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Trilochan Singh Rana and anr. Vs. Joginder Singh Bajwa and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 174 of 1982
Judge
Reported inILR1983Delhi934; 1982RLR768
ActsDelhi Sikh Gurduwara Act, 1971 - Sections 3
AppellantTrilochan Singh Rana and anr.
RespondentJoginder Singh Bajwa and ors.
Advocates: D.S. Marwah,; R.K. Garg,; M.K. Chawla,;
Excerpt:
.....vacancy of an elected member is bar for co-opting a person to fill up the vacancy of the co-opted member--the act of the management committee constituted under section 3 of the act in co-opting a new member without filling up of the vacancy of the elected member, whether protected under section 22 of the act.; 1. after the constitution of the management committee all powers exercised under the act are exercised by the committee or by the executive board. the executive board exercises powers on behalf of the committee and the committee controls all the gurdwaras and gurdwara property in delhi, in accordance with the provisions of the act. when a person is to be co-opted as member of the committee it would be a function of the committee itself. the co-option of a person by the..........was constituted last time in january, 1980. it consisted of forty six selected members and none co-opted members. jathedar santokh singh, a co-opted member of the committee died on 21st december, 1981. shri sohan singh sandhu, an elected member of the committee also died on 21st december, 1981. the vacancy caused by the death of shri sohan singh sandhu, an elected member, has not been filled up so far in accordance with the provisions of the act and the rules framed. the vacancy which occurred on account of death of jathedar santokh singh, a co-opted member was to be filled up by co-option of a new member in a meeting of the committee to be held on 16th june. 1982. the plaintiffs-respondents 1 and 2 filed a suit for injunction on 15th june, 1982 along with an application for temporary.....
Judgment:

Sultan Singh, J.

(1) The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee under Section 3 of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') was constituted last time in January, 1980. It consisted of forty six selected members and none co-opted members. Jathedar Santokh Singh, a co-opted member of the Committee died on 21st December, 1981. Shri Sohan Singh Sandhu, an elected member of the committee also died on 21st December, 1981. The vacancy caused by the death of Shri Sohan Singh Sandhu, an elected member, has not been filled up so far in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the Rules framed. The vacancy which occurred on account of death of Jathedar Santokh Singh, a co-opted member was to be filled up by co-option of a new member in a meeting of the committee to be held on 16th June. 1982. The plaintiffs-respondents 1 and 2 filed a suit for injunction on 15th June, 1982 along with an application for temporary injunction for restraining the defendants i.e. petitioners and other respondents from co-opting any person prior to the filling up the vacancy of the elected members caused by death of Shri Soban Singh Sandhu. The trial court on 15th June, 1982 passed an ex parte injunction. On an application by the petitioners the trial court on 16th June, 1982 refused to vacate the injunction. The defendants-petitioners thereforee filed this first appeal.

(2) The question for decision is now the vacancy caused by death of a co-opted member is to be filled up. Under the Act, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (hereinafter called 'the Committee') consists of forty six elected and nine co-opted members vide Section 4 of the Act. Four co-opted members are the head priests and they have no right of vote for the purpose of election of office bearers and other members of the Executive Board. The term of office of a member of the Committee is four years from the date of holding the first meeting of the Committee under Section 5 of the Act. It provides for filling up the vacancy of an elected member or the co-opted member in the manner in which the member whose seat has fallen vacant was elected or co-opted. The newly elected or co-opted member of the Committee holds office for the remaining term of the Committee vide Section 5(2) of the Act. For election of forty six members, the Union Territory of Delhi is divided into single member wards according to Section 6 of the Act. An electoral roll is prepared under Section 7 of the Act. Section 8 provides qualifications of an elector. Section 9 provides that every person registered on the electoral roll shall be entitled while so registered to vote at an election of a member for that ward. Section 10 provides for qualifications of the members of the committee. Section 13 provides for the appointment of a Director, Gurdwara Elections. Section 11 provides for the holding of the elections by the Director Gurdwara Election. Section 12 provides for publication of the names of all persons elected or co-opted as members of the Committee. Section 14 provides for the holding of the first meeting of the elected members for choosing the co-opted members. After the election of the elected members and the co-option of other members the Committee is fully constituted and its first meeting is summoned by the Director Gurdwara Elections vide Section 15. In the first meeting of the Committee a pro tempore Chairman is elected and thereafter under Section 16 a President amongst the members of the Committee is elected. The President of the Committee thus elected then conducts the election of other office bearers i.e. Senior Vice President. Junior Vice President, General Secretary and Joint Secretary and ten members of the Committee to be the members of the Executive Board. The term of office of the members of the Executive Board is only one year. The election of President and other office bearers and members of the Executive Board is required to be held every year, The Executive Board so constituted exercises the powers conferred on the committee by the provisions of the Act. Section 22 of the Act provides that no act or proceeding of the Committee or the Executive Board or any sub-commoittee shall be invalidated by reason only of the existence of any vacancy amongst its members or any defect in the constitution thereof. Under Section 24 of the Act the Committee exercises its control and general supervision over all the Gurdwaras and Gurdwara property in Delhi. This is in short the scheme of the Act relevant for the purpose of this appeal.

(3) Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee was properly constituted under Section 3 of the Act in January 1980 and its term will expire in January, 1984. The election of the various office bearers including ten members of the Committee to be members of the Executive Board takes place after every one year. He submits that once a committee has been duly constituted in accordance with Section 15 of the Act, the committee continues to exercise all its powers despite the vacancy of any member on account of death, resignation, removal or otherwise and such an act of the Committee is not invalidated by Section 22 of the Act. His submission is that when once a Committee has been constituted and a vacancy of a co-opted member occurs, the remaining members of the committee excluding the co-opted members have a right to choose a person to be a co-opted member. HeI submits that the members of the Committee who have a right to co-opt a member will be entitled to co-opt person in place of the deceased co-opted member irrespective of the fact whether or not there is any vacancy of an elected member. It is an admitted case that instead of forty six elected members there are only forty five members at present as one of the elected members had died on 21st December, 1981. The contention of the petitioners-defendants in other words is that vacancy of an elected member is no bar for co-opting a person to fill up the vacancy of the co-opted member. Learned counsel for the plaintiffs on the other hand submits that a person is co-opted only by the elected members of the Committee and not by the Committee. His contention is that no person can be co-opted unless the vacancy of the elected member is filled up. He submits that existence of any vacancy of an elected member would invalidate the act of the elected member in co-opting a person in place of the deceased co-opted member as the act of elected members is not protected under section 22 of the Act, when there is any vacancy of an elected member. Learned counsel for the petitioners-defendants, on the other hand, submits that once a Committee has been constituted its members, in spite of existence of any vacancy, here a right to continue to act and discharge all powers under the Act. His submission is that a right to co-opt a person as a member of the committee, is an act of the Committee. He says that co-opted members of the Committee have no right to vote at the time of choosing a person as a member to be co-opted. Under Section 14 of the Act when the first meeting of the elected members take place various persons are co-opted by the elected members and after co-option of the members the constitution of the Committee is completed. Thus once a Committee has been constituted and its first meeting is summoned under Section 15 of the Act, the Committee thereafter exercises all powers vested in it under the Act. If a person is co-opted in place of the deceased co-opted member it would be the function of the Committee in which the Co-opted members have no right of vote to choose a person as a member to be co-opted. The trial court has held that co-option of a member is an act of the elected members and cannot be called to be the act or proceeding of the committee. I do not agree. After the constitution of the Committee all powers exercised under the Act are exercised by the Committee or by the Executive Board. The Executive Board exercises powers on behalf of the Committee and the Committee controls all the Gurdwar as and Gurdwara Property in Delhi in accordance with the provisions of the Act. When a person is to be co-opted as member of the Committee it would be a function of the Committee itself. The co-option of a person by the Committee would not be an invalid act even if there is vacancy of an elected member. As stated earlier the Committee has a right to co-opt a person in place of deceased co-opted member but at the tiros of voting, the existing co-opted members of the Committee will have no right to vote for choosing the new member to be co-opted. The act of the Committee in co-opting a new member without filling up of the vacancy of the elected member would be protected under Section 22 of the Act. It specifically provides that the act of the Committee would not be invalidated by reason only of the existence of any vacancy amongst its members. Thus I am of the view that despite the vacancy of the elected member, the Committee has power to co-opt a person in place or the deceased co-opted member. I do not agree that no person can be co-opted till the vacancy of the elected member is filled up. If the argument of the plaintiffs that no person can be co-opted unless there is full strength of forty six elected members, is accepted then no person would ever be co-opted during the term of four years of the Committee at the instance of minority group of elected members of the Committee. The minority group may ask anyone of its members to resign and then frustrate the co-option of new members. The election of an elected member is a long drawn process. Electoral rolls are prepared in accordance with the rules. They are revised from time to time and then the elections take place. In the instant case the elected member died on 21st December, 1981 and no step for filling up his vacancy has been taken as yet by the Director Gurdwara Elections. Thus it would mean that no vacancy can filled up. In other words, if some members of the committee, for instance the minority group, decide to obstruct the elections of the Executive Board, they may create vacancy of an elected member from time to time and frustrate the object of the Act. The object of the Act is Management of Sikh Gurdwaras and Gurdwara Properties in Delhi. I am, thereforee, of the view that the trial court was not correct in holding that a new member could not be co-opted till the vacancy of the elected member in the Committee is filled up. I am of the considered opinion that in spite of the existence of vacancy or vacancies of elected members, the Committee consisting of the remaining elected members would be entitled to co-opt a person to fill up such a vacancy under Section 5(2) of the Act and such an act of the Committee would not be invalid as provided in Section 22 of the Act.

(4) The appeal is, thereforee, accepted. The judgment and order of the trial court restraining co-option of a new member in place of the deceased co-opted member is thereforee set aside and he a unlication of the plaintiffs-respondents 1 and 2 under Order 39 rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure is dismissed with no order as to costs.


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