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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

HC seeks Shirdi trust CEO’s response to improper conduct claims

The court went on to ask CEO Bhagyashree Banayat to explain her behaviour and other actions attributed to her by the PDJ in the report.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
October 23, 2021 1:07:07 am
The bench noted that it has received a confidential letter – dated October 19 – written to the HC registry by the PDJ regarding the conduct of Bhagyashree Banayat. (File)

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court Wednesday took cognizance of a confidential report of the Ahmednagar principal district judge (PDJ) – head of the court-appointed ad hoc committee that manages daily affairs of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan in Shirdi – which had referred to alleged objectionable behaviour of the chief executive officer (CEO) of the trust.

The court went on to ask CEO Bhagyashree Banayat to explain her behaviour and other actions attributed to her by the PDJ in the report.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Sanjay G Mehere was hearing two public interest litigations filed by Uttamrao Shelke and Nikhil Dorje, challenging the constitution of a new managing committee for the Sansthan, chaired by NCP MLA Ashutosh Kale, through a September 16 notification issued by the Maharashtra government.

Observing that the new committee is “prima facie defective and incomplete”, as it did not represent persons from requisite categories as per rules, the bench had on October 14 restrained the panel from taking charge of the trust. The court had then directed the ad hoc committee – appointed by it in 2019 – to continue handling the affairs of the trust.

On October 20, Government Pleader D R Kale told HC that the state desired to file a detailed reply to the pleas to justify that the candidates who have been nominated fit into the scheme of law and that it desired to support such nominations with affidavits and material available with it. The HC asked the state to file an affidavit by October 27 and posted further hearing on October 28.

Thereafter, the bench noted that it has received a confidential letter – dated October 19 – written to the HC registry by the PDJ regarding the conduct of Bhagyashree Banayat.

“About seven instances of her behavior and steps initiated, which may amount to overbearing the authority of the principal district judge, are set out. Further instances are listed out, which would indicate her actions to be contrary to the directions of this court dated October 14. He has also annexed a copy of the letter dated October 14 addressed by her to the PDJ and the last paragraph of the said letter amounts to taunting the judicial officer and showing disrespect to him,” the HC said.

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