Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The accounts of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust are not published or made public to enable the inmates, disciples and devotees to know

nandivarman.rediffiland.com/ Tuesday 8 July, 2008
22:18 7/Jul/2008

The issues now being debated with regard to Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville had been debated before courts of this land. One such case is the Scheme Suit filed by N. Nandhivarman and an octogenarian D.K. Ramanujam, founding member of the CPI[M], freedom fighter and Tamrapatra awardee, who is no more. The following dismissed case contains the collective views of both the petitioners belonging to two different political streams of thought.
In the court of the principal District Judge at
Pondicherry. Unnumbered Scheme Suit O.S. No. /97

N. Nandhivarman, General Secretary Dravida Peravai
69, Ranga Pillai Street, Pondicherry - 605 001.

The rules framed then were incomplete and did not provide room for democratic functioning and transparency. The trustees should have approached the appropriate court of jurisdiction for evolving a scheme to manage the trust and for framing up of the rules once Mother passed away. The trustees should have taken into confidence the disciples in the Ashram and convened a general body meeting to collectively evolve rules and regulations in consonance with the laws of the land, as applicable on that day. The lacunae, still persists and pathis suit is intended to seek the intervention of the Hon'ble Court to frame a scheme for the proper management, accountability and transparency in running the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. The disciples who became inmates mostly parting away their properties are disillusioned lot, with the way the trust manages this ashram defeating the spiritual purposes for which it came into existence. The trust seems to have been hijacked for serving the needs of the vested interests...

even today the donations by cheques drawn in favour of The Mother is received by Sri Aurobnindo Ashram Trust, and also unfortunately accepted by our Banks in contravention of all normal banking practice as donations for Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust...

The only provision in the deed of Trust is the absolute discretion given to the Mother in article 9 to appoint Trustees. It is the power that cannot be exercised by the other Trustees. It follows, therefore that after the Mother left her body, the power vested in article 9 becomes inoperative. Thus after, the passing away of the Mother, the appointment of Trustees or Trustees by the existing Trustees is illegal and is a fraud on the Trust. The wishes and the intention of the author of the Trust, the Mother is the primary importance in the matter of appointment of Trustees. The instruments of Trust require to be interpreted properly to appoint new Trustee or Trustees. It was never the inception of the Mother to hand over the appointment of the Trustee or Trustees to the whims and fancies of the existing Trustees. Appointment of Trustee or the Trustees is thus a vital matter and inmates of the ashram should have some voice in choosing the Trustee or Trustees. Here also Trustees should be appointed by a good electoral college. That is to say by Beneficiaries or inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. The plaintiffs pray to the Hon’ble court to evolve proper schemes for democratising the Trust...

No Trustee or majority of the Trustees have any power to expel any other Trustee. The Deed of Trust does not mention the period for which appointed Trustees should hold the office. If the Trustees are to hold office during their life time, then there is danger of mismanagement due to their old age incapability of performing their duty in the execution of Trust. Also, indirectly the management is likely to go into the hands of undesirable and incompetent persons...

Further the trustees have deposited huge amounts violating the guidelines of the Indian Trusts Act Sec. 20. The trusts have not deposited the amount in the Government security but on the other hand they have lent monies without any proper security. The trustees of SAAT being also the members of the other subsidiary business trusts found it convenient to transfer the SAAT monies for their own benefit. The trustees on repeated reminders have not chosen to place the accounts for public scrutiny. The accounts of SAAT or any of the subsidiary business trusts are not published or made public to enable the inmates, disciples and devotees to know what is actually happening. The above acts of the trustees will clearly show the accounts have not been properly maintained and money not being invested according to the true SAAT Deed of the said Trust...

From this it becomes amply clear that the power centered around the trust board of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust remains within the handful who are undemocratic in character and power crazy in practice. Both the trusts are having the same trustees on that date and these trustees are frightened to share power with any one of the 1200 and more inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Lack of trust is a reciprocal matter. The inmates who are treated as bonded labourers can never have trust, faith, confidence and respect for the coterie that has hijacked a movement to serve its own agreed and personal interest...

all commercial exctivities go on in innumerable subsidiary trust names to provide scope for a few to control the economic levers of the defendant trust. These subsidiary trusts that are doing trade industry and business is engaging the inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram as employees. The inmates are taken care of by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust by providing food, shelter and other amenities. The subsidiary trusts that engage the inmates do not pay them proper salary or minimum wages which are statutary. The plaintiffs allege this as fit case of exploitation and call it a practice of bonded labourship. The second category of locals employed by these units are contract labourers which the Highest Court of the land directs to abolish. The plaintiffs would like to recall the words “charity begins at home”. The charitable trust that avails income tax concessions and deprives the National Exchequer its due, is expected to atleast desist from exploiting the inmates of the Ashram who are forced to do free service and the another category called devotees from whom also free service is demanded. The local people employed should atleast be made permanent and get all the protection of the labour laws of the land. The trustees of these subsidiary trusts, who are also continuing for their life time as long as they enjoy the patronage and protection of the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, are well entrenched by continuing to have their grip over these subsidiary trusts with the help of an anti-social grouping of their own creation. Only by a thorough probe, audit, enquiry and complete revamp of the trust board things can be set right...

The Hon’ble III Additional District Munsif in his judgement said

“it is crystal clear that though there is absolute control and management to be exercised by the Ashram Trustees, there is no any whisper or any measure or any arrangements made either in the trust act or in the regulations of the trust by fixing a criteria for expelling an inmate from the Ashram for any of the alleged misconduct”.

This is a vital lacunae that has to be attended to. Otherwise anti social land grab mafias will swindle and swallow the monies and properties belonging to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and seek immunity from expulsion.

Dated at Pondicherry 11th day of August 1997
Sd/- Sd/-
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