“Court stands by Ashram Trustees”
J. VENKATESAN, DC, NEW DELHI. JAN. 5, 2016
The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside an order of the Madras High Court upholding the permission granted by a trial court to some devotees to file a suit for removal of the Trustees of Puducherry Aurobindo Ashram for not banning an objectionable book written by an inmate.
A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and S.N. Bobde said failure to take steps to ban a book that is critical of the philosophical and spiritual guru of a Trust would not fall within the compass of administration of the Trust. It might be an omission of the exercise of proper discretion on the part of the trustees, but certainly not an omission touching upon the administration of the Trust.
The Bench said “We are not in agreement with the High Court that the failure of the appellants (Aurobindo Ashram and others) to take the initiative in banning the objectionable book gives rise to a cause of action for the removal of the trustees of the Trust and settling a scheme for its administration. The trustees of a trust are entitled to a wide discretion in the administration of a Trust.”
Writing the judgment and allowing the Ashram’s appeal Justice Lokur said a disagreement with the exercise of the discretion (however passionate the disagreement may be) does not necessarily lead to a conclusion of maladministration, unless the exercise of discretion is perverse. In our opinion the High Court ought to have allowed the application made by the appellants for the revocation of leave granted to the respondents to initiate proceedings under Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code, in the facts of this case.