Bombay HC restrains state-appointed panel from taking charge of Saibaba Sansthan
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) has restrained the Maharashtra government-appointed new managing committee from taking charge of the affairs of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan in Shirdi and directed the ad-hoc committee appointed by HC in 2019 to continue until further orders.
The restraining order was passed last week on two public interest litigations, filed by Uttamrao Shelke and Nikhil Dorle, questioning the composition of the new committee constituted by the state government last month. HC observed that the requisite categories of persons, as required under the Sansthan Act and Rules, were not included in the new committee. The bench observed that once the defects in the new committee were cured, it would consider handing over charge to the new committee, provided it conformed to the Act and Rules.
The division bench of justice Ravindra Ghuge and justice SG Mehare was on October 14 informed by the petitioners’ lawyers that the new committee did not have a proper representation of women, socially and economically backward persons and persons having specialised knowledge and hence, it should not be allowed to take charge of the affairs.
As per the Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) Act, 2004, and the Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Appointment of Members of Management Committee and Forms of Declarations) Rules, 2013, the committee had to have at least one woman member as well as one from the socially and economically weaker section, eight members possessing professional or specialised knowledge and seven members from the general category.
The special counsel for the state government submitted that though there were defects, the committee had 12 members that were as per the Rules and hence, they should be allowed to take charge of the affairs of the trust from Tuesday.
“We would be failing in our duty if we permit an incomplete/deficiently constituted committee to take charge of the Sansthan when we are aware of the frequent litigation over almost eight to 10 years in relation to the said Sansthan and this court having quashed the appointment of the management committee on at least one occasion and having appointed an ad-hoc management committee under the chairmanship of the learned PDJ (principal district judge) Ahmednagar on two occasions,” said the bench, while rejecting the special counsel’s contention.
The court then directed the ad-hoc committee to continue to handle affairs of the Sansthan till the PILs were decided.
The bench clarified that it would “consider the handing over of the charge of management of the Sansthan to such (state-appointed) committee, except in the face of any legal impediment,” if the defects are cured.
The PILs are posted for further hearing on Wednesday.