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Bombay high court asks Pune police to probe embezzlement of funds by Osho Foundation

The FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by resident Yogesh Thakkar, an ardent follower of Osho, complaining of embezzlement of funds by some of the trustees  

mumbai Updated: Jan 17, 2018 00:00 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Bombay high court,Osho Foundation
The division bench of justice Bhushan Gavai and justice BP Colabawalla has now sought response from the commissioner of police, Pune, as to whether he was willing to handover the probe into the First Information Report (FIR) registered with Koregaon Park police station to the EOW(FILE)

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday said the allegations of embezzlement of funds from Neo Sanyas Foundation, formerly known as Osho Foundation, should be investigated by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Pune police.

The division bench of justice Bhushan Gavai and justice BP Colabawalla has now sought response from the commissioner of police, Pune, as to whether he was willing to handover the probe into the First Information Report (FIR) registered with Koregaon Park police station to the EOW. The judges felt that since the main crux of the accusations in the case involved financial transactions, it was necessary to handover the probe to a specialised agency like the EOW.

The FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by resident Yogesh Thakkar, an ardent follower of Osho, complaining of embezzlement of funds by some of the trustees and violations under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) by using a forged will of the spiritual guru.

According to him, a document stated to be Osho’s last will and testament surfaced in legal proceedings in Spain, 23 years after death of the spiritual guru and a number of Osho followers subjected a photocopy of that document to forensic examination and found it to be forged.

The petitioner has accused Osho International Foundation (OIF), Switzerland, and its trustees Mukesh Sarda, Michael Byrne, John Andrews, D’Arcy Byrne and Klaus Steeg of defrauding the Neo Sanyas Foundation of crores of rupees.

The petitioner’s lawyer, advocate Pradip Havnur, submitted that the accused have floated private companies, and money which should legitimately come to the local Osho trust is being deposited in accounts of those private entities.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, who represented two interveners from Italy, alleged that crores of rupees were earned by selling the Intellectual Property Rights which legitimately belong to the local Osho body were being siphoned off.

The petitioner has also demanded that a police complaint pending before the economic offences wing (EOW), Mumbai, dated February 9, 2017 also be registered as an FIR and that the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 be invoked to look into this “multi-million dollar fraud”.

Advocate Sandesh Patil, who represented the Enforcement Directorate, however, contended that the agency would not be able to ascertain whether there were violations of the provisions of FEMA in the financial transactions involved in the case, unless the title to the intellectual property rights was decided.

The Osho disciple has also sought investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the suspicious death of the spiritual guru. In his petition, 57-year-old Thakkar has alleged that when Osho was on his death-bed, those close to him had kept a doctor present at his Ashram in Pune, but used him merely to issue death certificate after he left his body.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 00:00 IST