Sathya Sai Trust lost 16 key government exemptions
Posted by robertpriddy on July 12, 2011
Already on June 22nd, the Andhra Pradesh government, led by Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, decided to withdraw 16 exemption the Trust previously enjoyed in conducting educational and charitable activities. This was the first move towards forcing the Sathya Sai Central Trust towards transparency. In future the trust has to file its income and expenditure report with the respective state government at least once in three years, according to section 154 of the Hindu Temples and Trusts Act (1987). Similarly, exemption given under section 59 of the Act had allowed the trust to skip the need to file information about the assets and properties of different trusts. Exemptions given under sections 58, 60, 61 and 65 of the Act had allowed the trust to do away with the yearly audit by the government, supervision by deputy collector rank officer, and submission of annual profit and loss account. It also lost the power to sell its land, property, intellectual property, publications, music and film productions, without giving any information to the government or adhering to the need to pass through the supervisory system provided by the government. All these exemptions will now be withdrawn, sources said.
At the same time, the Trust was for the time being not to be charged Value Added Tax, building charges, commercial tax, registration fees, customs and other import fees for medical equipment. Probably, not to have continued these concessions would have seriously damaged the running of the institutions run by the Trust and caused a backlash from the many persons who benefit from them. Such a change would be drastic when the fall-off of donations – especially from abroad – which is bound to follow the revelations about the Trust’s dealings and the actions of certain trustees. Not least among the concerns of many devotees is the continuing refusal of the Trust to make public all details of events during Sathya Sai Baba’s illness and death which had so many extremely suspect aspects. The Sathya Sai College is already claiming considerable financial difficulties. There are already public complaints (see scan on the right hand) that, according to the practices instituted by their current ‘Eternal Chairman’, the deceased Sathya Sai Baba, the Trust has not paid staff properly and sacked staff illegally. See the following article which studies this matter in depth.
There certainly appears to be a sea change in the network of collusion between Sathya Sai Baba and government in that already the Trust is being required to pay its full electricity bills, backdated by 15 months. Eventually it may prove politically expedient to put the private Sai institutions on the same footing as other enterprises and remove the privileges once given to Sathya Sai Baba for his Trust by his many devotee ministers.