Citing a "monetary crisis" caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Osho International Foundation (OIF) has initiated the process to sell two plots located at the Osho International Meditation Resort here in Maharashtra for Rs 107 crore.
However, the move has triggered a row with two disciples of deceased godman Osho Rajneesh raising an objection and filing an intervention petition before the charity commissioner.
Zurich-based OIF, which owns the Osho International Meditation Resort or Osho Ashram, has sought permission from the Charity Commissioner to sell two of its plots (about 9,836 square meters) in the resort located at posh Koregaon Park area here to Rajivnayan Bajaj of Bajaj Auto and Rishabh Family Trust for Rs 107 crore.
However, two disciples of Osho- Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Premgeet and Kishor Raval alias Swami Anad--have filed an intervention petition before the charity commissioner, Mumbai challenging the proposed sale of land.
The commune, started by Acharya Rajneesh, has stopped all its meditation activities. The commune is currently closed due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In its application, the OIF submitted that "looking at the present situation in India and around the world and the uncertainty about the continuation of COVID-19 effect, it would not be possible to restart the meditation activities in the near future. This has severely affected the cash flow of the trust, leading it into the dire need of funds to meet its financial obligations".
The application further stated that the situation caused on the account of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a situation whereby the applicant Trust will not have any income for a long period of time but there will be fixed costs for maintaining the premises and the properties of the Trust.
"Considering this financial crisis, the applicant Trust is left with no resort but to alienate its rights in the said property," it stated.
The OIF also said that it will face a "heavy monetary crisis" in the event of its application getting rejected.
"On the contrary, if the applicant Trust alienates the said property, it shall have an adequate cash flow to maintain its properties, upkeep of various premises, staff salaries and it shall be able to achieve its aims and objects," the OIF said.
As per the application, the OIF received bids from Atul Choradia, A2Z Online Services Pvt Ltd and Rajivnayan Rahulkumar Bajaj and Rishabh Family Trust.
"Since Bajaj was the highest bidder with Rs 107 crore, the decision was taken to alienate the Trust's rights in the said property in favour of Bajaj," it said.
Objecting to the decision, Swami Premgeet, one of the petitioners and a member of the Osho Friends Foundation (OFF), said their application filed before the Charity Commissioner, Mumbai, has been allowed.
"We will file our objections against the application filed by the OIF," he told PTI, adding that the matter is kept for hearing on March 15.
Swami Premgeet said the major objection was publishing the tender notice advertisement to invite offers for the said property in Mumbai when the property is located in Pune.
"Why the tender notice did not have the name of the owner of the property, and name of the trustees. How will people know which property is for sale and who are the trustees or the owners," Premgeet said, alleging that the tender notice was a complete violation of rules laid by the charity commissioner.
"The Trust's application states that from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 (during lockdown), the trust spent Rs 3.65 crore on the objects of the trust. Now when the entire country was under lockdown and Ashram doors are closed till date, where these Rs 3.65 crore were spent," he questioned.
When contacted, Maa Amrit Sadhana, spokesperson and one of the trustees of the OIF, said the matter was "sub judice".
In a statement, Maa Sadhana said the decision to sell off the property has been taken to ensure the survival and continued care of the meditation resort in the face of a "very cloudy and unknown future due to COVID-19".
She added that there are many unknowns going forwards, including the major economic disruption caused by the pandemic with protracted limitations on international travel, border controls and compulsory quarantines on top of significant concerns about safety.
"These issues are further exacerbated by the recent emergence of more infectious covid variants. These variants are now reinfecting people who have previously had covid and are threatening to compromise the efficacy and distribution of vaccines already a mammoth, long-term undertaking," she said.
Maa Sadhana further added that the proposed sale is now awaiting the Charity Commissioner's permission.
"Basho is just 10% of the meditation resort property.
The campus is very large and provides for many locations for the replacement of the Basho components, including the pool, the jacuzzi and so on. New designs for these are being worked on.
"The funds that will be coming from this sale will ensure a continuous income stream for the maintenance and care of the campus, no matter how long it takes before we can go back to the new normal," she stated.