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JAGATGURU SHANKARACHARYA JYOTISH PEETHADHEESHWAR SWAMI versus A.D.J. & ANOTHER

High Court of Judicature at Allahabad

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Jagatguru Shankaracharya Jyotish Peethadheeshwar Swami v. A.D.J. & Another - WRIT - C No. 66669 of 2005 [2005] RD-AH 11 (1 January 2005)

 

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HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF ALLAHABAD

A.F.R.

Reserved

Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 66669 of 2005

Jagatguru Shankaracharya Swami Basudevanand Saraswati-- Petitioner Vs.

District Judge, Allahabad & others ---                Respondents

Hon. V.C.Misra, J.

Sri V.K.S. Chaudhary, learned Senior Advocate assisted by Sri Pranav Ojha, Advocate on behalf of the petitioner and Sri G.N. Verma, learned Senior Advocate assisted by Sri S.O.P. Agrawal, and Dr. Madhu Tandon, Advocates on behalf of the respondents have appeared.

The facts of the case in brief are that rival claimants have been indulging in long drawn litigations from 1953 to the office of the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (also called Jyotish Peeth) and as time passed by their successors locked horns. The present original suit No. 513 of 1989 was filed by Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati for permanent injunction restraining installation ceremony of Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati as Jagatguru Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth which was scheduled to be held on 15.11.1989 alongwith consequential injunction that he may be restrained from using the 'Dand', 'Chhatra', 'Chanwar' and 'Singhasan' of the office of Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth. The trial court refused exparte injunction and on 15.11.1989 Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati was duly installed as Jagatguru Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth and since then has been acting as such till date. The Additional Civil Judge (Junior Division) Allahabad vide order dated 27.8.1998 rejected the application for deciding preliminary issues in the suit relating to the jurisdiction. Revision filed against the order dated 27.8.1998 was dismissed by the District Judge vide order dated 18.9.1998 on the ground that it was an interlocutory order and revision did not lie against such order but observed that since issues had yet to be framed the preliminary question of jurisdiction etc. should be decided before proceeding with the suit.

A suit was filed by the respondent no. 2-plaintiff earlier also for the possession of the office and its properties of Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (Joytishpeeth) valued at Rs. 12,07,600/- which is still pending. The learned Civil Judge (Junior Division) took up the issue of jurisdiction, which had to be decided first. The learned Civil Judge by his order-dated 7.9.2005 determined the valuation to be at least                  Rs. 12,07,600/- (which was put by the plaintiff in his earlier suit) and directed plaint to be amended. Against this interlocutory order the plaintiff filed Civil Revision No. 601 of 2005. The learned Additional District Judge/ Special Judge, Allahabad by his order-dated 6.10.2005 held that this being a suit for injunction, the plaintiff was free to put any valuation and, therefore, decided the issue of valuation against the defendant-petitioner. Being aggrieved the petitioner-defendant filed the present writ petition for quashing of the said order dated 6.10.2005 passed by the Additional District Judge/ Special Judge, Allahabad and restoration of the order dated 7.9.2005 passed by the learned trial court.

Sri V.K.S. Chaudhary, learned Senior Advocate on behalf of the petitioner has submitted that the impugned order dated 6.10.2005 passed by the Additional District Judge/ Special Judge, Allahabad- respondent no. 1 is illegal without jurisdiction and malafide, and that the suit for injunction is governed by Section 7 Clause IV (B) of the Court Fees Act. As per Section 4 of the Suits Valuation Act the suit for injunction has to be valued for the purposes of pecuniary jurisdiction at the market value of the property involved in or affected by or title which is affected by the reliefs sought and as such the valuation of the suit has been rightly fixed by the Civil Judge (Junior Division) Allahabad. Section 4 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887 and Section 7 (iv-B) of the Court Fees Act, 1870 read as under:

Section 4. Suits Valuation Act, 1887

"4. Valuation of relief in certain suits relating to land. Suits mentioned in paragraphs IV (a) IV A, IV-B, V, V-A, V-B, VI, VI-A, VIII and X-(d) of section 7 and Article 17, 18 and 19 of Schedule  II of the Court Fees Act, 1870, as in force for the time being in the Uttar Pradesh shall be valued for the purposes of jurisdiction at the market value of the property involved in or affected by, or the title to which is affected by the relief sought, or of the amount involved in or affected by or the title to which is affected by the relief sought, and such value shall in the case of land be deemed to be the value as determinable in accordance with the rules framed under section 3.

      Section 7 (iv-B) of the Court Fees Act, 1870:

              7. Computation of Fees payable in certain suits.-

 ..............................

(iv-B) In suits-

(a) For easement- for a right to some benefit (not herein otherwise provided for) to arise out of land;

(b) For an injunction- to obtain an injunction:

(c) To establish an adoption- to establish an adoption or to obtain a declaration that an alleged adoption is valid.

(d) To set aside an adoption- to set aside an adoption or to obtain a declaration that an alleged adoption is invalid, or never, in fact, took place;

(e) To set aside an award other than awards mentioned in section 8- to set aside an award not being an award mentioned in section 8;

according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint;

{Provided that such amount shall not be less than one-fifth of the market- value of the property involved in or affected by the relief sought or Rs. 200 whichever is greater:

Provided further, that in the case of suits falling under clauses (a) and (b) the amount of court fee leviable shall in no case exceed Rs. 500.}

Explanation1. -When the relief sought is with reference to any immovable property the market value of such property shall be deemed to be the value computed in accordance with sub-sections (v), (v-A) or (v-B) of this section as the case may be.

Explanation 2.- In the case of suits-

(i) falling under clauses (a) and (b), the property which is affected by the relief sought, and where properties of both the plaintiff and defendant are affected, the property of the plaintiff so affected.

(ii) falling under clauses (c) and (d), the property to which title by succession or otherwise may be diverted or affected by the alleged adoption, and

(iii) falling under clause (e), the property which forms the subject matter of the award,

shall be deemed to be the property involved in or affected by the relief sought within the meaning of the proviso to this sub-section.  

It has also been submitted that respondent no. 1 -Additional District Judge, Special Judge, Allahabad has wrongly mentioned in the impugned judgment and order that the valuation in one of the injunction suit no. 36 of 1965, Swami Shantanand Saraswati Vs. Swami Krishnabodh Ashram (predecessors in interest of the parties to the present suit) was Rs. 1000/- whereas the correct facts are that the valuation of the suit was finally fixed at Rs. 20,000/-. At that time the case was tried by the then Civil Judge who was also the principal court of civil jurisdiction and had unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction and therefore the question of valuation or pecuniary jurisdiction did not arise at that time. Thereafter the first appeal filed before this Court arising from the original suit no. 36 of 1965 was dismissed. The present plea with regard to valuation or pecuniary jurisdiction which has now been raised was never raised in the earlier original suit no. 36 of 1965 nor it was raised in the appeal nor it could be raised under law as the same was barred by Section 11 of the Suits Valuations Act. In the present case the Civil Judge (Junior Division) Allahabad which has limited pecuniary jurisdiction cannot try the present suit. The order passed by the trial court being merely an interlocutory order directing the plaintiff to amend the valuation of the suit is not revisable by the learned District Judge under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure and thus he had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Sri Chaudhary in support of his arguments has relied upon the following decisions rendered namely, in the case of the Commissioner, Hindu Relligious Endowments, Madras Vs. Sri Lakshmindra, Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt (AIR 1954 S C 282) at para 11 it has been held that a Mathadhipati as the Privy Council said in Vidya Varuthi Vs. Bajusami (AIR 1922 PC 123), may be a manager or custodian of the institution who has to discharge the duties of a trustee and is answerable as such but he is not a mere manager and it would not be right to describe Mahantship as a mere office. In the conception of Mahantship, as in Shebaitship, both the elements of office and property, of duties and personal interest are blended together and neither can be detached from the other. The personal or beneficial interest of the Mahant in the endowments attached to an institution is manifested in his large powers of disposal and administration and his right to create derivative tenures in respect of endowed properties; and these and other rights of a similar character invest the office of the Mahant with the character of proprietary right which, though anomalous to some extent, is still a genuine legal right.

In Ram Rattan Vs. Bajrang Lal and others (AIR 1978 S.C. 1393) the apex Court in para 9 while relying upon the decision in Angurbala Vs. Debabrata (AIR 1951 S.C. 293) has held that by virtue of the office a Shebait is an administrator of the property attached to the temple of which he is Shebait, both the elements of office and property, of duties and personal interest are blended together in the conception of Shebaitship and neither can be detached from the other. The case of Bishambharnath & others Vs. Kunwar Sri Prakash Singh & another (AIR 1941 Oudh 405), deals with Section 4 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887 as amended by U.P. Act 7 of 1939 and is in regard to the valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction. In this case reliance has been placed on 11 Mad 266, Krishna Vs. Raman wherein it has been held that it is not unreasonable to take into consideration the value of the property and to see that the value put by the parties on the right of management for the purpose of jurisdiction is bona fide and if bona fide to adopt it as the value of the subject matter for purposes of jurisdiction.

In the case of Gainda Lal Vs. Ram Singh and others    reported in AIR 1954 Alld. 782 it has been held that it cannot be denied that when a particular property is attached, the property becomes wholly involved because the proprietary rights in any part of the property can no longer pass to any vendee from the owner after the attachment has taken place.

In a Division Bench decision of this Court rendered in Jagdish Saran Vs. Jaidai Kunwar (AIR 1933 Alld. 903), which on principle bears similarity to the present case it has been held that when a question of title to property in dispute is involved, the value of the property would be the determining factor as regards jurisdiction. The case of Rachappa Subrao Vs. Shidappa Venkatrao (AIR 1918 PC 188), which was followed by the decision of Innayat Husain Vs. Bashir Ahmad (AIR 1932 Alld. 413) and Mohini Mohan Vs. Sour Chandra (AIR 1921 Pat. 32) have been referred therein. The case of Mangru Vs. Ram Lakhan (1980 AWC 398) is in respect with a suit to set aside an adoption attracting Section 7 (Iv-B)(d) of the Court Fees Act for computation of fees payable.

Sri Chaudhary has further submitted that the entire property attached to the office is vested in person installed as Shankaracharya and, therefore, no person claiming himself as Shankaracharya can file an injunction suit for challenging the dignity i.e. title of another person as Shankaracharya unless and until the property and any other rights so attached or attracted are also included for the purposes of valuation of the suit which has to be valued accordingly. He has placed reliance upon the case of Madhusudan Parvat styling himself Shankaracharya of Dholka Vs. Shri Shankaracharya Swami of Sharda Math  (I.L.R. 33 Bombay 278).

Sri G.N. Verma, learned Senior Advocate on behalf of the respondents has submitted that though the office and property of Shankaracharya are blended together but in present circumstances, the suit has been rightly valued by the learned revisional court and since the installation of Shankaracharya is only under challenge, the other property should not be taken into consideration and the decision of the apex Court in the Commissioner, Hindu Relligious Endowments, Madras (Supra) is not applicable in the instant case. His further submission was that the lower trial court had erred in not considering the said aspect of the matter while deciding the valuation of the suit and had only relied upon the earlier suit filed by the plaintiff namely suit no. 1-A of 1974 which was filed for declaration, possession and permanent injunction on statutory valuation at the market value of movable and immovable properties mentioned in the schedule of the plaint and thus the learned trial court grossly erred and failed in distinguishing the nature of the suit. Sri Verma has also submitted that the decisions reported in AIR 1954 Alld. 782, AIR 1978 S.C. 1393 do not apply to the facts of the present case and the impugned order and judgment dated 6.10.2005 is absolutely valid and correct. Reliance has been placed upon the decision in the case of Vaish College Soiety Shamli and others Vs. Lakshmi Narain and another reported in 1969 A.L.J. 248 which is in respect with the right of the plaintiff to act as a principal in the college attracting Section 4 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887 (as amended in U.P.) and Section 7 (IV-B) of the Court Fees Act, 1870 wherein their Lordships noticed that there was certain indeterminacy in the words "involved" and "affected" and was not possible to give them such an exhaustive meaning as would fit in with the changing patterns of cases and each case had to be decided on its own facts and the true nature and character of the allegations in the plaint should be examined in order to determine whether any property was involved in or affected by the relief, sought, thus holding that, as Principal the plaintiff had got no beneficial interest in the property of the College and the College funds. He was merely a paid employee of the College and performs certain duties of a merely ministerial nature with respect to the College property. The effective possession of property and control of funds is really vested in Manager and, through him, ultimately in the Managing Body of the Society, which runs the College and accordingly it could not be said that any property was involved in or affected by the reliefs sought.  The decision cited by Sri Verma, Senior Advocate relates to the post of a Principal in whom no proprietary rights in the property of the Society/College vested and does not apply to the facts and circumstances of the present case.

Sri Verma has further submitted that once the issue regarding payment of Court fees has been found sufficient and decided accordingly which has become final the point raised by the petitioner/defendant regarding pecuniary jurisdiction is only academic and is no more open to be raised. This argument is not tenable. The issue regarding payment of court fee in injunction suit has no bearing with the issue of valuation of the suit for deciding the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court.

It has been further submitted by Sri Verma that right to the office in the present case of Shankaracharya can only be valued notionally and it is the sole discretion of the plaintiff to fix the notional value of the suit where permanent injunction is sought for which is based on the relief as claimed in the plaint. This argument also has no force. Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with the jurisdiction of the court to try all suits of civil nature, which includes a suit in which the right to the property or to an office is contested. Since the subject matter is so related to things and the property vested in the office of Shankaracharya, which have a real money value, will clearly affect these things and the property and, therefore, the value of the suit for the purpose of jurisdiction has to be taken as the market value of the properties affected. In my view the present case cannot be valued notionally at the discretion of the plaintiff as the property and title both are involved and affected. The provisions of Section 4 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887 are fully attracted.

I have looked into the material available on record and heard the learned counsel for the parties at length and find that the authorities relied upon by Sri V.K.S. Chaudhary, Senior Advocate are fully applicable to the facts of the instant case. The plaintiff has sought for the interim relief under Order 39 Rule 1 read with section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure in the original suit for restraining the defendant-petitioner from being installed as Jagat Guru Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth Badrikashram Himalaya and for proclaiming him as Jagat Guru Shankaracharya of that Peeth and further to restrain him from holding and possessing the 'Danda', 'Chhatra', 'Chanwar' and 'Singhasan' and functioning as such. This relief, if allowed, would amount to divesting the defendant-petitioner from his authority denoted by and symbolized in 'Dand', from security in 'Chhatra', from service in 'Chanwar' and from the entire movable and immovable properties vested in 'Singhasan'. The word 'Singhasan' is synonymous to the English word 'Throne'; the dictionary meaning of which is a chair of State for a sovereign or a king or a Pope or a Bishop. The Chair of the State is vested with authority and property. All the elements of authority in office, duties, rights, personal interest and property are blended together and cannot be disintegrated.  To consider Shankaracharya as a mere authority in office like a principal of an institution would be most inappropriate. His position stands much higher to that of a Mahant or a Shebait.

Such being the position, I am of the view that learned lower appellate court has erred in arriving at a wrongful finding that the suit cannot be valued in terms of the reliefs claimed in the suit though the specific movable and immovable properties which are vested with the Shankaracharya are capable of being evaluated at the market value.      

For the reasons stated hereinabove the impugned judgment and order-dated 6.10.2005 (Annexure No. 4 to the writ petition) passed by the Additional District Judge/Special Judge, Allahabad-respondent no.1 is hereby quashed. The writ petition is allowed accordingly. There will be no order as to costs.  

Dated: December  14, 2005

Kdo


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Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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