Court directs Raj Bhawan not to undertake any major construction

In the much publicized Hari-Tara Charitable Trust case, Court gave major relief to its trustee Dr. Karan Singh by ordering the Raj Bhawan not to carry out any major construction in any part of the disputed property.

Dr. Karan Singh has been seeking vacation of the Raj Bhawan premises. Principal District Judge Jammu Sanjay Gupta after hearing Adv Vikram Sharma appearing for the petitioner and Adv. H.A.Siddiqui appearing for state observed that premises at present is being used as official residence of Governor. Court in order to protect the suit property directed chief Secretary and Secretary Public Works Department to maintain status-quo with regard to alienation of suit property and further said that state shall not undertake  substantial construction till final disposal of the case.

During the course of hearing, Adv Vikram Sharma submitted that the Maharani of the state of J&K, Yasho Rajya Lakshmi wife of Dr Karan Singh owned various properties in J&K. Out of her properties, a premises comprising of ‘Ranbir Mahal’ & ‘Karan Niwas’ with attached outhouses alongwith all the land underneath and appurtenant thereto measuring 126 kanals, including servant-quarters, lawns, orchards, trees, fences, ditches, easements and other appurtenances was taken on a month to month lease by the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir from the erstwhile owner Maharani Yasho Rajya Lakshmi, vide duly executed Lease-Deed dated May 1, 1967 (the demised-premises was aptly delineated with the red-coloured line in the plan annexed with the Lease-Deed).

The lease contained a clause to commence w.e.f May 1, 1967 by mutual consent, on a monthly rent of Rs 4000. Driven by their devotion to charitable causes, Maharani Yasho Rajya Lakshmi and Dr Karan Singh created a public-charitable Trust under the name and style as ‘Hari-Tara Charitable Trust’ by a Deed of Trust dated January 15, 1970 (duly registered with Sub-Registrar Jammu on January 15, 1970) and dedicated their properties comprising of ‘Ranbir Mahal’ & ‘Karan Niwas’ with attached outhouses alongwith all the land underneath and appurtenant thereto, and, another property comprising of three Manda Staff -Houses number 3AB, 4AB & 5AB with land underneath and appurtenant thereto, situate at Jammu. Copy of the Trust-Deed dated January 15, 1970.

It has been submitted that the retention of the suit premises belonging to the plaintiff Trust by the defendants and its usage as a residence-cum-office of the Governor, is, by any comparison, not of greater necessity than plaintiff Trust’s requirement of putting the suit-premises and income therefrom for usage towards various charitable causes as set out in the Trust-Deed.

It is respectfully submitted that the defendants, being a mighty and resourceful state, do have various options available at their end, for shifting the usage, as the suit-premises is being put to, to any other place, even though plaintiff Trust’s statutory right to seek possession of suit premises, after terminating the lease, remains unaffected by the availability or otherwise of such option with the defendants.

It is further submitted that comparative analysis of the necessity of the suit land by the parties to the suit is no plank available to the defendants to deny the plaintiff Trust its property. It is important to state that the respondents have not been able to provide a suitable state-owned accommodation to the Governor of the J&K State. The defendants, however, cannot retain the suit premises in perpetuity against the wishes of the plaintiff.

In the suit seeking direction to pass a decree of ejectment against the defendants from the suit-property known as ‘Ranbir Mahal’ and ‘Karan Niwas’ alongwith land measuring 126 kanals, servant quarters, lawns, orchards, trees, fences, ditches, easements and other appurtenances thereof including passage, pathways and road leading up thereto from the city entrance with five guard-rooms of the said entrance, (hereafter referred as ‘suit-property’) land, situate at Jammu.

He directed defendants to hand-over vacant possession to the plaintiff of the suit property alongwith a decree for recovery of Rs 16, 368,000 as compensation for unauthorized use and occupation of the suit premises w.e.f the date of termination of the tenancy and also for such other future amount as compensation @ Rs 50,000 per day of un-authorised use and occupation of the suit property by the defendants, till its possession is handed over to the plaintiffs alongwith an interest @ 24 percent per annum thereon.

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