High Court Declares ISKCON Bangalore Legally Independent
In a landmark judgement that will have far reaching consequences for many other ISKCON Temples, especially in India, the Bangalore High Court declared that ISKCON Bangalore and its associated properties were a legally distinct entity. In a 60-page judgement the Judge ruled that ISKCON Bangalore had a right to use the ISKCON name and operate as a separate legal entity free from influence from any other ISKCON bodies. Of course, this
“I wish that each and every Branch shall keep their independent identity and cooperate keeping the Acarya in the centre.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Kirtanananda, 11 February, 1967)
“The zonal secretary’s duty is to see that the spiritual principles are being upheld very nicely in all the Temples of his zone. Otherwise each Temple shall be independent and self-supporting.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to All Temple Presidents, 22 April, 1972)
“Do not centralize anything. Each temple must remain independent and self-sufficient. That was my plan from the very beginning, why you are thinking otherwise? Once before you wanted to do something centralizing with your GBC meeting, and if I did not interfere the whole thing would have been killed. […] Otherwise, management, everything, should be done locally by local men. Accounts must be kept, things must be in order and lawfully done, but that should be each temple’s concern, not yours. […] No. Never mind there may be botheration to register each centre, take tax certificate each, become separate corporations in each state. That will train men how to do these things, and they shall develop reliability and responsibility, that is the point.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Karandhara, 22 December, 1972)
The last quote is particularly significant in that this was the exact situation with Bangalore – they had registered the centre separately as early as 1978, and became a separate society in the state of Karnataka. As well as following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, there was another practical reason for doing this – the state government would not grant land for building a temple unless the institution was registered locally.
However, as soon ISKCON Bangalore joined the IRM the GBC and its agent the Indian Bureau (which controls ISKCON Mumbai) attempted to expel the ISKCON Bangalore President Madhu Pandit das, and grab the assets of the temple. However, this judgement has sent these nefarious plans crashing to the ground. The judgement ruled that neither the Indian Bureau, ISKCON Gurus nor any other associated body or agents could interfere in the affairs of ISKCON Bangalore, while at the same time recognising ISKCON Bangalore’s right to claim itself as a bona fide part of ISKCON.
Below we reproduce relevant extracts from the judgement, as well as the press coverage the judgement generated.
“On Consideration of the materials on record, I have come to the conclusion that the plaintiff [ISKCON Bangalore] which is a separate legal entity has produced materials which prima facie show that it has been in existence as a legal entity since more than 20 years and it has got right to maintain and adminster its properties. […] The Plaintiff being a legal entity under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act has got its own bye-laws and it has got a Managing Committee to administer its properties and the defendants could not show that under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, any action has been taken against the plainitff or its members by the Registrar for any illegal activity etc.”
[Judgement of the Honourable Justice M. Farooq, 20/4/2002]
Having thus confirmed the separate legal nature of ISKCON Bangalore, the Judge was therefore obliged to prevent the bogus Gurus and their agents from trying to interfere with the affairs of ISKCON Bangalore:
“In the result, I allow this appeal and set aside the impugned order. There shall be an order of temporary injunction as prayed for by the plaintiff. The Respondent – defendants 1 to 9 and their agents or anyone acting under them are hereby restrained from interfering with the plaintiff’s peaceful possession and enjoyment of the suit properties by the plaintiff.”
[Judgement of the Honourable Justice M. Farooq, 20/4/2002]
(The defendants 1 to 9 include the ISKCON Bureau of India, Gopal Krishna Goswami and Jayapataka Swami amongst others.)
The New Indian Express
Saturday, April 20, 2002
High Court grants injunction against ISKCON-Mumbai
by our legal coresspondent
Bangalore, April 19: The High Court of Karnataka, on Friday, ruled that the Bangalore unit of the International society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a separate and independent legal entity. Juistice A M Farooq, while allowing an appeal by the Bangalore unit, granted an injunction against the Mumbai unit of the ISKCON.
Friday’s injunction orders prevent the Mumbai unit from interfering in the administration or enjoyment of properties or taking possession of moveable or immovable properties that belong to the Bangalore unit of the ISKCON.
The judge ruled that the Bangalore unit, headed by Madhu Pandit Dasa, had a right to maintain and administer its properties. ISKCON, Bangalore had submitted that since it’s inception in 1978, it had built a temple and had a corpus of Rs 39 crore as of date. Justice Farooq, in his ruling on Friday, set aside the trail court’s order vacating maintenance of status quo with respect to the Bangalore unit’s properties.
ISKCON-Bangalore had moved the High Court after the XXVII Additional City Civil Judge, A P Murari dismissed an interim application filed by ISKCON-Bangalore, seeking an injunction against ISKCON-Mumbai in interfering in its day-to-day activities and administration.
The interim application, which was dismissed on Feb 6, also sought a Court order to allow ISKCON-Bangalore to enjoy its properties in Bangalore and Mysore without interference from the Mumbai unit.
The City Civil Judge had also discharged an ex-parte order passed on October 16, 2001 asking the parties to the suit to maintain status quo in the matter.
ISKCON-Bangalore had taken ISKCON Mumbai, Bhima Dasa, Gopalakrishna Goswami (of ISKCON Mumbai), Jayapataka Swami, Vinay Kairo, Ashok Kumar Gupta, B Kiran, Sudhir Chaitanya Dasa (of ISKCON Bangalore), Sarva Aishwarya Dasa (of ISKCON Coimbatore), Registrar of Societies and the City Police Commissioner to court. Costs of Rs 3,000 had been imposed by the City Civil Court on ISKCON Bangalore during the course of its earlier order.
The Asian Age
April 20, 2002
Bangalore, April 19:
The Karnataka high court has allowed an appeal by ISKCON Bangalore and has restrained the Mumbai unit of ISKCON from interfering with the Bangalore unit’s properties.
ISKCON Bangalore submitted that it built up a little corpus out of donations in 1978 and it had grown to the level of around Rs 39 crore. It further submitted that it had built a temple in the city and was managing properties both movable and immovable.
It submitted that ISKCON Mumbai tried to interfere and take possession of its movable and immovable properties forcibly following which ISKCON Bangalore filed a case for an injunction against the Mumbai unit. The trial court refused to grant temporary injunction and had discharged the earlier order passed by it for maintaining status quo by its order of February 6, 2002.
Justice A.M. Farooq after hearing the counsel for the parties, observed that the Bangalore unit was a separate legal entity. Friday’s order of the high court prevents the Mumbai unit from interfering in the management of the Bangalore unit or any of its properties. (agencies)