Allahabad HC Orders Mathura Authorities to Restore Graveyard Land in Name of Banke Bihari temple

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It was claimed that one Bhola Khan Pathan connived with officials to turn temple land into a graveyard

The Allahabad High Court has recently directed the Tehsildar/Sub Divisional Officer, Tehsil Chata, District Mathura to enter the name of Mandir Bihari Ji Virajman Mandir against the plot which was earlier recorded as a graveyard in 2004.

The bench of Justice Saurabh Srivastava passed the order in a writ petition moved by Sri Bihari Ji Seva Trust alleging that initially documented under the name of Mandir Banke Bihari Ji Maharaj in state revenue records, the ownership of the temple land i.e. plot no. 1081 situated in Shahpur village in Chhata tehsil of Mathura district underwent illegal alteration in 2004 and was registered as a graveyard. 

The petitioner claimed that one Bhola Khan Pathan along with his agents submitted an application to the then Chief Minister of UP Government, Lucknow way back in the year 2004 with prayer that certain plots in Chata Tehsil be recorded as graveyard (kabristan) and it was on this application, the revenue authorities passed an order recording the concerned land against UP Sunni Central Wakf Board without informing the petitioner.

The petitioner moved the High Court seeking direction for correction in the revenue records. 

The high court, on August 11, 2023, summoned the Chhata tehsildar of Mathura district in Uttar Pradesh to clarify the changes made to the ownership records.

On August 17, 2023, the high court noted that it was not clear from the personal affidavit submitted by the concerned Tehsildar that when once the name of the Sri Bihari Ji Seva Trust had been recorded in the records of rights of the base year, i.e. 1359 Fasli, as bhumidhar with transferable rights, under which circumstances, the same had been converted from time to time and several other entries had taken place in the revenue records.

Consequently, court requested the Sub-Divisional Officer, Chhata, Mathura to come up with the entire records along with the details of the change of the entries made from time to time with regard to plot no. 1081.

The high court, in its September 15, 2023 order, noted that it was crystal clear, that at no point in time, the petitioner had ever been informed before initiating the proceedings under Section 186 of Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 through which the plot no. 1081 had been declared as abandoned. 

"After careful consideration of the Section 186 of U.P.Z.A & L.R. Act, 1950, there is hardly any doubt that the same cannot be proceeded against the recorded Bhumidhar without issuing any notice for showcause for seeking the proper explanation that why the land which is recorded as an agriculture land is not being used for the agriculture purpose and why the same may not be declared as abandoned," court held. 

It further highlighted that there were hardly any documents pertaining to proceeding under Section 186 of U.P.Z.A & L.R. Act, 1950, available in the original records and there was no description of any notice ever being sent or served upon the petitioner before initiating proceedings under Section 186 of the U.P.Z.A & L.R. Act, 1950.

Therefore, court held that the petitioner being the custodian of properties pertaining to Mandir Bihari Ji Virajman Mandir was still exclusively in possession of plot no. 1081/1.

Accordingly, court quashed the earlier orders of 1970 and 1991 passed by the then revenue authorities and directed the Tehsildar/Sub Divisional Officer, Tehsil Chata to record the rights pertaining to plot no. 1081/1 against the name of Mandir Bihari Ji Virajman Mandir to the petitioner.

Case Title: Sri Bihari Ji Seva Trust v. State Of U.P. And 4 Others