Bombay high court temporarily restrains new Sai Baba Sansthan committee from functioning

The civil application in the Bombay high court challenged the constitution of the committee on the ground that it violated the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust Act by inducting political personalities without following any transparent procedure
Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday restrained the state-appointed committee for management of the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi, from taking any policy decisions, sanctioning expenditures, making appointments or inducting new members till the HC heard the civil application filed in public interest litigation (PIL), which challenged the appointment of the committee.
Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday restrained the state-appointed committee for management of the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi, from taking any policy decisions, sanctioning expenditures, making appointments or inducting new members till the HC heard the civil application filed in public interest litigation (PIL), which challenged the appointment of the committee.
Published on Sep 22, 2021 05:41 PM IST
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ByKAY Dodhiya, Mumbai

Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday restrained the state-appointed committee for management of the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi, from taking any policy decisions, sanctioning expenditures, making appointments or inducting new members till the HC heard the civil application filed in public interest litigation (PIL), which challenged the appointment of the committee.

The division bench of justice Ravindra Ghuge and justice Sanjay Mehere, while hearing the civil application filed by Uttamrao Shelke in the PIL through advocate Pradnya Talekar, was informed that the state government had appointed a new committee which is chaired by the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) member of legislative assembly (MLA) Ashutosh Kale and the committee had taken charge on September 17.

Talekar further informed the bench that the new committee had scheduled a meeting on September 26, the agenda of which pertained to huge financial transactions.

She also submitted that as the HC had appointed a managing committee in 2019, based on an order of 2012, to oversee the day-to-day working and financial affairs of the Sansthan, the state government could not have appointed a new committee without prior permission or approval of the HC. The committee comprised of a principal district judge, collector of Ahmednagar, CEO of the Sansthan, and a delegate not below the rank of the assistant charity commissioner, Nashik.

The civil application challenged the constitution of the committee on the ground that it violated the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust Act by inducting political personalities without following any transparent procedure. The application also stated that the appointment of members from socially and economically backward classes, as well as specialised backgrounds like public health and business management, were also flouted to allow politically motivated appointments.

Additional government pleader SG Karlekar for the state and advocate AS Bajaj for the trust sought time to file replies to the civil application.

After hearing the application the bench observed, “We have no doubts that the state government is empowered to appoint the managing committee for Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi. However, the peculiar circumstances in which we had passed an order on October 9, 2019, we had thus empowered the Committee to administer the Sansthan and the committee was performing its functions under the orders of this court passed in the PIL from time to time.”

The bench also noted in its order, “...Prima facie, no other managing committee could have dislodged the committee that we had constituted, on the plea of the government has declared the formation of the new committee. In short, the new committee could not have taken charge without obtaining orders from this court as we would then be required to discharge the committee that we had constituted.”

The court while posting hearing of the application to September 23 said, “Until then, the new committee, which is alleged to have taken charge by dislodging the committee that we had constituted, shall refrain from taking any policy decision, sanction expenditure and shall also refrain from making any appointments or inducting any new members, if any, until further orders.”

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Monday, December 06, 2021