Read Order: Mahant Budh Singh v. Sh. Mahant Resham Singh and Others

Monika Rahar

New Delhi, April 1, 2022: While dealing with a petition impugning the lower court’s order dismissing the petitioner-defendant’s application under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) read with 151 CPC for rejection of plaint in a Civil Suit, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the scope of Section 25 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860 is limited in its application only to any dispute that arises regarding the election or continuation of an office-bearer of a registered society. 

The Bench of Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul also expounded that Section 10 CPC does not bar the institution of subsequent civil suit and it is only the trial of the subsequent suit, if any, which is not to be proceeded with.

The Court was called upon to decide on a petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India for setting aside the order dated February 10, 2021, whereby the application filed by the petitioner-defendant under Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC read with 151 CPC for rejection of plaint in a Civil Suit was dismissed. 

Contesting against the original suit filed by the first Plaintiff-respondent, the petitioner’s counsel contended that the Plaintiff-respondent was not the President of the Society in question and rather it was the first defendant (Mahant Gian Dev Singh), who was the President of the Society. Hence, the respondent (originally plaintiff) was not entitled to call a meeting of the aforementioned Society, argued the counsel. It was also submitted that in the aforementioned background, no cause of action accrued to the respondents to institute the suit for a permanent injunction. 

It was further submitted that the suit in question was barred under Section 25 of the Societies Registration Act and deserved to be dismissed under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC sub-clause 11-D. The counsel lastly submitted that the civil suit was also liable to be rejected on the ground of the matter being sub judice as the respondents had also filed a suit involving similar issues, which was still pending adjudication.

At the very outset, adjudicating upon the claim of the petitioner’s counsel on Section 25 of the Registration Act, 1908, the Court opined provisions of Section 25 of the Societies Registration Act are limited in their application only if there is some dispute regarding the election or continuation of an office-bearer of a registered society. 

However, in the case in hand, the Court noted that the respondents did not seek any relief much less challenge any election or continuation of the members of the Society in question. Rather, the only relief sought was of permanent injunction, which the Court added, could be sought at any time as and when the civil rights of a person are violated. 

Even the next contention of the counsel that the matter was sub judice was also found by the Court to be devoid of merit as he failed to bring on record anything to show that a civil suit involving similar issues was ever filed prior to the instant suit of a permanent injunction. 

Further, the Court also added that Section 10 CPC does not bar the institution of subsequent civil suit and it is only the trial of the subsequent suit, if any, which is not to be proceeded with.

Accordingly, the present petition was dismissed.

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