Mumbai Iskcon is the real thing, Bangalore body fake: Karnataka high court
The legal battle between Bangalore and Mumbai arms of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) ended on Monday with the Karnataka high court ruling that the Mumbai Iskcon had rights over the properties of Iskcon, Bangalore.
Hearing the regular first appeal (RFA) filed by Iskcon, Mumbai challenging the April 17 verdict of IX additional civil and sessions court ruling that the property in Harekrishna Hills in Rajajinagar belonged to Iskcon, Bangalore, a special division bench of justices HN Nagamohan Das and Arali Nagraj on Monday observed that the Bangalore body had no right over the scheduled properties.
Iskcon, Bangalore then filed an application seeking a stay on the high court order until it could file an appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court. The application will come up for hearing on Tuesday.
The bench observed that Iskcon, Bangalore was not a legally constituted body and it was a branch of the Mumbai outfit.
The society and office-bearers of Iskcon, Bangalore have no right to interfere with the functioning and managing of the properties in the city.
They had miserably failed to prove the legal existence of Iskcon, Bangalore as an independent autonomous body, it said.
The court also said that there was no evidence on record to show as to when Madhu Pandit Das, president of Iskcon, Bangalore enrolled as a member of the organisation.
It further observed that Iskcon, Bangalore was a defunct society and was taking advantage of the similarity in its name with that of Mumbai Iskcon.
It had fabricated documents and was falsely claiming its right over the properties. There was no evidence on record to show that the properties were built by Iskcon, Bangalore.
The bench further directed that Madhu Pandit Das and other full-time devotees were entitled to continue to function at the Iskcon, Bangalore in accordance with the byelaws and rules of the Mumbai Iskcon.
The Karnataka high court observed that Iskcon, Bangalore was to conduct its first general body within 18 months of its registration in 1978 and elect a governing body.
However, it had not done so which was a clear violation under the Section 1(2) of the Karnataka Societies Registration Act.
From 1978 till March 2002, the plaintiff society had not even filed its returns with the income tax department.
The society filed its income tax returns for the first time in March 2002, showing a fund of about Rs35.59 crore in its balance sheet, the court pointed out.
Iskcon, Bangalore failed to show that it was owner of the immovable property bearing survey nos 174 and 175 in Ketamaranahalli which is now Rajajinagar II stage and property measuring six acres and eight guntas at No 3, 1st cross, 3rd stage Gokula, Mysore.
BANGALORE: The Karnataka high court on Monday said Iskcon (Bangalore) has no legal existence as an independent body.
A division bench comprising Justices H N Nagamohandas and Arali Nagaraj observed: "The plaintiff society (Iskcon, Bangalore) has miserably failed to prove that it has legal existence as an independent, autonomous society. It failed to prove and establish that it is the absolute owner in possession and enjoyment of property. It is found that the plaintiff society is a defunct society. By taking advantage of similarity in the name Bangalore branch of defendant (Iskcon, Mumbai) and by fabricating documents, is falsely claiming the schedule property. There is no evidence on record to show that the plaintiffs built the Iskcon movement in the state of Karnataka and acquired schedule property. The plaintiff society and its office-bearers have no manner of right to interfere with the functioning and administration of the society."
The bench allowed the regular first appeal filed by Iskcon, Mumbai, and set aside the April 17, 2009, verdict of the IX additional civil and sessions court, Bangalore, which ruled that the property at Harekrishna Hills in Kethamaranahalli (now Rajajinagar) belongs to Iskcon, Bangalore, and also is a separate entity.
The bench said: "Madhu Pandit Dasa and other devotees heading the branch are entitled to continue to function in their capacity only in accordance of by-laws and regulations of Iskcon, Mumbai. There is no document to show how Madhu Pandit Dasa and Stoka Krishna Dasa were admitted as members of the society. There was no general body meeting held even though the society was formed in 1978 and there is a governing body of Iskcon, Bangalore in existence in terms of Karnataka Societies Registration Act. There are no I-T returns for 1978-2002 and Rs 39.59 crore was shown as corpus fund without supporting material. A round rubber seal of the plaintiff society was affixed in some correspondence with the BDA and telephone department for the purpose of claiming suit properties."
The counsel for Iskcon, Bangalore, moved an application seeking a stay on the verdict to enable them to file an appeal before the Supreme Court. The bench will take up that application for hearing on Tuesday.
Madhu Pandit Dasa, president, Iskcon, Bangalore, said they had not received a copy of the judgment. "However, Iskcon, Bangalore, will pursue its case within the legal framework and will appeal against this decision in the Supreme Court."
ISKCON fabricated documents: court
Bangalore: The Karnataka High Court on Monday ruled that ISKCON, Bangalore, had falsely claimed properties of ISKCON, Mumbai, with the help of fabricated documents. The former is not an independent autonomous body, but a branch of the latter, the court said.
The court restrained the president of ISKCON, Bangalore, Madhu Pandit Dasa, and other office-bearers from interfering with the functioning, monitoring and administration of the properties, but allowed them to discharge their duties as per the bylaws and regulations of ISKCON, Mumbai.
Pronouncing the judgment on a petition filed by ISKCON, Mumbai, a Division Bench comprising Justice H.N. Nagamohan Das and Justice Arali Nagaraj said, “ISKCON, Bangalore, a society registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960, has miserably failed to prove its legal existence as an independent, autonomous body.” The Bench observed that “it is found that the ISKCON, Bangalore society, a defunct society, by advantage of the similar name of the Bangalore branch of ISKCON, Mumbai, by fabricating documents is falsely claiming the scheduled properties of the latter.” The Bench said the immovable properties on survey numbers 174 and 175 Ketamaranahalli, now Rajajinagar 2nd stage, and No. 3, 1st Cross 3rd Stage, Gokulam, Mysore, belong to ISKCON, Mumbai.
Setting aside the 2009 order of the civil court in favour of ISKCON, Bangalore society, the High Court said that “the reasoning of the civil court order was not supported by any evidence”. “After registration of the plaintiff (ISKCON, Bangalore society) in 1978, it was mandatory to convene the first general body meeting within 18 months and, in turn, it was supposed to elect the governing body. However, it has not done that. It is a clear violation under Section 1 (2) of the Karnataka Societies Registration Act,” the Bench said while holding that the society was not a legally constituted body and “there is no evidence on record to show as to when Madhu Pandit Dasa, president of the society, was admitted as a member of the society”.
Counsel for ISKCON, Bangalore society, sought a stay on the operation of the verdict for 90 days for enabling them to appeal in the Supreme Court. The Bench will hear this plea on Tuesday.
Iskcon Mumbai owns City arm
Hearing a petition by Iskcon Mumbai, the Division Bench comprising Justices Nagamohan Das and Arali Nagraj said that since the administration of Iskcon Bangalore happens from Mumbai, the plaintiff society cannot interfere in the administration of Mumbai.
The Court also restricted any organisation claiming to be from the plaintiff society in Bangalore from interfering with the affairs of the local branch of Iskcon.
“Any organisation claiming under Bangalore plaintiff is restrained from interfering with the affairs of the Bangalore branch of Iskcon registered at Mumbai.”
Stating that Iskcon Bangalore has no legal existence, the Bench upheld the Iskcon Mumbai’s claim that the plaintiff society was defunct.
“There is no legal existence to the Bangalore society. By falsifying accounts, president Madhu Pandit Das has conspired to breathe life into the society.”
Pointing out that Madhu Pandit Das’ statements in earlier litigations that Iskcon Bangalore is a branch of Iskcon Mumbai, the Bench said the property of Iskcon Bangalore is the contribution to original branch at Mumbai.
Stating that none of the documents produced by Madhu Pandit Das show that the property belongs to the plaintiff society, the Bench said that even the tax is paid by the Mumbai organisation.
The court further observed that Das fabricated the documents and the tampered accounts with fabricated papers was disbelieved by the Court. However, the court said that Das and other officers will continue as officer-bearers as per the bye-laws of Mumbai.
However, the Iskcon Bangalore sought to stay the order as they were approaching the Supreme Court. The Bench directed Iskcon Mumbai to file objections on Tuesday.
Iskcon Bangalore, which was established in 1978 by Iskcon Mumbai had selected Madhu Pandit Das as President of the new branch in 1984.
Das functioned under the directions of Mumbai and would send annual audit report as per the bye-laws of Iskcon Mumbai.
However, the process ran into rough weather when the Mumbai organisation found differences in the audit report and deviation from philosophy of Iskcon Mumbai.
A series of legal battles continued until the IX Additional City Civil Court ruled in favour of Bangalore in 2009 and the Mumbai organisation approached the High Court in the year 2011.
Property dispute: Mumbai Iskcon wins
Ending a decade long tussle over ownership of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon), Bengaluru, the high court on Monday ruled that it belonged to Mumbai Iskcon.
A division bench of the high court allowed the petition by Iskcon Mumbai and restricted the plaintiff, Bengaluru’s International Society for Krishna Consciousness, from interfering in its affairs.
Declaring that Iskcon, Bengaluru had no legal existence, the bench upheld Iskcon Mumbai’s claim that it was defunct. “President Madhu Pandit Das has conspired to breathe life into the society by falsifying accounts, ” it said.
Maintaining that none of the documents produced by Madhu Pandit Das showed the property belonged to Iskcon, Bengaluru, the bench observed that even its tax was paid by the Mumbai organisation.
The court,however, said that Das and others would continue as officer bearers under the bye laws of the Mumbai unit. The Bengaluru Iskcon has decided to challenge the order in the Supreme Court.
*Bengaluru Iskcon was established in 1978 by Mumbai branch and Madhu Pandit Das was made president in 1984.
*Das functioned under directions of Mumbai and sent annual audit reports to it as required under its byelaws.
*But when the Mumbai organisation found differences in the audit report and changes in philosophy, a series of legal battles began between the two units.
The original copy of the High Court of Karnataka order will be published here with in 2 days