Mumbai: Hearing a petition alleging
misappropriation of funds by trustees of Shree Sai Baba
Sansthan Trust in Shirdi, the Bombay High Court has directed
Maharashtra Government to forthwith frame rules to govern the
affairs of the Trust and constitute a new managing committee
whose term has expired three years back.
Justices N D Deshpande and Naresh Patil, in a recent
order, also asked the state to keep a proper record of
meetings of Managing committee, Advisory Council and Bhakta
The bench noted that since last six years the rules had
not been framed to govern the trust as laid down under Section
25 of Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) Act, 2004.
The judges, however, clarified that this order shall not
be construed to mean that they had approved that the managing
committee constituted under Section 5 of the Act was strictly
in law. The government is at liberty to consider the issue in
respect of constitution of managing committee, the bench said.
The directions were given on an application moved by two
agriculturists from Ahmednagar, Rajendra Shelkar and Suresh
Patil who questioned the government`s decision in continuing
with the Managing Committee although its three-year term
expired in 2007.
The court admitted the petition earlier clarifying that
its pendency would not come in the way of the government in
appointing a fresh committee. However, the committee continued
even after the expiry of its term in 2007.
S B Talekar, Counsel for the Petitioners, argued that the
committees such as `Advisory Council` and `Bhakt Mandal` had
not been constituted in accordance with provisions of Section
18, 19 and 21 of Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) Act.
The Counsel further alleged that the funds of the Trust
were misutilised and the meetings of the Committees and
Council were not at all held as claimed by the respondents.
Talekar said that since last six years, the State had
failed to frame the rules governing the affairs of the Trust.
N B Khandare, Government Pleader, said the petition had
raised question of validity of the Act itself. As the Petition
was already admitted, all these questions (being raised now)
should be addressed and decided at the time of final hearing.
Khandare argued that the Advisory Council, Managing
Committee and Bhakta Mandal were constituted in accordance
with law and the same were in existence and functioning well.
However, he admitted that the Rules under Section 25 of the
Act of 2004 are not yet framed by the State Government.
Denying misappropriation of funds, R N Dhorde, Counsel
of Sansthan, said disbursement of money to deserving trusts
was decided on merits by the Managing Committee. Later, the
proposal was forwarded to Scrutiny Committee (SC) and only
after the SC approved, it was forwarded to the Government.
He said the accounts of the Sansthan were audited and
placed for approval before the State Assembly. Once in a year,
meeting of the Advisory Council and Bhakta Mandal was held.
The members of Managing Committee were functioning to the best
of their abilities and in the interest of Sansthan.