Reference to the Calcutta Court Case

by Adridharana das, Temple President Iskcon Calcutta, India
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GBC / Guru Court Case

Newsletter No.1, Date: September 1, 1999

As you may know a court case against the GBC and all the initiating gurus has been filed in the Calcutta high court, where the GBC is registered.

Firstly I think it is important to dispel a number of myths about this case:

Myth 1

"We are suing ISKCON"

FACT: The case is against the GBC and named individuals only, not ISKCON.

The GBC in their wisdom, decided in 1993, to register themselves separately and officially distinct from ISKCON. Thus taking action against them and isolating them from ISKCON, has been facilitated by them. We are only challenging the mismangement of the leaders, not Srila Prabhupada's institution.

Myth 2

"We are like the Gaudiya Matha, fighting over properties, and trying to elect an acarya."

FACT: The case is primarily about a GBC resolution, which the GBC as the managers of the society, have disobeyed. No properties or money are involved, and no acaryas are being elected. Indeed the case simply seeks to restore the acarya, Srila Prabhupada. The GBC resolution in question, states that only directives from Srila Prabhupada can be followed, and does not allow for the abandonment of these instructions without counter-instructions from Srila Prabhupada:

" Resolved: The GBC (Governing Body Commission) has been established by His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to represent him in carrying out the responsibility of managing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of which he is the Founder-Acharya and supreme authority. The GBC accepts as its life and soul his divine instructions and recognises that it is completely dependent on his mercy in all respects. The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread his teachings to the world in their pure form." (Definition of GBC, Resolution 1, GBC minutes 1975)

Myth 3

"These matters can be resolved internally, and there is no need to go outside for justice"

FACT: A number of temple presidents were asked to present their concerns at the GBC meetings in Mayapur this year. However after we had presented our case, the GBC responded by simply expelling us. Thus we were left with no recourse but to bring them to task using the full force of the law, a law incidentally the GBC concurred with, by registering themselves officially in Calcutta.

The case was filed in March, but is coming up for hearing again today, the 30th August. This is because the GBC have continually asked for adjournments, due to a number of problems they face. As well as the fact that they have no case, there has been worldwide pressure from devotees that they remove Satyadhanya Das, the convicted child-abuser, as their official attorney. The affidavit-in-reply that has been supplied by the GBC, names only Satyadhanya as theIr official power of attorney. Even Bir Krishna Goswami, the GBC chairman has agreed that he must be removed.

Unfortunately no such action has yet been taken. All this pressure will now explode once the news that yet another child abuse case against Satyadhanya has been discovered by the ISKCON office of Child protection. However this is top secret, and the authorities have been told to 'sit on it' lest their court case in Calcutta gets further damaged.

We will send you further news as soon as we get it.

We intend to send these updates out reguarly. As previously mentioned please send us e-mails of others who you think may wish to receive them.

GBC Lose First Round of Court Case
Newsletter No.2, Date: September 12, 1999

The GBC v IRG Court case was finally heard in the Calcutta High Court on 30/8/99, after weeks of delay tactics by the GBC, who continued calling for adjournments.

As mentioned previously, we are currently in the 'interim order' stage, where the plaintiff (IRG) asks for certain reliefs from the court, before the main case is heard. The IRG's main request - that the GBC be prevented from expelling those who support our position - was granted by the court. The GBC's main contention - that this case must be thrown out because it deals with a religious subject matter, which is beyond the jurisdiction of the court - was not granted.  The full text of this interim judgement is given below:

T. No. 449 of 1999

The Court : On this application I had already passed an interim order of injunction restraining the defendants from expelling the plaintiffs and that order is still subsisting.

I confirm the said interim order and the same shall abide by the result of the suit.

It is stated on behalf of the defendants that the suit is not maintainable as the subject matter involves religious matter and by reason of Section 9 of CPC the court cannot entertain and determine such matter.  I dispose of this application by the following order :

Hearing of the suit be expedited, written statement, if any, filed within 4 weeks from date, cross order for discovery within 3 weeks thereafter, inspection forthwith thereafter and the suit will appear in the perspective list 7 weeks hence.

Mr. Gupta appearing for one set of members of the sect has made an application for addition of parties. That application shall be heard by the learned judge who takes up the suit for hearing.

This order is passed without prejudice to the rights & contention of the parties as to maintainability of the suit also.

All parties are to act on a signed copy of the minutes of this order on the usual undertaking.

Assistant Registrar
High Court O.S. Calcutta

The points to note are as follows:

1. Since the court has confirmed the order that prevents the GBC from expelling the plaintiffs (IRG), this effectively gives a 'green light' to those in ISKCON who support our position, but who have hitherto not openly come out in support for fear of expulsion. Even though such individuals may not be specifically named in this suit, the court order can be used as a basis to afford them similar relief, since their circumstances would be similar.

2. The GBC's only hope in this case, was to get it thrown out on the basis that it is a religious matter, and therefore cannot be decided by the court. In not accepting this argument, and instead referring the case for a main hearing, the court has severely weakened the GBC's defence. No doubt the GBC will continue to try and get the case thrown out on the grounds of the subject matter being outside the court's jurisdiction, but after this judgement, their hope of succeeding in this ploy becomes even more remote; and instead the GBC will now be forced to argue the case on the IRG's 'home' ground - the written directives of Srila Prabhupada. This was something that they have been trying to avoid at at all costs since then the court is sure to decide in favour of the IRG, since the July 9th directive and Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament, are both inviolable written directives.

Thus so far, everything remains on track with the plan to reinstate Srila Prabhupada as the acarya of ISKCON. The GBC have already made attempts to settle this case with us, and no doubt will try again, and thus we will keep you informed of the next developments in the court case as soon as they happen.

Court Case Update
Newsletter No.6, Date: October 17, 1999

(This item is provided by Madhu Pandit das in Bangalore)
CHAKRA has recently posted two articles about court cases involving Adridharan Das, the temple president of ISKCON Calcutta. In both accounts, an attempt has been made to show that Adri has 'lost' these cases. Indeed so keen were CHAKRA to post this congratulatory information, that they even got the date of their postings wrong, stating the 15th September, instead of October. Unfortunately as will now be seen, the celebrations are somewhat premature, just as premature, in fact, as the idea that Srila Prabhupada was no longer the Diksa Guru for ISKCON was in 1977. Indeed we have reports that disciples of HH Jayapataka Swami have been directed to hold feasts in recognition of the 'defeat' of the court case against the GBC.

In CHAKRA's defence we will note that they fully admit that they had not actually seen the court verdict for one of the cases, and that they did invite us to comment. We hope therefore that they will have the honesty to post this explanation, just as they have indicated they will.

CHAKRA's comments will be enclosed in speech marks, with the facts following underneath. We will start with the first article which related to the ongoing case against the GBC, that everyone is already familiar with.

"CHAKRA has learned that Adridharan's lawyers have failed in their attempt to have a stay of a court
order decision in a case against ISKCON."

1) What actually happened was that the GBC appealed their defeat in the court case. Adri's lawyers did not attempt to do anything, and thus by definition they could not 'fail' in an attempt they did not even make.
2) The GBC attempted by means of an appeal to get the case thrown out, having already failed once.

"According to unnamed sources, the Indian Division Bench passed a judgment on Adri's main case before the court regarding Adri's attempt not to be expelled by ISKCON. Although CHAKRA has not
yet received a detailed copy of the judgment,"

1) It is significant to note that CHAKRA will only quote 'unnamed sources', something which alone should make the reader wary that they do not actually have any confidence in what they are saying - otherwise why the fear to reveal who is stating these 'facts'. After all we are only talking about a court decision here - hardly life-threatening material.
2) Then CHAKRA fully admits that as well as having a dubious source they have not even seen a copy of the judgement! Thus this is hardly solid evidence on which to rush forth and hold celebratory feasts!

"It is known that the court made the following general decisions:
The order of Sujit Kumar Sinha is set aside.
The matter is referred back to trial court to decide the matter on merit.In the meantime, the GBC may decide to expel him, however such a resolution would not take effect for 15 days so that plaintiffs have time to respond."

What actually happened was the following:

1) In the original judgement given by the Judge, he did not publish a written reasoning for the judgement. Such a reasoning is usually only given when there is a protest from the losing side, which there was not in this case.
2) However, the lack of an explanation, still gave the GBC a technical ground on which to have the case referred back, so as to receive this reasoning. And this is what has happened here.
3) The case has been referred back purely on technical grounds, not on the actual merit of the case.
4) Thus this legal maneuver by the defendants simply buys them some time, and delays the inevitable rubber-stamping of the original defeat. It is unlikely that with the same facts in play, the same court will come to a radically different decision.
5) Though in such a situation technically the original judgement has to be set aside, the appeal judges have simply re-created the original protection for Adridharan and co., to circumvent the effects of this technical requirement. They have:

a) Made the GBC give an undertaking in court that they would not expel Adri & co.
b) Further still not trusting the GBC, they gave the plaintiffs an even extra layer of protection on top - they said that if the GBC did break their undertaking and carry out an expulsion, the expulsion would be disabled for 15 days, so as to allow the plaintiffs time to go an get an automatic stay order on the expulsion. By giving this 15 day relief, the court has ensured that the status quo will not have changed when the stay order is applied for, thus enabling the stay order to be granted.

6) If the GBC's appeal case actually had any merit, the appeal court could easily have overturned the
original decision and thrown the case out. They did not do this. They simply referred it back due to allow the original court to close a technical loophole.

7) Thus in conclusion, in effect, nothing has changed:

Adri and Co still can not be expelled, and the case is still very much alive and kicking in the court system, and the case continues.

Moving now onto the second case. This is a new matter and involves the ISKCON 'bureau' which is the legal body that runs the whole of ISKCON in India. Unlike the United States, where each temple is an independent non profit corporation, in India, they are all governed legally by this one society, called the bureau, which is registered in Bombay. Ironically, Madhu Pandit is the current secretary of this body, and Adridharan das is also a member. There are 18 bureau members in total. The bureau's chairman is HH Gopal Krishna Maharaja, and he has attempted to call a meeting with an 'open' agenda. It was suspected that the 'open' agenda was purposely put in place to try and take action against Adri & co., via some other maneuver, involving the Bureau. However there are certain rules and regulations of the bureau that would prevent such action being taken. A case was filed questioning amongst other things, the validity of such an agenda.

The court ruled as follows:

1) That though the meeting can go ahead for now, the validity of the meeting still has to be determined by the court, and its judgement will apply retrospectively:

"Reading together powers and duties of the Chairman and the General secretary I am prima
facie of the view that the General secretary has no exclusive power to issue notice *but* it has to be gone into upon affidavits considering the facts and the circumstances of this case and considering submission made by Mr. Pal, learned senior counsel that at no point of time any meeting has been convened by the General secretary."

This is saying that a full hearing still has to take place to determine the actual outcome regarding the validity of the case.

2) Any decisions taken at this meeting will have no effect, until November the 22nd, or when the full hearing of the case takes place, which ever is earlier. Here CHAKRA have quoted the court judgement incorrectly. They have quoted:

"There will be an interim order to the effect that the meeting as fixed in terms of the impugned notice shall be held but effect thereof shall not be given till one week after or until further order of this court whichever is earlier."

However they have left out the word "vacation":

"There will be an interim order to the effect that the meeting as fixed in terms of the impugned notice shall be held but effect thereof shall not be given till one week after *vacation* or until further orders of this court whichever is earlier."

This means that all decisions of the meeting are stayed for 5 weeks instead of 1 week, since the vacation period has already begun, and will continue until the 15th of November. This of course makes a huge difference, since the court has given us plenty of time to go and get stay orders on any decisions passed at the meeting. This is a similar protection to that which was given to us in the first case, whereby the court is disabling any decisions taken so as to leave the status quo unchanged when we apply for a stay order, which will ensure that we will be almost certain to be granted the stay order.

Thus in conclusion the judgement has yet to be given as to the validity of the meeting, and further any decisions taken at the meeting will be stayed long enough for us to go and get them stayed ourselves. Hardly another 'defeat'.

Thus we can see why, as mentioned at the outset, any celebrations are definitely premature. Both court cases have given us exactly what we wanted.

However we can understand why the GBC should wish to raise false hopes amongst its followers, who are naturally demoralised as they see the society lurching from one disaster to the next. Naturally there is a need to manufacture some 'good news' to convince them that all is well in their support of the current unauthorised Guru system. However attempts to falsely boost morale will simply backfire, once the real truth filters down to these followers, and it becomes clear that the program to reinstate Srila Prabhupada as the Guru of ISKCON continues to march on unabated.