Oct 25, 2016

Special team may probe ‘diversion’ of funds from Osho foundation

Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
October 26, 2016

A special team is likely to be formed to probe the allegation pertaining siphoning of funds from Osho Foundation to private accounts of a few individuals abroad.

Conceding that a lot needs to be done by the police to probe the alleged fraud, public prosecutor Sandip Shinde on Tuesday informed the Bombay high court that a single police officer will not be able to handle the entire probe and a special team is needed to investigate the case from all aspects.

He informed the division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice PD Naik that the police will require to scrutinise records available with the Charity Commissioner’s office relating to the trust, investigate the source of funds and the alleged diversion of funds. He said though pursuant to directions of the court a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) is supervising investigation, it will be difficult for a single officer to investigate all aspects of the matter and assistance of persons conversant with financial aspects will also be required.

Shinde was responding to a petition filed by Yogesh Thakkar, a Pune resident and follower of Osho, alleging that though the Koregaon Park police station registered an offence three years ago on the basis of his complaint regarding forgery of the spiritual guru’s signature on his purported will and diversion of funds of Osho Foundation, no steps have been taken by the police to probe these allegations.

According to Thakkar’s counsel, advocate Pradip Havnur, though the FIR was registered on December 8, 2013, the police did not bother to obtain the handwriting report from the experts to ascertain the veracity of Osho’s will, which surfaced in a Spanish Court 23 years after the spiritual guru’s death.

Responding to the allegations, the public prosecutor on Tuesday informed the court that according to one of the accused, the original will has been destroyed, and what was presented to the handwriting expert was a photocopy of the certified copy of the will, and the expert has expressed his inability to give any opinion as regards Osho’s signature on the will.

The judges reacted to the revelation stating that obtaining report of a handwriting expert was not the only mode of investigation available to the police. They said police could at least interrogate the accused to find out if the will was actually made and if it was really made, when was it made, when and how it was destroyed.

“Put an end to these allegations and counter-allegations (by the accused persons, who have sought to intervene in the matter), at least come out with a prima facie conclusion, one way or the other,” said the judges. They added that forgery (of signature on the purported will of Osho) was just one aspect of the matter, besides there is trust property, diversion of trust funds and all these aspects are required to be properly investigated.

The bench has now posted Thakkar’s petition for further hearing after six weeks with a direction to the investigating officer to submit a report of progress in investigation.


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