In a big relief to the Khasgi (Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Charities) Trust of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, the Bench comprising of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice B.R. Gavai of the Supreme Court on 5 October 2020 directed the concerned parties to maintain status quo with regard to the possession and title of properties, and not to transfer or create any third party interest. The Court also stayed the criminal proceedings ordered by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. The Court further went on to direct the State authorities to abstain from taking any precipitative steps to take over the management of properties, if the same had not been done so far.
The genesis of the matter can be traced back to the ex parte orders passed in 2012 by the Collector, Indore and the Registrar of Public Trusts, Indore declaring that all the Trust properties were owned absolutely by the State of Madhya Pradesh. Writ petitions were preferred by the Trust before the High Court and the said orders were quashed. In writ appeals filed by the State, the Division Bench of the High Court held that the State of Madhya Pradesh is the absolute owner of all 246 Trust properties situated in 26 different states of India. The Division Bench had also directed the constitution of a committee to take over the affairs and management of the Trust, and had further directed the Economic Offences Wing to conduct an investigation. The impugned directions of the High Court were also passed as a result of a connected PIL seeking CBI enquiry into the affairs of the Trust. A similar PIL had been previously dismissed by the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital in May 2018, against which an SLP had also been dismissed by the Supreme Court. Petitions thereafter were filed by the Trust before the Supreme Court.
The Trust was established by a Trust Deed in 1962 by which the management, supervision and control of 246 properties situated across various states of the country was handed over the Trust, consisting of 6 Trustees, who have been managing the properties ever since.
The Khasgi Trust was represented before the Supreme Court by Mr. Kapil Sibal, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Mr. Janak Dwarkadas, Mr. Shyam Diwan, and Mr. Amit Desai, Senior Advocates along with Ms. Ruby Singh Ahuja, Ms. Nandini Gore, Mr. Sandeep Kapoor, Ms. Tahira Karanjawala, Mr. Nakul Gandhi, Mr. Utkarsh Maria and Ms. Kritika Sachdeva from Karanjawala & Co. along with Mr. Kunal Dwarkadas and Mr. Abhinav Malhotra, Advocates.
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