Read Order: Rikhi Ashram Om Waheguru Nirmal Panth v. Ram Singh Chela Mahant Waryam Singh and others 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh May 11, 2022: While dealing with a revision petition, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that in absence of any powers of management of the suit land/properties of plaintiff-Trust being conferred upon Receiver, he is not competent to lease out the land by way of a public notice. 

The instant revision petition before the bench of Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul was filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India with a prayer to set aside the order of the Trial Court by which an application filed for issuance of appropriate/necessary directions to the Tehsildar, Jagraon/Receiver appointed under Order XL CPC by the trial Court vide order to lease out the suit property by way of an open bid at competitive prevailing rates, was dismissed. 

The plaintiff-petitioner filed a suit for a declaration to the effect that Rikhi Ashram Om Waheguru Nirmal Panth Agwar Lopon Kothi Swami Nahar Singh Ji (‘plaintiff-Trust’) and other properties were owned, possessed and managed by four Sadhus Trustees and two members of Ranjit Singh Family under the patronage of duly elected and incumbent Mahant Darshan Singh Chela Mahant Waryam Singh Chela Swami Nahar Singh Ji. It was further pleaded that the defendants-respondents had no right, title or concern with the suit property. 

A further declaration was also sought that Mahant Darshan Singh was duly appointed and was thus entitled to manage and control the suit properties. Consequential relief of permanent injunction against the defendants. Further relief of rendition of accounts from the second defendant from the year 2009 up to March 2014 was also sought on the basis of oral and documentary evidence. 

During the pendency of the suit, an application under Order XL read with Section 151 CPC was moved by the plaintiff-Trust for the appointment of a Receiver to maintain the income and expenditure of the land owned and possessed by the plaintiff-Trust so as to avoid multiplicity of criminal and civil litigations between the parties and also to prevent irreparable loss and wastage of funds etc. of the plaintiff-Trust.

The said application was allowed by the trial Court. During the course of the trial, the Receiver was changed twice and finally, Tehsildar Jagraon was the current Receiver. An application under Order XL read with Section 151 CPC was moved by the plaintiff-Trust for modification of order vide which the newly appointed Receiver was assigned the same duties as were given to the previous Receiver. 

The said application was dismissed by the Trial Court by observing that the plaintiff-Trust earlier also filed a similar application, which came to be dismissed and that it was in the habit of filing such like applications to delay the trial. 

Another application was moved by the plaintiff-Trust for issuance of appropriate/necessary directions to the Tehsildar, Jagraon (being Receiver) to lease out the agricultural land, which forms part of the suit property by way of open bid either himself or for getting it conducted under his supervision by inviting bids through a public notice. It was also averred in the application that the second defendant was causing wrongful loss to the plaintiff-Trust by leasing out its land at rates lower than the prevalent rate of the lease in the area. 

The counsel for the plaintiff inter alia contended that the impugned order suffered from patent illegality and was against the provisions of Order XL CPC. He submitted that the trial court ignored the provisions of Order XL CPC, which clearly provides that all such powers as are necessary for the realization of management, protection, preservation, improvements of the properties and collection of rent and profits thereof could be conferred upon the Receiver by it. Thus, it is evident that the Receiver also had the power to manage the suit land including the power to lease it out through public notice, the Counsel contended. 

The Court, after considering the Counsel’s submissions, perused the prayer clause of application Order XL moved by the petitioner. From such perusal, the Court concluded that the intention of the trial Court was to confer only such powers upon Receiver, as was prayed for by the plaintiff-Trust in its application i.e. to look after the income and expenditure of the plaintiff-Trust. 

The Bench said, “Therefore, the ambiguity arising in order dated 05.07.2019 wherein it was observed that “Order XL clearly provides the specific duties of the Receiver” stands removed and there could be no doubt about the scope of the powers conferred upon the Receiver by the trial Court. It is thus, clear from the above discussion that in absence of any powers of management of the suit land/properties of plaintiff-Trust being conferred upon him, the Receiver was not competent to lease out the land by way of public notice.

Moving further, on the issue of whether the second defendant had the authority to lease out or not, the Court held that it would be a matter of trial and the Court cannot go into the said aspect at this stage. However, since the land was already leased out for the year 2020-21 by the second defendant at the time when the application was moved, the trial Court was justified in validating the lease for only one year to avoid further complications and multiplicity of proceedings, the Court held. 

In the circumstances, this Court was not inclined to exercise its revisional jurisdiction in setting aside the impugned order. Accordingly, the present petition was dismissed.

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