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An interesting question came up before the Apex Court in Public Trust Shri Geeta Satsang Bhawan Vs Nand Lal, if a provision bars a court from “hearing and deciding” a suit on some contingency, does that mean the suit itself is not maintainable??…
In the instant case, the trial court had heard and decided the suit, by an unregistered trust, while the HC at Rajasthan, allowing the appeal, dismissed the suit at the genesis, terming it ‘not maintainable’ in view of Section 29 of the Rajasthan Public Trust Act, according the provisions of the act, specified in Section 29, “No suit to enforce a right on behalf of a public trust which is required to be registered under this Act but has not been so registered shall be heard or decided by any Court.”
A bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice RK Agrawal and Justice AM Sapre observed that the bar applies for “hearing and deciding” a suit, and not in filing the suit further more it was stated that a suit could be filed by the unregistered trust but it will neither be heard nor decide by the court unless and until the Trust is registered under the Act.
“Section 29, therefore, operates as stay of proceedings in the suit so long as the Trust does not get itself registered under the Act,” the bench observed, however, the moment the Trust is registered under the Act, the trial court can assume the jurisdiction to hear and decide the suit on the basis of merit and the bar created under Section 29 would then be then lifted and cease to apply to the proceedings in the suit, the court also remarked that the High court at Rajasthan should have stayed the proceedings by granting some reasonable time to the plaintiff to get the trust registered under the Act and only after such allowance of reasonable time, if the Trust had failed to obtain the registration certificate then in such eventuality, the first appellate court could have dismissed the suit.