A notice has been issued in Special Civil Application (CSA) No 10158 of 2018 by the High Court of Gujarat on December 19 concerning SCA challenging the judgment and order passed by the Charity Commissioner, Ahmedabad, in the matter of Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital and Chinai Prasuti Gruh and the trusts governing them.
Brief facts pertaining to the litigation, in which the petitioners were represented in the High Court by senior advocate Anand Yagnik:
Both the trusts namely Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai trust and Chinai Trust which run the prestigious VS hospital and Chinai Prasuti Gruh in Ahmedabad were governed by a common trust deed. Since 1961 the composition of members of the governing body was as follows: Two members from the family of Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai; two members from the family of Sheth Chinai; four members from the Municipal Corporation in the form of Corporators to be chosen by the Mayor as the Chairman of the trust; Leader of Opposition in the Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad; and Civil Surgeon (being an ex-officio member without any voting power).
After prolonged period of more than 80 years, the petitioners in 2012 [Chinai family] suddenly received an invitation card for a “Bhumi Pujan” of a proposed Multi Specialty Hospital to be constructed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation under the aegis of Chief Minister of Gujarat on the land where the two hospitals are situated in the centre of Ahmedabad City.
The said invitation proposed that a multi-speciality consisting about 1,600 beds would be constructed on the land available behind the two hospitals. The proposed plan on the invitation card proposes car parking at the place where the said two hospitals have been in existence and standing for the last more than 80 years.
At no stage have the petitioners consented or concurred to this plan of demolishing these two hospital buildings and reducing to ashes the benevolent and philanthropic work of their forefathers. It was subsequently learnt that the entire proposal was to shift the 1,155 beds from the said two hospitals to the new proposed Multi Speciality Hospital and to transfer all the equipment, the entire staff and employees of the hospitals as well as the control of the management of the two hospitals to a new trust known as “Medical Education Trust” [MET] formed by AMC.
The entire purpose of this new trust is to divest the petitioners from the management of the two hospitals and enable AMC corporators, bureaucrats and politicians who are the trustees of the MET to take complete control. To realize the above objective the respondents, in the Board Meeting dated 3rd October, 2012, overthrowing the convention which was being followed since 1961, appointed one Jayeshbhai Parmanandbhai Patel, an AMC corporator from the ruling party, the BJP, was appointed in place of the opposition party representative, Hassankhan Samsherkhan.
The convention which was being followed since 1961 as per the trust deed, of appointing the fifth member representing the party in opposition within the AMC, was overturned at the Board of Meeting of 3rd October, 2012 when the then members appointed by the Municipality forced the appointment of the fifth member from their own party, in the teeth of strong opposition from the other half of the Board of Management, thereby tilting the balance in the hitherto evenly balanced board in their favour.
After the unlawful, malafide and arbitrary change in the composition of Board of Management, at the subsequent Board Meeting of 28th March, 2013, the petitioners were subjected to final culmination of the brute majoritarianism by the respondents. The proposed agenda for the meeting to be held on 28the March, 2013 provided no clue of this move. In the meeting the petitioners were presented a lengthy letter dated 22nd March, 2013 written by the Municipal Commissioner, AMC, as an urgent agenda, despite there being no urgency.
The letter outlined the plan to demolish the existing allegedly ‘dilapidated’ Chinai and Sarabhai hospital structures and to construct a multi-speciality hospital. The letter ends with the key point appearing on the final page: telling the Board of Management of the two hospitals to hand over the control and merge the Board of Management of the two hospitals to MET controlled by AMC.
Resolution No 204 was passed by the Board of Trustees on 28.03.2013 comprised of 5th Member from the ruling body of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation instead of a representative of Opposition. Therefore the composition of Board of Trustees which passed the resolution is contrary to the trust deed and therefore same is on the face of it erroneous, illegal and unlawful.
In view of the above mentioned circumstances, the petitioners submitted an application being Judicial Misc. Application No. 47 of 2013 under Section 41A read with Section 69 of the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 praying for directions to be issued by the learned Charity Commissioner for proper administration of the trust.
The Charity Commissioner in abeyance of the very provisions of law and in abhorrence of the well-established law as well as judgments of the High Court of Gujarat instead of exercising its powers under Section 41A r/w Section 69 of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 issued vague directions through a non-reasoned and cryptic order and completely ignoring the material and documentary evidence on record.
The Charity Commissioner vide an absolutely cryptic, non-cogent and non-speaking order dated 25.01.2018 issued the following directions:
“(A) The present petition of the applicants is partly allowed and following directions are issued:
(i) The respondents are hereby ordered to administer the trust of the Chinai Prasuti Gruh and Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital strictly in accordance of the object of the trust.
(ii) As far as relief as prayed in (a) (b) (c) and (d) of petition are concerned, no any prohibitory reliefs are granted.
(iii) Further the respondents, amd the petitioners are hereby requested to sit together and sort out the misunderstanding and difference of opinion in an amicable way of solution and respondents are requested to see that the sentimental feelings of heirs of Chinai Prasuti Gruh and Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai donors be respected and find out for transferring the beds, medical facilities, staff and equipment, to the new constructed MET hospital in a good atmosphere and proper compromise formula be set out in amicable way and run Chinai Prasuti Gruh and Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai hospital and MET Hospital and observe the trust deed strictly as per the provisions of the Bombay Public Trust Act, be observed in letter and spirit.
“(B) Looking to the facts and circumstances of the case, no order as to costs.
“(C) Copy of this order be sent to the Deputy Charity Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner and all the trustees of trusts for further action.”
It is further stated that the resolution is silent as to how Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital and Chinai Prasuti Gruh will run with 120 beds and in absence of and without staff, medical and non-medical and paramedical, without assets, movable and immovable, without equipments, furniture, apparatus.
Application was preferred by the petitioners herein before the respondent Charity Commissioner with a view that the adjudication and issuance of concrete directions by the respondent Charity Commissioner within the scope and ambit of Section 41A r/w Section 69 of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 had become imminent owing to the malpractice by the respondents herein in complete contravention of the object of the trust and the trust deed.
However, the respondent Charity Commissioner instead of issuing concrete directions has passed futile direction, inter alia, directing everyone to sit together and sort out everything amicably. Had that been possible then there was no need to approach the Charity Commissioner. Moreover, the respondent Charity Commissioner was not sitting over some mediation or conciliation proceedings.
The application before the respondent Charity Commissioner was under Section 41A r/w Section 69 of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950. The respondent Charity Commissioner ought to have issued concrete guidelines and granted the prayers as prayed for in view of the material evidence on record and acting within scope of Sections 41A r/w 69 of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950, which it failed to do and hence the impugned judgment and order passed by the respondent Charity Commissioner is contrary to the prayers prayed for, erroneous and illegal and hence unsustainable and needs to be quashed and set aside.
The Charity Commissioner has not assigned any reasons whatsoever in coming to the conclusion that it did. The Charity Commissioner after blindly reproducing the entire application of the applicants, the substance of the affidavit filed by respondent/s, the contentions of the advocate of the applicant and the contentions of the opponent, without any reasoning whatsoever and without any application of mind has issued directions not in tandem with the prayers prayed for.
On 14th December, 2018, it has been proposed that instead of 120 beds Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital and Chinai Prasuti Gruh will be permitted to retain and run with 500 beds.