This Article is From Jul 05, 2011

Sathya Sai trust yet to submit report to government

Sathya Sai trust yet to submit report to government
Hyderabad: The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust is yet to submit a report to the Andhra Pradesh government on its functioning even as police intensified its probe into unaccounted cash seized last month.

It was on June 27 that the government sought a report from the trust on its activities in view of the cash seizure and the allegations made by a section of devotees.

According to sources in the endowments department, the trust has not yet sent the details regarding its activities, finances and future. The department had given a 10-day deadline to the trust.

The trust members are reportedly preparing a detailed report, which is likely to be sent to the government soon.

One of the trustees, V. Srinivasan, has declared that the trust would provide whatever information sought by the government.

Informed sources said it was only after studying the report that the government would take a decision on whether to take over the trust or set up a committee to monitor its functioning.

This is the first time since the late Sathya Sai Baba set up the trust in 1972 that the government has intervened in its affairs. The trust has been enjoying several exemptions under Endowments Act.

The state government has justified its action on the ground that the trust faced allegations including those of financial impropriety after Sai Baba passed away on April 24.

Lack of transparency in the functioning of the trust also raised many suspicions.

While addressing a news conference last week, Srinivas had announced that the trust would publish in November an annual report on its functioning and finances.

The move came amid reports that the government is planning to take over the trust and also demands from some devotees that the government constitute a body like Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) to run the trust. However, the trust has rejected the demand for TTD-like mechanism saying it is not a religious entity but a public charitable trust.

Meanwhile, Anantapur police has intensified the probe into seizure of Rs.35 lakh as the investigators are not convinced by the trust claim that the money does not belong to it but was donated by a group of devotees.

The police seized the money from a car on June 19 when it was being transported from Sai Baba's abode Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi to Bangalore. The trust clarified that the money was paid to a Bangalore-based firm for building the 'Samadhi'.

The seizure of the cash and arrest of three persons sparked a huge row as it happened two days after the trust opened Yajur Mandir, the personal chamber of Baba at Prashanti Nilayam.

The trust declared that it found Rs.11.56 crore, 98 kg gold and gold jewelry, 307 kg silver articles inside. But some devotees alleged that huge cash and valuables were either concealed or shipped out of ashram when Baba was battling for life in hospital.

The seizure of cash near Hindupur raised several doubts.

However, a few days after the trust tried to clear them, the district authorities of Anantapur on July 2 found jewels worth Rs.77 lakh from four rooms in Yajur Mandir. The officials said the rooms were not opened by the trust.

The police reportedly found that Rs. 35 lakh seized by it was not donated by 12 devotees as claimed by the trust.

The investigating officers have started questioning the devotees after the bank transaction details furnished by them did not match with the receipts on the bundles of the seized cash.