Reports from Bombay HC - 2150

For more than three years, Sw Premgeet of Pune (Yogesh Thakkar) has tried to get certain perceived irregularities concerning operations at Osho Resort investigated by Indian legal authorities, without apparent progress. These include the alleged fake Osho's Will and the alleged inappropriate give-away of the property at "Sanai" to the unknown Darshan Trust of Delhi, plus the alleged siphoning off of gazillions of Rupees on the part of Sr Mgmt. After some inaction, Premgeet sought redress in legal institutions in Mumbai, among them the Charity Commissioner regarding the Sanai give-away and Bombay High Court for the Will.

In 2016, some action has begun in the HC hearing about the Will. Some details can be gleaned from the HC website. To check them out, start at http://www.bombayhighcourt.nic.in/index.html and mouseover "Case Status", click on "Party Wise". Then in the various preset choice boxes, if not already there by default, choose "Bombay", "Criminal", "Petitioner" and "2016", and type "Yogesh Thakkar" in the text box and "Submit". This should take you to a list of cases involving many different Yogeshes and Thakkars. Click on this case, WP/2150/2016, then at the bottom, click on "Listing Dates" to go to a page with links to reports on each session.

Clicking on "Application Cases", a different box at
the bottom of the same page, goes to a page which lists the three parties in the case who have submitted writs requesting "Interveneur" status, possibly what is called "Friends of the Court" in some jurisdictions. Each party is represented by lawyers, details below. The first and third interveneurs below are there apparently on behalf of OIF, the second is there to assist the Petitioner (Premgeet), having already engaged an Italian graphologist and an Italian forensic scientist expert in printing processes, who determined to their professional satisfaction that the signature on Osho's alleged Will was a fake.

1. APPW 383/16 - Mukesh Sarda
2. APPW 403/16 - Vaidehe Vadgama and ANR
3. APPW 415/16 - Devendra Singh Dewal

In Premgeet's case designation, the WP stands for Writ Petition, and his is # 2150 of this year (2016). A Writ Petition is something a private citizen can file in a higher court to compel something to happen that other authorities are alleged to have prevented or dragged their heels on. Judges in this case in all the hearings through Session 5, on Oct 25 2016, were Prakash D Naik and Naresh H Patil. After that date, they were replaced by Ranjit V More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi. CV's for all the judges in the Bombay HC system are available by mouseovering "Judges" near the top of the page and selecting "CJ and Sitting Judges". And at the next date, judges were "updated" again, with Ranjit More staying but Shalini P-J replaced by Revati Mohite Dere.

Lawyers are various, representing an increasing group of interested parties. At first there were only two parties, Premgeet, the petitioner, and "the State", ie Maharashtra and the Pune police, the initial respondent. Although there has been some shifting of lawyers' details, they and their affiliations can be summarized here. Go to the site to see precise details for each session.

Party 1. Mr. Pradeep Havnur for the petitioner.

Party 2. Mrs. Sangeeta Shinde, APP for the State, later augmented by Mr. S. K. Shinde, Public Prosecutor.

Party 3. Mr. Sandesh Patil, advocate i/b. Mr. Rahul Verma, Enforcement officer, for a new respondent ("no.6") added in the 4th session. This respondent is an agency of the Indian Central Gov't (Directorate of Enforcement) responsible for investigating and enforcing various aspects of civil and criminal financial law, including tracing assets involved in money laundering. In the 5th session, he was augmented by Mr. Anil C. Singh, ASG a/w. and Ms. Indrayani Deshmukh. The arrival of Mr Singh may signify a new high level of interest in the case, as he -- ASG = Additional Solicitor General -- is one of the most highly placed lawyers in the Central gov't bureaucracy.

Party 4. Mr. Ravi Kadam, Senior Counsel a/w. Mr. S.R. Nargolkar, Senior Counsel i/b. Mohammed Saeed Gaya for the applicant in APPW 383/16. Mr Kadam is a retired Advocate-General for the state of Maharashtra and as such is another big gun in the case. He also appears on behalf of party number 6. His first appearance, for party number 4, was in the 3rd session, when not much happened.

Party 5. Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani, Senior Counsel i/b. A. Usman for applicant in APPW 403/16. This is another high-powered lawyer in the case, a well-connected member of Bharatiya Janata Party and son of the legendary still-active nonagenarian Ram Jethmalani, who was on occasion Osho's lawyer, among other very high-profile clients. His first appearance is in the 4th session.

Party 6. Mr. Ravi Kadam, again, representing applicant in APPW 415/16. His first appearance for this party was in session 4.

Dates and Lawyers: Judges' Statements and Directives:
Session 1
Aug 3 2016
1. Pradeep Havnur for the petitioner
2. Sangeeta Shinde for the State

1. The grievance of the petitioner is that since last three years the investigation did not reach finality. It is alleged that there is no substantial progress.
2.  Learned APP submits that some documents are sent for expert's opinion in the year 2014.  The report is still awaited.  The issue raised is in respect of whether the Osho wrote the Will and in case Will was written, whether the existing document termed as Will is a genuine Will of Osho.
3. We direct the DCP (Crime), Pune to supervise the investigation. Learned APP shall intimate this Court about the further steps taken by the Investigating Agency.
4. List the matter on 12th August, 2016, High on Board
Session 2
Aug 12 2016
lawyers as above
1. Learned APP submits that on the basis of photostat copy of the Will in question,  handwriting expert's report was called for, which is received. Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that after 23 years a document surfaced in Spain, which is referred as original and last Will of Osho. In the petitioner's view, the said Will must be forged one.  It seems that Investigating Agency is yet to ascertain as to whether any such document titled and referred as “Will of Osho” has been presented in the proceeding, pending in a court of law in Spain.  In case such a document is there, then the Investigating Agency would take appropriate steps.
2. We have perused the Government Handwriting expert's report in respect of signature of Osho. After perusal, we have returned the report to the learned APP. The petitioner relies upon a private handwriting expert's report.
3. Without expressing any opinion on the said experts' reports, we find it appropriate to observe that Investigating Agency shall take necessary steps for making further investigation in respect of the allegations made by the petitioner.
4. Learned counsel further submits that complaint was made to Reserve Bank of India regarding transfer of huge amounts from the Osho Ashram to foreign entities in violation of law. The Assistant General Manager, RBI by communication dated 5/6/2015 informed the petitioner that his letter has been forwarded to Directorate of Enforcement (DoE), New Delhi for necessary action at their end.  Learned counsel submits that thereafter the petitioner has not heard anything on that issue.
5. Learned counsel for the petitioner prays for leave to add Reserve Bank of India and Directorate of Enforcement, New Delhi, as party-respondents.
6. Leave is granted.  Learned counsel for the petitioner submits that within two weeks amendment will be carried out.  In case the amendment is carried out, issue notice to the added respondents, returnable four weeks thereafter.
7. We direct the DCP (Crime), Pune to give appropriate instructions to the Investigating Officer and monitor the further investigation. A status report be placed before us on the next date of hearing.
8. Stand over for four weeks, at 3.00 p.m.
Session 3
Sep 19 2016
lawyers as above, plus
4. Ravi Kadam  for applicant in APPW 383/16
1. Learned APP submits that the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone­II, Pune City, has addressed a communication dated 1st September 2016 to Under Secretary (Legal), Internal Security Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi by submitting a proposal for concurrence regarding Letter of Rogatory for investigating abroad.
2. Intervention application is filed. Learned counsel for Petitioner be served copy of the same. Stand over to 26 September 2016.
Session 4
Oct 7 2016
lawyers as above, plus
3. Sandesh Patil for respondent no.6
5. Mahesh Jethmalani for applicant in APPW 403/16.
6. Ravi Kadam, again, for applicant in APPW 415/16
1. Learned APP Mrs. Shinde submitted that there is no further progress in the investigation to be informed to the Court except getting hand-writing expert's report and forwarding letters to the Central Government. Needless to mention that investigation is pending since last three years.
2. The API H.M. Nanaware, Koregaon Park Police Station, Pune has been deputed to instruct. Learned APP submits that a Senior officer was expected to appear but he has not turned up.
3. On the next date of hearing, we expect the Public Prosecutor to address the Court on the issues raised and discussed in the Court. Learned Counsel appearing for respondent no.6 submits that concerned authorities of respondent no.6 are looking into the matter. Learned APP and Counsel for respondent no.6 seek further adjournment.
4. Learned Senior Counsel Shri Kadam appearing in Criminal Application  No. 383/2016 submitted that Intervenors be heard in the matter. The request is objected to by the Counsel appearing for the petitioner. Learned Senior Counsel Shri Jethmalani appears for Intervenor in Criminal Application No. 403/2016 in support of the petition. Both these applications would be taken up at appropriate stage.
5. On future dates the Investigating Officer shall attend the hearing with record.
6. On request of learned APP stand over to 25th October, 2016. To be listed at 3.00 p.m.
7. All concerned to act on an authenticated copy of the order.
Session 5
Oct 25 2016
lawyers as above, except:
2. S. K. Shinde augmenting Sangeeta Shinde
3. Anil C. Singh, and Indrayani Deshmukh, augmenting Sandesh Patil
P.C. : Heard.
2. Mr. Shinde, learned Public Prosecutor submits that he had gone through the investigation papers.  He submits that he would advise the State agency in respect of the future course to be adopted for completing the investigation at the earliest and for arriving at some definite conclusion in respect of the specific allegations made by the petitioner herein. Learned Public Prosecutor further submits that some proceedings are pending before the officers under the Bombay Public Trust Act. It would be necessary to verify record pending with the office of Charity Commissioner.
3. Learned counsel Mr. Singh appearing for respondent no.6 submits that some additional information in writing has been provided to respondent no.6–Enforcement Directorate and appropriate agency would look into the same.
4. In the facts, we observe that the investigating agency shall include experts in the field for examining the allegations and investigating into the same.
5. Investigating agency shall intimate the Court the status of the investigation on the next date.
6. The petitioner would submit a compilation of the proceedings initiated and pending in the High Court, Charity Commissioner's office or any other office in respect of the subject controversy to the Public Prosecutor and respondent no.6–Enforcement Directorate, at the earliest.
7. All the intervention applications would be taken up at the appropriate stage.
8. Stand over to 6th December, 2016.
Session 6
Dec 13 2016
lawyers -->
lawyers as above except "big lawyers'" stand-ins (Amna Usman for Mahesh Jethmalani and Sandesh Patil for Anil Singh) were there. First hearing under the new judges, More and Phansalkar-Joshi. In the event, P-J only served in this one session. P.C.: By consent, stand over to 20th Dec 2016.
Session 7
Dec 20 2016 
Lawyers as above. Judges were More and Dere.
P.C.: By consent, stand over to 25th Jan 2017.

Contact: sarlo at telus dot net