24 June 2024


High Court of Bombay

Vinaysingh Chainsingh Tawar Vs. Sanjay Uddhavrao Sonene and Ors.



Trusts and Societies

If the trustees are removed from the trust, the charges against them are to be proved very strictly

The Appellant was the President of the sansthan/trust. The Respondent No. 3, the Joint Charity Commissioner, examined the Charity Inspector as well as the Appellant and the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2. On the basis of the evidence adduced, the Joint Charity Commissioner held that, the Appellant has committed the misappropriation by keeping Rs. 55,000 with him which was the amount of the sansthan/trust and thereby he committed default under Section 41D of the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, 1950 and thereby he was disqualified and suspended as president and trustee of the sansthan/trust.

Being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order passed by the respondent No. 3 the Joint Charity Commissioner, the present appeal is preferred by the Appellant on the ground that the Joint Charity Commissioner ignored the fact that the appellant has to recover the amount of Rs. 55,000 from the sansthan/trust which he has incurred from his own pocket. The removal of the trustee of the sansthan/trust is a very harsh action from which strict proof is necessary. In absence of the proof, the Joint Charity Commissioner passed the order of removal which is illegal, arbitrary, and liable to be set aside.

It is well settled that every lapse or every act of misconduct does not invite the punishment of dismissal. The Charity Commissioner is, therefore, bound to record reasons for imposing a particular punishment. In the catena of decisions, on it is held that action under Section 41D of the said Act is a very harsh action. If the trustees are removed from the trust, the charges against them are to be proved very strictly.

The legal position is clear that the charge of malfeasance or misfeasance is serious one. The proceedings are of quasi civil and quasi criminal nature. The proof required to sustain the charge is of high standard. The standard of proof in such proceedings is somewhat more than normally required in cases governed by the preponderance of probability and somewhat less than required in criminal cases beyond reasonable doubt. The imputations reflecting on integrity of trustees have to be fortified by proof of high degree which would be somewhere between standard of proof required in civil proceedings like a suit and criminal proceedings like a trial for offences of criminal breach of trust or that of cheating.

Thus, unless the lapse on the part of the trustees is proved to be actuated by dishonestly or active connivance with other trustees, who are guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance, the drastic action under Section 41D of the said Act may not be warranted.

The evidence of the Charity Inspector; the admission by the appellant, and in the light of the fact that no account was placed on record, clearly indicates a dishonest intention of the Appellant. The appellant was appointed as a trustee and, therefore, imputation reflecting the integrity is to be maintained by the trustees. The responsibility imposed upon them is to take care of the assets of the sansthan/trust. The act of withdrawing or keeping the amount by the trustees of the sansthans/trusts, without any authority, is sufficient to show that the trustees acted by dishonestly and drastic action against such trustees is warranted. The intention of the Appellant is clear from his conduct and, therefore, the order passed by the Joint Charity Commissioner cannot be faulted with. Appeal dismissed.

Tags : President Suspension Legality

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