Mumbai News: HC Dismisses Osho Foundation’s Plea In Koregaon Park Land Deal Case

Mumbai News: HC Dismisses Osho Foundation’s Plea In Koregaon Park Land Deal Case

Noting that the CC has powers under the Act, the high court dismissed OIF’s contention that it had no power to order a special audit in the case.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 02:40 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

The Bombay High Court has dismissed a petition by Osho International Foundation (OIF) and upheld a December 2023 order of a joint charity commissioner denying the Trust permission to sell a part of their Koregaon park land for Rs107 crore.

In 2020, the OIF had sought sanction to alienate part of its Koregaon Park plot in Pune in favour of one Rajivnayan Rahulkumar Bajaj and Rishab Family Trust through Rajivnayan Rahulkumar Bajaj.

The joint charity commissioner had passed a reasoned order concluding that the OIF had failed to make out a genuine and compelling necessity to alienate its valuable property situated at a prime location at Pune.

A bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla upheld the JCC’s order noting that it does not require interference.

JCC Orders Special Audit Amid Financial Crunch Allegations By OIF

OIF cited the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war for financial crunch. However, the JCC did not accept the argument and observed there was no attempt to seek bank loans or donations from its large number of wealthy disciples. It had further observed that the trustees had “diverted funds” to several private limited companies to show losses incurred by the Foundation. The JCC, hence, directed a special audit of the OIF from 2005 to 2023 by a team of two special auditors, the high court remarked.

OIF had challenged the special audit directed by the JCC. The high court said that the charity commissioner has the power under Section 33 of the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act to direct a special audit whenever necessary.

High Court Upholds Powers Of CC In Special Audit Dispute

Noting that the CC has powers under the Act, the high court dismissed OIF’s contention that it had no power to order a special audit in the case.

Abhilasha Foundation was amalgamated with OIF in 2008 and got within its fold a 2.4 acre plot with a bungalow at Koregaon park. In April 2020 to Sept 2020, OIF said it earned Rs 28 lakh but expenses were over Rs 3 crore and to meet the financial troubles decided to sell the property. It placed ads in the newspaper before entering into an MOU with RR Bajaj on December 8, 2020.

Opposition To Proposed Sale Of Trust Properties By Osho's Disciples

The move was opposed by Osho’s disciples and sent by email to the CC office. One of the disciples filed an affidavit in HC contending that the Foundation was “habitual’’ in seeking to alienate the trust properties and proposed sale was valued “very low’’.

The bench said the JCC had observed that the foundation’s contentions of depletion of the corpus of its funds was not supported by the audit reports.

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