Auroville is just
another garden of good and evil (soap opera and passion play) there are forces
in Auroville unreconciled to the utopian ideals fostered by the Auroville Manifesto.
Passions flare when displacement from one's home and sustenance is part of the
price of cosmic perfection in the unity of beings all over the world.
Feb 02, 2004
national found dead at Auroville
By Our Special Correspondent
FEB. 1. A Dutch national, Sytze Douwe Van Loo (39), was found dead at his residence
at Auroville, Udumbu, near here today.
The police suspect he was attacked
with sharp weapons in the head and arms. The phone had stains of blood and things
were found scattered all over.
A special police team and forensic experts
rushed to the spot. The township of Auroville will remain closed to all visitors
for three days from tomorrow. The working committee, Auroville Foundation, said
the Matrimandir and the Visitors' Reception Centre would also remain closed on
these days. Mr. Sytze Douwe Van Loo had been living in Auroville since 1996. The
Dutch Embassy in New Delhi and the Dutch Consulates in Chennai and Mumbai have
been informed of the incident
Live the Truth of Tomorrow
Native Aurovillian Tribal with celebratory
garb in habitat. Margaret Mead would be flummoxed by this indigenous tribal of
Tamil Nadu. If Franz Boaz were to behold this enclave, his entire lifes work would
be undone. It can only be guessed what Zora Neale Hurston might spin of the passions
of Auroville; a combination of the Gilded Six Bits and Go Tell My Horse.
Note: This case is not so well known
as the Ramakrishna Mission and Arya Samaj petitions. When the Central Government
set up a probe to enquire into reports of mismanagement and diversion of govt.
funds by Sri Aurobindo Society, the society sought minority status from the Supreme
Court. The Supreme Court dismissing the petition, quoted from the teachings of
Sri Aurobindo and Mother. This is the most ineteresting part of the judgement
and relevant extracts have been posted. Important passages have been highlighted
in bold for the benefit of readers.EXTRACTS FROM THE JUDGEMENT
THE CONSTITUTION BENCH OF
THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
ON 8 NOVEMBER
The first two petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution of India filed in
this Court and the third under Article 226 of the Con-stitution filed in the Calcutta
High Court and later on transferred to this Court, seek to challenge the vires
of the Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Ordinance, 1980 (Ordinance No. 19 of.
1980), later, on replaced by the Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1980 .(Act
No. 59 of 1980). The fourth is an appeal by special leave against the order of
the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court dated 21st. of November, 1980 vacating
the interim order passed by a single judge in the writ petition. All these cases
raise common questions of constitutional importance and, therefore, they were
posted before the Constitution Bench.
... The disciples and devoted
followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with a view to propagate and practise
the ideals and beliefs of Sri Aurobindo formed a Society called Sri Aurobindo
Society in the year 1960. The petitioner Society at all material times was and
is still a Society duly registered under the provisions of the West Bengal Societies
Registration Act, 1961. This Society is completely distinct from Aurobindo Ashram
in Pondicherry ...
. . . The Mother as the founder-president also
conceived of a project of setting up a cultural township known as 'Auroville'
where- people of different countries are expected to engage in cultural, educati-onal
and scientific and other pursuits aiming at human unity. The Society has been
a channel of funds for setting up the cultural township known as- Auroville..
At the initiative of the Government of, India, -the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation being of the opinion that the
Auroville project would contribute to international under-standing and promotion
of peace sponsored the project by proposing a resolution to this effect at its
General Conference in 1966 * This resolution was unanimously adopted at this Conference.
By a further resolution passed in 1968 the UNESCO invited its member States and
international non-governmental organisations to participate in the development
of Auroville as an international cultural township to bring together the values
of different cultures and civilisations in a harmoni-ous environment with integrated
living standards which correspond to men's physical and spiritual needs. 1970
UNESCO had directed its Director-General to take such steps as may be feasible,
within the budgetary provisions to promote the development of Auroville as an
important international cultural programme. Sri Aurobindo Society received large
funds in the shape of grants from different organisations in India and abroad
for development of the township. The assistance included contributions from the
State Governments of the value of Rs.66.50 lakhs and the Central Government of
the value of Rs.26.14 lakhs.
After the death of the Mother on 17th of November
1973 a number of problems of varying nature affecting the smooth running of the
.project cropped up. The Government of India on receiving complaints about mismanagement
of the project and misuse of funds by Sri Auro-bindo Society set up a committee
under the chairmanship of the Governor of Pondicherry with representatives of
the Government of Tamil Nadu and of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Central
Government to look into the matter. The committee made a detailed scrutiny of
the accounts of Sri Aurobindo Society relating to Auroville and found instances
of serious irregularities in the management of the Society, misutilisation of
its funds and their diversion to other purposes. Further, various other serious
difficulties had arisen pla-guing the management of Auroville and rendering thereby
any further growth of the township almost impossible in the circumstances that
taking over of the management of, Auroville became imperative to ensure growth
of the township in tune with its objectives.
Keeping in view the international
character of the project and considering the government's involvement. in actively,
sponsoring the project through UNESCO, the growth and management of the project
had become the primary responsibility of the Government of India. The ideals of
the project formed India's highest aspirations, which could not be allowed to
be defeated or frustrated. Sri Aurobindo Society had lost complete control over
the situation and the members of the Auroville approached the Government of India
to give protection against oppression and victimisation at the hands of the said
Society. There were internal quarrels between the various' factions of Sri Aurobindo
Society. There have also been instances of law and order situation. Financial
management of the project has not been sound and several instances of mismanagement,
diversion of funds have been revealed . ......
validity of the Act has been challenged on four grounds:
1. Parliament has
no legislative competence to enact the impugned statute.
2. The impugned Act
infringes Articles 25, 26, 29 and 30 of the Constitution.
3. The impugned
Act is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution; and
4. The Act
was mala fide ...
In The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments,
Madras v. Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt wherein the ' following
propositions of law have been laid down:
(1) Religion means "a
system of beliefs or doctrines which are regarded by those who profess that religion
as conducive to their spiritual well-being."
A religion is not merely an opinion, doctrine or belief. It has its outward expression
in acts as well.
need not be theistic.
(4) "Religious denomination" means
a religious sect or body having a common faith and organisation and designated
by a distinctive name.
(5) A law which takes away the rights
of administration from the hands of a religious denomination altogether and vests
in another authority would amount to violation of the right guaranteed under clause
(d) of Art. 26.
The aforesaid propositions have been consistently
followed in later cases including The Durgah Committee, Ajmer & Anr. v. Syed
Hussain Ali & Ors. and can be regarded as well settled.
words "Religious denomination" in Article 26 of the Constitution must
take their colour from the word 'religion' and if this be so, the expression "religious
denomination" must also satisfy three conditions:
(1) It must
be a collection of individuals who have a system of beliefs or doctrines which
they regard as conducive to their spiritual well-being, that is, a common faith;
(2) common organisation; and
(3) designation by a distinctive. name.
In view of the propositions laid down. by the Court in the aforesaid reported
cases we have to examine the teachings of Sri Aurobindo to see whether they constitute
The Solicitor-General for the Union of India and
Mr. F. S. Nariman, counsel for the respondents Nos. 6 to 238 (resident members
of Auroville), on the other hand contended that the teachings of Sri Aurobindo
do not constitute religion nor is the Society and the Auroville a religious denomination,
and in any case there is no violation of article 26 of the Constitution in as
much as the impugned Act has taken over only the management of Auroville from
the Society and does not interfere with the freedom contemplated by Articles 25
and 26 of the Constitution.'
Reference was made to rule 9 of the
Rules and Regulations of Sri Aurobindo Society, which deals with membership of
the Society -dnd provides:
"9. Any person or institution or
organisation either in India or abroad who subscribes to the aims and objects
of Society, and whose application for membership is approved by the Executive
Committee, will be member of the Society. The membership. is open to people everywhere
without any distinction of nationality, religion, caste, creed or sex".
The only condition for membership
is that the person seeking the membership of the Society must subscribe to the
aims and objects of the Society. It was further urged that what is. universal
cannot be a religious denomination. In order to constitute a separate denomi-nation,
there must be something distinct from another. A denomination, argues the counsel,
is one which is different from the other and if the Society was a religious denomination,
then the person seeking admission to the institution would lose his previous religion.
He cannot be a member of two religions at one and the same time. But this is not
the position in becoming a member of the Society and Auroville. A religious denomination
must necessarily be a new one and new methodology must be provided for a religion...
1... The Society itself treated Auroville not as a religious institu-tion.
Auroville is a township which was conceived, planned and developed as a centre
of international culture for the promotion of the ideals which are central to
the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
These ideals have been explained and proclaimed extensively in the writings of
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In the year 1966, Sri Aurobindo Society, devoted
as it was to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and guided by the Mother, proposed
this cultural township to UNESCO for the commemoration of the 20th, anniversary
of the UNESCO. The Union of India took up the matter with UNESCO and it did so
on the explicit understanding that Auroville as proposed was in full consonance
and conformity with India's highest ideals and aspirations and that would help
Auroville promote the aims and objects of UNESCO...
... The foundation stone
of Auroville was laid on 28th February 1968 with the participation of youth of
many nations, representing the coming together of all Nations in a spirit of human
unity. The UNESCO conceived Auroville township as an instrument of education,
promoting mutual respect and understanding between people in keeping with the
spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Universal Declaration of Principles
of International Cultural Cooperation.
The Government of India took active
part in making the UNESCO interested in the project and take decision as aforesaid
for the develop-ment of Auroville as an international cultural township with the
parti-cipation of countries who are members of the UNESCO.
Sri Aurobindo Society
had brought the proposal of Auroville to the Government of India and explained
that Auroville was to be an international and cultural township. This fact is
evident from the brochure submitted by Sri Aurobindo Society to the Government
The Charter of Auroville given by the Mother also indicates that
it is not a religious institution, as is evident from the following:
belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But
to live in Auroville one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of
constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
3. Auroville wants to be the
bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from
without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
4. Auroville will be the site of material and spiritual research
for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.
On the own admission
of the General Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, Auroville was
to be a symbol of international cooperation, an effort to promote international
understanding by bringing together in close juxtaposition the values and ideals
of different civilisations and cultures. The cultures of different regions of
the earth will be represented in Auroville in such a way as to be accessible to
all not merely intellectually in ideas, theories, principles and languages, but
also in habits and customs; art in all forms - pain-tings, sculpture, music, architecture,
decor, dance; as well as physically through natural scenery, dress, games, sports
and diet. It will be a representation in a concrete and living manner; it will
have a museum, an art gallery, a library of books, recorded music etc. It will
also have other objects which will express its intellectual, scientific and artistic
genius, spiritual tendencies and national characteristics.
in UNESCO meeting "Design for Integrated Living Programmes in Auroville"
was presented and that also goes a long way to show that it was only a cultural
township and not a religious institution.
Numerous utterings by Sri Aurobindo
or the Mother unmistakably show that the Ashram or Society or Auroville is not
a religious institu-tion. In Sri Aurobindo's own words (The Teaching and the Ashram
of Sri Aurobindo, 1934, p . 6):
"The Ashram is not a religious
association. Those who are here come from all religions and some are of no religion.
There is no creed or set of dogmas, no governing religious body; there are only
the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and certain psychological practices of concentration
and meditation, etc. for the enlarging of the
consciousness, receptivity to
the Truth, mastery over the desires, the discovery of the divine self and consciousness
concealed within each human being, a higher evolution of the nature."
Sri Aurobindo himself said:
"I may say that it ii far from
my purpose to propagate any religion, new or old."
Sri Aurobindo says again-" We are not a party or a church
Sri Aurobindo exposes:
"Churches and creeds have,
for example, stood violently in the way of philosophy and science, burned a Giordano
Bruno, imprisoned a Galileo, and so generally misconducted themselves in this
matter that philosophy and science had in self-defence to turn upon Religion and
rend her to pieces in order to get a free field for. their legitimate development.-
The Mother said on 19.3.1973: " Here we do not have religion.-
Sri Aurobindo says again:
Yogic methods have something of the same
relation to the customary psychological workings of man as has to scientific handling
of the natural force of electricity or of steam to the normal operations of steam
and of electricity. And the two, are formed upon a knowledge developed and confirmed
by regular experiments, a practical analysis and constant results. All methods
grouped under the common name of Yoga are special psychological processes grounded
on a fixed truth of nature and developing, out of normal functions, powers and
results which were always latent but which her ordinary movements do not easily
or do not often manifest."
It is pertinent to quote Mother's
answer to a question:
"Q. Sweet Mother, what is the difference
between Yoga and religion? Mother's Ans: Ah! My child. . It is as though you were
asking me the difference between a dog and cat."
be no better proof than what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother themselves thought of
their teachings and their institutions to find out whether the teachings of Sri
Aurobindo and his Integral Yoga constitute a religion or a philosophy. The above
utterings from time to time by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother hardly leave any doubt
about the nature of the institution. It was on the basis that it was not a religious
institution that the Society collected funds from the Central Government and the
Governments of States and from abroad and the other non-governmental agencies....
... Mr. F. S. Nariman appearing for respondents Nos.6 to 238 '(Members
of Auroville) adopted the arguments advanced by the Solicitor General, Mr. K.
Parasaran, and supplemented the same. He submitted that the Society was registered
under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and a purely religious society could
not have been registered under the Societies Registration Act. Section 20 of the
Societies Registration Act provides what kind of societies can be registered under
the Act. It does not talk of religious institutions, Of course, it includes- a
society with charitable purposes. Section 2 of the Charitable Endowments Act,
however, excludes charity as a religious purpose. It was further contended that
the nature of the institution can be judged by the Memorandum of Association.
The Memorandum of Association does not talk of any religion. The purpose of the
Society was to make known to the member s and the people in general the aims and
ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; their system of Integral Yoga and to work
for its fulfilment in all possible ways; to train selected students and teachers
from all over the world in the Integral System of Education, i.e. the spiritual,
psychic, mental, vital and physical to help in cash or in kind by way of donations
etc. ; to organise, encourage, promote and assist in the study, research, and
pursuit of science, literature and fine arts etc. Nowhere it talks of propagating
religion. This is the surest index to know whether the Auroville or the Society
was a religious institution.
It was further contended that a religious
denomination must be professed by that body but from the very beginning the Society
has eschewed the word 'religion' in its constitution. The Society professed to
be a scientific research organisation to the donors and got income-tax exemption
on the footing that it was not a religious institution. The Society has claimed
exemption from income-tax under s.80 for the donors and under s. 35 for itself
on that ground. Ashram Trust was different from Auroville Ashram. The Ashram trust
also applied for income-tax exemption and got it on that very ground. So also
Aurobindo Society claimed exemption on the footing that it was not a religious
institution and got it. They professed to the Government also that they were not
a religious institution in their application for financial assistance under the
Central scheme of Assistance to voluntary Hindu organisations.
On the basis of the materials placed before us viz., Memorandum of Association
of the Society, the several applications made by the Society claiming exemption
under s.35 and s.80 of Income-tax Act, the repeated utterings of Sri Aurobindo
and the Mother that the Society and Auroville were not religious institutions
and host of other docu-ments there is no room for doubt that neither the Society
nor Auro-ville constitute a religious denomination and the teachings of Sri Aurobindo
only represented his philosophy and not a religion...
leads us to the third ground, namely, the impugned Act being violative of Article
14 of the Constitution inasmuch as Sri Aurobindo Society has been singled out
for hostile treatment, and the legislation is against this particular institution.
In order to appreciate this, argument it would be necessary to refer to the circumstances,which
led to the passing of the impugned Act. . .
... For the first few years the
development of Auroville showed a remarkable, progress and things were growing
at a rapid pace. A number of Indians and foreigners settled down in Auroville
and devoted themselves to various activities of planning, designing, agriculture,
education, construction and other works such as those of hand-made paper and other
crafts and industries. A remarkable harmony among members of Auroville was visible
and this gave promise to the Government of India of an early fulfilment of the
ideals for which Auroville was established and encouraged by UNESCO and other
international organisations of the world.
After the passing away of the Mother in 1973. however, the situation changed and
the Government received information that the affairs of the Society were not being
properly managed, that there was mismanagement of the funds of the Society and
diversion of the funds meant for Auroville to other purposes.
of Sri Aurobindo Society were audited up to the year ending 31st December, 1974.
For the years 1960 to 1971 the audit was conducted by late Shri Satinath Chattopadhyaya,
Chartered Accountant and for the years 1972 to 1974 by Shri T.R. Thulsiram, Chartered
Accountant and Internal Auditor of the Society. The letter addressed by him to
the President, Sri Aurobindo Society dated May 269 1976 relating to the affairs
of Bharat Niwas as on 31st March, 1976 is revealing one and the relevant portion
is extracted below:
"Thus we have an unutilised deficit of
about 10 lakhs at the end of 31-12-74 and of about 12 lakhs at the end of 1975
or up to 31-3-76. The situation has not improved until now. The activities of
construction have almost come to a close after 31-12-74. Fur-ther, there are heavy
bank over-drafts apart from the reduction in D.O. facilities and freezing of the
money in D.O. account. Therefore, In these circumstances it is clearly seen that
government monies received for the specific purpose of Bharat Niwas have been
diverted for other purposes and there are no more free liquid resources either
as cash or in bank accounts. So we cannot explain saying that monies are immediately
available for construction and that the construction activities are being continued
without stop. This really is a serious matter that calls for the proper solution.
Therefore, in the above circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that
earlier steps be taken to correct the situation, before serious audit objections
are raised by the Government Auditors. We are afraid to say that we ourselves
would be constrained to make a qualified report of audit, if the state of affairs
does not get corrected immediately."
The situation in Auroville
became so acute that at the instance of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government
of India, an enquiry was conducted in 1976 by the Chief Secretary, Pondicherry,
into certain aspects of the functioning of Sri Aurobindo Society. The report of
the Chief Secretary mentioned instances of serious irregularities in the management
of the Society, suspected misuse of funds and auditors' comments about the misutilisation
of funds and its diversion, and it was suggested that a further probe in the financial
matters of the Society and organisations connected with the Auroville Project
may be made by a team of competent auditors...
An important finding
of this Committee was that the earlier apprehension about instances of serious
irregularities in the manage-ment of the Society, misutilisation of the fund and
the diversion was confirmed. This Committee also submitted to the Government of
India two volumes of the audit report. Some of the other impor-tant findings of
the Committee based on audit reports were as follows:
professional services required from Architects for the cons-truction of Phase
I of Bharat Niwas were not rendered by them and still full payment was made to
"Rs.13.30 lacs sanctioned
by various State Governments for construction of pavilions of their respective
States were diverted and utilised towards construction in Bharat Niwas for common
zone facilities - this was without the approval of the State Government.
"Whilst the books of Bharat Niwas show that there was an unutilised balance
of Rs.22.64 lacs the Project was without any liquid resources - thus showing that
moneys received out of Govt. grants were diverted for other activities notwithstanding
that this position was brought to the notice of the Society by their statutory
auditor in its letter dated 26-5-76.
"Although there was no
fresh receipt of steel in Bharat Niwas Phase 2 the stock was purportedly revalued
at a higher rate of Rs. 2000 per metric ton against the earlier rate of Rs.1700
per metric ton adopted on 31-12-73. This resulted in an over-statement of the
value of stock to the amount of Rs. 42,000/-.
"There was a
transfer of materials of stock worth Rs. 2.30 lacs to Auro Stores by a journal
entry on 31-12-75. Auro Stores is a concern of Navjattas. The audit team concluded
that as a result of this there was an unreal expenditure which had not resulted
in outflow of resources and resulted in overstatement of expenditure on Bharat
An undischarged amount of Rs. 1.45 lacs payable to
the contractors Messrs E.C.C. Ltd. towards the construction of Bharat Niwas stood
included in total expenditure as on 31.12.74 the utilisation certificates
furnished with regard to total expenditure -were held to be incorrect to that
"Although materials purchased out of Govt. grants
could not be hypothecated without the approval of the Government the Society hypothecated
steel from Auro Stores and obtained a loan of Rs. 6.88 lacs from the State Bank
of India - resulting in an expenditure of interest charge of Rs. 9561.40 which
was held to be inadmissible and an irregularity.
the Society completed construction of Health Centre in Dec. 1973 at a total cost
of over Rs. 2 lacs and the Health Centre started functioning from Dec. 1973 the
Society had not furnished the utilisation certificate in the prescribed form nor
was the completion report duly certified by the PWD authorities.
" Rs. one lac was stated to have been received for the "Project of World
University" - and the money was stated to be utilised. There is no such World
University in Auroville.
"A difference of Rs. 1,29,848/-
was noticed in the case of the value of a piece of land purchased - the value
of the land said to have been purchased and not entered in the register was Rs.
88,525/- and the amount said to have been paid in excess of the value for the
land actually purchased was Rs. 31,322/-
"The operation of
purchase of lands was through individuals who were given huge sums of money as
advances. It was noticed that in one transaction an amount of Rs. 43,250/- representing
the balance out of advance paid to one V. Sundermurthy was adjusted as being the
cost of stamp papers whilst adjusting all other advances during 1971. The voucher
for this amount also did not give the details of the document numbers in respect
of which stamp papers worth Rs. 43,250/- were used.
land to the extent of 23.86 acres was purchased at the cost of Rs. 91,496/- but
was registered in the names of four individuals and the value of the lands so
registered in individual names wore treated as advances to these individuals.
The names of these individuals were Maggi, Kali, Shyamala
and "Ravindra Reddy".
"The audit team found that
assets and liabilities of the project were overstated to the extent of Rs.5,10,670/-
"The balance-sheet of Auroville Project has been so framed that
the assets side does not throw any fight as to whether the corres-ponding assets
from donations have been acquired and the problem is aggravated by the fact that
a register of assets is not maintained.
"There was a complete
lack of financial control which was the most serious drawback of the system and
this want of financial control was revealed in a number of established and conventional
procedures which would have serious implications.
not possible for the Audit Team to establish nor the Society could establish that
moneys paid were really exchanged with certain materials or goods of corresponding
value. The lack of adequate scrutiny resulted in the fact that in most of the
cases the bills were not supported by adequate details of materials having been
"The expenditure of Auroville project working out
to nearly 3 crores, there was no system of control of expenditure - no rules and
regulations or procedures according to which a particular individual or office
bearer could incur an expenditure only upto a particular limit and not above that.
Persons who were authorised to operate bank accounts had full authority to draw
as they wanted and there was no system of reporting or feed-back.
"In view of the large scale construction activities, large amounts of stores
materials of various descriptions were being handled by the project. We have not
come across proper records of stores and stock accounts being maintained by the
project. This indeed was a serious drawback since in the absence of such a system
it was not possible to verify from the records that the moneys which were shown
as having been spent for purchase of materials were really paid in exchange of
the materials of the required quantity and quality and whether the material purchased
was actually received by the project, whether the quantity which was shown as
having been utilised for the construction has been actually so utilised and the
balance of stores which represented by the value was the real balance representing
the various stock items.
"Huge amounts of cash were being
handled by persons operating the main account and the number of individuals who
were given advances - there was no system under which cash could be verified at
"Even apart from the audit report, one very
important point may be mentioned. The Society has been claiming that they have
been holding more than Rs. 20 lacs in reserve in the account of Aurobindo Society
to meet their obligations with regard to Auroville. And yet the Society has incurred
heavy debts in the name of Auroville and allocated huge accumulation of interest
to the extent of Rs. 20 lacs."
The Committee came to the conclusion
that the time was ripe for taking recourse to either of the following two alternatives:
(a) Incorporation of Sri Aurobindo Society by a statute as a society of national
importance and bringing it under Entry 63 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule
of the Constitution;
(b) Take-over of the management of Auroville
project by the Government for a limited period by legislation under Art. 31 (A)
(1) (b) of the Constitution. . .
There had arisen acute law
and order situation in the Auroville. . . the funds meant for the Auroville had
been diverted towards other purposes and the atmosphere was getting out of hand.
In the circums-tances the Government intervened and promulgated the Ordinance
and later on substituted it by the impugned enactment. It cannot be said that
it is violative of Article 14...
... Obviously, there were serious irregularities
in the management of the said Society as has been pointed out in the earlier part
of the judgement. There has been misutilisation of funds and their diversion to
other purposes. This is evident from the audit report. There was no material change
in the situation on the date of the impugned ordi-nance or the Act, rather the
situation had grown from bad to worse and the sordid situation prevailing in the
Auroville so pointed out by the parties fully justified the promulgation of the
Ordinance and the passing of the enactment... The amount donated for the construction
of the cultural township Auroville and other institutions was to the tune of Rs.
3 crores. It was the responsibility of the Government to see that the amount was
not misutilised and the management was properly carried out . . .
... Mr Venugopal tried to explain the various adverse remarks made by the auditors.
On a perusal of the audit report, which is a voluminous one, all we can say is
that on the facts found by the audit committee, the report is rather a mild one.
There seems to be serious irregularities in the accounts. A substantial amount
received by way of donations had not been properly spent, there being misutilisation
and diversion of funds ...
... Now we turn to the last but not
the least important ground of mala fides. The Act is sought to be challenged on
the ground that it is mala fide. This argument is on the basis that Kireet Joshi
who had his own axe to grind in the matter, was instrumental in getting the impugned
Ordinance and the Act passed. This argument has been advanced only to be rejected.
Allegations about mala fides are more easily made than made out. It will be too
much to contend that Kireet Joshi, who was only an Educational Adviser to the
Government of India, Ministry of Education and Culture (Department of Education),
was responsible for the impugned enactment. The impugned enact-ment was passed
following the due procedure and merely because he made a complaint about the situation
prevailing in the manage-ment of Auroville and the Society, it cannot be said
that the impu-gned enactment was passed at his behest.
reasons given above all the writ petitions must fail. In view of the final decision
on the writ petitions themselves, it is not necessary to pass any specific order
in the appeal filed against the interim order in one of the writ petitions. The
parties in the circums-tances of the case are left to bear their own costs.
(Y. V. CHANDRACHUD)
(P. N. BHAGWATI)
(V. BALAKRISHNA ERADI)
(R. B. MISRA)
November 8, 1982.
EXTRACTS FROM THE JUDGEMENT BY
JUSTICE O. CHINNAPPA REDDY
have the good fortune of having before me the scholarly Judgement of my brother
Misra L. I agree with my brother Misra J. t the Writ Petitions must fail. With
much that he has said, also, I agree. But with a little, to my own lasting regret,
I do not agree. It therefore, proper for me to explain the points of my disagreement.
We do not desire to 'enter into any polemics over Sri Aurobindo's
teachings as it is not within the judicial province to do so except to the limited
extent of finding out whether his teachings have the necessary spiritual content
to qualify as religious doctrine and how his followers understood these teachings...
Sri Aurobindo, of course, disclaimed that he was founding a religion.
No great religious teacher ever claimed that he was, founding a new religion or
a new school of religious thought. The question is not whether Sri Aurobindo refused
to claim or denied that he was founding a new religion or a new school of religious
thought but whether his disciples and the community thought so.
If the followers of Sri Aurobindo constitute a 'religious nomination as,
to my mind, they undoubtedly do, the members of Sri Aurobindo Society are certainly
a distinct and identifiable section of the religious denomination
... But, the question is has the Fundamental Right guaranteed by Art.26
been infringed by the Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act 1980. We have to notice
straightaway that the Act did not take away the management of Sri Aurobindo Society.
What it did or purposed to do was "to provide for the taking over, in the
public interest, of the management of Auroville for a limited period and for matters
connected therewith or incidental thereto" . . .
... the question
arises whether Auroville is an institution established and maintained for religious
and charitable purposes and whether its management of Auroville is 'a matter of
religion '. Auroville is a township and not a place of worship. It is a township
dedicated not to the practice and propagation of any religious doc-trine but to
promote international understanding and world peace, surely, a secular and not
a religious activity.... The management of the International, cultural township
of Auroville is not, in our opinion, a matter of religion. . . .
On the several other questions argued before us I accept the conclusion of Misra
J. . The Writ Petitions are accordingly dismissed but in the circumstances there
will be no order regarding costs.
(0. CHINNAPPA REDDY)
8th November, 1982.