SC orders status quo on Iskcon property row

Apex court wants parties to amicably resolve differences

A vacation Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar directed for status quo in the ongoing property dispute between the Bangalore and Mumbai units of the world famous Hindu religious group established by A C Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada Swami.

The court also asked the counsel appearing for the Bangalore and Mumbai centres to thrash out their differences to resolve the issues amicably. “We expect that this august institution will not indulge in unnecessary litigation. Please make efforts to ask these people to sit together to resolve the matter,” the court said asking senior advocates U U Lalit and A M Singhvi, appearing for the Bangalore and Mumbai centres respectively, to work out their differences.

In a special leave petition, the Bangalore unit of Iskcon challenged the Karnataka High Court order passed on May 23 entrusting the ownership of its entire property at Hare Krishna Hills to the Mumbai unit.

Admitting the petition, the court said there would not be any interference in the day-to-day administration of the Bangalore unit of Iskcon. It posted the matter for further hearing after vacation in July.

A Division Bench of the High Court, while allowing a petition filed by the Mumbai unit of ISKCON, had said there was no legal existence of the Bangalore society. The High Court had taken consideration of the plea that since the administration of Iskcon Bangalore was from Mumbai, the latter cannot control the administration from Mumbai and be allowed to take over.

The court had pointed to “falsification” of accounts by Bangalore unit’s president Madhu Pandit Das. The Bangalore unit of Iskcon  was established in 1978 by the Mumbai unit which had selected Das as president of the new branch in 1984.

Das functioned under the directions of Mumbai and was supposed to send annual audit
report as per the bylaws of Mumbai Iskcon. But, the problem arose after the Mumbai-based organisation reportedly found certain differences in the audit report and alleged “change in philosophy” of the Iskcon’s Bangalore branch.

A civil court passed a decree in favour of the Bangalore unit in 2009 which was overturned by the High Court on May 23.

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