The Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the States of Punjab and Haryana to form High Powered Committees to streamline workings of ‘Muafi’ lands of Temples and Gurudwara.

The bench further noted that the performance of daily rituals inside the Gurdawaras and Temples, was not being done by those Shehbits and Granthis, who were appointed in accordance with the relevant customary laws.

A bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Lalit Batra thus observed, “…there is no well-formed government machinery to streamline the able workings of such Muafi lands/Muafi properties or such like assignments made to religious communities. The lack of the above prima facie stems an apprehension, that not only the imperative imposed conditions vis-a-vis the Muafi lands, thus are breached, whereupons, the apposite grant(s), may thus require their rescession but also there being complete mismanagement of the Muafi lands…”.

“…Moreover, it also stems an apprehension of this Court that the temples or gurdwaras or Deras functioning in the States of Punjab, and, Haryana are also misappropriating the incomes reared from such Muafi lands. In addition, this Court is led to make a genuine prima facie inference, that the performance of daily apposite rituals inside gurdawaras or temples, may not be so done, by those Shehbits or by those Granthis, who are appointed in accordance with the financial rules and instructions, or in terms of the relevant customs as detailed in the relevant customary laws…”, the bench further held.

Advocate Veneet Sharma appeared for the petitioner and DAG, Punjab, Maninder Singh appeared for the respondents.

In the present matter, the petitioner was aggrieved from the concurrently made decisions by the learned DDPO, Patiala, and, by the Commissioner, whereby his espoused declaratory claim for his becoming declared owner in possession of the suit lands, rather became declined.

The ground in the petition was that the petitioner through his predecessor-in-interest, has been making independent cultivation of the suit lands prior to 1950, and, thereby he making him entitled under the definition of Shamlat Deh, under Section 2(g) of The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961.

The locus of the present petitioner as Mohtmim of the temple, on whose behalf the suit became instituted, was based on a Will executed in his favour by his predecessor-in-interest. However, during his lifetime also the present petitioner has appointed his son to, on his demise function as a Mohtmim or as a Shehbit of the minor deity inside the temple

The bench, however, was of the opinion that the said claim was completely mis-founded as there is no firm documentary evidence existing on record, to succor the said claim, especially when there is no entry in the revenue records prior to 1950.

The Court, accordingly, directed the Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue to the Government of Punjab, and, the Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue to the Government of Haryana, to respectively constitute a three-member High Powered Committee to he headed by each of the above. The agenda for the High-Powered Committee shall be to:

  • i)Draw statistics of the grants made to the religious denominations.
  • ii)The conditions of the grant, and, whether such conditions becoming breached.
  • iii)Whether upon breach of the conditions the grants have been rescinded.
  • iv)Whether subsequently there is a well-formed set up for regulating the able cultivations of lands, assigned as Muafis to the Hindus and Sikhs.
  • v)Whether there is a regular auditing of the incomes derived from such Muafi lands.
  • vi)Whether there is a well-established, and, regulated system for appointment of Mohatmims or Shehbits or Granthis, or registered societies, to thus ensure the performance of daily rituals inside Sikh gurdawaras or Hindu temples, and/or to ensure upkeepings and maintenance of Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples, besides to ensure the well appropriations of incomes derived therefrom.

The bench further said that the Gram Panchayat concerned will not interfere in the management, and, upkeeps of the Hindu temple, except by the District Collector, as it had not contested the consolidation scheme, whereby the suit lands have been allotted to the temple.


Petitioner: Advocate Veneet Sharma

Respondents: DAG, Punjab Maninder Singh, Advocates Nandan Jindal and Tushar Sabherwal for respondent No.4. Advocate M.L. Saini, Advocate for respondents No.5, 6 and 10.

Cause Title: Mandir Shri Satya Narayan v. State Of Punjab And Others [Neutral Citation: 2024:PHHC:022686-DB]

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