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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Public interest litigations -Not maintainable when issues are pending in another forum - whether the properties of Galta Peeth have to be treated as public properties or private properties and whether the Mahant has right to alienate them? and whether there is any right of succession to the Galta Peeth and its properties as per order dated 09-06-1943 appointing Mahant; and whether the Mahant was to administer the properties during his life time? - High court dismissed as both issues are pending before the commissioner - Apex court too held same and dismissed the SLP =Public interest litigations -whether the properties of Galta Peeth have to be treated as public properties or private properties and whether the Mahant has right to alienate them? and whether there is any right of succession to the Galta Peeth and its properties as per order dated 09-06-1943 appointing Mahant; and whether the Mahant was to administer the properties during his life time? - High court dismissed as both issues are pending before the commissioner - Apex court too held same and dismissed the SLP = JAIPUR SHAHAR HINDU VIKAS SAMITI … APPELLANT VERSUS STATE OF RAJASTHAN & ORS. … RESPONDENTS=2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41424

    Public interest litigations -Not maintainable when issues are pending in another forum - whether the properties  of Galta Peeth have to be treated as public properties or  private  properties and whether the Mahant has right to alienate them? and whether there is any right of  succession  to  the Galta Peeth and its properties as per  order  dated  09-06-1943  appointing Mahant; and whether the Mahant was to administer the properties during  his life time? - High court dismissed as both issues are pending before the commissioner - Apex court too held same and dismissed the SLP =

first issue as to whether the properties  of
 Galta Peeth have to be treated as public properties or  private  properties
 and whether the Mahant has right to alienate them?
      The second issue is whether there is any right of  succession  to  the
 Galta Peeth and its properties as per  order  dated  09-06-1943  appointing
 Mahant; and whether the Mahant was to administer the properties during  his
 life time?
  both the issues are pending consideration before
      the Assistant  Commissioner,  Devasthan  Department  as  it  has  been
      admitted by the learned counsel  for  the  respondent  No.  6  (Avdesh
      Kumar), who is presently holding  the  post  of  Mahant.  In  view  of
      aforesaid, Public Interest Litigations can be disposed of as  one  and
      the same issue cannot be decided in Public Interest  Litigation,  when
      statutory enquiry under Section 24 of the Act of 1959 is  pending  for
      consideration before the Assistant Commissioner, Devasthan Department.
      In view of aforesaid, we are of the opinion  that  the  issues  raised
      before us would be decided by the  Assistant  Commissioner,  Devasthan
      Department after hearing all the  parties  and  in  this  regard,  the
      petitioners in the writ petition No. 2321/2006 would be at liberty  to
      participate in the hearing by making a proper  application  and  would
      further be at liberty to  substantiate  their  grounds  by  submitting
      necessary documents.=


     We feel that it is apt to quote the views expressed by this  Court  in
Guruvayoor Devaswom Managing Committee (supra) wherein this  Court  observed
:

      “It is possible to contend that the Hindus in general and the devotees
      visiting the temple in particular are interested in proper  management
      of the temple at the hands of the statutory functionaries. That may be
      so but the Act is a self-contained Code.   Duties  and  functions  are
      prescribed in the Act and the rules framed  thereunder.   Forums  have
      been created thereunder for  ventilation  of  the  grievances  of  the
      affected persons.  Ordinarily, therefore, such forums should be  moved
      at the first instance.  The State should be asked  to  look  into  the
      grievances of the aggrieved devotees, both as parens patriae  as  also
      in discharge of its statutory duties.

                                …     …     …

      The Court should be circumspect in entertaining such  public  interest
      litigation for another reason.   There  may  be  dispute  amongst  the
      devotees as to  what  practices  should  be  followed  by  the  temple
      authorities.  There may be dispute as regard the rites and rituals  to
      be performed in the temple  or  omission  thereof.   Any  decision  in
      favour of one sector of the people may heart  the  sentiments  of  the
      other.  The Courts normally, thus, at the  first  instance  would  not
      enter into such disputed arena, particularly, when by  reason  thereof
      the fundamental right of a group of devotees under Articles 25 and  26
      may be infringed.  Like any other wing of the State, the  Courts  also
      while passing an order should ensure that the fundamental rights of  a
      group of citizens under Articles 25 and 26 are  not  infringed.   Such
      care and caution on the part of the High  Court  would  be  a  welcome
      step.

                                …     …     …

      When the administration of the temple is within  its  control  and  it
      exercises the said power in terms of  a  Statute,  the  State,  it  is
      expected, normally would itself probe into the alleged irregularities.
      If the State through its machinery as provided  for  in  one  Act  can
      arrive at the requisite finding of fact for the purpose  of  remedying
      the defects, it may not find it necessary  to  take  recourse  to  the
      remedies provided for in another statute.  It is trite  that  recourse
      to a provision to another statute may be resorted to  when  the  State
      finds that its powers under the Act governing the field is inadequate.
       
The High Courts and the Supreme Court would not  ordinarily  issue  a
      writ of mandamus directing  the  State  to  carry  out  its  statutory
      functions in a particular manner.  Normally, the Courts would ask  the
      State to perform its statutory functions, if necessary within  a  time
      frame and undoubtedly as and when an order is passed by the  State  in
      exercise  of  its  power  under  the  Statute,  it  will  examine  the
      correctness or legality thereof  by way of judicial review”.


49.   The concept of Public Interest Litigation is  a  phenomenon  which  is
evolved to bring justice to the reach  of  people  who  are  handicapped  by
ignorance, indigence, illiteracy and other  down  trodden  people.   
Through
the Public Interest Litigation, the cause of  several  people  who  are  not
able to approach the Court is espoused.  In the  guise  of  Public  Interest
Litigation, we are coming across several cases where  it  is  exploited  for
the benefit of certain individuals.  
The Courts have  to  be  very  cautious
and careful while entertaining Public Interest  Litigation.   The  Judiciary
should deal with the misuse of Public Interest Litigation  with  iron  hand.
If the Public Interest Litigation  is  permitted  to  be  misused  the  very
purpose for which it is conceived, namely to come to the rescue of the  poor
and down trodden  will  be  defeated.   
The  Courts  should  discourage  the
unjustified litigants at  the  initial  stage  itself  and  the  person  who
misuses the forum should be made  accountable  for  it.   In  the  realm  of
Public Interest Litigation, the Courts while protecting  the  larger  public
interest involved, should at the same time have to  look  at  the  effective
way in which the relief can be granted  to  the  people,  whose  rights  are
adversely affected or at stake.  
When their interest can  be  protected  and
the controversy or the dispute can be adjudicated  by  a  mechanism  created
under  a  particular  statute,  the  parties  should  be  relegated  to  the
appropriate forum, instead  of  entertaining  the  writ  petition  filed  as
Public Interest Litigation.
 50.  In view of the above discussion and the law laid down  by  this  Court
and particularly taking into consideration that the  appellant  has  already
availed statutory remedies and the appeals  are  still  pending  before  the
Commissioner, we do not find any  reason  to  interfere  with  the  impugned
order.


51.   Accordingly, the appeals fail and are dismissed with no  order  as  to
costs.   
2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41424
P SATHASIVAM, RANJAN GOGOI, N.V. RAMANA

                                                      REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                    CIVIL APPEAL NOs.4593-4594   OF 2014
                               ARISING OUT OF
           SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NOs. 28021-28022 OF 2010


JAIPUR SHAHAR HINDU VIKAS SAMITI  …     APPELLANT

VERSUS

STATE OF RAJASTHAN & ORS.               …    RESPONDENTS


                                  JUDGMENT


N.V. RAMANA, J.



      Leave granted.
2.    The present Civil Appeals arise out of  the  common  order  dated  4th
May, 2010 passed by the High Court of Judicature  for  Rajasthan  at  Jaipur
Bench, Jaipur.  The facts as culled out from the impugned  order  dated  4th
May, 2010 are – The appellant herein  filed  a  Public  Interest  Litigation
i.e. D.B. (Civil) Writ Petition No. 2321/2006 alleging  misappropriation  of
property of Galta Peeth/Thikana (3rd  respondent  herein);  whether  Mahanth
appointed vide order dated  09.06.1943  was  to  administer  the  properties
during his life time or there was a right of succession.  D.B. (Civil)  Writ
Petition No. 5111 of 2004 was also filed by one Mahanth Ram Saran Das  as  a
Public Interest Litigation, whereas D.B. (Civil) Writ Petition No.  6607  of
2004 was filed by Mahant Shri Ramodaracharya challenging  the  notifications
dated 17.09.2004 whereby Chapter 10 of the Rajasthan Public Trust Act,  1959
was made applicable to the Trust and notification dated  18.09.2004  whereby
a Committee under Section 53 of the Act was  appointed  in  respect  of  the
Trust.  D.B. (Civil) Writ Petition No. 5650 of 2007 was filed by the  Mandir
Thikana Shri Galtaji.  Though D.B. (Civil) W.P. No. 6607 of  2004  and  D.B.
(Civil) W.P. No. 5650 of 2007 were filed before the  learned  single  Judge,
as all the issues revolve around  Galta  Peeth  and  properties  of  Thikana
Galta, the writ petitions before the learned single Judge were called and  a
common order was passed by the High Court.
3.    For better appreciation of facts, the relief sought  in  D.B.  (Civil)
W.P. No. 2321 of 2006, which is a  Public  Interest  Litigation,  the  order
which is impugned in the  Civil  Appeal  @  SLP(C)  No.  28021  of  2010  is
extracted below:
      (i)   by an  appropriate  writ,  order  or  direction  in  the  nature
           whereof, this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to declare  that  the
           Galta Peeth / Thikana, its temples  and  properties  are  public
           properties and not private or individual properties and  it  may
           be dealt with in the manner public properties  are  dealt  with;
           and


      (ii)  by an  appropriate  writ,  order  or  direction  in  the  nature
           whereof, the Hon’ble Court may be pleased to restrain respondent
           No.  4  Shri  Avadhesh  Kumar  or  any  of   the   other   legal
           representative of late Shri Ramodaracharya as well as respondent
           No. 5 Shri  Raghavacharya  in  any  manner  using,  managing  or
           interfering  in  the  temples  and  properties  of   the   Galta
           Peeth/Thikana and its accompanying temples;


      (iii) by an  appropriate  writ,  order  or  direction  in  the  nature
           whereof, the State Government should be directed  to  take  over
           control and management of the  temples  and  properties  of  the
           Galta Peeth/Thikana and appoint a Board to manage the properties
           and temples of the Galta Peeth in line  with  the  Vaishno  Devi
           Shrine or Tirupati Balaji Temple or in any  other  manner  which
           this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper; and


      (iv)  by further appropriate writ, order or direction  in  the  nature
           whereof, the Hon’ble Court may be pleased to  direct  the  State
           Government to submit a list of the properties of the Galta Peeth
           to the Hon’ble Court as well as the list of properties which had
           been sold by the former Mahant Shri Ramodaracharya or his family
           members including Shri Avadhesh Kumar and others.


 4.   The High Court, after taking into consideration  the  material  placed
before it, disposed of all the four writ petitions by a common order.
 5.    The  High  Court  has  framed  two  issues  in  the  Public  Interest
 Litigation.  It summarized the first issue as to whether the properties  of
 Galta Peeth have to be treated as public properties or  private  properties
 and whether the Mahant has right to alienate them?
      The second issue is whether there is any right of  succession  to  the
 Galta Peeth and its properties as per  order  dated  09-06-1943  appointing
 Mahant; and whether the Mahant was to administer the properties during  his
 life time?
 6.   The High  Court  considered  the  provisions  of  Section  24  of  the
 Rajasthan Public Trust Act, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) and
 also the objections filed by the petitioner in W.P. (Civil)
 No.  5111 of 2004 which was filed by one Mahant Ram Saran Das. The Advocate
 General brought to  the  notice  of  the  High  Court  that  the  issue  of
 succession  of  Mahant  and  also  the  issue  of   properties   of   Galta
 Peeth/Thikana are pending  before  the  Assistant  Commissioner,  Devasthan
 Department, in Complaint Nos.  1  of  2004,  1  of  2006  and  1  of  2007.
 Respondent No. 4 in that writ  petition  consented  for  the  disposal  and
 adjudication of these issues by the  Assistant  Commissioner.  Accordingly,
 the High Court, passed common order in the writ petitions in the  following
 terms:
           “We have considered rival submissions made by the learned counsel
      for the parties and perused the record.


           The issues raised in two Public Interest  Litigations  have  been
      narrated while dealing with the arguments of learned counsel  for  the
      petitioners. The first issue is regarding  nature  of  appointment  of
      Mahant in the year 1943. As to whether the post of Mahant will  go  in
      succession to the legal heirs in view of the  fact  that  late  Mahant
      Ramodaracharya is no more. The other issue is that as to  whether  the
      property  of  Galta  Peeth/Thikana  is  public  property  or  property
      belonging to individual.


           According to us, both the issues are pending consideration before
      the Assistant  Commissioner,  Devasthan  Department  as  it  has  been
      admitted by the learned counsel  for  the  respondent  No.  6  (Avdesh
      Kumar), who is presently holding  the  post  of  Mahant.  In  view  of
      aforesaid, Public Interest Litigations can be disposed of as  one  and
      the same issue cannot be decided in Public Interest  Litigation,  when
      statutory enquiry under Section 24 of the Act of 1959 is  pending  for
      consideration before the Assistant Commissioner, Devasthan Department.
      In view of aforesaid, we are of the opinion  that  the  issues  raised
      before us would be decided by the  Assistant  Commissioner,  Devasthan
      Department after hearing all the  parties  and  in  this  regard,  the
      petitioners in the writ petition No. 2321/2006 would be at liberty  to
      participate in the hearing by making a proper  application  and  would
      further be at liberty to  substantiate  their  grounds  by  submitting
      necessary documents.


                                …      …    …


           Learned counsel Shri S.R. Bajwa appearing for Respondent No. 6 in
      Writ Petition No. 5111 of 2014  further  submits  that  they  have  no
      objection if the issue of succession of Mahant so as the issue  as  to
      whether the property of Galta Peeth/Thikana is individual property  or
      public property is decided by the Assistant Commissioner  and  further
      if the  petitioner  in  the  Writ  Petition  No.  2312/2006  makes  an
      application and participate in the hearing, they have no objection.


                                …      …    …


           We expect from the Assistant Commissioner,  Devasthan  Department
      that he will look into the matter entirely and  thereupon  record  his
      finding by a speaking order while deciding both the  issues.  It  goes
      without saying that whatever is the outcome of the order passed by the
      Assistant Commissioner, Devasthan Department,  the  consequences  will
      follow.


           With the aforesaid observation, both the writ petitions by way of
      Public Interest Litigation are disposed of.”


7.    The High Court has dismissed D.B. (Civil) W.P. No. 5650 of 2007  filed
by Mandir Thikana Shri Galtaji, as withdrawn basing  on  the  submission  of
the learned counsel that  in  the  light  of  the  order  passed  in  Public
Interest Litigations, petitioner may  be  permitted  to  withdraw  the  writ
petition with a liberty to take pleas  before  the  Assistant  Commissioner,
Devasthanam Department.
8.    D.B. (Civil) W.P. No. 6607 of 2004 was dismissed as  withdrawn  basing
on the submission made by the counsel for the petitioner that  the  term  of
the Committee concerned was only five years and which has came to an end  in
the year 2009, and hence the writ petition may be rendered  infructuous  and
the  petitioners  be  given  liberty  to  raise  other  issues   about   the
notification which was issued under Chapter 10, if need so arises.
      The High Court observed that – “It is agreed by all the  parties  that
till  the  matter  is  decided  by  the  Assistant  Commissioner,  Devasthan
Department, they will maintain status  quo  in  respect  of  the  office  of
Mahant as well as regarding property of Galta Peeth/Thikana.”
9.    Aggrieved by the order passed in D.B. (Civil) W.P. No. 2321  of  2006,
Civil Appeal @ SLP(C) No. 28021 of 2010 was filed and  whereas  against  the
order passed in D.B. (Civil) W.P. No. of 6607 of 2004  which  was  filed  by
the father of the 4th respondent herein, wherein the  appellant  herein  was
not a party, has sought leave of the Court  and  preferred  Civil  Appeal  @
SLP(C) No. 28022 of 2010 on the ground that the  High  Court  without  going
into the merits, rendered the  matter  infructuous  and  which  resulted  in
miscarriage of justice  and  irreparable  injury  to  the  public  interest.
Accordingly, these two appeals are placed before us, which arise  out  of  a
common order of the High Court.
10.   We have heard the counsels at length.   It is mainly contended by  the
learned counsel appearing for the appellant that  the  writ  petitions  were
disposed of by the High Court without considering any of  their  contentions
and particularly  the  reliefs  sought  in  writ  petitions,  namely  (i)  a
declaration  to  the  effect  that  Galta  Peeth/Thikana,  its  temples  and
properties are public properties; (ii)   a  restraint  order  against  legal
representatives of deceased Ramodaracharya, including Respondent No. 4  (the
present Mahant) from interfering with the management  of  the  Galta  Peeth;
(iii)  a direction to the State Government to take over  the  management  of
the Galta Peeth;  and (iv) call  for  a  list  of  its  properties  and  the
properties sold by the deceased Ramodaracharya and his family members.
11.   He further contended that even though, the above reliefs  were  prayed
for, but the High Court, without considering the public  interest  involved,
in a casual manner, has disposed of the writ petition. The  High  Court  has
failed to take into consideration the material aspect in D.B.  (Civil)  W.P.
No. 6607 of 2004 filed by the father of Respondent No. 4 and  without  going
into the merits, simply rendered the matter infructuous.  The  reason  given
by the High Court for its disposal is that the term of  five  years  of  the
Committee of Management appointed by the Government has come to an  end  and
hence the matter has become infructuous and no cause survives. In  fact,  by
an interim order of the Court, the Committee was prevented from  discharging
its duties and it did not function for a period of five years.  In  view  of
Section 53 of the Act, the Managing Committee shall function till such  time
permanent arrangement is made for the management of the  Trust  in  question
or in the alternative, the State  Government  may  be  directed  to  appoint
another Managing Committee comprising independent persons.
12.   Another contention advanced  by  the  counsel  was  that  the  reliefs
sought  in  the  writ  petition  cannot  be  considered  by  the   Assistant
Commissioner in view of the fact that the Assistant  Commissioner  does  not
have such jurisdiction to decide the issues raised.
13.   To substantiate his contention, the learned counsel submitted that  as
per the provisions of the Act, it is the Court within the  meaning  of  sub-
section (6) of Section 2 of the Act, which has to  appoint  the  members  of
the Trust.  But, the 4th respondent, himself, nominated the members  of  the
Trust and usurped the office of the Trust  without  any  authority  of  law.
Under Section 41 of the Public Trust Act, he has to apply to  the  concerned
Court and under Section 43 it is the power  of  the  Court  to  appoint  the
trustees with regard to the custom or usage and, as per  the  provisions  of
Section 53(1) of the Act a committee of management has to  be  appointed  in
place of the Respondent No.4 by the State to protect the properties  of  the
Galta Peeth and the Respondent No.4 cannot appoint his own trustees and  the
State Government has to appoint the working trustee in accordance  with  the
Act.
14.   During  the  pendency  of  the  reconstitution  of  the  Committee  of
Management under Section 53 of the Act, a direction to the State  Government
was sought to  appoint  a  Managing  Committee  of  independent  persons  to
protect the interests of the trust. He  contended  that  the  order  of  the
High Court disposing of the writ petition was unmindful and has resulted  in
serious miscarriage of justice and irreparable injury  to  public  interest.
Under Section 53 of the Act, the Government  is  bound  to  appoint  another
Committee or re-appoint the erstwhile members of  the  Committee.  The  High
Court has created a vacuum not contemplated by the  Act,  which  is  against
public interest.
15.   In  support  of  his  contentions,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the
appellant has relied upon the decisions of this Court in Seth  Badri  Prasad
Vs. Seth Nagarmal & Ors. (1959) Supp. 1 SCR 769;  Shehla  Burney  (Dr.)  Vs.
Syed Ali  Moosa  Raza  &  Ors.  (2011)  6  SCC  529;  Rural  Litigation  and
Entitlement Kendra Vs. State of U.P.  (1989)  Supp  1  SCC  504;  Padma  Vs.
Hiralal Motilal Desarda & Ors. (2002) 7 SCC 564 and Bangalore Medical  Trust
Vs. B.S. Muddappa & Ors. (1991) 4 SCC 54.
16.   In addition to the oral submissions, learned senior  counsel  for  the
appellant has  also  placed  before  us  detailed  written  submissions  and
chronology of events from 15th century onwards about the  formation  of  the
trust to till date and had taken us through various provisions  of  the  Act
and also placed the pedigree  of  the  Mahants  starting  from  the  founder
Mahant and submitted that submission based on  statutory  provision  can  be
raised at any stage.
17.    Respondent  No.  4  filed  an   interlocutory   application   raising
preliminary objections  about  the  maintainability  of  these  appeals  and
narrated the earlier litigation. While the D.B. (Civil)  W.P.  No.  2321  of
2006 was pending, the High Court, by an interim order dated 4th  May,  2007,
restrained the Respondent No. 4 herein to deal with the  properties  of  the
Galta Peeth as a working trustee. Aggrieved thereby, Respondent No. 4  filed
a Special Leave Petition before this Court.  Consequently  it  became  Civil
Appeal No. 3746 of 2009.
18.   During the pendency of  Civil  Appeal  No.  3746  of  2009,  the  Writ
Petitions before the High Court were disposed of on  4-5-2010  holding  that
since the  issues  raised  are  already  pending  consideration  before  the
Assistant Commissioner, Devasthan Department the  parties  may  raise  their
grievances before him.  Accordingly, Civil Appeal No.  3746  of  2009  filed
against interim order of the High Court, was also dismissed  by  this  Court
on 08.07.2013 as having become infructuous.
19.   It is contended by the learned counsel for the Respondent
No. 4 that the appellant has misused the pendency of Civil Appeal  No.  3746
of 2009.  Taking advantage of the pendency  of  Civil  Appeal  No.  3746  of
2009, the appellant has filed the present appeals.  The appellant  moved  an
application before this Court for dismissal of  Civil  Appeal  No.  3746  of
2009 as it has become infructuous in view of the impugned order of the  High
Court. But, deliberately and intentionally the appellant did  not  move  any
application for formal dismissal in the present  appeals,  though  they  too
have become infructuous.
20.   Relying upon the order of the Division Bench of the High Court, it  is
contended that  after  the  disposal  of  the  writ  petition,  as  per  the
directions of the High Court, the appellant  herein  has  impleaded  himself
and filed objections before the  Assistant  Commissioner  in  the  statutory
appeal.  Taking into consideration the provisions of
Sections 21, 38 and 41 of the Act, the Assistant Commissioner  rejected  the
same by three separate speaking orders dated
28th March, 2013.  Against those orders, the  appellant  has  already  filed
appeals before the Commissioner, which are pending for consideration.  Hence
these Civil Appeals are not maintainable.
21.   Apart from preliminary objections, learned counsel appearing  for  the
respondents addressed on the main issues  also  and  relied  upon  different
provisions of the Act. The counsel brought to our notice  that  in  fact  as
early as on 19-5-1928 itself a list of properties of Galta Peeth  was  drawn
up, including some of the private properties of the Mahant i.e.  residential
house etc. Thereafter, a  series  of  legal  proceedings  have  taken  place
between the Government, private  parties  and  the  Galta  Peeth  and  their
rights are crystallized in the respective  litigations.  According  to  him,
the appellants have again  raked  up  the  issue  in  the  guise  of  Public
Interest Litigation, which was already subject  matter  of  dispute  in  the
earlier round of litigation.
22.   It is also stated by the counsel that after  the  Act  has  come  into
force, the Mahant submitted a list of properties on 25-10-1962 to the  Jagir
Commissioner wrongly showing  some  of  his  personal  properties  as  trust
properties and this list of properties was the same as  submitted  in  1928.
It is also prayed before us that on 31st December, 1962 the Mahant  made  an
application for registration of the Mandir Thikana Shri  Galtaji  as  public
trust under the Act and made it clear that the mode  of  succession  to  the
office of Trustee will be by way of ‘custom and usage’. The said  trust  was
registered by the Assistant Commissioner on 26th April, 1963.   It  is  also
contended that in the list of trust properties  which  were  also  submitted
along with the application, and which list became  final,  the  property  in
question has not been shown as trust property and the said  list  has  never
been questioned.
23.   Relying upon several  documents  as  well  as  counter  affidavit  and
provisions of the Act, it is contended that in view of  the  fact  that  the
issues are pending before the competent authority, subsequent orders  passed
by the Assistant Commissioner against which appeals are pending  before  the
Commissioner, there is no need for this Court  to  entertain  these  appeals
and  they  have  to  be  dismissed  as   the   appellant   cannot   litigate
simultaneously before the appellate authority and this  Court.  It  is  also
contended that there is no  allegation  against  Avadesh  Kumar  (Respondent
No.4) who is the present Mahant and in view of the pendency of  the  appeals
before the Commissioner, the appellant cannot come  before  this  Court  and
misuse the forum in the guise of Public Interest Litigation.
24.    To  substantiate  his  arguments,  learned  counsel  relied  on   the
Judgments of this Court in Guruvayoor Devaswom  Managing  Committee  &  Anr.
Vs. C.K. Rajan & Ors. (2003) 7  SCC  546  and  Church  of  North  India  Vs.
Lavajibhai Ratanjibhai & Ors. (2005) 10 SCC 760.  A  counter  affidavit  has
been filed  by  the  Assistant  Commissioner  of  behalf  of  the  State  of
Rajasthan stating that the appellant is trying to  confuse  the  issues  and
supported the judgment of the High Court in all respects and further  stated
that the present appeals are not maintainable
25.   In view of the extensive  arguments  submitted  on  behalf  of  either
side, the following issues fall for consideration before this Court:

   1. Whether the High Court was right in  relegating  the  parties  to  the
      Assistant Commissioner without going into the merits and legal  issues
      involved in the case?

   2.  Whether  the  Assistant  Commissioner  has  got  the  authority   and
      jurisdiction under the Act to deal with complicated issues involved in
      the matter?

   3. Whether the appellant herein is aggrieved by the order passed in  Writ
      Petition (C) No. 6607 of 2004, wherein the writ petition was dismissed
      as infructuous?

26.   Before we deal with the above issues, it is necessary to  examine  the
relevant provisions of the Rajasthan Public Trust Act, 1959 which came  into
force w.e.f. 1st July, 1962.
      Chapter 5 of the Act covers Sections  16  to  29  and  it  deals  with
Registration process of a public trust. As per  Section  16,  the  Assistant
Commissioner shall be in charge of  the  registration  and  he  maintains  a
register. Section 17 explains  the  procedure  for  registration  of  public
trusts which reads thus:
      Sec. 17 - Registration of public trust:


      1.    Within three months from the date of  the  application  of  this
      section to a public trust or from the date on which a public trust  is
      created whichever is later, the working trustee thereof shall apply to
      a Assistant Commissioner having jurisdiction for the  registration  of
      such public trust.


      2.    The Assistant Commissioner may, for reasons to  be  recorded  in
      writing, extend the period prescribed by Sub-Sec. (1) for  the  making
      of an application for registration by not more that two years.


      3.    Each such application shall be accompanied by such fee  if  any,
      not exceeding five rupees, and to be utilised for such purpose, as may
      be prescribed.


      4.    The application shall be in such form as  may                 be
      prescribed and shall contain the following particulars, namely: -


        i) the origin (so far as knows), nature and object  of  the  public
           trust and the designation by which the public trust is or  shall
           be known;


       ii) the place where the principal office or the principal  place  of
           business of the public trust is situate;


      iii) the name and addresses of the working trustee and the manager;


        iv) the mode of succession to the office of the trustee;


         v)  the list of the movable and immovable trust property  and  such
            description  and  particulars  as  may  be  sufficient  for  the
            identification thereof;


        vi) the approximate value of the movable and immovable property;


       vii)  the gross  average  annual  income  derived  form  movable  and
            immovable property and from other source, if any, based  on  the
            actual gross annual income during the  three  years  immediately
            proceeding the date on which the application is made or  of  the
            period which has  elapsed  since  the  creation  of  the  trust,
            whichever period is shorter, and, in the case of a newly created
            public trust the estimated gross annual  income  from  all  such
            sources;


      viii)  the amount of the average annual expenditure in connection with
            such public trust estimated on the expenditure  incurred  within
            the case of a newly created public trust, the  estimated  annual
            expenditure in connection with such public trust;


        ix)  the address to which and communication to the  working  trustee
            or manager in connection with the public trust may be sent;


         x) such other particulars as may be prescribed; Provided  that  the
            rules made may provide that in the case of  any  or  all  public
            trusts it shall not be necessary to give the particulars of  the
            trust property of such  value  and  kind  as  may  be  specified
            therein.


      5.    Every application made under sub-section (1) shall be signed and
      verified in accordance with the manner laid down in the code of  Civil
      Procedure, 1908 (Central Act v if  1908)  for  signing  and  verifying
      plaints. It shall be accompanied by a copy of the instrument of  trust
      (if such instrument has been executed and is in existence) and,  where
      the trust property includes immovable property entered in a record  of
      rights, a copy of the relevant entries relating to  such  property  in
      such record of rights shall also be enclosed.


      6. No Assistant Commissioner shall proceed with  any  application  for
      the registration of a public trust in respect of which an  application
      for registration has been filed previously before any other  Assistant
      Commissioner,  and  the  Assistant  Commissioner   before   whom   the
      application was filed first shall decide which Assistant  Commissioner
      shall have jurisdiction to register the public trust.


      7.  An appeal against the order of the Assistant  Commissioner  before
      whom the application was filed first, given under sub-section (6)  may
      be filed within sixty days before the Commissioner and, subject to the
      decision on such appeal, the  orders  of  the  Assistant  Commissioner
      under sub-section (6) shall be final.


Thus, Section 17  mandates  that  within  three  months  from  the  date  of
enforcement of this Section to a public trust, the working trustee can  make
an application to the Assistant Commissioner, in  the  prescribed  form  for
registration. Sub-Section (4)  of  Section  17  prescribes  the  particulars
which shall contain in the application so made. Clause  (v)  of  sub-Section
(4) specifies that the application shall  contain  a  list  of  movable  and
immovable trust property. Under sub-Section (7) an appeal shall  lie  before
the Commissioner against the order of the Assistant  Commissioner  within  a
period of sixty days.
27.   Section 18 describes the procedure of inquiry to be undertaken by  the
Assistant Commissioner for  registration  of  the  public  trust.  The  said
Section reads thus:
      Sec. 18 - Inquiry for Registration:


      1.     On  receipt  of  an  application  under  Sec.  17  or  upon  an
      application made by any person having interest in a public trust or on
      his own motion, the Assistant Commissioner shall make  an  inquiry  in
      the prescribed manner for the purpose of ascertaining:


        i) whether a trust exists and whether such trust is a public trust:


       ii) whether any property is the property of such trust;


      iii) whether the whole or any  substantial  portion  of  the  subject
           matter of the trust is situate within his jurisdiction;


       iv) the names and addresses of the working trustee and  the  manager
           of such trust;


        v) the mode of succession to the office  of  the  trustee  of  such
           trust;


       vi) the origin, nature and objects of such trust;


      vii) the amount of gross average annual  income  and  expenditure  of
           such trust: and


     viii) the correctness or otherwise of any other particulars  furnished
           under sub-section (4) of Section 17.


       2.  The Assistant Commissioner shall give in  the  prescribed  manner
      public notice of the inquiry proposed to be made under sub-section (1)
      and invite all person having interest in the public trust  inquiry  to
      prefer within sixty days objection, if any, in respect of such trust.


 28.  On completion of the inquiry as contemplated  under  section  18,  the
 Assistant Commissioner shall record his findings as provided under  Section
 19 of the Act. Section 20 of the Act makes the  provision  for  Appeal  and
 reads thus:
      “Any working trustee or person having interest in a public trust or in
      any property found to be trust property aggrieved by a finding of  the
      Assistant Commissioner under Sec. 19 may, within two months  from  the
      date  of  its  publication  on  the  notice  board  of  the  Assistant
      Commissioner, file an appeal before  the  Commissioner  to  have  such
      finding set aside or modified.”


 29.  Section 21 of the Act prescribes that the Assistant Commissioner shall
 cause entries to be made in the register  and  under  sub-section  (2)  the
 entries so made shall become final and conclusive.  As per Section  22,  if
 anyone is aggrieved by any entry, he may institute a civil suit.  If  there
 is any necessity for changes in the entries so recorded  in  the  register,
 the working trustee can make an application  under  Section  23(1)  to  the
 Assistant Commissioner. After holding an inquiry under  Section  23(2)  the
 Assistant Commissioner can change  the  entries.  Section  24  enables  the
 Assistant Commissioner to undertake further inquiry, at any time after  the
 entries are made under Section 21 or 23.  The said Section reads thus:
      24.  Further inquiry by Assistant Commissioner:


      If, at any time after the entries or amended entries are made  in  the
      register under Section 21 or section 23, it appears to  the  Assistant
      Commissioner that any particulars relating to any public trust,  which
      was not the subject matter of the inquiry under  section  18  or  sub-
      section (2) of section 23, as the case may  be,  has  remained  to  be
      inquired into, the Assistant Commissioner may make further inquiry  in
      the prescribed manner, record his findings and make or  amend  entries
      in the register in accordance with the decision arrived  at,  and  the
      provisions of sections 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 shall, so far as may  be,
      apply to the inquiry, the recording of  findings  and  the  making  or
      amending of the entries in the register under this section.


30.   It is the duty of the Auditor under Section 34 of the Act, to  prepare
balance sheet of the public trust and to report irregularities, if any,  and
the Auditor has to forward a copy thereof to the Assistant Commissioner.  It
is further the duty of the Auditor to mention in the report in case  of  any
irregularity, illegality or improper expenditure,  failure  or  omission  to
recovery moneys or other property belonging to the public trust or  of  loss
or waste of money or other property thereof.
 31.  Chapter 8 of the Act deals with Management of trust property.  Section
 38 therein provides for issuing directions by the Assistant Commissioner on
 an application filed by any person having interest in  a  public  trust  or
 otherwise that (a) the original object of the public trust has failed;  (b)
 the trust property is not being properly managed or  administered;  or  (c)
 the direction of the Court is  necessary  for  the  administration  of  the
 public trust, he can direct inquiry after giving  the  working  trustee  an
 opportunity of being heard.
 32.  Section 39 provides that where the Assistant Commissioner  rejects  an
 application, fails or refuses to make  an  application  to  the  Court,  an
 appeal lies to the Commissioner. On receipt of an  application  made  under
 Sections 38 or 39, the Court shall consider  and  pass  appropriate  orders
 under Section 40 of the Act. Section  41  envisages  that  if  the  present
 working trustee of a public trust, for any reasons mentioned  therein,  can
 make an application  to  the  Assistant  Commissioner  having  jurisdiction
 seeking permission to apply to the Court for appointment of a  new  working
 trustee and the Court under Section 43 of the Act can make inquiry and pass
 an order.
 33.  Section 49 of the Act empowers the Assistant Commissioner to  ask  for
 explanation of the working trustee. If the  Assistant  Commissioner,  on  a
 perusal of the report of the auditor made  under  Section  34,  is  of  the
 opinion that material defects exist in administration of the public  trust,
 he may require the working trustee to submit an explanation thereon  within
 such period as he thinks fit.
34.   Some special provisions are provided to public  trusts  under  Chapter
10.  Section 52 emphasizes how this chapter is applied to  a  public  trust.
It provides that this Chapter applies to every  public  trust  which  has  a
gross annual income of Rs. 1.00 lakh or more or is maintained or managed  by
the State Government. Sub-section (2) provides that it is the  duty  of  the
State Government to publish in the official gazette a  list  of  the  public
trusts to which this chapter applies. The amended sub-section (3)  makes  it
clear  that  for  the  purpose  of  maintaining  public  order,  the   State
Government  may  suspend  by  notification  in  the  official  gazette,  the
application of this Chapter  to  any  public  trust  or  the  procedure  for
constitution of committee of management under this Chapter for  such  period
as may be specified in such notification.
35.   Section 53 as amended on 9th May, 2007  provides  that  if  the  State
Government is satisfied with the public interest, it ‘may’, by  notification
in the official gazette,  vest  the  management  of  a  public  trust  in  a
committee of management to be constituted by it. Before the said  amendment,
the old Act contained the word ‘shall’ in place of ‘may’.  Thus, before  the
amendment, it was compulsory for the Government to  constitute  a  committee
which was diluted by introducing the provision as ‘may’.
36.   Sub-section (5) of Section 53 states that the Committee of  Management
which is to be appointed by the Government,  must  include,  the  hereditary
trustee in case of a public trust whereas  in  case  of  a  Math,  the  head
thereof as the Chairman of the Committee of Management.
37.   Whenever the State  Government  decides  to  appoint  a  Committee  of
Management under Section 53, a notice shall be issued under  Section  54  to
the hereditary trustee or the head of the Math, as the case  may  be,  about
the intention of the Government to constitute the committee and  shall  hear
their  objections,  if  any.  Under  Section  55  of  the  Act  one  can  be
disqualified  from  being  considered  as  a  member  of  the  Committee  of
Management. According to Section 56, the term of office of the committee  is
five years.
38.   Section 67 of the Act provides that  the  officers  holding  enquiries
shall have the power of civil Court.  The Section reads thus:
            In holding enquiries under  the  Act,  the  Commissioner  or  an
      Assistant Commissioner shall have the same powers  as  are  vested  in
      civil Courts in respect of the following matters  under  the  Code  of
      Civil Procedure, 1908 (Central Act V of 1908) trying a suit –
   a) Proof of facts by affidavits;

   b) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any  persons  and  examining
      him on oath;

   c) Compelling the production of documents; and

   d) Issuing of Commissions.

39.   From the above, it is evident that all the  officers  holding  enquiry
under the Act i.e. the Commissioner and  Assistant  Commissioner,  have  the
power of a civil Court in respect of  proof  of  facts  by  affidavits,  for
summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and  examining  him  on
oath and further  compelling  the  production  of  documents  and  issue  of
Commissions.
40.   A detailed examination of the Act reveals that it is a
self-contained Act.   We have thoroughly examined the Sections and each  and
every provision of law that is relevant for the purpose of the case on  hand
and find that the Act has provided appropriate mechanism (a)  to  deal  with
the registration of a public trust;
(b) making of entries in the register,  their  correction  and  inquiry,  if
any; (c) duties of auditor and inspection of balance  sheet  by  any  person
interested in such public trust;  (d)  application  by  any  person  seeking
directions from the Assistant Commissioner to appoint a new working  trustee
on the ground that the properties  of  the  trust  are  not  being  properly
managed or administered; (e) power of the Assistant Commissioner to ask  for
explanation of the working trustee about the administration  of  the  trust;
and (f) in case of mismanagement, power of the State Government  to  appoint
a new committee of management etc.
41.   Now in the light of the  above  provisions  of  the  Rajasthan  Public
Trust Act, we would like to deal with  the  submission  of  the  counsel  on
either side and the legality or otherwise of the order passed  by  the  High
Court.
      It appears from the material placed before us that  there  is  a  long
standing dispute with regard to the properties of  the  Galta  Peeth/Thikana
which was established in the 15th century  by  one  Mahant  Shri  Krishnadas
Payohari.  Later on 06.07.1943, Ramodaracharya,  the  father  of  respondent
No.4 herein was appointed as Mahanth by the  ruler.   The  Rajasthan  Public
Trusts Act 1959 has come into force w.e.f.  01.07.1962.   The  case  of  the
appellant is that on 25.10.1962, the Mahant submitted a list  of  properties
to the Jagir Commissioner showing some of the properties  of  the  Trust  as
his personal properties.  Then  the  Mahanth  has  executed  gift  deeds  in
favour of his wife and sons.  On 31.12.1962, Mahant Ramodaracharya  made  an
application for registration of the Mandir Thikana Shri Galtaji as a  Public
Trust under the Act.  In the application, as regards the mode of  succession
of the Office of the Trustee, he stated that it  would  be  “by  custom  and
usages”.   On  26.04.1963,   the   Assistant   Commissioner   passed   order
registering the Trust.  Later on, a series of  litigation  went  on  between
the parties with regard to the  properties  of  the  Trust/Math.   When  the
Government appointed a five-Member Committee for proper  management  of  the
Trust, challenging the same D.B. (Civil) W.P. No.6607  of  2004  was  filed.
When the Assistant Commissioner  re-opened  the  issue  of  succession,  4th
respondent herein filed D.B. (Civil)  W.P.  No.5650  of  2007.   Two  Public
Interest Litigations i.e. D.B. (Civil)  W.P.  No.  5111  of  2004  and  D.B.
(Civil) W.P. No. 2321  of  2006  were  filed  seeking  to  declare  (a)  the
properties are trust properties, (b) the mode of succession, (c) direct  the
Government to take over the management of the trust and  (d)  to  appoint  a
Board to manage the properties in line with Vaishno Devi Shrine or  Tirupati
Balaji Temple.
42.   The above narrated facts disclose that either in the  Public  Interest
Litigation or in the private civil litigation,  the  entire  issues  revolve
around the properties of Galta Peeth and  the  mode  of  succession  to  the
Peeth.  Already in  respect  of  these  issues,  by  the  time,  these  writ
petitions were filed, statutory enquiry application
Nos. 1/2004, 1/2006 and 1/2007, under Section 24 of the  Act,  were  pending
before the Assistant Commissioner.  Hence, the High Court  felt  that  those
issues can  be  effectively  decided  by  the  Assistant  Commissioner,  and
accordingly, permitted the appellant  to  implead  himself  in  the  pending
applications before the authority.  In view of the statutory provisions,  as
narrated and discussed by us supra,  which  give  extensive  powers  to  the
Assistant Commissioner and Commissioner, in some  cases  the  power  of  the
civil Court to effectively  decide  the  issues  of  the  Public  Trust,  by
providing effective mechanism, we are unable to agree with  the  contentions
advanced by the learned counsel  that  the  Assistant  Commissioner  has  no
jurisdiction to adjudicate the disputes involved, because  the  Act  clearly
demonstrates the power and jurisdiction of  the  Assistant  Commissioner  in
deciding the issues pertaining to public trust and particularly  the  issues
raised before us.
43.   Apart from that, the appellant herein has  impleaded  himself  in  the
applications pending before the Assistant Commissioner which  were  disposed
of by him vide orders dated 28.03.2013, and  against  those  orders  of  the
Assistant Commissioner, it appears that the parties have  preferred  appeals
as provided under the Act.  The appellant  having  availed  the  alternative
remedy available under the Act, however, approached this  Court  by  way  of
these Civil Appeals.  In our opinion, the appellant cannot be  permitted  to
avail two remedies simultaneously, and such  conduct  of  the  appellant  is
abuse  of  process  of  Court.   It  is  no  doubt  settled  law  that  mere
availability of alternative remedy cannot be a ground to reject  the  relief
in a Public Interest Litigation, but in the facts and circumstances  of  the
case, namely the history of the case, right  from  15th  century,  the  long
standing  litigation,  the  voluminous  record,  etc.   involving   disputed
questions  of  facts  and  law,  we  are  of  the  considered  opinion  that
adjudication  of  such  disputes  is  not  possible  in  a  Public  Interest
Litigation, and the remedy is to get such disputes  adjudicated  by  a  fact
finding authority as enumerated under the Act,  which  remedy  is  not  only
alternative, but also effective, because  the parties can put a  quietus  to
the litigation once for all.  Hence, in view of  our  above  discussion,  we
are of the considered opinion that the High Court, by  the  impugned  order,
was justified in relegating  the  parties  to  the  Assistant  Commissioner,
before whom  the  applications  are  pending  adjudication.   The  appellant
having got impleaded  himself  in  the  applications  before  the  Assistant
Commissioner and having invited an order from the High Court, now cannot  be
permitted to question the said order of the High  Court.   Accordingly,  the
first and second issues are answered.
44.   Third issue that requires our consideration is whether  the  appellant
herein is aggrieved by the orders passed in D.B. (Civil) W.P.  No.  6607  of
2004, which was dismissed as infructuous.  The  case  of  the  appellant  is
that the  High  Court  should  not  have  dismissed  the  writ  petition  as
withdrawn basing on the submission  that  the  term  of  the  Committee  has
expired.  It ought to have decided the issue on merits.  By this order,  the
High Court has created a vacuum  not  contemplated  by  the  Act,  which  is
against Public Interest, in view of the status  quo  orders  passed  by  the
Court, the Committee  could  not  function  its  full  period.   Hence,  the
Committee has to be allowed  to  function  till  a  permanent  Committee  is
appointed by the Government.
45.   We are also not able  to  appreciate  the  argument  advanced  by  the
learned counsel for the appellant for reason  that  D.B.  (Civil)  W.P.  No.
6607 of 2004 was filed by the father of Respondent No.4  herein  questioning
the constitution of the Committee.  When the Court directed the  parties  to
appear before the Assistant Commissioner  for  proper  adjudication  of  the
issues as the five-year term of the Committee expired,  the  4th  respondent
sought permission of the Court  and  withdrew  the  writ  petition,  with  a
liberty to raise all the issues before the authority.  The appellant  herein
who was not a party to D.B. (Civil) W.P. No. 6607 of 2004 has not chosen  to
implead himself nor objected to the withdrawing of the  writ  petition  when
the order was passed in his presence.  He is taking such  an  objection  and
such plea for the first time before this Court.  He relied on Shehla  Burney
(Dr.) Vs. Syed Ali Moosa Raza & Ors. (2011) 6 SCC  529;  that  on  technical
objection, this Court cannot reject to grant  relief  to  the  appellant  in
this Public Interest Litigation.  There is no dispute  with  regard  to  the
legal proposition that technicalities should not come  in  the  way  of  the
Court in granting relief in a Public Interest  Litigation,  but  application
of a legal proposition depends upon the  facts  and  circumstances  of  each
case.
      Here we deem it appropriate to extract Section 53 which reads thus:

      Sec. 53 - Management of public trusts to which this chapter applies:


      1.  Notwithstanding anything contained in any provision of this Act or
      in any law, custom or usage, if the State Government is satisfied that
      it is expedient in public interest so to do, it may,  by  notification
      in the official Gazette, vest the management  of  a  public  trust  to
      which this  Chapter  applies  in  a  committee  of  management  to  be
      constituted by it in the manner hereinafter provided from such date as
      may be appointed by it in this behalf.


      2. On or before the date so fixed under Sub-Sec. (1) in respect  of  a
      public trust, the State Government  shall  subject  to  the  provision
      contained in Sec. 54,  constitute  by  notification  in  the  official
      Gazette a Committee of management thereof under such  Committee  shall
      be deemed to be the working trustee of the said public trust  and  its
      endowment.


      Provided that upon the combined request of the trustee of and  persons
      interested in several public trusts representing the same religion  or
      persuasion,  the  State  Government  may  constitute  a  Committee  of
      management for all of them, if their endowments are  situated  in  the
      same city, town or locality.


      3. Every Committee of management constituted under sub-sec. (2)  shall
      be a body corporate having perpetual succession  and  a  common  seal,
      with power to acquire, hold and dispose of property  subject  to  such
      conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed and may by  the  name
      specified in the notification under sub-section (2) sue and be sued.


      4. A committee of management shall consist of a Chairman and such even
      number of members not exceeding ten and not less than two as the State
      Government may determine.


      5. The Chairman and members of a  committee  of  management  shall  be
      appointed by the State Government  by  notification  in  the  official
      Gazette from amongst –

      (a)     trustee of public trusts representing the same    religion  or
           persuasion and having the same objects, and

      (b)  person interested in such public  trusts  or  in  the  endowments
           thereof or belonging to the  denomination  for  the  purpose  of
           which or for the benefit of  whom  the  trust  was  founded,  in
           accordance with the general wishes of the person  so  interested
           so far as such wishes  can  be  ascertained  in  the  prescribed
           manner.







      Provided that in the case  of  a  public  trust  having  a  hereditary
      trustee, such trustee, and in the case of a Math,  the  head  thereof,
      shall be the Chairman of the committee of management, if he is willing
      to serve as such.


46.   In this case, a Committee was  constituted  pursuant  to  notification
dated 18.09.2004, and the term of the Committee expired on  17.09.2009,  and
even though four years have passed from the date of expiry of  the  term  of
the Committee, the Government has not chosen to appoint a  fresh  Committee.
The appointment of the Committee  invoking  Section  53,  depends  upon  the
satisfaction and necessity felt by the Government.  It  is  brought  to  our
notice  that  the  notification  was  issued  by  the  Government   invoking
unamended Section 53 of the Act.  The said Section has now been  amended  on
12.10.2007, where the Government was given discretion to appoint or  not  to
appoint the Committee.  We have gone through the amended Section 53  of  the
Act wherein the word ‘may” has been substituted in  the  place  of  ‘shall’.
The Assistant Commissioner has already passed  an  order  and  the  same  is
subject matter of appeal before the Commissioner.  In view of the  same,  we
are not able to
appreciate the contention of the counsel that a permanent Committee  has  to
be appointed to look after the management  of  the  Galta  Peeth,  and  such
contention, deserves no consideration by  this  Court,  and  is  accordingly
rejected, and further hold that the order passed by the High Court  in  D.B.
(Civil) W.P. No. 6607 of 2004 is perfectly valid.  Accordingly,  issue  No.3
is answered.
      Under  the  circumstances,  we  cannot  give  any  direction  to   the
Government  to  invoke  Section  53  for  appointment  of  a  Committee   of
Management to the trust.

47.    The  scope  of  Public   Interest   Litigation   is   very   limited,
particularly, in the matter of religious institutions. It is  always  better
not to entertain this type of Public  Interest  Litigations  simply  on  the
basis of  affidavits  of  the  parties.  The  public  trusts  and  religious
institutions are governed by particular  legislation  which  provide  for  a
proper mechanism for adjudication of disputes relating to the properties  of
the trust and their management thereof. It is not proper for  the  Court  to
entertain such litigation and pass orders. It is also  needless  to  mention
that the forums cannot be misused by  the  rival  groups  in  the  guise  of
public interest litigation.

48.   We feel that it is apt to quote the views expressed by this  Court  in
Guruvayoor Devaswom Managing Committee (supra) wherein this  Court  observed
:

      “It is possible to contend that the Hindus in general and the devotees
      visiting the temple in particular are interested in proper  management
      of the temple at the hands of the statutory functionaries. That may be
      so but the Act is a self-contained Code.   Duties  and  functions  are
      prescribed in the Act and the rules framed  thereunder.   Forums  have
      been created thereunder for  ventilation  of  the  grievances  of  the
      affected persons.  Ordinarily, therefore, such forums should be  moved
      at the first instance.  The State should be asked  to  look  into  the
      grievances of the aggrieved devotees, both as parens patriae  as  also
      in discharge of its statutory duties.

                                …     …     …

      The Court should be circumspect in entertaining such  public  interest
      litigation for another reason.   There  may  be  dispute  amongst  the
      devotees as to  what  practices  should  be  followed  by  the  temple
      authorities.  There may be dispute as regard the rites and rituals  to
      be performed in the temple  or  omission  thereof.   Any  decision  in
      favour of one sector of the people may heart  the  sentiments  of  the
      other.  The Courts normally, thus, at the  first  instance  would  not
      enter into such disputed arena, particularly, when by  reason  thereof
      the fundamental right of a group of devotees under Articles 25 and  26
      may be infringed.  Like any other wing of the State, the  Courts  also
      while passing an order should ensure that the fundamental rights of  a
      group of citizens under Articles 25 and 26 are  not  infringed.   Such
      care and caution on the part of the High  Court  would  be  a  welcome
      step.

                                …     …     …

      When the administration of the temple is within  its  control  and  it
      exercises the said power in terms of  a  Statute,  the  State,  it  is
      expected, normally would itself probe into the alleged irregularities.
      If the State through its machinery as provided  for  in  one  Act  can
      arrive at the requisite finding of fact for the purpose  of  remedying
      the defects, it may not find it necessary  to  take  recourse  to  the
      remedies provided for in another statute.  It is trite  that  recourse
      to a provision to another statute may be resorted to  when  the  State
      finds that its powers under the Act governing the field is inadequate.
       The High Courts and the Supreme Court would not  ordinarily  issue  a
      writ of mandamus directing  the  State  to  carry  out  its  statutory
      functions in a particular manner.  Normally, the Courts would ask  the
      State to perform its statutory functions, if necessary within  a  time
      frame and undoubtedly as and when an order is passed by the  State  in
      exercise  of  its  power  under  the  Statute,  it  will  examine  the
      correctness or legality thereof  by way of judicial review”.


49.   The concept of Public Interest Litigation is  a  phenomenon  which  is
evolved to bring justice to the reach  of  people  who  are  handicapped  by
ignorance, indigence, illiteracy and other  down  trodden  people.   Through
the Public Interest Litigation, the cause of  several  people  who  are  not
able to approach the Court is espoused.  In the  guise  of  Public  Interest
Litigation, we are coming across several cases where  it  is  exploited  for
the benefit of certain individuals.  The Courts have  to  be  very  cautious
and careful while entertaining Public Interest  Litigation.   The  Judiciary
should deal with the misuse of Public Interest Litigation  with  iron  hand.
If the Public Interest Litigation  is  permitted  to  be  misused  the  very
purpose for which it is conceived, namely to come to the rescue of the  poor
and down trodden  will  be  defeated.   The  Courts  should  discourage  the
unjustified litigants at  the  initial  stage  itself  and  the  person  who
misuses the forum should be made  accountable  for  it.   In  the  realm  of
Public Interest Litigation, the Courts while protecting  the  larger  public
interest involved, should at the same time have to  look  at  the  effective
way in which the relief can be granted  to  the  people,  whose  rights  are
adversely affected or at stake.  When their interest can  be  protected  and
the controversy or the dispute can be adjudicated  by  a  mechanism  created
under  a  particular  statute,  the  parties  should  be  relegated  to  the
appropriate forum, instead  of  entertaining  the  writ  petition  filed  as
Public Interest Litigation.
 50.  In view of the above discussion and the law laid down  by  this  Court
and particularly taking into consideration that the  appellant  has  already
availed statutory remedies and the appeals  are  still  pending  before  the
Commissioner, we do not find any  reason  to  interfere  with  the  impugned
order.


51.   Accordingly, the appeals fail and are dismissed with no  order  as  to
costs.
      ………………………………CJI.
                            (P. SATHASIVAM)


            ……………………………………………J.
                            (RANJAN GOGOI)




NEW DELHI,               ……………………………………………J.
APRIL 17, 2014                     (N.V. RAMANA)

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