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Shree Shree Ram Janki Ji Asthan Tapovan Mandir and Ors. Vs. The State of Jharkhand and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (01 May 2019)

Court can exercise its constitutional powers for transferring an investigation from State investigating agency to any other independent investigating agency only in exceptional circumstances

MANU/SC/0642/2019

Trusts and Societies

The present appeal is directed against an order passed by the High Court directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate and to take appropriate action at the earliest and conclude the investigations preferably within six months. The High Court held that, land of the deity could not have been transferred in any case. This large scale illegality needs to be enquired into.

The said directions were issued finding that, the property of Deity Shree Shree Ram Janki Ji Asthan Tapowan Mandir at Ranchi has been transferred against the mandate of the Trust Deed created by the author of the Trust to establish. The said Trust was reconstituted on 12th May, 1987 by virtue of registered deed. Still further, by another deed dated 20th September, 2005, there was again reconstitution of the Trust. The question as to whether the High Court could direct CBI to take over investigation in the facts of the present case needs to be examined.

The vesting of the property in Deity is a religious endowment but has no public element in it, the grievance of which can be made in a writ petition filed in the public interest. The High Court should have refrained from entertaining such Public Interest Litigation in respect of alleged wrongful sale of property of the religious bodies.

Section 44 of the Bihar Hindu Religious Trusts Act, 1950 gives power of transfer of immovable property of a religious trust after taking previous sanction from the Board. Such permission is to convert any property of the Trust after approval of the District Judge as provided by Section 28 (j) of the Act. The stand of the Appellants is that, they have obtained approval as contemplated by the Act and such approval has been sought as an act of prudent management. Therefore, the High Court was not justified in creating a suspicion on an act of transferring the land of the Deity.

The Constitution Bench in its judgment reported as State of West Bengal and Ors. v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal and Ors., has examined the question as to the rights of CBI to investigate a criminal offence in a State without its consent. This Court examined Entry 2 of List II of VII Schedule of the Constitution. The legislative power of the Union to provide for the regular police force of one State to exercise power and jurisdiction in any area outside the State can only be exercised with the consent of the Government of that particular State in which such area is situated. The Court held that, though the Court had wide powers conferred by Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution, but it must bear in mind certain self-imposed limitations on the exercise of these constitutional powers. This extraordinary power must be exercised sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional situations.

In case of K.V. Rajendran v. Superintendent of Police, CBCID South Zone, Chennai and Ors., it was held that, the Court could exercise its constitutional powers for transferring an investigation from the State investigating agency to any other independent investigating agency only in rare and exceptional circumstances.

The finding recorded by the High Court that the Deity could not transfer its land in any case is not tenable. The functioning in the Government is by different Officers and the working of the Executive has inbuilt checks and balances. Therefore, merely because, permission has been granted by a functionary of the State Government will not disclose a criminal offence. The High Court has thus travelled much beyond its jurisdiction in directing investigations by CBI in a matter of sale of property of the Deity. Still further, the High Court has issued directions without their being any complaint to the local police in respect of the property of the religious Trust.

The High Court has completely misdirected itself in directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over investigation in a matter which relates to the rights of the trustees to sell property of a religious Trust or Deity, giving rise to civil dispute. The appeal is allowed. The order of the High Court is set aside.

Relevant : K.V. Rajendran v. Superintendent of Police, CBCID South Zone, Chennai and Ors. MANU/SC/0842/2013, State of West Bengal and Ors. v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal and Ors. MANU/SC/0121/1990

Tags : INVESTIGATIONS   CBI   DIRECTION  

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