The Tipnis report: Siddhivinayak temple fraud synopsis

Shri Keval Semlani, a local resident of Prabhadevi had filed a litigation in 2003 against the temple trust accusing the trust of giving away huge donations to organistions owned by politicians.

Organisations mentioned in the litigation by Mr. Semlani and donations received from Siddhivinayak temple trust :

1. Dada Undalkar Smarak Samiti – Rs. 86 Lakhs 2. Shikshan prasarak Mandal Kankavli – Rs. 50 Lakhs 3. Sindhudurg Prasarak Mandal – Rs. 50 Lakhs 4. Shivtej Arogya Seva Samiti – Rs. 50 Lakhs.

The High Court appointed a special enquiry committee led by Shri Vijay Tipnis, ex-magistrate, to examine the monetary affairs of the Siddhivinayak temple trust. The Report submitted by the committee exposed the trust and its corrupt affairs to the world.

Government Nationalized the Siddhivinayak temple trust according to a new law in 1981. This law entitles a committee of 11 members to control functioning of the trust. However, the selection criteria for posts of treasurer, President are not specified.

Present Treasurer : Mrs. Vijaya Patil (Characteristic : She herself is an Atheist) Chief Executive Officer(?!) : Shri Sanjay Bhagwat (Attitude devotees are customers!) (He is not CEO now – editor)

These people who have been selected out of personal contacts of the ruling parties have now been proven to be beneficiaries of the ruling Sonia Congress and Nationalist Congress parties.

 

Directions to use of temple funds

The law mentions that the temple Funds must be first used for maintenance and repairing of temple premises and idol. Secondly, it should be used for providing facilities to devotees. Thirdly, If any amount remains, it should be used to construct restrooms for devotees and with permission of the Government, may be used for monetary help to educational organisations, hospitals and dharmic organisations only. Lastly, there is a special mention that prior to donating, the temple trust must be able to prove that the Funds are Surplus.

A summary of corrupt affairs of the trust

Siddhivinayak ttrust has become a personal “Jagir” for the ministers – Tipnis Report

  • 600 applications for donations have been lying since 1994.
  • Subsequent to the trust’s decision to reject any applications before 2000, since 2001, 364 applications have been considered out of which several have been given, several rejected and several shortlisted donations have never been given.
  • Eligibility criteria and reason for donations have not been mentioned in any of the donations made.
  • Donations have been made solely on the recommendations and personal contacts of certain political references. This has been the only major criterion in many cases.
  • Some donations have been made urgently avoiding the formal protocols whereas some donations inspite of being approved stand delayed!
  • Involvement of politicians: Some names mentioned in the Tipnis Report.
    • Shri. Narayan Rane(Congress): Previously Shiv Sena MLA and former Chief Minister but now a Congress MLA.
    • Shri. Vilasrao Deshmukh: Maharashtra’s present Chief Minister
    • Shri. Govindrao Adik: Then law and justice minister
    • Shri. Dilip Sopal
  • Disobedience of the High Court: The High Court passed an order after Keval Semlani litigation prohibiting Siddhivinayak temple trust from giving out any donations. Inspite of that several hundred donations have been made indiscriminately after the court’s decision.
  • Legal Minister’s illegal affairs: No fixed protocol, no System has been followed in the case of accepting applications for donations. Donations have been mostly accepted for Organisations linked with prominent political figures. The clause 18 (3) which states that no trust should give away donations without explicitly stating reasons thereof. Nowhere in the case of Siddhivinayak trust Donations, have the reasons been mentioned and the Government has never objected.
  • As per the trust law, every 3 years a new committee of trustees is elected. In the period between 3rd November 2003 and August 2004, 4 trustees namely Smt. Vijaya Patil (favored by Shri. Govindrao Aadik, Minister), Ravi Bhandari, Sadanand Mandalik and Ravi Goenka. The biggest corruption frauds have happened in this period. Although this committee had provisioned Rs. 5 Crores for Donations for the fiscal 2004-05, in reality, more than Rs. 7.5 crores were given out in donations during the year, for which deposits were debitted from the trust’s Balance Sheet causing a cost of interest of Rs. 2 lacs.
  • Shri. Vijay Tipnis has stated in his report that temple trust Staff is neither sufficiently qualified nor motivated to take good care of devotee’s and visitor’s needs.
  • Finally the Report alleges that the State Ministers do not supervise but utilise the temple trust for their own personal benefits. The trust has become a personal “Jagir” for the ministers.

Quote: ”The most shocking aspect of the matter is that there is no method or principle followed for particular institutions. The only criteria for selection was recommendation or reference by trustees or the minister or a political heavy-weight, generally belonging to ruling party” the committee said in the report submitted to the Bombay High Court. (Ref: UNI news)

Even after this fraud has been exposed, none of the politicians has even bothered to give any explanation or resign!