`Cash allegedly belonging to Sai Trust be handed to I-T`

Judge T Gangi Reddy passed the order yesterday while dealing with cross-revision petition of I-T department.

Updated: Mar 03, 2012, 20:31 PM IST

Anantapur: The Second Additional Sessions Court in Hindupur town of Anantapur district has ordered that the Rs 35.5 lakh cash seized by the police from a
vehicle, allegedly belonging to Sathya Sai Central Trust, be handed over to the Income-Tax Department.

Judge T Gangi Reddy passed the order yesterday while dealing with cross-revision petition of I-T department, and the two petitions filed by a Bangalore-based consultant firm and some devotees, seeking return of the money.
While upholding the magistrate`s order, the judge rejected the petitions of the firm and devotees, and directed the police to hand over the money to the I-T department.

Claiming the money, the two petitioners had contended
that the seized cash had been given by late Sathya Saibaba`s
devotees to the consultant for the construction of a "Maha
Samadhi" (a memorial) for the spiritual leader who passed away
on April 23 last year.

The I-T department, on the other hand, had sought clarity
over the lower court`s order which had mentioned the name of
an Income Tax officer for the purpose of handing over the
seized cash, said special public prosecutor KC Krishnareddy.

The department had sought a direction that the money
should be handed over to the department, and not in the name
of an individual officer. The sessions court agreed to this,
the public prosecutor said.

Sathya Sai Central Trust today issued a clarification,
saying that it had not filed any petition seeking return of Rs
35.5 lakh, nor had it ever claimed ownership of the amount.

It also reiterated that the vehicle in which cash was
found did not belong to the trust.

A four-wheeler carrying Rs 35.5 lakh was stopped by
police at Kodikonda check-post under Chilamanthur police
station limits of Anantapur district on June 18 last year.

Police arrested three persons, namely, the driver
Harishnanda Shetty, Chandrasekhar and Sohan Shetty. They later
got bail.

Subsequently, police served notices to top officials of
the Sai Central Trust, including Sathya Sai Baba`s nephew RJ Ratnakar, for investigation.