CIVIL

Mayapur Sree Chaitanya Math – History and Dispute

Mayapur Sree Chaitanya Math

Gaudiya Math

In 1919 said Kunja Behari rented a house at 1, Ultadanga Junction Road, Calcutta in his own name and established his Guru Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. That was the first Gaudiya Math.

That is a society registered on 16th May, 1978 under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961. The other plaintiffs of the suit were the office bearers and members of the said society and they also claimed to be the worshippers of the deities Sri Sri Guru Gouranga Gandharbika Giridhari Jew installed at Sree Chaitanya Mathat Mayapur and also at various other places and some of them are disciples of late Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati, the founder of Sree Chaitanya Math and its various branches. The plaintiffs filed the suit for declaration that the plaintiffs Nos. 2 to 11 and the defendants Nos. 7 to 11 were the only members of the lawfully constituted governing body of the plaintiff No. 1 and as such were solely and exclusively entitled to remain in control, possession, custody, management and administration of the said society, all its temples, maths, lands, buildings and other properties and affairs including Sree Chaitanya Research Institute at 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta. The plaintiffs also prayed for further declaration in the suit that the defendants Nos. 1 to 6 had no right, title or interest in respect of the plaintiff No. 1 or its temples, maths, lands and buildings or in the said Sree Chaitanya Research Institute and had no right to manage, administer, control or possess the same. The plaintiffs also prayed for a permanent injunction restraining the defendant Nos. 1 to 6 from interfering with the rights, powers and functions of the governing body of the plaintiff No. 1 in connection with the management, control etc. of the plaintiff No. 1 and its movable and immovable properties and of the said Sree Chaitanya Research Institute. The plaintiffs further prayed in the suit for a declaration …….

………and that became the main battle ground of fight between the contesting parties in the suit …………… that the two deeds of appointment dated the 7th July, 1976 allegedly executed by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj who was in control of the Sree Chaitanya Math at Mayapur, other Gaudiya Maths and Sree Chaitanya Research Institute till his death, were forged deeds and void, inoperative, ineffective and not binding on the plaintiffs including the Mayapur Sree Chitanya Math and Sree Chaitanya Research Institute. The suit was hotly contested by the contesting defendants.

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One Kedar Nath Dutta who was a Deputy Magistrate claimed to have discovered the birth site of Sree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Mayapur in the district of Nadia in 1892. He then formed an association Sree Nabadeep Dham Pracharani Sabha and became its Secretary. He purchased land at Mayapur, constructed hut, installed deity Sree Gour Bishnu Priya in 1893 and continued the seba puja of that deity till he died on 23rd June, 1914. By that time he came to be known as Bhakti Binode Thakur. His son Bimala Prosad Dutta who later came to be known as Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati assisted his father and also himself took up the task after the demise of his father. He took Sany as (Ascetic life) in 1918 and established seba puja of the deities Sree Sree Guru Gouranga Gondharbika Giridhari Jew. It is he who established Sree Chaitanya Math at Mayapur. One Kunja Behari Das Adhikary Bidya Bhusan who later came to be known as Bhakti Bilash Tirtha was a disciple of said Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. In 1919 said Kunja Behari rented a house at 1, Ultadanga Junction Road, Calcutta in his own name and established his Guru Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. That was the first Gaudiya Math. During the lifetime of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati as many as 64 maths were established in India and abroad between 1919 and 1936.

6- Although Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati died on 1st January, 1937, he executed his last Will on 18-5-1923 (Exb. 19) whereby he dedicated all his existing and future properties to Sree Sree Guru Gouranga Gondharbika Giridhari Jew installed at Sree Chaitanya Math, Mayapur and appointed his three disciples as executors of the said Will, namely, (1) Paramananda Brahmachari (2) Kunja Behari Das Adhikari (later Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj) and (3) Ananta Basudev Brahmachari. It was provided in the will that ‘if none of the executors takes out the probate and if all of them die then he who will be appointed shebait or manager of my said Math by the consent of the majority of the Sishyas (disciples) Meeting together shall be competent to preserve and look after as the shebait, the said Math and the properties (to be) left by me according to the aforesaid provisions but if that shebait be (found) unfit on any ground my Sishyas shall be competent to discharge him and appoint another shebait in the manner above.’ It is the case of the plaintiffs that on the day before his death, i.e., on 31st December, 1936 Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur expressed his desire that a governing body consisting of 10 to 12 members from amongst his disciples was to be formed for management of mission work of the Gaudiya Math. Soon after the death of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, in pursuance of his said desire, a governing body consisting of 12 of his disciples was formed as an unincorporated body called Gaudiya Math on 10th January, 1937 and said Kunja Behari Das Adhikari was elected and/or appointed as the general secretary of the said Gaudiya Math. Thereafter between March and June 1937, eight out of the said twelve members of the, said governing body and some other persons separated themselves from the others and formed a body under the name of Gaudiya Mission. After the formation of the Gaudiya Mission the governing body thereof including Ananta Basudev asked Sri Kunja Behari Das Adhikari for accounts, of all Gaudiya Maths but Kunja Behari refused to comply. Thereafter a misc. case was filed in June 1937 being misc. case No. 39 of 1937 under Section 3 of the Charitable and Religious Trusts Act (Act XIV of 1920) in the Krishnanagar District Court against the said Kunja Behari. Kunja Behari appeared in that case and raised objection that the said Act of 1920 was not applicable to the case, as that did not involve any public trust. The District Judge in the said misc. case directed, as provided in the said Act, that Kunja Behari should within three months bring a suit for obtaining a declaration that the ‘Trust’ in question known to and called by the public by the name of Gaudiya Math alias Gaudiya Mission was not a trust to which the said Act of 1920 would apply.

7. Pursuant to that order of the District Judge Kunja Behari brought title suit No. 28 of 1937 in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Nadia. That suit was disposed of by the Subordinate Judge of Nadia by his judgment dated 23-5-1939. It was inter alia held in that judgment that the Gaudiya Math/Mission was a public trust and the dedication had been made for public and charitable purposes and thereby a public charitable and religious endowment/trust had been created. It was further held that the trust properties consisted of the properties belonging to the gaudiya Math/Mission of which the Chaitanya Math was the original Math. It was also held in that judgment, as it appears from the copy of the judgment, that the beneficiaries of the trust were that section of the public which professed Vaishnabism and followed Baishbab religion (including the disciples of Prabhupad, that is, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur). In March, 1940 the said Gaudiya Mission was registered under the Societies Registration Act and thereafter the said Kunja Behari Das Adhikari severed his connection with the said Gaudiya Mission. Probate of the will of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was granted by this Court on 9-4-1940 (Exb. 19) in favour of the three executors, namely, Kunja Behari Das Adhikari, Paramananda Brahmachari and also Ananta Basudev Brahmachari. It may be mentioned here that Ananta Basudev Brahmachari was the President and Acharya of the said Gaudiya Mission. As an executor of the said probated will he however refuse to place all the properties in the possession of the said two executors jointly with him as an executor. Consequently, on or about 2nd December, 1940 the said two executors Paramananda Brahmachari and Kunja Behari Das Adhikari instituted a suit under Order 1, Rule 8, C.P.C. being suit No. 2159 of 1940 in this Court claiming various reliefs against said Ananta Basudev Brahmachari and others. The said suit No. 2159 of 1940 was however disposed of by a consent decree dated the 17th February, 1948 (Exb. A). The terms of settlement on the basis of which the said compromise decree was passed provided that the properties described in Part I of the schedule to the said terms of settlement were the absolute debuttar properties belonging to the deities Sree Sree Guru Gouranga Gondharbika and Giridhari Jew founded by late Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. It was also stipulated inter alia that the plaintiffs, namely, Paramananda and Kunja Behari as shebaits of the said deities would be the managers of the said debuttar properties and custodians of the deities and their duplicate images installed in the various branches mentioned in Part I of the said schedule. It was declared and decreed that the religious institution organised by the said Prabhupad developed into the religious foundation known as Sree Chaitanya Math and also as Gaudiya Math or Gaudiya Mission which body had since been registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860 as Gaudiay Mission. It was also declared and decreed by that compromise decree that the maths, temples and properties described in Part II of the schedule belonged absolutely to the defendant Gaudiya Mission (Registered). It is thus seen that by that compromise decree the properties of the Sree Chaitanya Math and its off-shoots Gaudiya Math and Gaudiya Mission were divided into two allotments included in Part I and Part II and the properties in Part I were declared to be the absolute debuttar properties of the said deities and were allotted to the management and control of Paramananda and Kunja Behari who were shebaits. The properties in Part II were left to the control and management of Gaudiya Mission of which Ananta Basudev was the President who was also one of the three executors of the will of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. The suit out of which the present appeal arises concerns matters alleged to be flowing from the allotment and entrustment made in favour of Paramananda and Kunja Behari in respect of Part I of the schedule of the terms of the settlement and this suit has got nothing to do with Part II of the said terms of settlement.

8. It is not in dispute that in course of time a Gaudiya Math, branch of Sree Chaitanya Math, was shifted to premises No. 113, Rakhal Das Auddy Road, Chetla, Calcutta which was donated by one Srimati Subarnamayee Dasi. At about the same time, in March 1958 a plot of land being premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta-26 was also acquired and an institution was established thereby the name of Sree Chaitanya Research Institute which was inaugurated on the 29th June, 1964 by Dr. Sarbapalli Radhakrishnan, the then President of India. It may also be noted here that earlier sometime in 1.959 Dr. Radhakrishnan who was the Vice-President of India at that time laid the foundation of the said institution. Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj (Kunja Behari) who, till his death, was in control and management of Sree Chaitanya Math at Mayapur and also its various branches Gaudiya Maths and Sree Chaitanya Research Institute expired on 10th September, 1976. Paramananda Brahmachari, it may be noted here, died earlier. It is the case of the appellants-defendants that Tirtha Maharaj executed two deeds of appointment (Exbs. B & C) on the 7th July, 1976 making provisions for appointment of shebaits and management of properties of Sree Chaitanya Math, Mayapur and other Gaudiya Maths describing them as the absolute debuttar properties of the deities Sree Guru Gouranga Gandharbika Giridhari Jew and also in respect of other properties, such as, Sree Chaitanya Research Institute at 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta and properties at Guntur Town and at Kulingram (in the district of Burdwan). The plaintiffs have challenged the said two deeds of appointment on the dual grounds that such deeds were forged and fabricated documents, not executed by Tirtha Maharaj and also that Tirtha Maharaj did not have the power or authority to execute such deeds making appointment of shebaits. They also prayed for, as we have seen, certain other reliefs in the suit and we have seen how the suit was decreed by the trial Court after trial.

9. Exb. C is purportingly a deed of appointment alleged to have been executed by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha on 7-7-1976. This relates to Sree Chaitanya Math at Mayapur and its branch maths at different places. It is recited in that deed inter alia that after the demise of Paramananda Bidyaratna, Bhakti Bilash Tirtha has been acting as the sole shebait and performing the seba puja of the deities Sree Sree Guru Gouranga Gandharbika Girdhari Jew located at Sree Chaitanya Math at Mayapur and duplicates of the said deities located at all branch maths of the said Sree Chaitanya Math situated at different parts of India. It is also stated in the said deed of appointment that due to his failing health and old age he (Bhakti Bilash Tirtha) desires to constitute and appoint the following persons, namely, Sri Bhakti Kusum Sraman Maharaj, Bhakti Baivab Gobinda Maharaj, Sambidananda Das, Sachhidananda Brahmachari (all disciples of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Maharaj) and Bhakti Bikash Sajjan Maharaj, Bhakti Pragya Jyoti Maharaj, Sri Kula Sekhar Brahmachari and Bhakti Prakash Hrishikesh Maharaj (all his own disciples) as shebaits of the said deities to perform the seba puja of the said deities in accordance with the principles laid down by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Maharaj, since deceased. Accordingly in that deed it is purportingly recorded by Srila Bhakti Bilash Tirtha that ‘I do hereby constitute, nominate and appoint’ the above named persons as shebaits of the said deities located at Sree Chaitanya Math, Mayapur of which the duplicate images are located in different branch maths of the said Sree Chaitanya Math situated in different parts of India. It is also stated in that deed that the said shebaits shall carry on and perform the seba puja of the said deities. It is further provided in the said deed that in case of death of one or more of the said shebaits the survivors shall act as shebaits and the said shebaits shall constitute the board of shebaits which shall consist of not less than three and not more than eight persons as shebaits. It is also provided in the said deed that Satchidananda Brahmachari, Jyoti Maharaj and Sajjan Maharaj shall act as Secretaries to the said board of shebaits and the said Secretaries shall manage the properties of the said deities, perform the daily and periodical seba puja and festivals of the said deities and carry on the administration of the debuttar estate subject to the general control and superintendence of the board of shebaits and that the said Secretaries shall act jointly but in case of dispute between them the decision of the majority shall prevail and be binding. However Satchidananda Brahmachari was specifically empowered and authorised by that deed to nominate, constitute and appoint future shebaits of the said deities and failing him Sajjan Maharaj would be entitled to appoint future shebaits and failing that Jyoti Maharaj would exercise similar power to appoint future shebaits. It may be noted here that Satchidananda Brahmachari, since deceased, the original defendant No. 3 in the suit was the son of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha and he was a solicitor of the Calcutta High Court. He was a family man and it seems he adopted Brahmachari as his surname. The substituted defendants 3(a), 3(b) and 3(c) are his sons of whom the defendant No. 3(a) Sri Samitpani Brahmachari, the appellant No. 1 is also an Advocate of this High Court. Sambindhananda Das, since deceased, the original defendant No. 2 in the suit was the brother of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj and he was also an Advocate of this High Court.

10. The other deed of appointment Exb. B was also purportingly executed by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha on the same day, namely, the 7th July, 1976. The said deed relates to Sree Chaitanya Research Institute at 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta and also properties and deities at Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) and Kulingram in the district of Burdwan. In that deed also it is purportingly recorded by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha that because of his old age and failing health he intended to appoint shebaits of all the deities in those places for seva puja and also for managing all debuttar properties of the said deities and accordingly by that deed, he purportingly constituted, nominated and appointed Sri Bhakti Kusum Sraman Maharaj, Bhakti Baivab Gobinda Maharaj, Sri Sarbidhananda Das, Satchidananda Brahmachari and Sri Bhakti Bilash Sajjan Maharaj as shebaits of the concerned deities. The deed however provided that Satchidananda Brahmachari and Bhakti Bilash Sajjan Maharaj would act as Secretaries to the said board of shebaits and the said Secretaries would perform the daily seba puja and periodical festivals of the said deities and manage the said Sree Chitanya Research Institute and carry on administration of all Debuttar estate subject to the general control and superintendence of the board of Shebaits. The deed however provided that in case of dispute between them the decision of Satchidananda Brahmachari would be Final. Satchidananda Brahmachari was also empowered and authorised by that deed to nominate, constitute and appoint future shebaits of the deities and failing him Bhakti Bikash Sajjan Maharaj was empowered in that respect. In that deed it had been inter alia purportingly recited thus by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha :

“……………. Whereas after retiring from Government service in 19481 became a Vaisnaba Sanyasi and whereas the premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta belongs to me absolutely and whereas I have established and founded the deities Sree Guru Sree Gour Sunder Sree Radha Dayita Kunja Behari Jew at the said premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta sometime in June 1964 and whereas I have been acting as the sole shebait of the said deities since their establishment and performing their daily seba puja and periodical festivals in my own way and whereas I have dedicated the said premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta to the said deities Sree Guru Sree Gour Sunder Sree Radha Dayita Kunja Behari Jew absolutely and the said property has been treated as the absolute Pebuttor property since the establishment of the said deities and whereas the said premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta is commonly known as Sree Chaitanya Research Institute and whereas I am also the absolute owner of the land and building situate at Guntur town Old Ward 8, New Ward 13 Town Survey No. 785 and whereas I have also established and founded deities at my said Guntur property and whereas I have been also acting as the shebait of the properties situate at Kulingram in the district of Burdwan commonly known as Haridas Thakur Adkara and whereas ………

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The above recitals seemingly contain inconsistent and contradictory propositions. Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj is reciting in one breath that premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta belongs to him absolutely and in the next breath he is saying that he has dedicated absolutely the premises No. 70B, Rash Behari Avenue to the deities installed by him therein and the said property has been treated as the absolute debuttor property since the establishment of the said deities. Now if 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta, that is, Sree Chitanya Research Institute is an absolute debuttar property as recited in the said deed of appointment the same could not, on the date of execution of the said deed of appointment, yet belong to Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj absolutely as recited in the deed. If the property had been absolutely dedicated and it had become absolute debutter property the same could not yet continue to belong thereafter to the person who made the absolute dedication, because on being dedicated absolutely as debuttar property the property belongs to the deities in whose favour the dedication has been made and thereafter the person dedicating the same cannot claim yet to be the absolute owner of the same. It cannot be imagined that a man of the statute of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj would even after making absolute dedication of properties as debuttor properties would yet be claiming the same to belong to him absolutely (in the present tense) as has been done in the said deed of appointment which contradiction is apt legitimately to raise a question as to whether the said deed was really prepared at the instance of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj and executed by him. It has also been contended on behalf of the respondents that in both the deeds of appointment Exbs. B and C Satchidananda Brahmachari, the son of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj has been given the absolute authority to appoint the future shebaits which is an attempt to privatise the debuttor properties. This is indeed an important aspect which deserves attention for consideration. It is true that in both the deeds a board of shebaits has been constituted, but the actual management was left to a few of them including Satchidananda Brahmachari and in the deed relating to Sree Chaitanya Research Institute, Exb. C. Satchidananda Brahmachari was given the final authority to take decision in case of any dispute between them.

11. Now Jet us have a look at the two deeds of appointment, both dated the 7th July, 1976 Exbs. B and C purportingly executed by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj which are challenged by the plaintiffs as forged and fabricated documents manufactured by Satchidananda Brahmachari in collusion with others after the death of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj by using blank sheets containing signature of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha made long back and kept in the Sree Chaitanya Research Institute for purpose of use in connection with matters of the institute and maths. The deed Exb. C consists of six pages including the front three pages of stamp papers. The signature of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj is appearing above the middle position of the last page. The margin left blank at to top of pages four and five is visibly much wider than the margin left blank at the top of page six, the last page which bears the signature of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha somewhere above the middle position of that page. The difference in the width of the top margins in these pages, namely, pages four and five on the one hand and page six on the other indicates that the typist typing the document had to adjust the contents in such a manner that the typing is concluded above the signature which was already there on a blank sheet used as the last page of the document. This is also the position in respect of the other deed of appointment Exb. B where also the typist had to adjust the contents by keeping smaller top margin at the last page, being the page No. 5, compared to the margin kept at page 4. That the typist was not a novice will however be evident from the fact that except at the last page he could maintain parity in respect of the other comparable pages in the matter of keeping top margin, namely, at pages 4 and 5 and pages 2 and 3 of the deed Exb. C and also pages 2 and 3 of the deed Exb. B. The learned trial Judge has also made comments about the difference of age between the dummy papers and the stamp papers used in preparing the respective deeds and also about the pin marks at the top left hand corner of the concerned deeds which would indicate that the dummy papers were chosen from old bulks compared to the age of the newly purchased stamp papers, so as to fit in with the age of the blank signed sheets. In our opinion also these factors definitely deserve consideration in the context of determining the question whether the deeds were manufactured by using the blank sheets contains signature of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj. It is also the case of the plaintiffs that Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj was ill for a very long time and was suffering from parkinsons disease and other ailments as a result of which on the purported date of execution of the deeds he was not in a position to sign. It is the case of the defendants on the other hand that both the deeds Exbs. B and C were executed by Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj on the same date and at the same sitting and he was physically and mentally fit to execute the deeds. The learned trial Judge has also noticed difference between the two signatures of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj appearing in the deeds Exbs. B and C in respect of visible tremors. We cannot say that the learned trial Judge was unjustified in his observation in this respect. It has also to be noticed that while the signature of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha on Exb. C is deeper in its black complexion, the signature in the deed Exb. B is rather different in its complexion, being slightly bluish. This difference between the colour shades of the two signatures appearing in the two deeds also indicates that the two signatures were not made on the same day at the same sitting with the same pen. It has also to be noticed that in both the deeds one Mohini Mohan Das and one Ajit Kr. Banerjee signed as witnesses. While Mohini Mohan Das was examined on behalf of the defendants in the suit Ajit Kr. Banerjee however had not been examined. He was a Court clerk of the solicitor Satchidananda Brahmachari. It is also to be noticed that while in the deed Exb. B Ajit Kr. Banerjee has signed and recorded his address as 1B, Old Post Office Street, Calcutta, in the deed, Exb. C he has recorded his address as 4/ 1, Dharani Dhar Mallick Lane, Howrah-1. The fact that Ajit Kr. Banerjee has given two different addresses in the two deeds although allegedly he signed both the deeds on the same date and at the same sitting also indicates that the two deeds were not prepared and signed in the same sitting else Ajit Kr. Banerjee would not have given two different addresses. That apart there is also a difference in the spelling of ‘Kumar’ of Ajit Kr. Banerjee as recorded in the two deeds. In one deed it has been signed as Ajit Kumar whereas in the other deed it has been signed as Ajit Kumer. That Ajit Kumar Banerjee is giving two different spellings in his signature in the two deeds and also two different addresses indicates that he did not sign on the same date and at the same sitting else there would not have been such difference in respect of these matters. The same rather indicates that he signed and wrote his address on the two deeds on different occasions which is not consistent with the defence case of genuine execution of the two deeds.

12. It is in evidence that on 13th July, 1976 Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj left Calcutta and went to Kavur Math in South India and there he fell ill and he came back to Calcutta on 21st July, 1976. According to the defence case the stamp papers for the deed Exb. B were purchased on 2-7-76 and stamp papers for the deed Exb. C were purchased on 5-7-76. The defendants have led evidence to the effect that Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj gave instruction on the same day for preparing the said deeds before the stamp papers were purchased. If that be so, it is not understood why the stamp papers of the two deeds were purchased on two different dates and not on the same date. It is rather the case of the plaintiffs that the stamp papers were purchased much later and by manipulation it has been shown that the stamp papers were purchased on 2-7-76 and 5-7-76 respectively. It is also pointed out that the date of purchase of the stamp papers in respect of the deed Exb. C as has been recorded on the back side of the first stamp paper contains visible interpolation in respect of the month of purchase so as to make it appear as 7 (that is, July) whereas the look of the interpolation indicates that the month was perhaps 9 (that is, September). There is no doubt that some interpolation is appearing in that figure relating to the month of purchase. It is also to be noticed that while the stamp papers used in the deed Exb. B were purchased in the name of S. Brahmachari (that is, Satchidananda Brahmachari) purportingly on 2-7-76 the stamp papers used for the deed Exb. C were purchased in the name of Sri Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj purportingly on 5th day of the month. Expectingly both the stamp papers should have been purchased in the name of Tirtha Maharaj, instead of the first one being purchased in the name of Satchidananda Brahmachari. It is quite surprising that the two sets of stamp papers were purchased not in the name of the same person, namely, Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj, but were purchased one set in the name of Satchidananda Brahmachari and the other in the name of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj. This prevarication in the matter of using the name in connection with the purchase of the stamp papers is also not indicative of a straightforward approach in the matter on the part of the persons preparing the deeds although allegedly the instruction to prepare two sets of deeds was given on the same date. The defendants also obtained a certificate from the stamp vendor relating to the date of purchase of the stamps, but the plaintiffs got the original sale register of the non-judicial stamps marked as Exb. N. On a visual scrutiny of the relevant entries in the sale register of stamps also the things do not appear to be straightforward. The serial number assigned to the stamps sold on 2-7-76 to Satchidananda Brahmachari is 15523 whereas the serial number assigned to the stamps sold purportingly on 5-7-76 to Sri Bhakti Bilash Tirtha is 16694. The sale register of stamps Exb. N. contains entries to show that stamps under serial Nos. 15522 and 15523 were entered in the name of Satchidananda Brahmachari in between the serial Nos. 15504 and 15524 which stamps were however sold to some other persons. It is not understood why the two sets of stamps under serial Nos. 15522 and 15523 were sold on the same day to S. Brahmachari as shown in the said register of stamps. The said register also contains entries relating to 16693 and 16694 in the name of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj in between the entries under serial Nos. 16690 and 16695. The entries relating to 16693 and 16694 in the said register also seem to have been squeezed between the other numbers above and below the same. Then again from the said register it appears that stamp Nos. 16695, 16794, 16796 were also sold to Bhakti Bilash Tirtha as is indicated from the word ‘do’ appearing against those serial numbers immediately below the name of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha. It is however not the case of the defendants that on that date so many other stamp papers were purchased in the name of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj for any other purpose. Rather the said word ‘do’ entered in the columns above and below the name of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj in the said sale register indicates that the name of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj was entered by manipulation in the sale register to make it appear that the stamps were purchased on that date.

13. Mohini Mohan Das was examined as a defence witness. He claims to be a witness to the execution of the impugned deeds Exbs. B and C. His close association with Satchidananda Brahmachari has been acknowledged by him in his evidence (Q. 48). According to his evidence besides Tirtha Maharaj and himself, Satchidananda Brahmachari and Ajit were also present when the deeds Exbs. B and C were signed (Qs. 540-544 and 608). From his answer to Q. 729 it is also evident that Tirtha Maharaj used to keep blank papers with his signature. His attention was also drawn to a pamphlet circulated by the Institute referring to a speech of Tirtha Maharaj delivered at Kavur on 15-7-76 wherein he stated that in future administration of the Math and the Institution would be left to Sanyasis and Brahmacharis to be selected from amongst the Sanyasis and Brahmacharis (Q. 712, 718 and 721, etc.). It is the plaintiffs’ case that the fact that the Tirtha Maharaj on 15-7-76 delivered such a speech regarding the future administration of the Maths and the Institute will readily show that the alleged deeds of appointment Exbs. B and C were not in existence at that time and were not even in the contemplation of Tirtha Maharaj and this shows that the deeds were subsequently manufactured. A cassette of that speech was also played to the witness while in witness box for identifying the voice of Tirtha Maharaj in that speech recorded in the cassette and he initially identified that voice as the voice of Tirtha Maharaj although later denied the same (Q. 826, 827 etc.). The attention of this witness in cross-examination was also drawn to alerter dated 14-9-76 Exb. D purportingly signed by Satchidananda Brahmachari and addressed to Sajjan Maharaj. The said letter was purportingly written four days after the death of Tritha Maharaj. That the letter bears the signature of Satchidananda Brahmachari has been acknowledged by Mohini Mohan (Q. 678, 679 etc.). From him we get that Satchidananda Brahmachari was also known as Nanda Babu (Q. 284). From this witness we also get that Tirtha Maharaj was aged about 81 years at the time of his death in 1976 (Q. 242-244). In answer to Qs. 666 and 667 he says that Tirtha Maharaj was critically ill for one month in the month of August before his death and none was formally in charge of Sree Chaitanya Research Institute during August-September 1976 and immediately after the death of Tirtha Maharaj. He also identifies two signatures of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj on blank papers marked Exbs. AA (Qs. 131 and 132). He however denies the plaintiffs’ suggestion that Exbs. B and C were forged by using papers kept signed in blank by Tirtha Maharaj (Q. 699).

14. Samit Pani Brahmachari who is the defendant No. 3(a) and son of late Satchidananda Brahmachari has examined himself as a defence witness in this case. He is a practising Advocate of this Court and Dr. Sambidananda Das who was a practising Counsel (Bar-at-law) of this Court was his senior. We have already noted that Dr. Sambidananda Das was the brother of Tirtha Maharaj. In the very examination-in-chief Samitpani was asked (Q. 7) as to who used to look after the administration and management of the affairs of Mayapur Sree Chitanya Math and its branches. To that question Samit Pani answered that during the lifetime of Bhakti Bilash Tirtha Maharaj he himself used to look after the maths and research institute at Calcutta and all other maths throughout India. This question and answer in the very examination-in-chief indicate that the Sree Chaitanya Research Institute was also treated as a branch of Mayapur Sree Chaitanya Math. However on this point there is also other evidence which we will point out later. The evidence of Sarhit Pani Brahmachari also shows and, indeed it is not in dispute, that the Maths including Research Institute were under the management and control of Tirtha Maharaj till his death. The purported deeds of appointment Exbs. B and C, as the language used in the deeds indicate, were however intended to be operative from the time of its execution and not after the death of Tirtha Maharaj. These deeds were not wills. On the other hand the deeds were purportingly executed because of ‘old age and failing health’ of Tirtha Maharaj and the language of the deeds was such that it was to be and also intended to be operative from the time of its execution. But as a matter of fact and admittedly these deeds were not put to operation during the lifetime of Tirtha Maharaj. This is also an indication that these deeds were not executed by Tirtha Maharaj else they would have been put to effect immediately after their execution instead of deferring the implementation of the same till sometime after the death of Tirtha Maharaj. Even in his examination-in-chief a question was put to Samitpani (Q. 10) as to whether any arrangement was made by Tirtha Maharaj regarding administration and management of the Math ‘after his death’, to which Samitpani replied by referring to the two concerned deeds. As we have seen the deeds however purported to be effective not after his death but even during his lifetime from the time of their execution. It can be expected that if the deeds were really executed during the lifetime of Tirtha Maharaj they would not have been left to slumber till after the death of Tirtha Maharaj.

15. The two deeds Exbs. B and C being deeds of appointment were not required under law to be registered compulsorily but inspite of that these deeds were presented for registration and registered on two different dates quite some times after the death of Tirtha Maharaj. It is submitted on behalf of the respondents that after fabrication the deeds were registered with a view to giving them a colour of authenticity. The deed Exb. C relating to Chaitanya Math, Mayapur and other branch maths was presented for registration by Satchidananda Brahmachari on 5-10-76 while the other deed Exb. B was presented by him for registration on 28-10-76. No plausible explanation from the defendants is forthcoming as to why these two deeds purportingly executed on the same date, namely, 7-7-76 were presented for registration on two different dates, namely, 5-10-76 and 28-10-76 respectively. It is the submission on behalf of the respondents/plaintiffs that the delay in presenting the deed Exb. B relating to Sree Chaitanya Research Institute and Guntur property compared to the date of presentation of the other deed Exb. C is perniciously self-explanatory. The deed Exb. B contains description of property at Guntur. It is submitted on behalf of the respondents that the deed relating to Guntur property which was lying at Guntur Math had to be obtained and consulted before finalising the purported deed of appointment Exb. B relating to Guntur Math. It is also submitted on behalf of respondents that a letter was written to Guntur Math (vide, Exb. I) on 5-10-76 asking to send the deed relating to Guntur Math immediately. It is further submitted on behalf of the respondents that since it was necessary to procure and ascertain the description of the property of the Guntur Math for the purpose of including the same in the deed Exb. B, the same could not be prepared and presented for registration along with the other deed Exb. C. This seems to be a quite likely reason why the two deeds could not be presented for registration at or about the same time. In fact the presentation of the two deeds for registration, not simultaneously but on different dates, one on 5-10-76 and the other on 28-10-76 by Satchidananda Brahmachari is seemingly a highly suspicious feature which remains unexplained so far as the defence is concerned. If both the deeds were really executed by Tirtha Maharaj on 7-7-76 and if for any reason it was considered fit to get both the deeds registered although registration was not compulsory, in that event both the deeds could have been registered during the lifetime of Tirtha Maharaj himself which was not done at all. Then again nearly one month after the death of Tirtha Maharaj, or to be precise about 25 days after his death only one of the two deeds, namely, the deed relating to Mayapur Chaitanya Math was presented for registration by Satchidananda Brahmachari on 5-10-76 leaving aside the other deed relating to Sree Chaitanya Research Institute and Guntur Math to be presented for registration much later on 28-10-76. The presentation of the deed relating to Sree Chaitanya Research Institute and Guntur Math on 28-10-76 instead of presenting the same along with the other deed on 5-10-76, in the absence of any plausible explanation from the defence is a definite pointer to the fact that the things were not all straightforward. What is surprising is that in para 31 of the written statement originally filed by the defendants Nos. 1-6 including Satchidananda Brahmachari it is stated that both the deeds were tendered for registration on 5-10-76 which is factually incorrect.

…..

Samitpani in his evidence says that after 1980 Jyoti Maharaj took possession of Sree Chaitanya Research Institute and converted the temple into a Sradh Ceremony Hall and the institute has been converted into a commercial business centre from the religious institution (Qs. 158, 159). We also get it from Samitpani that in exercise of the power of nomination of the shebaits conferred by the deeds Exbs. B and C Satchidananda Brahmachari appointed his son Samitpani and one Prajatak Maharaj shebaits of the Math (Q. 343). It is evidence of Samitpani that sometime in the last week of June 1976 Tirtha Maharaj gave instruction to his brother Dr. Sambidananda Das to prepare two draft deeds of shebaits, one in respect of Sree Chaitanya Math and its branches and the other in respect of Sree Chitanya Research Institute, and this instruction was given by Tirtha Maharaj at 70B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta in presence of Satchidanand’a Brahmachari and the witness Samitpani (Qs. 194-212). We get it from his answer to Qs. 216 and 217 that Tirtha Maharaj gave instruction to Dr. Sambidananda Das and Satchidananda Brahmachari as to the nature of the deeds to be prepared and Tirtha Maharaj told them to sit together and prepare the deeds. He however cannot say as to where are the drafts of Exb. B and C which were prepared by Dr. Sambidananda Das (Q. 244). In answer to Q. 259 he says that Dr. Das took 2/3 days to prepare the drafts after discussion. It was put to Samitpani in cross-examination that Sree Guru Gouranga Gandharbika Giridhari was the idol installed at Chetla Math and this idol was taken to Rash Behari Avenue Math. But he denies the same and says that the deities of Chaitanya Research Institute are separate and they are Sree Sree Gour Sudha Sree Radha Dwaita Kunja Behari Jew (Qs. 679 and 680) but in answer to the question No. 684 as to when was the idol taken from Chetla Math to Rash Behari Avenue Math he says that it was perhaps in 1964. We get from the evidence of Samitpani (Q. 359) that Sree Chaitanya Math and the Research Institute used to publish monthly magazines and the Bengali magazine Gaudiya used to be published either from Calcutta or Mayapur and English Gaudiya used to be published from Madras Math.


SOURCE: 

Calcutta High Court
Samit Pani Brahmachary And Ors. vs Mayapur Chaitanya Math And Ors. on 9 September, 1998
Equivalent citations: AIR 1999 Cal 132

Categories: CIVIL

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