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Archive for June 24th, 2011

Andhra Pradesh Intelligence Watch On Sathya Sai Central Trust. AP Gvt Closing In

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 24, 2011

Well wisher from India emails us:  

“It looks like the Andra Pradesh govt is putting the squeeze on the Sathya Sai trust. It appears that the Govt has a definite strategy in mind over a period, and hence the politicians and govt officials have been cold shouldering the SB trust officials (besides giving a silent go ahead for slapping criminal cases against them). The government has already withdrawn 16 exemptions to the SB trust, regarding auditing, some taxes, publishing accounts, being supervised by a govt official etc, among others. Even assets like land as well  as intellectual properties can no longer be sold by the trust without govt permission.

At a high level meeting , Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy (who is not a devotee), brushed aside his cabinet’s apprehensions that SB devotees may be offended by any Govt takeover of the trust. It is strongly indicated that the Govt is moving towards this decision, and the young AP Chief minister (a former state cricketer/wicket keeper) has even put the trust under intelligence watch.

It seems that an “Aurobindo model” as in the Pondicherry Aurobindo ashram is being contemplated, and also possibly the Whitefield ashram may be made an income creating commercial venture or sold off.

If this happens, it could possibly mean the end of the “Sai Baba mission”, and it would exist as just another charity, maybe with a few pictures of Sai Baba here and there”.


India Today

Andhra Pradesh government plans to take over Sathya Sai Baba trust

A. Srinivasa Rao  | Hyderabad, June 24, 2011 | Updated 10:26 IST

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

The Andhra Pradesh government is planning to take over the controversial Sathya Sai Central Trust following the recent seizure of a huge amount of cash from some people close to the trust members.

Chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy held a high-level meeting with officials of the endowments department, chief secretary S. V. Prasad and intelligence department officials on Wednesday evening to discuss reports of alleged irregularities in the Sathya Sai Trust, which manages the multi-crore empire of late godman Sathya Sai Baba at Puttaparthi in Anantapur district.

“In the last four decades, the government has not interfered in the affairs of the trust. But now, we are compelled to intervene in the wake of serious allegations of embezzlement of funds in Prashanti Nilayam. We have sought a report from the trust on its financial dealings and the assets it is holding. Depending on the response from the trust members, we will decide on how to proceed further,” endowments minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah said on Thursday.

Sources said the government is also weighing options of taking over the trust, but that would be as a last resort.

Otherwise, it might even consider canceling the exemption granted to the trust under Section 154 of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997, which would enable the government to have direct supervision over the trust affairs.

“The government has no immediate plans to take over the trust. We will wait until the trust members submit their report,” the minister said.

The government has given strict instructions to the police to probe the trust’s financial irregularities and act tough with erring members. The police had already served notices on trust members R. J. Rantakar and V. Srinivasan, asking them to appear before the superintendent of police before Saturday for interrogation.

The government has also transferred Puttaparthi deputy superintendent of police Narasimhulu, who was allegedly cooperating with the trust members in siphoning off wealth from Yajur Mandir, the personal chamber of Sai Baba. Instructions have also been issued to the local revenue authorities to submit a comprehensive report on whether land transactions had been carried out by the trust members or their associates in the recent past.

The Anantapur police have also alerted the income tax authorities to conduct investigations into the unaccounted cash.

Ratnakar has, meanwhile, sought more time to appear before the police regarding the seizure of Rs 35.5 lakh cash which was being transported out of Prashanti Nilayam. On Thursday, he made an appeal to Anantapur superintendent of police Shah Nawaz Qasim to give him more time. He said he was seeking legal opinion in the case and would provide all the information to the police.

“We are ready to provide all the details to the government. Some vested interests are trying to defame the trust and create mistrust among the devotees,” Ratnakar alleged.

Interestingly, Ratnakar had initially said the trust has nothing to do with the money and claimed it belonged to 12 devotees and that they would appear before the police to give their side of the story. So far, not a single devotee has come forward to stake claim to the money.

There are allegations that Ratnakar was bringing pressure on some students of the Sathya Sai University to stake claim to the money so as to save the trust members, but they have reportedly refused to do so.

Trust member Srinivasan, who was also served notice by the police, has been absconding since. There were reports that the police had grilled him a couple of days back on the cash seized, but the police denied it.


India Today

Finally, Andhra govt to rein in Sai Trust

B Krishna Prasad, TNN | Jun 24, 2011, 07.35am IST
HYDERABAD: Facing flak for not monitoring the affairs of the Sathya Sai Central Trust, the state government has decided to withdraw some of the 16 concessions that the trust has been accorded to carry out its various philanthropic, educational and charitable activities.In a far reaching decision on Thursday, after detailed discussions with the chief secretary, finance and revenue department officials, chief minister Kiran Kumar gave the green signal to withdraw these concessions. “The exercise is meant to bring about more transparency while not restricting the various activities of the trust including the running of hospitals, university and other missions,” said a senior official dealing with the matter.The 16 concessions, ranging from financial to administrative, were granted to the Sathya Sai Central Trust, the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Sathya Sai University, Super Speciality hospitals, medical trust, Radio-Sai, International Sathya Sai Organisation, Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Sai Sadhana Samithi and music divisions.The financial concessions, which include no levy of VAT, building fee, commercial tax, registration fee, customs and other duty for importing medical equipment for the hospitals and subsidised electricity, will continue for the time being. “Our focus is to enable transparency in the working of the trust and its various bodies. Therefore, the various exemptions granted to the trust under the Hindu Temples and Trusts Act, 1987, will be withdrawn,” said the sources.As per section 154 of the said Act, every trust should file its income and expenditure report with the respective state government at least once in three years. Similarly, exemption given under section 59 of the Act allowed the trust to evade information about the assets and property of different trusts. Exemptions given under sections 58, 60, 61 and 65 of the Act allowed the trust not to entertain yearly audit by the government, supervision by deputy collector rank officer, submission of annual profit and loss account.

Likewise, exemptions given under sections 79 and 80 gave the trust power to sell its land, property, intellectual property, publications, music and film productions without giving any information to the government or pass through the supervisory system provided by the government. All these exemptions will now be withdrawn, the sources said.

“On the request of the trust, the Congress government headed by chief minister J Vengala Rao had granted the Sai Trust these exemptions under the Hindu Temples and Trusts Act in the mid-70s. Since then, the Sai Trust has not been answerable to the state at all. The only report that the trust is submitting annually is the foreign donation figure to the Union home ministry, which is a pittance of the total money and assets it generates every year,” said the sources. The state is also contemplating to bring the trust under the provisions of the Right to Information Act. Having decided to withdraw some of the exemptions, the state government is waiting for the report from the Sathya Sai
Central Trust before conveying its intentions.


Today: Fri, Jun 24, 2011

AP govt may tap Sai trust’s assets after takeover

 P Pavan. Posted On Friday, June 24, 2011 at 03:05:18 AM

In Hyderabad In the backdrop of controversies surrounding the Sathya Sai Baba Central Trust, founded by spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba, the Andhra Pradesh government is studying Pondicherry’s Aurobindo Ashram model to control the Sai trust.Under the Aurobindo Ashram model, a government nominee (an IAS officer) is appointed to oversee the trusts’s affairs. Talks about the AP government taking over the Sai trust have been doing rounds for the past many months.Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy took stock of issues relating to the Sai trust on Wednesday night. He called for a report from the trust on its activities, financial position and other details.

The Sathya Sai trust has been mired in controversies after Baba’s death in April

He also called for an intelligence report on the controversies surrounding it. He may consult the cabinet once the trust and intelligence department submit their reports.

With Baba’s death, the flow of donations to the trust is likely to dry up. Therefore, the government feels it should commercially exploit some of the fixed assets of the trust so that the trust activities aren’t hampered in future.

The Sai trust, whose assets are valued at over Rs 40,000 crore, runs several educational and medical institutions, drinking water projects apart from a railway station and an airport.

“For example, the Whitefields in Bangaluru can be converted into a commercial venture so that the income from it can take care of the recurring expenditure on some activities”, said a government source.

Confirming that the state government is considering replicating Aurobindo model in Sathya Sai Trust, a senior minister said, “We are under obligation to respect the sentiments of devotees, continue Trust activities and control any irregularities.”

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