The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court said that the Government authorities including the police must work with a secular mindset in order to avoid the general fear of trouble if the case involves any kind of religious feelings. The court also directed the police to register offence for illegal acts that fall under the Black Magic Act, against trustees of Jagadamba Devi Charitable Trust, Mohota in Ahmednagar.
Since 2011, the trustees had buried around 2 kgs of gold in the name of Suvarna Yantra and had misappropriated at least 25 lakhs for performing religious ceremonies.
On February 3rd while hearing a petition filed by social activist and former trustee Namdev Sahebrao Garad the division bench of Justices T V Nalwade and M G Sewlikar were informed by Advocate A S Kale said that the petition sought registration of an FIR against the Trustees who have misappropriated funds and metals in the claim of performing related religious ceremonies.
The petition sought to excavate the religious metals buried under the Idols of God, to check their purity. Further, it sought to direct the CBI to investigate the alleged offences of the trustees and to monitor the same. Also, the petition asked for the audit reports and records between 2009 and 2019.
The petition also had a mention of a complaint registered by Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti in 2017 over alleged illegal activity by the trustees and observed that no action had been taken on the same.
Senior counsel Rajendra Deshmukh representing the temple trust urged the court to dismiss the petition and held that these claims were false allegations and further said that the management had earlier conducted an inquiry after there were complaints from Garad but it was rejected. He held that from then, Garad is using pressure tactics.
The court after hearing both sides observed that it was shocking to note that even a District court judge who was a member of the trust accepted proposals to construct structures for a ceremony that involved burring of Suvarna Yantras.
The court held that the actions of the trustees clearly fell under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013. It further stated that it was not permitted by the Maharashtra Public Trust Act.
The Court addressed the possibility of having a general fear of different kinds because the matter involves religious sentiments and taking action on it can be viewed as an act against God. To this, the court stated that in the view of Article 51-A of the Constitution of India, authorities are expected to work with a secular mindset pursuing only the truth.
The Court disposed the petition and asked the police to register FIR on a complaint filed by ANS and directed that the investigation under deputy superintendent of police is completed by six months.
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