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Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Dispute Of Mathura: Places Of Worship Act Not Applicable To 2020 Suit

By Shashwata Sahu      May 20, 2022      0 Comments      3,055 Views

On Thursday, a Mathura court stated that the suit to remove the Shahi Idgah Masjid, allegedly built on the land of Shrikrishna Janam Bhoomi, is maintainable. The Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust and other private parties were successful in having the Supreme Court accept their revision plea, which resulted in the overturning of a civil court ruling that was scheduled to dismiss their complaint in September of 2020.

Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman, the deity of Mathura, had filed a suit in September 2020 to remove the Shahi Eidgah (mosque) adjacent to the Shri Krishna temple complex and to transfer 13.37 acres of land to the deity. Basically, the suit sought to remove the mosque and transfer the land.

The petitioners Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman, Asthan Shrikrishna Janam Bhoomi, and Ranjana Aginihotri, through Next Friend Ranjana Agnihotri, sought the cancellation of a decree of 1974 by claiming that the agreement between Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan and Shahi Idgah Trust, on the basis of which an earlier suit filed in 1964 was compromised, was fraudulent.

According to the agreement concerned, the Sansthan had given the Trust Masjid Idgah the property of the Deity/Trust. The plaintiffs in the 2020 litigation had challenged the 1974 agreement and compromise decree in that case. Despite this, a civil court in Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) rejected the claim on September 30, 2020, because the plaintiffs who are devotees or worshippers of Lord Krishna, have no right to pursue the suit under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC.

The petitioners argued against it in revision. District & Sessions Judge Mathura Rajeev Bharti allowed their plea and directed the trial court to hear both parties and make an appropriate order on Thursday. The Court also noted that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 would not apply in this case, which was an important observation.

While the Court accepted the revision plea, it stated that the Place of Worship Act would not apply in this case due to section 4 (3) (b) of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 because the agreement and subsequent compromise decree had been contested by the plaintiff.

According to the Court's reasoning, the agreement resulted in a compromise decree, which was drawn before the commencement of the Act of 1991 and since the same is the subject matter of challenge in the suit moved by the petitioner, by virtue of section 4 (3) (b) of the 1991 Act, the act shall not be applicable to this dispute. In essence, the Court decided that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 does not preclude cases where the declaration is sought for a period prior to the Act's coming into force or for the enforcement of a right recognised prior to the Act's coming into effect.

The Court stated that,

"With regard to the entire property of Katra Keshav Deo, whether Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi Seva Sangh had the power to enter into a compromise with Trust Masjid Eidgah is a matter of evidence which can be determined only on the basis of the evidence adduced by both the parties during the trial. Hence, in light of the discussions made above and the legal tenets on the mentioned question, this Court is of the considered view that the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 are not applicable by virtue of section 4 (3) (b) of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991".

Section 4 (3) (b) states that the bar under Section 4 will not apply to any suit, appeal or other proceeding, with respect to any matter referred to in sub-section (2) finally decided, settled or disposed of by a court, tribunal or other authority before the commencement of this Act.

Additionally, the District Court stated that a worshipper, as the deity's next-of-kin, might file suit to restore and reestablish the deity's right to religious freedom. As a result of this, the Court did not go into depth on the evidence needed to prove that the compromise decree was false, as the Court stated:

"With regard to the entire property of Katra Keshav Deo, whether Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi Seva Sangh had the power to enter into a compromise with Trust Masjid Idgah is a matter of evidence which can be determined only on the basis of the evidence adduced by both the parties during the trial"

Case Brief -

Using a registered sale deed in the names of Mahamana Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, Goswami Ganesh Dutt and Professor Bhikanlal Attrey, one Seth Jugal Kishore Birla purchased 13.37 acres in Katra Keshav Dev from the legitimate heirs of Raja Patnimal on February 8, 1944.

Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust was established by Seth Birla and Katra Keshav Dev in Katra on October 21, 1951, and the entire land of 13.37 acres was donated to the trust and dedicated to the deity. In the battle for control of the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, a group called Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, founded on May 1, 1958, has triumphed. On October 17, 1968, a deal was reached between this particular group and Trust Masjid Idgah, and important deity/trust property was given to Trust Masjid Idgah. As a result of this agreement, on November 7, 1974, a decree was issued by the Court of Civil Judge, Mathura in Civil Suit No. 43 of 1967.

In 2020, the petitioners/revisionists filed a civil suit in the Court of Civil Judge Senior Division, Mathura, as per normal procedure.

However, they said, the society (Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan) had no authority to sue and engage in a compromise (with Trust Masjid Idgah) in respect of land owned by the Trust, even if Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan was not its owner. The suit's maintainability was called into question, and as a result, it was dismissed. A motion for immediate revision was made by the petitioners in opposition to this, and the motion was approved yesterday.

In its order, the court stated the following:

  • The revision can be maintainable against the September 30, 2020, order.
  • Worshippers who regard themselves as the deity's next friends have the right to sue to have the deity's religious rights reinstated.
  • As stated in section 4 (3) (b) in 1991, the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 does not apply because of this section.
  • Only during the trial will it be established whether or not the plaintiffs are allowed to challenge the compromise judgement and decree issued in 1973 on the basis of the plaintiffs' claims of fraud, deceit, and collusion.
  • Because the Ld. Lower Court made an error by passing the impugned order during the admission stage and by exercising its powers under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC, the Court cannot consider the merits of the case.


Tags:
Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi supreme court in indiaMathura Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 section 4 (3) (b) Shahi Idgah Masjid
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