it is a property personal to Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj and if he died intestate, such properties would be inherited by his heirs according to his personal law and there could be a prayer for grant of letters of administration for such property. The law is also clear in terms of the provisions of the Societies Registration Act that if the properties were of the Mission, may be on donation from Sri Ram Chandra Ji Maharaj or by any other grant, the same may not be claimed as personal property invoking the personal law of succession. Moreover the Mission being juristic person, there could be no question of its death or leaving any property 'intestate'. Whenever we meet the term 'intestate' it must be read in opposition to the term 'testament', i.e. will and a will, according to Section 59 of the Succession Act may be made by every person of sound mind, who is not a minor. Thus, a society or a Mission could not be capable of creating a will and in this light also the question of intestate succession of the properties of a society upon intestate death of any officer-bearer, however high he may be on spiritual level, could never arise.
52. In the plaint itself, as already indicated, there is no indication which property belonged to Sri Ram Chandra Ji and which others belonged to the Mission. The very suggestion in the prayer portion that the petitioner No. 1 be declared as the president of the Mission and interim grant for the properties be made in his favour indicates that these were the properties of the Mission for which the letters of administration have been prayed for. For the reasons stated above it can only be observed that there was neither a disclosure of a cause of action for the letters of administration for the properties of the Mission nor was there any such cause of action ever accruing to any person. On the question of prayer for declaration also there was no indication as to when the right to claim such declaration had accrued to the petitioners. Moreover, if at all it was merely forsuch declaration then the testamentary jurisdiction of the High Court could not have been invoked. At this juncture, we may take up another objection that was raised by Sri B.B. Paul to defeat the application No. A-415. It was stated that the application was filed absolutely within the pro forma required by Chapter XXX of the Allahabad High Court Rules and as there was no column for mentioning a cause of action, the nondisclosure thereof could not be made aground for rejection of the plaint. The pro forma related to intestate succession and we have already explained why any relief touching intestate succession could not be claimed for the properties of a Mission or Society. Thus, mere compliance with the pro forma may not give any benefit to the present appellants to support the plaint. It was not merely an application for letters of administration, there was a prayer for declaration too. For that declaration the petitioners appellants were obliged to indicate the cause of action which was not done and notwithstanding the question whether the High Court in the testamentary jurisdiction would entertain a suit for such declaration, the plaint for that prayer was certainly liable to be rejected for non-disclosure of the cause of action. From the background of the dispute between the parties, from the number of litigations they are engaged in and from the nature of averments in the petition/plaint it appears that the earlier will referred dated 30-12-1976 was referred to only as a spring-board for a leap into the depth of a matter before a Court having no jurisdiction to give the reliefs prayed for and that too without disclosure as to how any cause of action had ever accrued to the petitioners for the reliefs. The Hon'ble single Judge has given his own views to arrive at the conclusion that the plaint was liable to be rejected. We have approached the matter from another angle and we also reach the same conclusion that the present plaint firstly for a declaration made in the testamentary jurisdiction of the High Court and secondly for letters of administration in respect of the society which is not 'dead' was without disclosure of any cause of action and was a frivolous one and entertainment of such plaint would only entail in unnecessary litigations. The plaint, in our view, was rightly rejected under Order 7, Rule 11.C.P.C.
53. In the result, all the present four AppealsNo. 829 of 1955, 561 of 1996, 580 of 1997 and 594 of 1997 stand dismissed with costs in conformity with the observation of the Hon'ble single Judge. We do also direct that our observations concerning any particular fact shall not affect the merits of the cases of the parties in litigation between them in any other forum.