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The Palni Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam Through Its Office Bearer and ors. Vs. the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board Through Its Secretary and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1975)1MLJ201
AppellantThe Palni Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam Through Its Office Bearer and ors.
RespondentThe Tamil Nadu Wakf Board Through Its Secretary and ors.
Excerpt:
- - this resolution of the board was communicated by the secretary of the wakf board in his communication dated 6th july, 1973 to respondents 3 to 9 as well as to the wakf inspector, madurai and the superintendent of wakfs, southern zone, madurai. according to the petitioners, the resolutions of the wakf board approving or electing respondents 3 to 9 as members of the committee for managing the affairs of the sangam and its properties as well as appointing an executive officer are void and illegal and therefore have to be set aside. 4. before i proceed to consider this question, i can dispose of one objection taken out by the learned counsel for respondents 1 and 2. the learned counsel put forward the contention that the fourth petitioner having resigned his office as secretary of the..........to the letter dated, 18th april, 1973 of the said superintendent. subsequently, the tamil nadu wakf board, on 29th june, 1973 purported to approve, the committee elected by the jamathdars on 17th april, 1973 which was presided over by thiru m.a. latheef, m.a., b.l. m.l.a. and directed that the said committee consisting of respondents 3 to 9 herein would administer the sangam for a period of three years. this resolution of the wakf board further stated that the committee should render accounts and budget estimate and pay contribution to the wakf board as required under the provisions of the wakfs act, xxix of 1954 and the committee was requested to examine the proposal of jamath to appoint an executive officer and to submit proposals, supported by a resolution agreeing to bear the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

M.M. Ismail, J.

1. The first petitioner in these writ petitions, viz., the Palni Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam, is functioning under a scheme framed by the Sub-Court of Dindigul in O.S. No. 29 of 1939 on 12 th April, 1940. Under the terms of the scheme the said Sangam is in management and administration of the wakf properties described in the schedule to the decree of the Sub-Court including certain educational institutions. The scheme makes elaborate provisions for the membership of the Sangam and the election of its President, Vice-President, Secretary and its Managing Committee. The fourth petitioner herein was admittedly the Secretary immediately prior to 17th April, 1973. On 18th April, 1973 the Superintendent of Wakfs, Madurai-9 sent a communication to the fourth petitioner herein who was the Secretary of the Sangam, stating that the Honourable Minister for Wakfs had requested Thiru M.A. Latheef, M.A., B.L., M.L.A. and Thiru Abdul Jabbar, M.L.A. to make an amicable settlement regarding the Mosque matters and therefore Thiru M.A. Latheef and Thiru V.M. Abdul Jabbar would be arriving at Palni on 17th April, 1973 and consequently, he requested the fourth petitioner to make necessary arrangements to assemble the entire Jamath at the Mosque itself on 17th April, 1973 at about 11 a.m. and to produce all the records, accounts, etc. available with him to the representatives Thiruvalargal M.A. Latheef and V.M. Abdul Jabbar, deputed by the Honourable Minister of Wakfs. On receipt of this communication, it is stated by the petitioners that the Manager of the Sangam, on 14th April, 1973, sent a telegram to the said Superintendent stating that the office-bearers of the Sangam were not available in station and they had not heard of any dispute about the Sangam and there was no possibility of their arrival at Palni on 17th April, 1973 and he himself had to attend some court-hearing on that date and therefore he regretted that he could not do anything pursuant to the letter dated, 18th April, 1973 of the said Superintendent. Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board, on 29th June, 1973 purported to approve, the committee elected by the Jamathdars on 17th April, 1973 which was presided over by Thiru M.A. Latheef, M.A., B.L. M.L.A. and directed that the said committee consisting of respondents 3 to 9 herein would administer the Sangam for a period of three years. This resolution of the Wakf Board further stated that the committee should render accounts and budget estimate and pay contribution to the Wakf Board as required under the provisions of the Wakfs Act, XXIX of 1954 and the committee was requested to examine the proposal of Jamath to appoint an Executive Officer and to submit proposals, supported by a resolution agreeing to bear the cost on account of employment of the Executive Officer from the funds of the Institution, for the consideration of the Wakf Board. This resolution of the Board was communicated by the Secretary of the Wakf Board in his communication dated 6th July, 1973 to respondents 3 to 9 as well as to the Wakf Inspector, Madurai and the Superintendent of Wakfs, Southern Zone, Madurai. Subsequently on 8th September, 1973 the Wakf Board held its meeting and resolved to appoint an Executive officer for the administration of the Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam, Palni Taluk, Madurai District for a period of one year and actually appointed the second respondent herein as such Executive Officer. The Secretary of the Wakf Board, by his communication dated 14th September, 1973, communicated this resolution also. Subsequently, by communication dated 14th November, 1973, the Secretary of the Wakf Board stated that the Executive officer had reported that Thiruvalargal M. Mohamed Gani Rowther and M. Mohamed Badrudeen (the fourth petitioner herein) had not handed over the accounts and other records relating to the Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam Madurai District to him and therefore requested both these individuals to hand over the accounts and records relating to the Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam to the second respondent herein viz., the Executive Officer. The Petitioners viz., the first petitioner, The Palui Muslim Dharmaparipalana Sangam and petitioners 2 to 8 who claim to have been elected as office-bearers of the Sangam at a meeting held on 4th November, 1973 have filed the present writ petitions praying for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the communications of the Secretary, State Wakf Board communicating the abovesaid two resolutions of the State Wakf Board approving the election of the committee and appointing an Executive Officer. According to the petitioners herein there was no meeting of the Jamath that took place on 17th April, 1973, that the term of the previous committee members enured till 4th November, 1973, that on 4th November, 1973 a General Body meeting of the Sangam was held and at that meeting petitioners 2 to 8 were elected as office-bearers. According to the petitioners, the resolutions of the Wakf Board approving or electing respondents 3 to 9 as members of the Committee for managing the affairs of the Sangam and its properties as well as appointing an Executive Officer are void and illegal and therefore have to be set aside.

2. There is considerable controversy as to a number of happenings in the Sangam; while the petitioners contend that no meeting took place on 17th April, 1973 the respondents contend that a meeting did take place on 17th April, 1973 and the minutes book of the said meeting is produced before this Court. As against this the petitioners have filed affidavit from several individuals who were alleged to have attended the meeting on 17th April, 1973, averring that there was no meeting on 17th April, 1973 and they did not attend the meeting at all. There is a further controversy as to whether the fourth petitioner herein had resigned his office as Secretary of the Sangam on 17th April, 1973 or not. The respondents contend that the fourth petitioner had resigned his office as Secretary on that date, while the fourth petitioner contends that he had not so resigned. In the view I have taken, it is unnecessary to go into these two controversies in the present writ petitions. Equally it is unnecessary to go into the controversy as to whether a meeting of the General Body of the Sangam took place on 4th November, 1973 or not and petitioners 2 to 8 were elected as office bearers of the Sangam.

3. As I pointed out already, the petitioners pray for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the two communications of the Secretary, Wakf Board, the first of which, communicating the resolution of the Wakf Board approving the election of respondents 3 to 9 as members of the Managing committee of the first petitioner Sangam and the second appointing the second respondent herein as Executive officer of the Sangam. The question for consideration is whether these proceedings of the State Wakf Board are valid and legal or not.

4. Before I proceed to consider this question, I can dispose of one objection taken out by the learned Counsel for respondents 1 and 2. The learned Counsel put forward the contention that the fourth petitioner having resigned his office as Secretary of the Sangam on 17th April, 1973 he had no locus standi to file these writ petitions and also to question the election of the committee as well as the appointment of the Executive Officer. Even assuming that the fourth petitioner had resigned his office as Secretary of the Sangam, still the first petitioner is the Sangam itself and the other persons, even on the assumption that they were not elected as its Executive Committee members at its meeting held on 4th November, 1973, still indisputably were members of the Sangam and therefore, as such members they would be interested in challenging and entitled to challenge the resolutions of the Wakf Board impugned in these writ petitions. Therefore, even though I do not propose to go into the controversy whether the fourth petition had resigned his office as Secretary of the Sangam on 17th April 1973 or the other petitioners were not elected as the Executive Committee members of the Sangam at a meeting held on 4th November, 1973, still these writ petitions are maintainable because they still continue to be members of the Sangam, which capacity or character of the petitioners 2 to 8 was not disputed before me. It is against this background. I shall now consider the question whether the resolutions of the wakf Board approving the election of the Committee as well as appointing the Executive Officer are valid or not.

5. I have already referred to the fact that the entire administration of the Sangam and its properties is governed by a scheme decree passed by the Sub-Court of Dindigulin O.S. No. 29 of 1939 dated 12th April, 1940. That scheme has made elaborate provisions for convening a General Body of the Sangam for the election of the office-bearers as well as for transacting other business of the Sangam. Having regard to these provisions contained in the scheme decree, admittedly, neither the Honourable Minister for Wakfs nor the two M.L.A.s. deputed by him have any place whatever in the context of convening a General Body meeting of the Sangam if convened at all by the superintendent of Wakfs at Madurai or by Thiru M. A. Latheef, one of the M.L.As. deputed by the Honourable Minister. Still it is indisputable that such a convening of the meeting was not authorised by the terms of the scheme decree and consequently, it was not legal and hence any committee alleged to have been elected at such a meeting cannot be considered to be validly elected. Apart from this, there is yet another consideration which will invalidate the election of the committee in question. A committee can be elected only by the members of the Sangam. The scheme decree makes elaborate provisions as to who should be the members of the Sangam and what subscription they should pay and for what period. In this case, it is practically admitted on behalf of the first respondent that the alleged meeting that took place on 17th April, 1973 was not a meeting of the members of the Sangam, but was a meeting of the Jamathars, that is, all the Muslims of the area in question. In paragraph 19 of the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the first respondent, it is stated that the Jamathars was a bigger and more representative body and hence there was nothing wrong in the Jamathars nominating a committee to manage the affairs of the Sangam. That the Jamathars is a bigger or more representative body is totally irrelevant for the question under consideration. So long as the scheme decree stands, the meeting of the Sangam has to be convened only as per the terms of the scheme decree and, according to the terms of the scheme decree, only members of the Sangam can elect the Managing Committee and not anybody else. Consequently, on the admitted facts, even on the assumption that a meeting took place on 17th April, 1973, it was not a meeting of the members of the Sangam, it was meeting of the Jamathars which might have included the members of the Sangam and therefore any committee elected by the Jamathars cannot be said to be validly elected in accordance with the terms of the scheme decree. Similarly, such a committee elected at a meeting of the Jamathars which was not in accordance with the scheme decree had no right to recommend the appointment of an Executive Officer and the Wakf Board itself had no right to appoint an Executive Officer. Therefore, looked at with reference to the terms of the scheme decree, the action of the Wakf Board approving the election of respondents 3 to 9 herein as the Managing committee of the Sangam and appointing the Second respondent herein as Executive Officer of the Sangam is illegal as being totally opposed to the provisions of the scheme framed by Sub Court of Dindigul in O.S. No. 29 of 1939.

6. The learned Counsel for respondents 1 and 2 herein did not contend that the Wakf Board had any power to supersede the scheme decree; all that the learned Counsel contended was that under Section 15 of the Wakfs Act XXIX of 1954, the general superintendence of all wakfs in a State shall vest in the Board established for the State and that in exercise of this power of general superintendence the Wakf Board was competent to convene the meeting of the Jamathars and appoint an Executive Officer. I am unable to agree that this power of general superintendence will extend to nullify or ignore or supersede a scheme for the administration of a wakf settled by a decree of Court. So long as a decree of the Court is in existence and so long as it has not been modified or set aside or reversed by any procedure known to the law, the Wakf Board has no jurisdiction whatever to sweep it away or to ignore it and to act contrary to the terms of the scheme in the purported exercise of its power of general superintendence under Section 15 of the Wakfs 'Act. I may point out in this connection that Sub-clause (1) of Clause 20 of the scheme framed by the Sub-court expressly provides that if the Sangam is not performing its duties and discharging its functions in accordance with the terms of the scheme decree or if it does anything contrary to the terms of the scheme decree, it is open to any member of the Muslim community to take proceedings in this behalf in the civil Court, but such proceedings can be instituted only after the expirty of the period of one month after giving notice to the Secretary of the Sangam. Sub-clause (2) of Clause 20 of the decree further provides that if there was any difficulty in the interpretation of the terms of the scheme-decree and therefore the opinion or direction of the Court was found necessary, it was certainly open to any member of the Sangam or the parties to approach the Sub-Court, Dindigul in that behalf. In view of these provisions contained in the scheme decree, if any member of the Sangam, or any member of the Muslim community was dissatisfied with the functioning of the Sangam as being not in accordance with the scheme-decree it was certainly open to them to approach the civil Court.

7. Even if the State Wakf Board is not satisfied with the functioning of the Sangam with regard to the Wakf properties, it is certainly open to the State Wakf Board to apply to the Court for modification of the scheme or to institute a suit for settling a new scheme but, certainly, the Act does not confer any power on the Wakf Board to ignore the scheme or to do anything contrary to the terms of the scheme decree. There is no provision whatever in the Wakfs Act, 1954 enabling the State Wakf Board to ignore a decree of the civil Court settling a scheme for the administration of the Wakf and to take action contrary to the terms of the scheme decree in the purported exercise of its powers of general superintendence.

8. I may also point out that from the averments contained in the affidavit and counter-affidavit, it is certainly clear that everything has not been well with the affairs of administration of the Wakf and its properties. The scheme decree itself was passed as early as 12th April, 1940 and during the course of thirty-four years that have elapsed, certainly the circumstances might have changed necessitating a new scheme or a modification of the scheme. That is far different from saying that the Wakf Board has got power to ignore the scheme itself and take action in the way in which it has done. If the Wakf Board is not satisfied with the functioning of the Sangam, it is open to it to take proceedings in this behalf for the purpose of either modifying the scheme or settling a new scheme as I pointed out already, and it cannot arrogate to itself the power or authority to set aside or supersede an existing decree of Court settling a scheme. In these circumstances, having regard to the existence of the scheme-decree and the terms thereof. I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the Wakf Board acted without jurisdiction when it purported to approve the election of the committee consisting of respondents 3 to 9 who were said to have been elected at a meeting of the Jamathars held on 17th April, 1973 and appoint an Executive Officer for the Sangam pursuant to the recommendation of the Jamathars of the new committee as it has purported to do.

9. The result is, both the writ petitions are allowed and the impugned resolutions of the State Wakf Board are quashed. There will be no order as to costs.


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