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SC allows caretaker trust to operate bank accounts to pay salaries, taxes

October 21, 2020 05:48 AM

COURTESY HT OCT 21

SC allows caretaker trust to operate bank accounts to pay salaries, taxes

Harinder Singh Brar, the last ruler of the Faridkot state.
Parteek Singh Mahal

letterschd@hindustantimes.com

Faridkot : The Supreme Court has allowed the Maharawal Khewaji Trust that manages the ₹20,000-crore worth property of the last ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Faridkot, Harinder Singh Brar, to operate its bank accounts for making payments till the final judgment.

All bank accounts of the trust were frozen after the Punjab and Haryana high court declared Brar’s will of June 1, 1982, in favour of the trust as forged. On June 1, the high court had upheld a Chandigarh court’s order, awarding a majority share in the ₹20,000-crore property to Brar’s daughters Amrit Kaur, who challenged the will in 1992, and Deepinder Kaur.

The trust has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the SC challenging the HC  order. The apex court ordered status quo till the judgment, allowing the trust to continue as caretaker.

During the hearing, the trust filed an interlocutory application praying that during the pendency of petition, it be permitted to operate bank accounts for paying salaries, taxes, utilities and maintenance of the royal properties and towards expenses of the charitable hospital.

The application has given details about the expenses that are due for four months from June 1 to September 30, which amount to Rs 2.8 crore, including Rs 80 lakh for monthly salaries of 244 employees in Faridkot, Mashobra, Manimajra, New Delhi and Dhana. The trust has also given details of 12 bank accounts through which the expenses and expenditures are to be met. The trust argued that the banks have frozen its accounts as a result of which the activities undertaken by it are getting affected. However, the defence opposed the application, claiming in the name of expenditure towards fulfilling the objectives of the trust, the amounts are being misused.

The double bench of justice Umesh Lalit and justice Ravindra Bhat said since the activities undertaken by the trust are in the nature of running a hospital and philanthropic causes, at this stage, it is permitted to operate the accounts strictly for purposes enumerated in the application. However, the maintenance, repair and upkeep of properties were not included in this. The details of the expenses incurred and the credits received shall be placed on record periodically, the court said.

 

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