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Bachan Dass and anr. Vs. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.O. Nos. 224 of 1966 and 14 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1979P& H91
ActsSikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 - Sections 7(1), 7(3), 8, 9 and 10; Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887 - Sections 37 and 45; Specific Relief Act - Sections 42; Limitation Act - Sections 120
AppellantBachan Dass and anr.
RespondentShiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar
Cases ReferredBanta Singh v. Gurdwara Sahib Dasmi Padshahi
Excerpt:
.....in the petition are accepted and direction should be issued that in fact no land or muafi should be entered in the name of a mahant before his appointment is formally sanctioned by the ljlas-e-khas in the manner given therein and the second part of the order runs like this: it is well known that the wrong entry does not extinguish the rights of the petitioners in the suit land nor does it confer any title on the notified sikh gurdwara. in that case banta singh was afforded sufficient opportunity, but he had failed to produce any evidence to substantiate his claim. 11. we are inclined to agree with the findings of the tribunal as it is found from the documentary as well as the oral evidence that the house in dispute is under the ownership of gurdwara......respect was placed on a decision given by the supreme court in civil appeal no. 446 of 1962, banta singh v. gurdwara sahib dasmi padshahi, decided on 9-11-1964. the contentions of the committee were considered seriatim and rejected on merits. these very contentions have been repeated before us. mr. narainder singh has been unable to cogently assail the view expressed by the tribunal on these points and we see no reason whatsoever to opine to the contrary.5. mutation no. 319 (exhibits p-5 and r--2) shows that the land in dispute standing in the names of khushi ram and bachan dass sons of daulat ram stands mutated in name of the gurdwara sri guru granth sahib ji in village lapran and they are shown as mohtmims. this document further shows that entry was made in the absence of khushi ram.....
Judgment:

S.S. Dewan, J.

1. This judgment will dispose of F. A. O. No. 224 of 1966 and F. A. O. No. 14 of 1967, as th are directed against one and the same judgment dated August 1, 1966, of the Sikh Gurdwaras Tribunal (Punjab) Chandigarh. (hereinafter called the Tribunal).

2. Briefly stated the facts giving rise to these appeals are that 58 Sikh worshippers filed a petition under sub-section (1) of S. 7 of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) and the said petition was published under sub-section (3) of S. 7 of the Act, regarding the claim in respect of Gurdwara Siri Guru Granth Sahib situate in the revenue estate of village Lapran, Tehsil Sirhind, District Patiala. Thereupon, Bachan Dass son of Daulat Ram and Bishan Dass son of Khushi Ram filed an objection petition before the State Government under S. 8 of the Act, alleging therein that the land and the house in question had been donated by Bijay Singh of Bhadaur to their forefathers in the year 1860 BK and the same descended to them (petitioners) from them; that they acquired perpetual rights in the properties in question being in possession for the last 161 years and that there never came in existence Gurdwara Sri Guru Granth Sahib in village Lapran nor had it anything to do with the property in question. The, Government treated the objection petition to be one under Ss. 8 and 10 of the Act and forwarded it to the Tribunal for disposal under sub-section (1) of S. 14 of the Act. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (hereinafter called as the Committee) contested the petition and filed written statement. It was averred that the properties in question belonged to a Sikh Gurdwara and that the case fell under the purview of S. 16(2)(iv) or S. 16 (2)(iii) of the Act. During the proceedings before the Tribunal, it was found that no notification under S. 9 of the Act had been issued by the Government and that the objection petition had been wrongly forwarded to the Tribunal as composite petition under Ss. 8 and 10 of the Act. Shri Tehal Singh Mangat, counsel for the petitioners admitted that the petition was under S. 10 of the Act. The petition under S. 8 was dismissed by the Tribunal and the petition under S. 10 was allowed to proceed. The counsel for the Committee filed fresh written statement and it was averred that the land in dispute belonged to the Gurdwara and was granted to the petitioners by the Sardar of Bhadaur for the maintenance of the Gurdwara and it had descended from office. holder to office-holder on more than two occasions. Regarding the house in dispute, it was alleged that it was of the notified Sikh Gurdwara. The pleadings of the parties gave rise to the following issues:--

1. What right, title or interest, if any, has the petitioners in the property in dispute ?

2. What right, title or interest, if any, has the notified Sikh Gurdwara in the property in dispute ?

3. Both these issues were decided by the majority judgment of the Tribunal and it was held that the petitioners were entitled to declaration that the land in dispute belonged to them and the house belonged to the notified Sikh Gurdwara. However, Shri Sarup Singh, one of the members of the Tribunal recorded a dissenting judgment and he was of the view that the land in dispute was proved to be belonging to the Gurdwara Siri Guru Granth Sahib and that the petitioners had no right, title or interest in the land in dispute. The Committee has come up in appeal (F. A. O. No. 14 of 1967) claiming that the land in dispute is the property of the scheduled Gurdwara and that the majority view is not correct whereas the petitioners have also challenged the finding of the Tribunal on issue No. 2 through F. A. O. No. 224 of 1966.

4. Both the parties produced oral as well as documentary evidence in support of their respective claims. After going through the oral as well as the documentary evidence, we are inclined to agree with the view taken by the majority decision of the Tribunal. Exhibit P-3 is the certified copy of the pedigree table of Khandan No. 20 pertaining to Faqir Udasis of Lapran for the years 1961-62 Svt. It starts from Chaina who was succeeded by Madho Ram. Balak Ram succeeded Madho Ram, who in turn was followed by Sarmukh Dass. Sham Dass followed Sarmukh Dass who had two sons, Nanak Dass and Daulat Ram. Daulat Ram died and his two sons Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass succeeded him. This pedigree table shows that the succession was from father to sort Nanak Dass died and the land standing in his name in Exhibit P-1 Jarnabandi for the years 1961-62 B. K. was mutated in the names of his two nephews Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass sons of Daulat Ram vide mutation No. 29 dated 28 Katak 1964 Svt. (Exhibit P-4). This entry was again repeated in the Jamabandi for the years 1982-83 Svt. (Exhibit P-8). It is not disputed by the learned counsel for the Committee that the land in dispute throughout remained in possession of the petitioners up to the date of the notification. (Copy of mutation No. 319 (Exs. P-5 and R-2)), however, indicates that the land in dispute standing in the names of Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass sons of Daulat Ram stands mutated in the, name of Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in village Lapran and they are shown as its Mohtmims. This mutation was challenged before the Tribunal by the learned counsel for the petitioners with the contentions that Deohri Maulla had no authority to issue direction for substituting the name of Siri Guru Granth Sahib instead of Bachan Dass and Khushi Ram and that the entry in the record of rights could be changed only if covered by one of the clauses contained in S. 37 of the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887. It was also alleged that the entry was changed without giving any notice to the petitioners and as such it was illegal and that the mutation could neither confer nor take away title. On the other hand, the case of the Committee was that the entry in the record of rights was brought about under the orders of the Deohri Maulla to give effect to Farman-e-Sahi; that the entry incorporated in the Jama-bandi was changed as back as in the year 1986/87 Svt. (Exh. R-3); that the same entry was repeated in the subsequent Jarnabandis and that the petitioners had acquiesced in this entry and as such they could not be permitted to turn round and say that the notified Sikh Gurdwara was not the owner of the disputed land. Primarily, reliance in this respect was placed on a decision given by the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 446 of 1962, Banta Singh v. Gurdwara Sahib Dasmi Padshahi, decided on 9-11-1964. The contentions of the Committee were considered seriatim and rejected on merits. These very contentions have been repeated before us. Mr. Narainder Singh has been unable to cogently assail the view expressed by the Tribunal on these points and we see no reason whatsoever to opine to the contrary.

5. Mutation No. 319 (Exhibits P-5 and R--2) shows that the land in dispute standing in the names of Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass sons of Daulat Ram stands mutated in name of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji in village Lapran and they are shown as Mohtmims. This document further shows that entry was made In the absence of Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass. The order for variation in the mutation was issued by Sardar Sahib Deohri Maulla (Col. Amrit Singh) but it is of no consequence because Col. Amrik Singh had no authority to pass such order. In this view of the matter, the Tribunal has rightly found that the entire proceedings beginning from the Patwari's report to the final order made by the Revenue Officer on the mutation, were illegal. On perusal of the mutation (Ex. P-5) we find that it is nowhere described that Sardar Sahib Deohri-Maulla was issuing the order to give effect to Farman-e-Shahi. The words 'Fannan-e-Shahi in fact do not find mention in the order. The first part of the order reads that recommendations made in the petition are accepted and direction should be issued that in fact no land or Muafi should be entered in the name of a Mahant before his appointment is formally sanctioned by the ljlas-e-Khas in the manner given therein and the second part of the order runs like this:--

'This should also be recorded that the lands that pertain to Deras should not be deemed to belong to the Mahants nor should they be entered as the property of the Mahants in the Government papers. On the other hand such lands should be shown under the management of the Mahants and the Mahants shall have no right to sell or mortgage the lands belonging to the Deras. This should he brought to the notice of the revenue authorities and this order should he published in the Gazette.'

6. The second part of the order shows that it is only those lands which pertain to Deras and entered as property of the Mahants that have to be shown in Government papers as property of the Dera under the management of their respective Mahants. A bare reading of the said order envisages a sort of enquiry by the revenue authorities in order to satisfy that the lands sought to he entered in the name of the Deras were attached to them. It is candidly admitted by Mr. Narinder Singh, learned counsel for the Committee that no such enquiry was conducted either by Sardar Sahib Deohri Maulla or the Revenue Officer before the mutation substituting the name of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in place of Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass sons of Daulat Ram was ordered and sanctioned. What to speak of enquiry the petitioners were not given any notice and it was only on the order of Sardar Sahib Deohri Maulla that the Patwari entered the ownership of the land in the name of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, ignoring the previous entry which was in the names of the petitioners. One more circumstance that militates against the Committee is that if the land was given to the religious institution, there was no cogent reason by the committee as to why the names of Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass should not have been shown as Managers or Karkuns in the possessory column of record of rights. The entry of a title in the revenue records as the result of mutation proceedings is merely the recognition by revenue officers of a title which they believe to exist. It is true that the entry when made is entitled to a presumption of correctness unless rebutted, but the mere making of an entry does not in any way create a title.

7. The entries in the revenue record, though adverse to the petitioners, do not at all extinguish their right in the land In dispute. Section 45 of the Punjab Land Revenue Act entitles any persons aggrieved by an entry in the record of rights to seek relief under S. 42, Specific Relief Act. A suit for declaration in respect of any entry in the record of rights is governed by S. 120 of the Limitation Act. The case of the petitioners is that they felt aggrieved with the adverse entry appearing in the record of rights only on the publication of the notification, and the period of limitation commenced running from the date of notification i. e. 5-7-1963. They had near about three years more at their disposal for instituting a suit under S. 42, Specific Relief Act for getting the entry corrected. It is well known that the wrong entry does not extinguish the rights of the petitioners in the suit land nor does it confer any title on the notified Sikh Gurdwara. Even after the mutation, Khushi Ram and Bachan Dass continued to remain in possession of the land in question.

8. The ratio of the decision in Banta Singh's case (C. A. No. 446 of 1962, D/- D/- 9-11-1964) (SC) (supra) is not applicable to the facts and circumstances of the present case. In that case Banta Singh was afforded sufficient opportunity, but he had failed to produce any evidence to substantiate his claim. The Tehsildar's order sanctioning mutation was issued in accordance with the orders of his Highness whose orders were the law. All this material is lacking in the case in hand. In the present case neither there is any reference to the orders of his Highness nor the petitioners have hem given any opportunity to produce evidence in support of their claim.

9. Keeping in view the evidence adduced on behalf of the petitioners, we are inclined to agree with the view taken by the Tribunal that there is no manner or doubt left that the petitioners are entitled to the land in dispute In their personal capacity.

10. So far as the house in question is concerned, the case of the petitioners is that it belonged to Nanak Dass who was the real brother of their grandfather and had descended to them after his death. The record shows that Nanak Dass appeared as a witness in Muafi file No. 78 instituted on 24th Har, 1965 BK and decided an 14th Asoj, 1965 BK. In his statement (Ex. R-5) recorded on 7th Chet 1962 BK, Nanak Dass describes the house in question as Dera. He has stated that Guru Granth is opened every day; that he is a Pathi and that the wayfarers are fed every day. Ex. R-6 is the certified copy of the joint statement of three Lambardars of village Lapran, namely, Aroor Singh, Bhagwan Singh and Dasondhi, which was recorded in the same file (No. 78). They have called the institution as a Dera. They further add that Guru Granth is opened regularly and Khushi Ram reads it, that the travellers are fed and that the building of the Dharamsala is of Pacca masonry. The Committee examined four witnesses. Though they belong to villages other than Lapran, but their evidence fits in with the statements of Nanak Dass and the three Lamberdars. They have stated that people use this institution for the worship of Holy Granth; that Bachan Dass and Bishan Dass are the Mahants of this Gurdwara and they perform the Prakash of Guru Granth Sahib and render service to the travellers. From the evidence adduced on behalf of the Committee, it is thus quite clear that the building is not exclusively the residential house of the petitioners, but a building in which Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously opened every day and read by the Mahants and the travellers are fed. In Banta Singh's case (C. A. No. 446 of 1962, D/- 9-11-1964) (SC) (supra) Dera was held to be a Gurdwara.

11. We are inclined to agree with the findings of the Tribunal as it is found from the documentary as well as the oral evidence that the house in dispute is under the ownership of Gurdwara.

12. For the reasons recorded above, there is no merit in these appeals and the same are hereby dismissed. However, there will be no order as to costs.

Bhopinder Singh Dhillon, J.

13. I agree.

14. Appeals dismissed.


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