The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that the current title of properties of the erstwhile Ruler of Holkar State, Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar belongs to State of MP.
The Bench of Justice SC Sharma and Justice Shailendra Shukla has therefore set aside a single-Bench order which restrained the revenue authorities from entering the name of State of Madhya Pradesh in all properties of the Khasgi (Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Charities) Trust, Indore, to ensure that the properties of the erstwhile Ruler Trust are not sold to other persons.
It further observed that the erstwhile Ruler had signed a covenant whereby the title of all properties of erstwhile ruler – Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar, was transferred to Madhya Bharat, now State of Madhya Pradesh.
In view thereof the Bench in case of erstwhile Ruler property held,
“The 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.“
The Court went on to observe that the erstwhile Ruler – Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar’s Trustees had played a fraud upon the State Government to alienate Government properties for personal gains and therefore all the sales/transfers effected by them are null and void. It remarked,
“As 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.“
The Court has therefore taken stern view of such fraud pulled off by the Trustees and has ordered the Economic Investigation Wing of the State of Madhya Pradesh to thoroughly examine the allegations of misappropriation of Government properties.
It said in the case of erstwhile Ruler, Maharaja Holkar’s property,
“A prayer has been made for issuance of an appropriate writ, order or directing a CBI inquiry. So far as the prayer with regard to directions for CBI inquiry is concerned, this Court is of the considered opinion that no such directions are required.
The allegation of misappropriation of Government properties and its disposal to favour someone and to cause loss to Public Exchequer, if at all, can very well be examined by Economic Investigation Wing of the State of Madhya Pradesh and accordingly, it is directed that the said Wing will thoroughly examine the matter and if it finds any criminality into the actions of any authority, it is expected that appropriate action should be taken by the said Wing.
Hence, no positive direction to register a First Information Report is required. Resultantly, the Economic Offences Wing shall examine the matter and shall be free to proceed ahead in accordance with law.“
The Division Bench in case of erstwhile Ruler, Maharaja Holkar’s property observed,
“The dispute, as to whether a particular property was or was not recognized as private property of the Ruler, is itself a dispute arising out of the terms of the Covenant, and therefore, not adjudicable in light of Article 363 of the Constitution of India.
The Trust’s properties are certainly not at all private properties of the Ruler, the property is vested in the State of Madhya Pradesh and it is the State of Madhya Pradesh, which is the titleholder of the properties and by no stretch of imagination, the learned Single Judge could have decided the writ petition there being a specific bar under Article 363 of the Constitution of India.“