SHIROMANI GURUDWARA PRABHANDHAK COMMITTEE AMRITSAR Vs. BAGGA SINGH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
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Arijit Pasayat, J. -
(1.)These five appeals by special leave arise from a common judgment of a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The five appeals before it were directed against the order dated 1-8-1978 passed by the Sikh Gurdwaras Tribunal, Punjab, Chandigarh (in short the Tribunal) in Petition Nos. 663 and 654 of 1975.
(2.)Synoptical resume of the factual position is as follows :
One Bakhtawar Singh and fifty nine other worshippers of an institution alleged to be Gurudwara Sahib Ji situated in the revenue estate or Kot Fatta, Tehsil and District Bhatinda filed a petition under sub-section (1) of S. 7 of the Sikh Gurudwaras Act, 1925 (in short the Act) to the appropriate Secretary, Government of Punjab, praying, inter alia, that the said institution be declared as Sikh Gurdwara and properties mentioned in the petition be declared as belonging to the Gurdwara. The appropriate Secretary to the Government of Punjab, in terms of sub-section (3) of S. 7 of the Act published the petition along with rights, titles and interests showing rights, titles and interests belonging to the Gurdwara in question vide notification in the Punjab Government Gazette dated 4-11-1974. One Mahant Sarna Ram, an Udasi, filed a petition under S. 10 of the Act claiming that there was no Sikh Gurdwara in existence, the alleged institution was his residential house, and agricultural land alleged to be belonging to the Gurdwara was his property. One Ramji Dass and others also filed identical petition stating that the alleged Gurdwara building was residential house of Sarna Ram Chela Chet Ram and the agricultural land belonged to him and they have purchased about 60 Kanals of land from him. Both these petitions were forwarded by the appropriate Secretary to the Government of Punjab to the Tribunal under sub-section (1) of S. 14 of the Act. Tribunal treated the petition to be a composite one under Ss. 8 and 10 of the Act. By its order dated 22-7-1975 Tribunal held that since Sarna Ram had not claimed that he was a hereditary office holder of the institution in dispute, he had no locus standi to file the petition under S. 8. Ramji Dass and others neither claimed any personal interest in the Gurdwara building nor did they claim to be worshippers or hereditary office-holders of the institution and their petition was similarly not maintainable. However, the Tribunal proceeded to deal with the petition under S. 10. It is to be noted that the Tribunal registered the petitions as No. 663/1975 (Bagga Singh and another vs. S.G.P.C., Amritsar) filed by Sarna Ram and No. 654/1975 (Ramji Dass and others vs. S.G.P.C., Amritsar) filed by Ramji Das and others. The petitions under S. 10 of the Act were registered giving identical numbers. Vide its order dated 31-7-1978 the Tribunal held that the building in question was a Gurdwara and the land attached to it belonged to the Gurdwara in question.
(3.)Challenging the correctness of said order, the successors-in-interest of late Mahant Sarna Ram filed First Appeal No. 434 of 1978 and the alienees from late Mahant Sarna Ram assailed the order in First Appeal No. 435 of 1978. As a consequence of the order dated 31-7-1978 passed by the Tribunal, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) filed two suits under S. 25-A of the Act. One was against Bagga Singh and Darsan Singh, legal representatives of late Mahant Sarna Ram and the other against Ramji Dass and others who were alienees from aforesaid late Mahant Sarna Ram and those were registered as suits Nos. 89 and 90 of 1978 respectively. Both these suits were decreed by the Tribunal by order dated 18-12-1979 and decrees were passed in favour of the Committee. Aforesaid decrees were challenged in First Appeal Nos. 34 of 1980, 198 of 1980 and 144 of 1980.
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