The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust at Shirdi, the second richest temple trust in India, has come under the scanner of the Bombay High Court.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by two agriculturists from Ahmednagar, Rajendra Uttamrao Shelke (31) and Suresh Patil (52) that alleges misappropriation of funds and raises questions over the trust having the same managing committee for the last six years.
The PIL had alleged that the trustees, including the Minister for Transport and Ports and Law and Jurisdiction, Radhakrishna Eknath Vikhe Patil, have “freely indulged in the misutilisation of funds and acts of gross negligence, and were responsible for mismanaging.” Although the temple trust is managed under a separate Act, the Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) Act, 2004, the Maharashtra government has still not framed rules to govern the trust.
The high court recently directed the government to frame the rules at the earliest, to govern the trust as provided under provisions of the Act.
“Functioning of a public trust involves not only adherence to the provisions of law but a sense of devotion. Public sentiments and dedication is attached to such trusts.
There cannot be any dispute that the functioning of such trusts shall exhibit fairness and transparency,” observed the division bench of Justice N.D. Deshpande and N.H. Patil.
The court directed the government to keep a proper record of the meetings of the Managing Committee, Advisory Council and Bhakta Mandal.
The court also asked the government to consider forming a new managing committee. A managing committee was appointed in August 2004 when the new trust was formed after the enactment of the Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) Act.
The Act provided for a three-year tenure for the members of the managing committee.