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Monday, September 30, 2013

Change report in respect of six churches amalgamation of person and property was set aside and the same was confirmed by Apex court- Change Reports were filed by First District Church of the Brethren (hereinafter referred to as ‘the FDCB’) a registered religious society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the SR Act’) bearing Registration No. 1202/44 and later registered as public trust in Gujarat bearing No.E- 643/Bharuch, after the enactment of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the BPTA’) property of which is vested with its ‘Property Committee’ and the Church of North India (hereinafter referred to as ‘the CNI’), Gujarat Diocese. The CNI is a public trust registered by an application accepted on May 12, 1970 with effect of registration being given from 1971 and the trust being formed on November 29, 1970 with Registration No. D-17/Ahmedabad. 3. These Change Reports were filed to give effect to the unification of six churches which included the FDCB, an offshoot of the ‘Brethren Church’ of USA (other Churches being The Council of the Baptist Churches in North India, The Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, The Methodist Church (British and Australian Conference), The Methodist Church in Southern Asia and The United Church of Northern India) into a single entity, ‘The Church of North India’ (with the Gujarat Chapter being managed by the Church of North India, Gujarat, Diocese).= scope of inquiry of the Charity Commissioner under Section 22 of the Act, this Court in Church of North India (supra) very aptly provided a bird’s eye view of Section 22 which is provided as under : “….Section 22 provides for the change which may occur in any of the entries recorded in the register kept under Section 17 to make an appropriate application within 90 days from the date of the occurrence of such change. Sub-section (1A) of Section 22 reads thus: “(1A) Where the change to be reported under sub- section (1) relates to any immovable property, the trustee shall, alongwith the report, furnish a memorandum in the prescribed form containing the particulars (including the name and description of the public trust) relating to any change in the immovable property of such public trust, for forwarding it to the sub-registrar referred to in sub- section (7) of section 18.” 31. Sub-section (2) of Section 22 empowers a Deputy or Assistant Charity Commissioner to hold an inquiry for the purpose of verifying the correctness of the entries in the register kept under Section 17 or ascertaining whether any change has occurred in any of the particulars recorded therein. In the event, a change is found to have occurred in any of the entries recorded in the register kept under Section 17, the Deputy or Assistant Charity Commissioner is required to record a finding with the reasons therefore to that effect. Such an order is appealable to the Charity Commissioner. By reason of changes which have been found to have occurred, the entries in the register are required to be amended. Such amendment on the occurrence of change is final and conclusive.” = it is the duty of the society to take steps in accordance with Section 13 of the SR Act for its dissolution. We have further noted that unless the properties vested in the Trust are divested in accordance with the provisions of the SR Act and in accordance with the BPTA, merely by filing the Change Report/s, CNI cannot claim a merger of churches and thereby claim that the properties vested in the Trust would vest in them. In our opinion, it would only be evident from the steps taken that the passing of resolutions is nothing but an indication to show the intention to merge and nothing else. In fact, the City Civil Court has correctly held, in our opinion, which has been affirmed by the High Court, that there was no dissolution of the society and further merger was not carried out in accordance with the provisions of law. In these circumstances, we hold that the society and the Trust being creatures of statute, have to resort to the modes provided by the statute for its amalgamation and the so-called merger cannot be treated or can give effect to the dissolution of the Trust. In the matrix of the facts, we hold that without taking any steps in accordance with the provisions of law, the effect of the resolutions or deliberations is not acceptable in the domain of law. The question of estoppel also cannot stand in the way as the High Court has correctly pointed out that the freedom guaranteed under the Constitution with regard to the faith and religion, cannot take away the right in changing the faith and religion after giving a fresh look and thinking at any time and thereby cannot be bound by any rules of estoppel. Therefore, the resolution only resolved to accept the recommendation of joint unification but does not refer to dissolution. 26. Having analysed the facts and the law in the matter, we are of the opinion that the High Court and the City Civil Court have rightly adjudicated on the matter in question and correctly set aside the order passed by the Charity Commissioner. 27. Accordingly, we affirm the order passed by the High Court. 28. For the reasons aforementioned, we do not find any merit in the present appeals and the same are dismissed accordingly.

    published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40842
                                                              Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CIVIL APPEAL NOS.8800-8801 /2013
  (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 16575-16576 of 2012)




Vinodkumar M. Malavia etc.
  … Appellants


Vs.


Maganlal Mangaldas Gameti & Ors.                                 …
Respondents



                               J U D G M E N T


Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.


1. Leave granted.


2. These appeals are directed against the common judgment  and  order  dated
   April 23, 2012 (in First Appeal Nos. 1535 and 1536 of 2009) passed by the
   High Court of Gujarat, affirming the order dated February 3, 2009  passed
   by the City Civil Court (in Civil Misc. Application Nos. 470 of 2008  and
   630 of 2008). The City Civil Court set aside  the  order  dated  May  23,
   2008, passed by the Charity Commissioner. The said adjudication was  made
   by the Charity Commissioner pursuant to the order passed by this Court in
   Vinod Kumar Mathurseva Malvia & Anr. v.  Maganlal  Mangaldas  Gameti  and
   Ors. [2006 (9) SCC 282] (being Civil Appeal No. 1260 of 2006, arising out
   of SLP (Civil) No. 24198 of 2005, decided on February  24,  2006)  in  an
   earlier  ancillary  dispute  wherein  this  Court  directed  the  Charity
   Commissioner to adjudicate on all questions pertaining to the  merger  of
   trust and other pending disputes as expeditiously as possible. Thus,  the
   Charity Commissioner adjudicated on the objections against Change  Report
   Nos. 44 of 1981 and 665 of 1981.


3. The facts of the case briefly are as follows :


   1. The facts of the present  case  are  not  much  in  dispute  and  the
      background of the same lies with the facts in the matter  adjudicated
      by this Court in Church of North India v.  Lavajibhai  Ratanjibhai  &
      Ors. [2005 (10) SCC 760] (being Civil Appeal  No.  9419  of  2003  as
      decided on May 3, 2005), therefore, the detailed  background  of  the
      parties and the organizations involved has  not  been  mentioned  and
      only the facts pertinent to the dispute in question are stated.


   2. The above mentioned Change Reports were filed by First District Church
      of the Brethren (hereinafter referred to as ‘the FDCB’) a  registered
      religious  society  under  the  Societies  Registration   Act,   1860
      (hereinafter referred to as ‘the SR Act’)  bearing  Registration  No.
      1202/44 and 
later registered as public trust in Gujarat bearing No.E-
      643/Bharuch,   after   the enactment of the Bombay Public Trusts Act,
      1950 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the BPTA’)  property  of  which  is
      vested with its ‘Property Committee’ and the Church  of  North  India
      (hereinafter referred to as ‘the CNI’), Gujarat Diocese. 
The CNI is a
      public trust registered by an application accepted on  May  12,  1970
      with effect of registration being given from 1971 and the trust being
      formed on November 29, 1970 with Registration No. D-17/Ahmedabad.


   3. These Change Reports were filed to give effect 
to the unification  of
      six churches which included 
the FDCB,  an offshoot of  the  ‘Brethren
      Church’ of  USA (other Churches being  The  Council  of  the  Baptist Churches in North India, The Church of  India,  Pakistan,  Burma  and  Ceylon, The Methodist Church (British and Australian Conference), 
The Methodist Church in Southern Asia and The United Church  of  Northern India) into a single entity,  
‘The Church of North India’  (with  the Gujarat Chapter being managed by the Church of North India,  Gujarat,  Diocese).


   4. This unification is the result of  a  process  which  commenced  from
      1929. The negotiation meetings commenced from 1955 onwards which  had
      representatives from the uniting churches who discussed every  aspect
      of the emerging entity. A result of which  was  the  Plan  of  Church
      Union in 1965 called the 4th Revised Edition in the form of a printed
      booklet published by the Negotiating Committee and widely  circulated
      and deliberated by the uniting Churches which adopted the  same.  The
      plan traced the historic background leading to the  creation  of  the
      CNI and dealt with all aspects of  the  same.  Part-II  of  the  same
      pertained to procedural details of the unification.   The plan  is  a
      result of the negotiations through various meetings convened  in  the
      years 1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1964 and 1970. The  Managing  Committee
      of the FDCB being the ‘District Committee’ initially participated  in
      these meetings as an observer, however,  from  1956,  it  joined  the
      negotiation process. It is alleged  that  Resolution  No.  70/08  was
      passed on February, 17, 1970 pursuant to which the CNI was formed  by
      merging the six  churches.  FDCB  being  one  of  the  six  churches,
      discussed the unification internally within its 21 Societies and  put
      the same to vote at different junctions and in  the  final  decision,
      the resolution was approved by 3/5th majority of the  representatives
      of the Governing Body. Allegedly, on  November  29,  1970,  the  FDCB
      merged with the other six churches to form CNI and accepted the  same
      as its legal continuation and successor and vested with the  CNI  its
      rights,  titles,  claims  and  FDCB’s  interests  together  with  its
      privileges and obligations.


   5. In 1976, the Church of North  India  Trust  Association  (hereinafter
      referred to as ‘the CNITA’) was formed  under  the  Indian  Companies
      Act, 1956 and appointed as the trustee of CNI. It  has  been  alleged
      that the annual meetings of the FDCB  were  discontinued  post  1971.
      That certain members which had earlier given  consent  to  Resolution
      70/08 began  to  raise  objections  that  FDCB  continued  to  exist.
      Subsequently, the original plaintiff (Shri A.O.  Patel)  filed  Civil
      Suit No. 72 of 1979 in the Court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division,
      Bharuch for a declaration that FDCB has come to an end and  that  CNI
      is the legal successor and  continuation  of  the  same.  During  the
      pendency of the suit, CNI got itself registered  retrospectively  and
      Change Report Nos. 44/81 and 665/81 were  filed  before  the  Charity
      Commissioner to give effect to the changes resulting the unification.
       The aforementioned suit, after an appeal before the District  Judge,
      Bharuch went before the Gujarat High Court as Second Appeal  No.  303
      of 1986, the same was dismissed and the matter came  up  before  this
      Court as Church of North  India  v.  Lavajibhai  Ratanjibhai  &  Ors.
      (supra) (In Civil Appeal No. 9419 of 2003, decided on May  3,  2005).
      Therein, the question which arose  before  this  Court  was:  whether
      Section 80 of the BPTA imposes a bar on the jurisdiction of the Civil
      Court.


   6. The present dispute, however, arises from objections arising  out  of the adjudication by the  Charity  Commissioner  dated  May  23,  2008  regarding Change Report Nos. 44/81 and 665/81.
The  same  proceeding
      commenced post the direction of this Court in Vinod Kumar  Mathurseva
      Malvia & Anr. v. Maganlal Mangaldas  Gameti  &  Ors.  (supra)  (Being
      Civil Appeal No. 1260 of 2006, decided on  February  24,  2006).  The
      same arose out of orders dated October 6, 2005 and October 10,  2005,
      passed in First Appeal No. 988 of 2005 by the High Court  of  Gujarat
      with regard to a trust application  appointing  a  new  trustee.
The
      matter  before  this  Court  was  regarding  the  interpretation  and
      application of Clause 9 of the scheme of Church of  Brethren  General
      Board. 
This Court referred to the earlier Church of  North  India  v.
      Lavajibhai  Ratanjibhai  &  Ors.  (supra)  decision  of  this   Court
      applicable to  the  same  set  of  facts  and  thereby  directed  the
      concerned Charity Commissioner to adjudicate on all pending disputes.


   7. The Charity Commissioner adjudicated on the disputes arising  out  of
      the Change Report Nos. 44/81 and 665/81. The former was filed by Shri
      A.O.  Patel  being  the  Reporting  Trustee  of  the  Brethren  Trust
      concerned with the dissolution of the constitution  of  the  Brethren
      Trust with its “Memorandum of Association”  becoming  “obsolete”  and
      ineffective (It should be noted that Shri A.O. Patel had died  during
      the pendency of the proceedings and  appellant  Nos.  1  and  2  were
      joined in his place). The latter report was  filed  by  CNI,  Gujarat
      Diocese Trust which requests for the change, that as  the  CNI  Trust
      has become the legal  continuation  and  successor  of  the  Brethren
      Trust, its concerned movable and immovable property must be added  to
      CNI’s properties. The Change Reports were objected by Shri  Nityanand
      Thakore and other objectors  filed  similar  objection  applications.
      These persons along with the respondents in this dispute  being  Shri
      Shantilal Thakore and Shri  Maganlal  M.  Gameti  had  earlier  given
      consent to the unification proceeding. The Charity Commissioner  thus
      adjudicated on the following questions:-


            i) Whether the change is legal?

          ii) Whether the said Change Reports or any of the Change  Reports
              are liable to be allowed?




   The Charity Commissioner answered both in affirmative and  dismissed  the objections raised against the Change  Reports,  allowing  the  properties vested in FDCB to be vested in CNI.

   8.          Against the abovementioned order of the Charity Commissioner,
      the objectors to the  Change  Reports  preferred  Civil  Miscellaneous
      Application Nos. 470 of 2008 and 630 of 2008  before  the  City  Civil
      Court, Ahmedabad under Section 72 of the BPTA. 
The  applications  were
      filed, alleging that there was no lawful merger of the Trust  and  the
      property vested with the Property Committee continued  to  exist  with
      it. The questions which arose before the learned City Civil Judge  are
      as under:-

           i) Whether the Society is dissolved and  secondly,  whether  the
              Trust, i.e., FDCB is also dissolved?

          ii)  Whether CNI is successor of the Trust, i.e., FDCB?

         iii)  Whether by mere merger of FDCB into various other  Churches,
                the properties are by rules and regulations of the  Society
              ipso facto vested in CNI, without having to perform any other
              legal obligation or formality?




 9. The learned Civil Court Judge, after analyzing the  various  aspects  of
    the BPTA and the SR Act, was of the opinion that the FDCB had  not  been
    dissolved as there was no proper proof of the same.  Furthermore,  as  a
    trust and society are creations of  statutes,  they  must  be  dissolved
    accordingly and the question of merger is a  factual  one,  wherein  the
    merging trust continues to exist unless specifically dissolved under the
    statute. Furthermore, without following Section 50A of  the  BPTA  which
    deals with the dissolution of trust, the FDCB property cannot be  vested
    with CNI. Thus, the learned Civil Court Judge quashed and set aside  the
    order of the Charity Commissioner.

10. The appellants (wherein appellant No.1 was one  of  the  respondents  in
    the above suit) preferred First Appeal Nos. 1535 of  2009  and  1536  of
    2009 before the High Court  of  Gujarat.  The  basic  issue  before  the
    learned Single Judge was to determine
whether the CNI is  the  successor
    and legal continuation of FDCB or not. The learned  Single  Judge  while
    adjudicating the same, referred to the earlier decisions of  this  Court
    in the same factual matrix and based on the earlier findings,  dismissed
    the appeals and confirmed the order of the Civil Court.


11. It is from this order of the High Court the matter rests before us.


4. Mr. Mihir Joshi, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of  appellant
   No.1 (in C.A. No. ___/2013 @ SLP (C)  No.16575/2012),  argued   that  the
   unification of the six churches is pursuant to the  choice  exercised  by
   the uniting churches through various internal resolutions and the same is
   a  religious  matter  involving  faith,  and  the  courts  below   cannot
   adjudicate on the same since such a choice is protected  by  Articles  25
   and 26 of the Constitution. He further contended that the unification has
   been a long drawn process which culminated on November 29, 1970 when  CNI
   was formed and  since  1979,  annual  meetings  of  the  same  are  being
   conducted  in  which  the  respondents  who  had  given  consent  to  the
   unification also participated. Mr Joshi further contended that the  stand
   taken by the respondents does not hold good as  they  are  estopped  from
   raising objections owing to their earlier consent to the  unification  in
   the internal resolutions passed by FDCB. Furthermore, as  argued  by  Mr.
   Joshi, the objections have no substance since  the  respondents  are  not
   prevented from practising their faith and  there  is  no  change  in  the
   practices followed by CNI which  is  a  result  of  amalgamation  of  the
   uniting churches. He further contended that as per the scope  of  inquiry
   under Section 22, the Charity Commissioner’s decision  must  not  be  set
   aside as the Act is a complete Code; that Section 50A of the BPTA is only
   administrative in nature but in the present case the matter is of  choice
   exercised by a community as a whole.


5. Mr. K.V. Vishwanathan, learned senior  counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of
   appellant No. 2 (in C.A. No. ___/2013  @  SLP  (C)  No.  16576/2012),  in
   addition to Mr. Joshi’s arguments, contented that the right to  unify  is
   an inherent right exercised by the community promised under  Articles  25
   and 26. Furthermore, the respondents have not challenged the unification.
   Therefore, the view of the  High  Court  is  incorrect  and  the  Charity
   Commissioner  rightly  accepted  the   Change   Reports   effecting   the
   unification.


6. It is the case of the respondents that the unification did  not  dissolve
   FDCB as the procedure laid down in the Societies Registration Act and the
   BPTA was not adhered to. Furthermore, under Articles 25 and 26, they  are
   entitled to object to the unification as their faith  is  being  impinged
   upon and, therefore, they cannot be bound by estoppel. Mr. Bhatt, learned
   senior counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents, has contended that
   there is no question of merger and subsequent transfer of trust  property
   as the resolutions, which have been relied upon by the appellants, do not
   have any legal sanctity and they cannot be placed above the  law  of  the
   land.

7. Mr. Joshi further supplemented his submissions  and  has  submitted  that
   the High Court’s determination that the said resolutions have  interfered
   with Articles 25 and 26 as they impose religious faith and tenets on FDCB
    is incorrect, firstly, because such consideration is beyond the scope of
   inquiry under Section 22 and beyond the scope of the BPTA as  it  entails
   adjudication on religious affairs; secondly,  the same is not an ordinary
   question fit to be decided by the  Charity  Commissioner  and  one  which
   attracts the jurisdiction of the Civil Court which is not ousted in  this
   aspect by the BPTA, in fact the question is beyond the scope of the BPTA.
   Further, pointed out that the inquiry under Section 22 is only  regarding
   the legality of the charge and does not extend to adjudicating rights  of
   parties under  general  law,  therefore  the  Charity  Commissioner   has
   correctly held that unifications  is  a  religious  process;  furthermore
   unification happened in 1970 and has not been challenged by the objectors
   who were a part of the process and the High Court has,  thus,  overlooked
   that the right to merge is a religious matter and  the  statute  must  be
   interpreted accordingly. Further, submitted that the Resolutions are  not
   contrary to the BPTA as no provision provides for prior permission of the
   Charity Commissioner and even if there existed one same would  have  been
   unconstitutional, also Section 50A is only an enabling  Section  and  the
   power vested under the same is for better administration of trusts, which
   is not the reason presently; secondly, the only procedure required to  be
   followed was that under Section 22, being recording of unification due to
   resolutions; thirdly, as there is no dissolution, the obligation attached
   to the  property  is  same  and  after  merger  only  the  administrative
   machinery has been changed; lastly, there is no transfer of property  and
   obligations remain the same, albeit in a different name. It  was  further
   submitted that the contention that CNI came into  existence  in  1980  is
   misconceived as Registration is only acknowledgment of trust and  is  not
   related to incorporation of any company.  Further,  submitted   that  the
   finding that procedure under the SR Act must be followed is untenable  as
   assets had not been vested in the  society  and  the  same  need  not  be
   examined; moreover the resolutions were passed by members and the Charity
   Commissioner  had  no  jurisdiction  to  examine  the  SR  Act  and  such
   objections should not  have been  raised  before  him;  in  addition  but
   without prejudice to the same also  submitted  that  the  3/5th  majority
   requirement under the SR Act was complied with and no  dispute  had  been
   raised under Section 13 of the SR Act. Further, contended that  the  High
   Court’s finding that unification amounts to imposition of tenets  is  not
   correct as after the merger the same religious practice existed,  a  fact
   accepted by the Civil Court as well; moreover as CNI was  an  amalgamated
   body, there is no question of imposition or taking over.  Also  contended
   that the rejection of the Change Reports by the High Court  is  untenable
   as all documents exhibited before  the  Charity  Commissioner  have  been
   proved in the Civil Court and also strict rules of evidence do  apply  to
   such proceedings. It is submitted that the finding of the High Court that
   objectors are not barred by estoppels is incorrect as the objections lack
   bonafide. Lastly, he submitted that the contention  that  the  issue  had
   been decided in Church of North India v. Lavajibhai  Ratanjibhai  &  Ors.
   (supra) does not hold good in the light of  the  subsequent  decision  in
   Vinod Kumar Mathurseva Malvia & Anr. v. Maganlal Mangaldas Gameti &  Ors.
   (supra).

8. Appellant No. 2 in his written submissions settled by  Mr.  Vishwanathan,
   has further supplemented and  submitted  that  the  issue  of  merger  of
   churches is not amenable to jurisdiction of courts and is independent  of
   the BPTA as it is a religious or ecclesiastical  matter  not  subject  to
   judicial scrutiny; that they have placed sufficient evidence  before  the
   Charity Commissioner to prove the factum of merger which has been  upheld
   by the City Civil Court as well; that sub-section (2) of Section  50A  of
   the BPTA comes into play when the Charity Commissioner is of the  opinion
   that trusts must be merged due to mismanagement, however in  the  present
   matter the merger is due to religious  and ecclesiastical  reasons,  and,
   therefore sub-section (2) of Section 50A is not applicable; that  Section
   13 of the SR Act is not applicable as it is not a case of dissolution  of
   churches but a merger, furthermore, the  BPTA  is  a  complete  code  and
   merger of trust registered under the BPTA cannot  be  contingent  on  the
   requirements  under  Section  12  of  the  SR   Act,   furthermore,   the
   applicability of both the statutes creates an anomalous situation; one of
   the objectors himself was the trustee when the Change Reports were  filed
   and only a miniscule faction have objected to the  Change  Reports;  that
   the resolutions for merger of FDCB with CNI passed by the internal bodies
   of FDCB have not been assailed or challenged by  anybody  (including  the
   respondents) before the Civil Court, therefore these resolutions continue
   to bind all the members of the FDC including the respondents; and lastly,
   that the Charity Commissioner under Section 22 of the  BPTA  conducts  an
   enquiry into the factum and legality of change and  in  this  light,  the
   Charity Commissioner has, therefore, passed a reasoned order.

9.  Per  contra,  the  respondents  have  submitted  that  there  are   many
   unexplained lapses in the entire formation of CNI, first being  that  the
   Change Reports have been filed eleven years after the occurrence  of  the
   alleged changes in violation of Section 22 of  the  BPTA  which  requires
   that a change is  to  be  mandatorily  reported  after  90  days  of  its
   occurrence; secondly, CNITA being the trustee  of  CNI,  was  formed  six
   years after the alleged formation of CNI  which was registered  in  1980,
   thereby creating a situation where  the CNI trust did not have a  trustee
   for six years and did not have any legal status till its registration  in
   1980; thirdly, CNI only submitted its audited books of accounts prior  to
   1984; lastly, CNI was registered after ten years of unexplained delay and
   the same was ex-parte, furthermore, as per the appellants,  CNI  was  the
   successor of FDCB; however, at the time of subsequent  registration,  the
   properties of FDCB were not shown in the registration form as  properties
   of CNI. In this background, the present Change Reports are incorrect  and
   in violation of Section 22 as they seek to effect  a  change  which  took
   place prior to the registration of the trust, furthermore in the light of
   the above, the claim of the appellants that CNI is the legal successor of
   FDCB since its formation on November 29, 1970 till  date  does  not  hold
   good. The respondents further submitted that, admittedly,  the  FDCB  was
   first registered under the SR Act and then under the BPTA  when  it  came
   into force and is, therefore, governed by both which  are  regulatory  in
   nature; that in addition to the above, the present Change Reports seeking
   alienation of the properties of a registered trust are not in  compliance
   with Section 36 and/or Sections 50A, 51, 50 of  the  BPTA  and  that  the
   trust which  exists  in  perpetuity  does  not  stand  dissolved  by  the
   declaration of a Charity Commissioner who has declared the  same  without
   resorting to Section 13 of the SR Act; that even the other  denominations
   which merged with CNI continue to exist and own the  property;  that  the
   resolutions placed by the appellants only speak about merger and there is
   nothing on record which indicates the intent of dissolution of  trust  or
   society; that a society stands dissolved only after the  procedure  under
   Section 13 of the SR Act is followed and the  dissolution  of  a  society
   does not ipso facto mean that properties of the trust are also  adjusted;
   that many persons objected to the unification and M.M. Gameti is only the
   principal objector who never held any post or signed  any  documents  and
   even such documents are without any legal consequence; and  lastly,  that
   the unification is the secular part ancillary to religious  practice  and
   is, therefore, subject to judicial scrutiny.

10.  Having heard the rival contentions and after  considering  the  written
   submissions, we are of the opinion that the primary issue which needs  to
   be answered is : whether the alleged unification of  the  First  District
   Church of Brethren with the Church of North India is correct or not,  and
   the same answers all the ancillary issues raised before us.


11. Regarding the issue of unification, we  are  of  the  opinion  that  the
   questions regarding the validity of the  unification  process  have  been
   answered in the observations made by this Court in Church of North  India
   v.  Lavajibhai  Ratanjibhai  &  Ors.  (supra),  wherein  the  matter  was
   regarding the bar of jurisdiction of the Civil Court under Section 80  of
   the BPT Act. This Court  in  the  aforementioned  matter  delineated  the
   jurisdiction of the authorities and the Civil Court under the BPT Act and
   under what circumstances which body has jurisdiction. While  reaching  to
   its conclusion, this Court at great length discussed  the  provisions  of
   the SR Act and  the  BPTA  and  the  relationship  between  the  two  and
   determined that :

      “61. There is nothing on record to show that  the  churches  concerned
      were being managed by the societies  registered  under  the  Societies
      Registration Act. In any event, it stands accepted that the dispute as
      regards dissolution of  societies  and  adjustment  of  their  affairs
      should have been referred to the Principal  Court  of  original  civil
      jurisdiction.

      62. The suit in question also does not conform to  the  provisions  of
      Section 13 of the Societies Registration Act.

      63. Section 20 of the  Act  provides  that  the  societies  enumerated
      therein can only be registered under the said Act.

      64. Unless a suit is filed in terms of Section  13  of  the  Act,  the
      society is not  dissolved.  Even  assuming  that  the  society  stands
      dissolved in terms of its memorandum of association  and  articles  of
      association, the same would not ipso facto mean  that  the  properties
      could be adjusted amongst the members of the society in terms  of  the
      provisions of the said Act. Concededly, the properties  of  the  trust
      being properties of the religious trust had vested in such trust. Such
      a provision, we have noticed hereinbefore, also exists in the BPT Act.
      Thus, only because the society has  been  dissolved,  ipso  facto  the
      properties belonging  to  the  trust  cannot  be  said  to  have  been
      adjusted. The appellants, thus, we  have  noticed  hereinbefore,  have
      averred in the plaint that the suit relates to  the  property  of  the
      trust and their administration. If the properties of the churches  did
      not belong to the society, the appellant herein cannot claim the  same
      as their successor. …”


         (emphasis supplied)



12. It has been alleged by the appellants that under Articles 25 and  26  of
   the Constitution, they are entitled  to  manage  their  affairs  and  the
   question of unification of churches is a religious  decision  over  which
   the courts  have  no  jurisdiction.  We  are  of  the  opinion  that  the
   unification has no legal foundation whatsoever. The FDCB is  a  religious
   society registered under the Societies Registration Act and its  property
   vests with a Trust regulated by the BPTA. As per the BPTA, a public trust
   being religious in nature, may also be  a  society  under  the  Societies
   Registration Act. It is a well accepted principle that a body created  by
   a statute must conform to the provisions of the  regulating  statute.  In
   the present case, the procedure for dissolution of FDCB has not conformed
   to the requirements set out in Section 13 of the SR Act and the procedure
   as laid down in the BPT  Act  as  noted  in  Church  of  North  India  v.
   Lavajibhai Ratanjibhai & Ors.  (supra).  Furthermore,  the  case  of  the
   appellants is based on the resolutions and deliberations which it has put
   on  record  in  support  of  its  claim  of  dissolution  and  subsequent
   unification. However, as per the finding of the  lower  courts,  no  such
   resolution or minutes of such deliberations comply with the procedure  as
   laid down in the statutes. All the material on record as  per  the  lower
   court only  talks  about  amalgamation  and  there  is  no  reference  to
   dissolution of FDCB as required under  the  Societies  Registration  Act.
   Therefore, the High Court has rightly opined that :

      “….. However, the fact remains that there is no basis or foundation or
      the legal or other frame work, which could be said to be  binding  and
      which could be relied upon by the appellant.”

Resolution 70/08 on which the  case  of  the  appellants  is  built  whether
complying with or not with the requirements  under  the  SR  Act,  does  not
dissolve the FDCB Trust. Therefore, it would be improper  if  the  religious
society being FDCB stands dissolved on the basis of  the  material  produced
before the lower court. Therefore, in light of the  aforementioned  judgment
of this Court, the High Court and the lower court  are  correct  in  holding
the same.

13. The property of a Society under Section 5 of the SR Act, if  not  vested
   in trustees, then only shall vest for the time being with  the  governing
   body of such society. The properties of FDCB vested  with  public  trust,
   being No.E-643/ Bharuch. It was also recognized by this Court  in  Church
   of North India v. Lavajibhai Ratanjibhai & Ors. (supra)  wherein  it  was
   observed thus :

      “60. We are not oblivious of the fact that the resolution  adopted  in
      the meeting held on 17-2-1970 allegedly fulfilled all the requirements
      for such resolution as provided in the Societies Registration Act  but
      it is now beyond any controversy that the society having not owned any
      property, their transfer in favour of a new society was  impermissible
      in law. In terms of Section 5 of the Societies Registration  Act,  all
      properties would vest in the trustees and only in case in the  absence
      of vesting of such properties in the trustees would the same be deemed
      to have been vested for the time being in the governing body  of  such
      property. In this case, it is clear that the properties have vested in
      the trustees and not in the governing body of the society.”



The  resolutions  produced  and  the  deliberations  made  in  the  internal
meetings of FDCB only  talk  about  amalgamation  of  FDCB  with  the  other
churches and the intent to dissolve the society and the registered trust  is
not conveyed and cannot be read  into  the  same.  On  the  basis  of  these
resolutions and deliberations, the claim of the appellants that CNI  is  the
successor of the property of the  FDCB,  which  vests  with  the  registered
trust, does not hold good.


14. As  observed  by  this  Court  in  the  aforementioned  judgment,  while
   analyzing various provisions of  the  BPTA,  the  alienation  of  movable
   property  of  the  trust  without  previous  sanction  of   the   Charity
   Commissioner is barred under Section 36. This Court in its  judgments  in
   Church of North India v. Lavajibhai  Ratanjibhai  and  Ors.  (supra)  and
   Vinod Kumar Mathurseva Malvia and Anr. v. Maganlal Mangaldas  Gameti  and
   Ors. (supra) has clearly  stated  that  the  BPTA  is  a  complete  code.
   Furthermore, in Church of North India (supra), this  Court  has  observed
   thus :

      “69. We have noticed  hereinbefore  that  the  BPT  Act  provides  for
      finality and  conclusiveness  of  the  order  passed  by  the  Charity
      Commissioner in Sections  21(2),  22(3),  26,  36,  41(2),  51(4)  and
      79(2).”



The statute provides for a proper procedure for the claimants to  adopt  for
the transfer of the property and the same has not been  observed.  The  case
of the appellants is that  the  dissolution  of  the  society  automatically
dissolves the trust and vests the property of trust with CNI, designated  as
the successor of the same which is based on the resolutions etc.  placed  on
record. However, the procedure  for  the  amalgamation  of  a  trust  scheme
stemming out from Section 50A BPTA, which  is  a  complete  code,  has  been
disregarded. Therefore, the High Court while referring to  the  judgment  of
the Civil Court has correctly observed that:


      “…it has been clearly observed with regard to merger that such society
      being a Trust registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act is required
      to follow the procedure for amalgamation  or  merger  as  contemplated
      under the Section 50A(2) of the  Bombay  Public  Trust  Act.  Further,
      since the Society and the Trust being the  creation  of  the  Statute,
      they have to comply  with  the  modes  provided  in  the  Statute  for
      amalgamation and necessary procedure including  the  approval  of  the
      Charity Commissioner has to be there before such merger takes place. A
      useful reference can be made to Section 50A(2)  of the  Bombay  Public
      Trust Act. It is required to be  mentioned  that  mere  expression  or
      desire to merger by passing Resolution by the  Brethren  Church  would
      result into merger unless it is approved with the  procedure  followed
      under the Bombay Public Trust Act. Further, the properties, which  are
      vested in the committee of such Church, which is registered  as  FDCB,
      would be managing the affairs of the Trust and the corpus of the Trust
      cannot be  transferred  along  with  the  property  without  following
      procedure or approval of the Charity  Commissioner  under  the  Bombay
      Public Trust Act.”


                   (emphasis supplied)





Furthermore, as the statute has  only  provided  for  Section  50A,  persons
governed by the same must act within the four  corners  of  the  legislation
and should not question the  legislative  wisdom  on  the  grounds  that  as
certain aspects have not been provided in a statute so they have no  bearing
on them.


15. In addition to the above, there are evident lapses in the  formation  of
   CNI which have been observed by the High Court in  paragraph  17  of  its
   judgment and we also concur with the view  of  the  High  Court  wherein:
   Firstly, it is alleged that CNI was formed  on  November  26,  1970  post
   Resolution 70/08 dated February 17, 1970, however the same was sought  to
   be registered in 1980 and given registration with effect from  1971.  The
   same is contrary to the requirements as laid down in Section  18  of  the
   BPTA which requires registration of a public trust within three months of
   a creation as per clause (b) of sub-section (4). The Act is  also  silent
   about the registration with retrospective effect. But the dispute is  not
   regarding the interpretation of the procedure of registration  under  the
   BPTA, therefore, we refrain from going further into the  details  of  the
   same.  The second lapse which exists is that in 1976, the Church of North
   India Trust Association (CNITA) was formed  under  the  Indian  Companies
   Act, 1956 and appointed as the trustee of CNI; a trust allegedly existing
   since 1971 which succeeded FDCB in 1970 which was allegedly dissolved and
   its annual meetings discontinued since 1971. A suit  for  declaration  of
   CNI as the  successor  of  FDCB  was  filed  in  1979  (held  not  to  be
   maintainable in Church of North India (supra)). During  the  pendency  of
   the 1979 suit, Change Report Nos. 44 of 1981 and 665 of 1981  were  filed
   in 1980.  This situation created a scenario where  FDCB  simply  vanished
   after the 1970 resolutions and who managed its properties till  CNITA  is
   an unresolved question, identified by this Court in Church of North India
   (supra) which stated that “….Furthermore, there is nothing on  record  to
   show the mode and manner of the  management  and  control  of  the  trust
   property.” Subsequently this Court in the abovementioned  case  discussed
   the procedure under the BPTA which is reproduced as under:


      “70…..The BPT Act provides for express exclusion of  the  jurisdiction
      of the civil court. In various provisions contained in Chapter  IV,  a
      power of inquiry and consequently a power of adjudication  as  regards
      the list of movable and immovable trust property, the description  and
      particulars thereof for the purpose of its  identification  have  been
      conferred. In fact, the trustee of a public trust is enjoined  with  a
      statutory duty to make an application  for  registration  wherein  all
      necessary descriptions of movable and immovable property belonging  to
      the trust including their description and particulars for the  purpose
      of identification are required to be furnished.  Section  19  provides
      for an inquiry for registration with a view to ascertaining inter alia
      the mode of succession to the office of the trustee  as  also  whether
      any property is the property of  such  trust.  It  is  only  when  the
      statutory authority satisfies itself as regard the genuineness of  the
      trust and the properties held by it, is an entry made in the registers
      and books, etc. maintained in terms  of  Section  17  of  the  Act  in
      consonance with the provisions of Section 21 thereof. Such  an  entry,
      it will bear repetition to state, is final and conclusive. Changes can
      be brought about only in terms of Section 22 thereof.”





The above facts clearly show non-compliance with the procedure  under  BPTA.
The argument that as per Article 254  of  the  Constitution,  the  Societies
Registration Act overrides the BPTA or that the Societies  Registration  Act
and BPTA are in conflict, does not stand either,  since  both  the  statutes
are not  in  conflict  with  each  other.  On  the  contrary,  they  are  in
consonance with each other regarding the administration  and  regulation  of
public and religious trusts.


16. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the claim of the  appellants  that
   following unification of FDCB with CNI  after  the  purported  resolution
   resulted in the dissolution of FDCB making CNI its  legal  successor  and
   controller of its properties, does not hold good and cannot be  accepted.
   The High Court has rightly observed that :


       “….. The trust which has been created as public trust for a  specific
      object and the charitable or the religious nature or for the  bonafide
      of the Society or any such institution  managed  by  such  trusts  for
      charitable and religious purpose shall continue to exist in perpetuity
      and it would not cease to exist by any such  process  of  thinking  or
      deliberation or the Resolution, which does not have any force of law.”




17. Since the FDCB trust never stood dissolved, the properties of  the  same
   will not vest with CNI. Earlier also, this Court in Church of North India
   (supra) has observed the same and stated that :

       “…the  purported  resolutions  of  the  churches  affiliated  to  the
      Brethren Church and merger thereof with the appellant,  having  regard
      to the provisions of the Act was required to  be  done  in  consonance
      with the provisions thereof. It is not necessary for us to consider as
      to whether such dissolution of the churches and merger thereof in  the
      appellant would amount to alienation of immovable property but we only
      intend to point out that even such alienation is prohibited in law.”






18. Objections have been raised regarding the jurisdiction  of  the  Charity
   Commissioner and the courts impinging on the  freedoms  guaranteed  under
   Articles 25 and 26 of the  Constitution.  It  has  been  alleged  that  a
   refusal to allow the change in trust nullifies the  choice  exercised  by
   the community in a  matter  which  is  purely  religious,  of  faith  and
   ecclesiastical; especially considering the fact that  the  newly  created
   entity follows the same religion. Furthermore, the issue of estoppel  has
   been raised in the light of the same in relation to the objections to the
   unification raised by the respondents who had earlier  consented  to  the
   same.


19. Firstly, we would answer the issue of the jurisdiction  of  the  Charity
   Commissioner and lower courts. The choices of the  community  herein  are
   the purported resolutions and deliberations.  These  resolutions  are  an
   attempt to effect a change in management and ownership of the FDCB  trust
   properties in a manner which is against the law of the land. However,  it
   is the case of the appellants that as per Articles 25 and  26,  they  are
   free to manage their own affairs and have relied  on  judgments  of  this
   Court in The Commissioner, Hindu  Religious  Endowments,  Madras  v.  Sri
   Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of  Sri Shirur Mutt [AIR  1954  SC  282]  and
   Ratilal Panachand Gandhi & Ors. v. State of Bombay & Ors.  [AIR  1954  SC
   388].


20.  We  are  of  the  opinion  that  the  appellants’   reliance   on   the
   abovementioned two judgments is misplaced.  In  The  Commissioner,  Hindu
   Religious Endowments, Madras (supra), this Court while adjudicating  upon
   the validity of  Sections 21, 30(2), 31, 55, 56  and  63  to  69  of  the
   Madras Hindu  Religious  and  Charitable  Endowments  Act,  1951  against
   Articles 19(1)(f), 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India  and  examining
   the distinction between tax and fee, held that the  Sections  were  ultra
   vires and Section 76 (1) of the Madras  Hindu  Religious  and  Charitable
   Endowments Act, 1951 was void. It was also held that a  levy  under  this
   section does not attract Article 27 as it was for the maintenance of  the
   religious trust despite being a tax. While deciding on  the  above,  this
   Court delved into many questions regarding  the  scope  of  religion  and
   recognized the reservations to the  freedom  of  religion  under  Article
   25(2) and that the  State  is  empowered  to  legislate  on  the  secular
   activities ancillary to practice of religion  and  that  the  courts  are
   empowered to decide whether the same is an  integral  part  of  religious
   practice or a secular part. In  Ratilal  Panachand  Gandhi  (supra),  the
   validity of Section 44  and  levy  under  Section  58  of  the  BPTA  was
   questioned against Articles 25 and 26. As per this Court, Section 44  was
   held to be unconstitutional. However,  the  levy  under  Section  58  was
   termed as a fee and was allowed.  While deciding on the same, this  Court
   once again reiterated on the power of  the  Government  to  legislate  on
   regulating the secular aspects of religious  practice  as  allowed  under
   clause (2) of Article 25. In light of the  same,  the  High  Court  while
   disregarding the unification procedure, has rightly observed that :


      “…it will amount to accepting that such  Resolutions  or  deliberation
      are above the law and the law that any such Resolution passed anywhere
      will have more binding  force  then  (sic)  the  law  created  by  the
      Sovereign Authority of India like the Bombay Public Trust Act as  well
      as the provisions of the Constitution under Articles 25 and 26 of  the
      Constitution of India. In fact, Article  26  which  provides  for  the
      freedom of the religious faith and Article 26 which provides  for  the
      freedom of acquiring and administering the property or  the  Trust  in
      accordance with law, meaning thereby, the  provisions  of  the  Bombay
      Public Trust Act, which has been created, would  have  no  application
      again in the guise of such Resolution. Even the Transfer  of  Property
      Act will have no bearing  and  properties  of  various  Trust  or  the
      Churches would get automatically transferred  or  vested  without  any
      requirement of law being fulfilled, without any document, without  any
      registration,  stamp  etc.  therefore,  it  would   be   rather   over
      simplification  to  accept  the  submission  that  it  was  merely   a
      Resolution for a merger or unification of various Churches for  better
      understanding and advancement of cause of religion and faith  and  the
      Court should not examine this aspect even though  there  is  a  strong
      protest which has led to repeated  round  of  litigations  before  the
      Courts upto the Hon’ble Apex  Court.  The  underlying  object  or  the
      purpose even if it assumed that it is only for better  administration,
      still it cannot have any predominance or the constitutional  provision
      or the law of land”






21. Regarding the issue of estoppels raised by the appellants, we feel  that
   there is no need to interfere or clarify the  views  of  the  High  Court
   which are as under:


      “…Therefore, the submission made on the ground of estoppel  that  once
      having accepted the Resolutions or having participated at the time  of
      discussion on Resolution or unification, same people have backed  out.
      Therefore, they are stopped from now changing their stand  is  without
      any basis and misconceived. There is no question of having changed the
      stand or faith but it is a question which is required to be considered
      whether one sect like the Church of Northern India can impose religion
      faith, acquire the trust and its property and take away total state of
      affairs for the managing of such Trust, which  have  been  established
      for management of  the  various  Churches  at  different  levels.  The
      principles of estoppel or promissory estoppel in such  cases  have  no
      application.”

Furthermore, the Court has rightly opined that:

      “….. Therefore, there is no question of  any  promise  made  out,  for
      which, the estoppel could come into play.  In  fact,  even  if  it  is
      assumed that some of the people had  initially  participated  at  some
      stage with regard to merger or unification of the Church  of  Brethren
      Trust into the Church of North India, one can still have a re-look  or
      fresh thinking at the entire episode and have a different  opinion  at
      later stage, which cannot be prohibited. The constitutional  provision
      under Articles 25 & 26, which is the  genesis  for  such  freedom  has
      granted such right, which cannot be taken away  or  curtailed  on  the
      ground of estoppel.”


Thus, the High Court has precisely concluded that:


       “…the focus has to be on the ultimate freedom of faith, religion  and
      persuasion of such faith and belief as  one  likes,  which  cannot  be
      curtailed. As a matter of fact, by the  aforesaid  procedure  and  the
      litigations, which have been repeated, it is  reflected  that  in  the
      name of unification or merger, it is aimed that there is total control
      of not only properties and the churches  but  it  will  also  have  an
      ultimate effect of imposing particular faith or belief, which  is  not
      permissible.”






22. On the issue  of  jurisdiction  of  civil  courts:  whether  Section  80
   imposes  a  complete  bar  or  not  and  in  what  circumstances  is  the
   jurisdiction shared  between  the  Charity  Commissioner  and  the  civil
   courts, we are of the opinion that  these  issues  have  been  adequately
   answered by this Court in Church of North  India  (supra),  wherein  this
   Court discussed the jurisdiction under the BPTA at length after referring
   to many prominent cases including Dhulabhai and  Ors.  v.  The  State  of
   Madhya Pradesh and Anr. [1968 (3) SCR 662]. This Court thus observed that
   :

      “82. The provisions of the Act and the Scheme thereof leave no  manner
      of doubt that the Act is a complete code in itself. It provides for  a
      complete machinery for a person interested in the trust to put forward
      his claim before the Charity Commissioner who is competent to go  into
      the question and to  prefer  appeal  if  he  feels  aggrieved  by  any
      decision. The bar of jurisdiction created under Section 80 of the  Act
      clearly points out that a third party cannot maintain a suit so as  to
      avoid the rigours of the provisions of the Act. The  matter,  however,
      would be different if the property is not a trust property in the  eye
      of law. The civil court's jurisdiction may not be barred as  it  gives
      rise to a jurisdictional question. If a property did not validly  vest
      in a trust or if a trust itself is not valid in law,  the  authorities
      under the  Act  will  have  no  jurisdiction  to  determine  the  said
      question.”


Furthermore, this Court concluded its observation by holding that:

      “98. ….The Civil Court will have no  jurisdiction  in  relation  to  a
      matter  where  over  the  statutory  authorities  have  the  requisite
      jurisdiction. On the other  hand,  if  a  question  arises,  which  is
      outside the purview of the Act or in relation to a matter, unconnected
      with the administration or possession of the trust property, the Civil
      Court may have jurisdiction. In this case, having regard to the nature
      of the lis, the jurisdiction of the Civil Court was clearly barred.”



In the present dispute also, the  respondents  approached  the  Civil  Court
under Section 72(1) of the Act  and  the  Civil  Court  correctly  exercised
jurisdiction over the same.


23. The question regarding the admissibility of evidence adduced before  the
   Charity Commissioner has been adequately addressed by the High Court  and
   we do not find any reason to interfere with the same. The observations of
   the High Court in this regard are as under :


      “21…It is well accepted that though the Charity  Commissioner  is  not
      the Court, the procedure is to be followed like the Civil  Court.  The
      procedure as provided  in  the  Civil  Procedure  Code  would  mutatis
      mutandis apply. In other words, though the  Charity  Commissioner  has
      discretion to have evolved his own procedure, normal  procedure  under
      the Civil Procedure Code is followed in such matter. It is required to
      be mentioned that even though strictly Civil Procedure Court (sic) may
      not be applicable, still the procedure is required to be  followed  in
      order to provide fair opportunity to other side to  contest  on  every
      issue including the documents, which are sought  to  be  produced  and
      also to decide the probative value after it is exhibited  as  per  the
      Evidence Act. Therefore, it is necessary  that  all  such  Resolutions
      etc. ought to have been placed on record, which  has  not  been  done.
      Therefore, what was not forming the part of the record in the original
      proceedings  cannot  be  permitted  to  be  supplemented  by  way   of
      explanation in appeal.”






The appellants  in  this  regard  cited  this  Court’s  decision  in  R.V.E.
Venkatachala Gounder  v. Arulmigu Viswesaraswami  &  V.P.  Temple  and  Anr.
[2003 (8) SCC 752],  wherein  this  Court  held  that  the  High  Court  was
incorrect in rejecting  the  photocopies  of  documents  as  they  were  not
originals. In this light, since the Charity Commissioner is not required  to
strictly adhere to the procedure under the Code  of  Civil  Procedure,  1908
and the Evidence Act,  1872,  the  evidence  submitted  before  the  Charity
Commissioner may be admissible unless they are against the basic  principles
of Evidence Law.


24.  Finally answering the question raised by the appellants  regarding  the
   scope of inquiry of the Charity Commissioner under Section 22 of the Act,
   this Court in Church of North India (supra) very aptly provided a  bird’s
   eye view of Section 22 which is provided as under :

      “….Section 22 provides for the change which may occur in  any  of  the
      entries recorded in the register kept under  Section  17  to  make  an
      appropriate application within 90 days from the date of the occurrence
      of such change. Sub-section (1A) of Section 22 reads thus:


      “(1A) Where the change to be reported under sub- section  (1)  relates
      to any immovable property, the trustee shall,  alongwith  the  report,
      furnish a memorandum in the prescribed form containing the particulars
      (including the name and description of the public trust)  relating  to
      any change in  the  immovable  property  of  such  public  trust,  for
      forwarding it to the sub-registrar referred to in sub- section (7)  of
      section 18.”

      31. Sub-section (2) of Section  22  empowers  a  Deputy  or  Assistant
      Charity Commissioner to hold an inquiry for the purpose  of  verifying
      the correctness of the entries in the register kept under  Section  17
      or ascertaining  whether  any  change  has  occurred  in  any  of  the
      particulars recorded therein. In the event, a change is found to  have
      occurred in any of the entries recorded in  the  register  kept  under
      Section 17, the Deputy or Assistant Charity Commissioner  is  required
      to record a finding with the reasons therefore to that effect. Such an
      order is appealable to the Charity Commissioner. By reason of  changes
      which have been found to have occurred, the entries  in  the  register
      are required to be amended. Such amendment on the occurrence of change
      is final and conclusive.”






25. After analysing the facts and the law in the  matter,  we  have  noticed
   that

it is the duty of the society  to  take  steps  in  accordance  with
   Section 13 of the SR Act for its dissolution. 
We have further noted  that
   unless the properties vested in the Trust are divested in accordance with
   the provisions of the SR Act and in accordance with the BPTA,  merely  by
   filing the Change Report/s, CNI cannot claim a  merger  of  churches  and
   thereby claim that the properties vested in the Trust would vest in them.
   
In our opinion, it would only be evident from the steps  taken  that  the
   passing of resolutions is nothing but an indication to show the intention
   to merge and nothing else. 
In fact, the City Civil  Court  has  correctly
   held, in our opinion, which has been affirmed by  the  High  Court,  that
   there was no dissolution of  the  society  and  further  merger  was  not
   carried  out  in  accordance  with  the  provisions  of  law.  
In   these
   circumstances, we hold that the society and the Trust being creatures  of
   statute, have to resort to the modes provided  by  the  statute  for  its
   amalgamation and the so-called merger  cannot  be  treated  or  can  give
   effect to the dissolution of the Trust. 
In the matrix of  the  facts,  we
   hold that without taking any steps in accordance with the  provisions  of
   law, the effect of the resolutions or deliberations is not acceptable  in
   the domain of law. 
The question of estoppel also cannot stand in the  way
   as the High Court has correctly pointed out that the  freedom  guaranteed
   under the Constitution with regard to the faith and religion, cannot take
   away the right in changing the faith and religion after  giving  a  fresh
   look and thinking at any time and thereby cannot be bound by any rules of
   estoppel.  
Therefore,  the  resolution  only  resolved  to   accept   the
   recommendation of joint unification but does not refer to dissolution.


26. Having analysed the facts and the law in  the  matter,  we  are  of  the
   opinion that the High  Court  and  the  City  Civil  Court  have  rightly
   adjudicated on the matter in question and correctly set aside  the  order
   passed by the Charity Commissioner.


27. Accordingly, we affirm the order passed by the High Court.


28. For the reasons aforementioned, we do not find any merit in the  present
   appeals and the same are dismissed accordingly.



                                                               ………………………..J.
                                                     (Surinder Singh Nijjar)



New                                                                   Delhi;
….…………………….J.
September                             30,                              2013.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
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