Court admits appeal on temple ownership issue
INDORE BENCH of Madhya Pradesh High Court has admitted the second appeal filed over the dispute about injunction and declaration of proprietary right of the Chhatreshwari Chamunda temple in civil hospital premises on Agar Road at Ujjain.india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 01:54 IST
INDORE BENCH of Madhya Pradesh High Court has admitted the second appeal filed over the dispute about injunction and declaration of proprietary right of the Chhatreshwari Chamunda temple in civil hospital premises on Agar Road at Ujjain.
The bench of Justice A M Sapre has also ordered issuance of notice to respondents Chimanlal son of Prayaglal Nahta, his three family members and Harisha Dhariya (all Ujjain residents).
The other respondents in the case are State government through Ujjain collector, Ujjain Sub-divisional officer, tehsildar and chief medical officer. All the respondents have claimed that the temple belonged to them.
The second appeal filed by former temple priest Manaklal through counsel Brajesh Pandya has questioned whether the lower appellate court (Ujjain district judge) was justified in reversing the decree passed by the trial court (Ujjain civil judge class I), which had decreed the suit for declaration/injunction.
Another question of law raised is whether the findings of lower appellate court that the suit for mere declaration without seeking possession (of the temple) is not maintainable was legally and factually justified.
The third question is whether it was not obligatory upon lower appellate court to have granted opportunity to plaintiff (Manaklal) to seek possession instead of dismissing his suit as being not maintainable and whether not granting such an opportunity vitiates the impugned judgement and decree.
The trial court in April 2005 had ruled that Manaklal has the right to perform as a priest at the public temple and accept charity offered by devotees. Preventing respondents from interfering in the right and duty of the priest, the court had observed that government has not produced any documents to prove their control over the temple. It also declared the temple management committee, whose secretary is Chimanlal Nahata, as illegal.
However, Ujjain district judge reversed it in August 2005 and said that since the temple was a government and public property, Manaklal has no singular right to perform puja and keep all the donations to himself.
He said that the right to perform as priest rested with the priest appointed by government. The government claimed that the temple is a public property situated on government land since 1928 and Ujjain collector is its administrator who appoints the priests.
He had appointed Shambhudayal Choube as priest in 1976 and after his death in 1992 Gaurishankar is its priest. The charity received in temple’s donation box is deposited in District Co-operative Central Bank Ltd at Freeganj, Ujjain, and has Rs 5.11 lakh in its account.
The government alleged that Manaklal, Nahta and others were claiming ownership over the temple in an attempt to grab the deposited amount and donatiaons the temple received everyday.
According to the appellant, the idol of goddess Chamunda was lying open in hospital premises. In 1965, Manaklal with financial help from Harprasad Nahata and public donation constructed the temple and consecrated the idol.
In 1976, Nahata and others formed temple management committee and removed Manaklal as priest on the ground that he took away the entire donations. In 1977, the latter had filed a declaration suit without seeking temple’s possession.