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Samadhan Nirmala Sadhuan Dera Bhai Kapoo v. The Punjab State through the Chief Secre - RSA-580-1980  RD-P&H 4372 (19 July 2006)
R.S.A.No. 580 of 1980
Date of decision:
Shri Samadhan Nirmala Sadhuan Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh, Village Thikriwala.
The Punjab State through the Chief Secretary, Punjab Govenrment Chandigarh and others.
CORAM : Hon'ble Mr.Justice Mahesh Grover
Present: Shri J.K.Sibal, Senior Advocate assisted by Shri Sapan Dhir, Advocate for the appellant.
Shri Kanwaljit Singh, Advocate for respondent nos. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 12.
Shri Ashish Singla, Advocate for respondent nos. 26, 28, 30, 31 and 38.
This is an appeal directed against the judgments and decrees of the Courts below by which the suit of the plaintiff-appellant was dismissed.
The land in question was declared as surplus vide order dated 9.7.1962 passed by the Collector, Agrarian, Barnala. This land was entered into the revenue record under the ownership of Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh and Shri Ram Pal Singh, Mohtmim was managing the same. Shri Ram Pal Singh filed an appeal against the order of the Collector declaring the land in question to be surplus, but the same was dismissed by the Commissioner on 8.10.1962. A writ petition was filed challenging the orders of the Collector and the Commissioner which was also dismissed on 3.12.1964.
On 11.7.1963, the Assistant Collector, who was the Prescribed Authority under the Utilization of the Surplus Area Scheme, invested the permanent proprietary rights on the tenants, who are the respondents herein.
Ram Pal Singh, who was Mohtmim of the Dera, received the compensation.
Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh then filed a civil suit on 19.7.1965 challenging the orders of the revenue authorities saying that the Collector had not taken into consideration the relevant revenue record before determining the surplus area and that the permanent proprietary rights could not be granted to the tenants. A specific plea was raised that Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh was the owner of the land in question and it was not indicated as to whether the said Dera was a religious or charitable institution. The said suit filed by Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh was dismissed vide judgment dated 26.7.1966. During the pendency of the appeal which was preferred against the said judgment, the appellant i.e. Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh through its Mohtmim made a payer that it be allowed to withdraw the suit with permission to bring a fresh suit on the same cause of action. That prayer was granted subject to payment of Rs.300/- as costs. It was then that the present suit bearing no.261 of 6.7.1968 was filed and for the first time, Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh was described as "Shri Samadhan Nirmla Sadhus Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh Thikriwala through Hardial Singh son of Bakhtaur Singh,Bogha Singh son of Kharak Singh, Gulab Singh son of Kartar Singh, Hira Singh son of Bir Singh, Mohant Rampal Chela Jujhar Singh, Mohtmim Dea Bhai Kapoor Singh of Thikriwala". Thus, Mohtmim- Ram Pal Singh was one of the persons through whom the suit was filed. In this suit as well, once again the similar pleas were raised which were taken in the earlier suit with an additional prayer that the Collector while declaring the land in question as surplus, had ignored the religious and charitable character of the institution and that it was exempted from the operation of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act,1955 (for short, `the Act') being a religious and charitable institution. The suit was decreed with costs. The present respondents then preferred an appeal against the judgment and decree of the trial Court. The lower Appellate Court allowed the appeal vide its judgment dated 23.11.1979 and set aside the judgment and decree of the trial Court. The instant appeal is the consequence of the aforesaid judgment dated 23.11.1979.
Shri J.K.Sibal, Senior Advocate assisted by Shri Sapan Dhir, Advocate argued that the Collector had no authority to declare the land in question as surplus by ignoring the religious and charitable character of the institution and that the Act itself exempted such religious institution from its purview. He submitted that the judgment of the lower Appellate Court in reversing the well reasoned judgment of the trial Court was erroneous and deserved to be set aside.
Shri Kanwaljit Singh, learned counsel for the respondents submitted that the determination of the surplus area by the Collector had been upheld up to the High Court. He contended that a civil suit by Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh on the same cause of action had also been ndismissed and in appeal, permission was sought to file a separate civil suit and then by changing the nomenclature, the Mohtmim and others had tried to introduce the fact that Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh was a religious and charitable institution. Learned counsel argued that having failed in the earlier litigation, the appellant was precluded from raising same issues again in the present proceedings.
Having heard the learned counsel for the parties at length, I am of the opinion that the appeal does not deserve to succeed.
The Collector had determined the land in question as surplus way back in the year 1962 and the matter had been agitated up to the High Court with no success. The subsequent suit filed by the appellant also did not reveal that Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh was a religious and charitable institution. That suit was filed by Ram Pal Singh, Mohtmim, who is one of the persons through whom the present suit has been filed.
There is also on record the judgment (Exhibit P10) of the Sikh Gurudwaras Tribunal, Punjab at Chandigarh which was rendered after contest between Mahla Singh and others of village Thikriwala on behalf of Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh and Shriomani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee.
It was categorically held in that judgment that Dera Bhai Kapoor Singh is not a place of public worship and is only a private institution.
I am further of the opinion that in view of the fact that the matter has been determined in the earlier proceedings, the present proceedings are barred by the principle of res judicata.
Besides, the appellant is seeking to challenge the order of the Collector vide which the status of the land in question was determined as far back as in the year 1962 and the civil Courts had no jurisdiction to consider the validity of the orders passed by the revenue authorities under the Act. Even otherwise, the matter having been determined conclusively cannot be re-agitated by resorting to different fora.
In view of the above discussion, I do not find any merit in the appeal, which is dismissed with no order as to costs.
May 10,2006 ( Mahesh Grover )
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