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State of Madhya Pradesh is the owner of Maharaja Holkar’s property – High Court

The Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court while resolving the dispute concerning the property of Maharaja Holkar [Writ Appeal No.92/2014], held that court will not enter into technicalities especially when it is crystal clear that it is the State of Madhya Pradesh, which is the titleholder of all Khasgi Trust properties.

The writ petition was preferred by the Khasgi Trust before the learned Single Judge against the order passed by the Collector, Indore, by which, the Collector, Indore had directed the revenue authorities to enter the name of State of Madhya Pradesh in all properties of the Trust to ensure that the properties of the Trust are not sold to other persons.

The issue involved was whether the Khasgi Trust and its trustees can sell the property, which is exclusively the property of the State of Madhya Pradesh.

The court observed that, “As per the stipulation in the covenant concerned falling under Article 326, Ruler (Maharaja Holkar) furnished specific entries of immovable properties falling under administrative control of household department of Holkar State. The property, which was not included in that inventory and which also did not form part of the private property of the Ruler, vested in the State Government and after merger, keeping in view Article 363, the Ruler cannot file a civil suit or even approach this Court claiming title of the property that it was the property not included in the personal property of the Ruler, there cannot be any claim of implied recognition of private property of Ruler at a later stage.”

Court further stated that, “Trust does not have any power of whatsoever kind to alienate the Trust properties in any manner. The original trust deed in respect of Khasgi Trust and the settlement of claim by Government of India in Khasgi properties makes it very clear that the Khasgi properties and the income from Khasgi shall be treated as lapsed for all time to the Madhya Bharat Government, and therefore, any subsequent trust deed amending the original trust deed providing for sale of Khasgi properties is null and void. To protect the public trust property various safeguards have been provided under the statutory provisions and it is the divine and pious duty of a trustee to ensure that the trust property is kept safe, intact and useful for the generations to come.”

The contention that the properties have not been sold for objective of the Trust, was not sustained as the court held that they have sold the property with an oblique and ulterior motive. “In case, there was insufficiency of fund in managing the affairs of the Trust, in all fairness, a request should have been made to the State of Madhya Pradesh to provide grant or the Trust should have approached this Court or should have availed other remedy for issuance of a direction to the State of Madhya Pradesh to provide funds. The inaction on the part of the Trust in respect of the aforesaid issue speaks volume about the conduct of the trustees and about their oblique and ulterior motive.”

It was re-iterated by the court that, “Fraud vitiates everything and in the present case, trustees have played a fraud upon the State Government, the sale deeds executed by the Trust in respect of the properties of the State Government are null and void and stands vitiated. Court does not have the power to draft the Trust Deed nor is having the power to enact the statute in respect of trust in question. However, as the properties which are under the ownership of State of Madhya Pradesh have been sold by the Trust / Trustees, a Committee deserves to be constituted to ensure that the trust properties as per the schedule appended with the original trust deed are preserved, maintained and kept intact for the future generations to come.”

Court directed the State of Madhya Pradesh to take all possible steps to preserve the cultural heritage including the Ghats, Temples, Dharamshalas, which find place in the Trust property, being the titleholder of the property in question. The State of Madhya Pradesh has been directed to take appropriate action in accordance with law against all those persons, who have allegedly illegally sold the Trust’s property from time to time.

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