April 11, 1999 VNN3571 See Related VNN Stories
IRG vs GBC - Court Case Update (1)
INDIA, Apr 11 (VNN) This will hopefully be the first of many briefings that I hope to provide for the benefit of the vaisnavas all over the world, who are no doubt following this case very closely. As well as keeping everyone informed, these briefings, by quoting from actual court documents, will also be able to put paid to the many false allegations that have been made by the GBC regarding this case. I shall therefore be giving this briefing in the form of answers to common questions currently being asked:
1) Why are you suing ISKCON, which is Srila Prabhupada's body?
FACT: The Defendants in the case are as follows:
1. ISKCON Governing Body Commission Society : Shree Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir, Shree Mayapur Dham, Dist. : Nadia, (mail P.O. Box 10279, Ballygunj, Calcutta 700 019) West Bengal
2. All the names from 'List of ISKCON Gurus'.
(This is quoted from the actual petition presented to the court)
Thus the court documents actually list 69 individual defendants, which are:
The GBC, the GBC secretary and 67 initiating Gurus.
Thus only those individuals who are deviating from Srila Prabhupada's instructions are listed, not the corporate ISKCON body. The GBC is listed and registered as a separate and distinct society from ISKCON, and indeed has only legally existed since 1993, when it was registered in West Bengal. The purpose of the case is not therefore to attack ISKCON, but errant individuals who are not obeying Srila Prabhupada's July 9th directive.
2) Isn't the case simply about Adridharan das and other Indian temple presidents trying to hang onto their position, properties and make money?
FACT: Below is item 46 from the Final Petition presented to the in the High Court at Calcutta - Ordinary Original Civil Jurisdiction.
46) This application is made bonafide and for the interest of justice. Your petitioners therefore, most humbly pray Your Lordships for the following orders :
a) Injunction restraining the defendants by themselves and / or their associates from purporting to act as initiating Gurus and/or giving Diksha in their name and/or initiating any person as their own disciple.
b) Mandatory injunction directing that initiation of new disciples are to be made only by Ritviks as representatives of Srila Prabhupada and all new disciples are to be initiated as disciples of Srila Prabhupada in terms of the directive dated 9th July, 1977.
c) Injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves or through their agent or their servants from giving effect or further effect to the impugned Resolution dated 14th February, passed by the GBC and/or from any similar resolution or from giving any effect or taking any step or action in pursuance of or in reliance thereupon against the petitioners or any other person in any manner whatsoever.
d) Mandatory injunction directing that the names of all disciples of Srila Prabhupada and / or persons initiated as disciples of Srila Prabhupada be entered in the initiated disciples book maintained by the Secretary of Srila Prabhupada during the life time of Srila Prabhupada.
e) Injunction restraining the defendants from holding themselves out and/or acting as Gurus.
f) Receiver be appointed over the minutes book containing the impugned resolution dated 14th February, 1999 and to make inventory and put his initials on the same.
This is what is actually being requested. Thus it is clear that the case is about PRINCIPLES, and following Srila Prabhupada's instructions. There is NO demand for properties or money from any particular individual. And even the demand for the resolution banning 'ritviksm' and expelling its adherents to be removed is only subsidiary to the main demands.
3) Hasn't the Judge already thrown the main case out, with only the matter of expulsion left to be decided?
FACT: This piece of fanciful fiction comes from H.H. Jayapataka maharaja, as in the following e-mail:
"Already the judge has dropped all reference to injunctions about initiation saying the court has no jurisdiction over spiritual matters. The only thing left is fighting for remaining as TP's."
(E-mail from H.H. Jayapataka Maharaja to Indian Continental Committee, dated 3/4/99)
In reality the actual OPPOSITE has happened. Since the petition was filed at the High court, there have been two hearings. At the first hearing on 25/3/99, the IRG asked for two things to be granted immediately as interim orders whilst the case is heard:
1) That all ISKCON Gurus are immediately stopped from initiating.
2) That no action can be taken by the GBC against anyone who supports the IRG position, and therefore GBC resolutions to that effect must be removed.
The purpose for asking for interim orders is so that no matter how long the opposition attempts to tie up and stall the case in the legal system, we will get some immediate relief, and do not need to wait for the case to be completely concluded before some measure of justice is granted.
Based on the above, even without waiting to hear from the defendants who were not even present at this hearing, the judge immediately passed the following order:
In the High Court at Calcutta, Ordinary Original Civil Jurisdction
Before The Hon'ble Justice Sujit Kumar Sinha
] In that view of the matter, there will be an ad-interim order of injunction restraining the defendant no. (1) from giving any effect of its purported resolution dated 14the February, 1999 until further orders."
Let this application appear on 31.03.99.
He further stated that he wanted to at least hear from the defendants before preventing them from initiating. The next hearing was on 31st March and April 1st. At this time the defendants tried to get the whole case thrown out. The judge then decided the following:
Tender No. 449 of 1999
Adridharan Das & Ors.
ISKCON Governing Body Commission
We on behalf of the plaintiffs abovenamed hereunder quote further interim order of the Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sujit Kumar Sinha made on the 1st April 1999 in the above suit :
"THE COURT: The ad interim order dated March 25, 1999, is clarified only to
this extent that the same shall for the time being be limited to the expulsion, probation and suspension of the plaintiffs. The question as to the validity of the impugned Resolution dated February 14, 1999, and subsequent initiation of the disciples in pursuance thereof, shall abide by the result of the application.
Let the affidavit - in - opposition be filed within April 16, 1999; and the affidavit - in - reply be filed within April 30, 1999. Let the matter appear in the list as a part-heard adjourned motion
on May 3, 1999.
This basically states that the judge will reserve his decision on the validity of the philosophical aspects of the GBC resolution on 'ritvikism', and the right of the Gurus to initiate their own disciples, until he has heard further arguments from both sides, by the end of the month. Rather than saying that the 'court has no jurisdiction over court matters', as alleged by H.H. Jayapataka Maharaja, the Judge has on the contrary stated the OPPOSITE. He is saying the court will decide both the issue of the validity of the resolution regarding the rights and wrongs of 'ritvikism' and the right of the gurus to initiate - this is indicated by the words - 'SHALL ABIDE BY THE RESULT OF THE APPLICATION'.
Further this also means that any initiations carried out from the 1st April,, 1999 until the day the decision is made, which is scheduled provisionally for May 3, 1999, will also have to 'abide by the result of the application', which means that the judgement will apply RETROSPECTIVELY if the court decides in favour of the IRG application. Hence all those thus initiated will have to be considered initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada.
Thus far from throwing out the main case - which is the issue of how initiations should be carried in ISKCON, the Judge has decided that he will give a ruling on the right of the current Gurus to intiate, and further that the ruling will apply retrospectively from the 1st April.
This in itself was a major victory, in that the defendants main line of argumentation was that the case should be thrown out since the Judge could not decide on 'ecclesiastical ' issues. The Judge however accepted the IRG argument, that the issue was one of a registered institution following directives as required by its own constitution, and thus is covered within the realm of company law.
The Judge has simply decided therefore to give each side 2 weeks each to present its arguments, after which he will make a ruling on the granting of the INTERIM orders.
4) But didn't the IRG agree that as long as the expulsion was rescinded that they would withdraw the court action? Are they not going back on their word?
FACT: Such an agreement was never made. The IRG did suggest that as a PRE-CONDITION for TALKS that COULD lead to the case being dropped following successful negotiations, that the resolution regarding expulsion should immediately be rescinded.
This particular lie that the IRG agreed to drop the case is being propagated particularly by H.H. Jayapataka Maharaja, as in the following e-mail message:
"Lies! ON March 22nd I showed you that the GBC had already voted and the rescinding order was on the way by the courier. You said you wouldn't go to court, but you did anyway."
(E-mail from Maharaja to the Indian Continental Committee, dated 8/4/99)
Yet the GBC's own records show that the GBC rescinding order was passed only on March 27th:
"Resolution passed by correspondance vote of the GBC. Passed on March 27, 1999.
22 members voting
21 votes of approval
1 vote of disapproval
0 Absentions "
Thus no such recission had infact taken place in time for even the talks.
5) But since the expulsion order has been rescinded by the GBC, why is the case still going ahead?
FACT: As already answered above, the case is NOT about the expulsion order anyway. It is about the principle of the GBC needing to adhere to the directives of Srila Prabhupada in order to be called the GBC. In any case what has actually been rescinded is ONLY the expulsion of certain individuals for NOW. Most of the resolution remains, including the BASIS for their expulsion, and the fact that simply BELIEVING in the 'No Change' position is still grounds for expulsion. The rescinding order actually states that:
the GBC Body hereby rescinds resolution no.302, sub-section 4 - A., B., C., D., of 1999 dated 14th February, 1999 in so far as it declares the persons named therein as unfit to be members and it provides for their expulsion, with power to review the subject matter in future if an occasion so arises. [
] In the meanwhile, the GBC Body hereby empowers and authorizes the GBC Executive Committee to negotiate and discuss the subject matter with the individuals concerned and take appropriate action if deemed fit, except declaring the said persons as unfit to be members or to expel them, which action, if necessary, would be taken by GBC body itself at the proper time to be determined by the GBC Body.
Thus the GBC body can again expel the said individuals at any time, with the same swiftness and harshness with which they passed the original expulsion resolution, and which they have only now withdrawn, since they have been challenged. The action that the GBC have taken : Very quickly passing an expulsion order, then just as quickly rescinding it as soon as they realised court action was imminent, simply shows that THEY are sending a strong message that they only respond to devotees who actually stand up and fight for the truth. To therefore drop the court action on the basis of the current rescission, is simply inviting re-expulsion at a future date. The same individuals who passed the original resolution only a few weeks ago, have suddenly done a flip-flop. Yet the only thing that has changed is that they realised that there would be a fight on their hands.
Many of the GBC's own supporters have criticised this lack of adherence to principle and sincerity in their actions:
"The news that the expulsions have been rescinded is a shock to devotees, who were feeling that in among all the harsh anti-guru GBC resolutions, at least there was some sign of resolute action against leaders who are devastating the spiritual lives of so many innocent devotees or would be devotees. Now it seems as if these leaders will not only be retained, but will also be allowed to continue their nefarious activities with the blessings of the GBC, and will, side by side, carry on their court case, if they so desire.
Who will have faith in the GBC any more? If a handful of disgruntled leaders are more important than the vast majority of innocent devotees, this means the silent majority of devotees had better look after their own spiritual safety and that of the innocents - they can't depend on the GBC."
(A leading disciple of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami, and a leader of the Persian Gulf Yatra)
Thus how along, once the threat of court action has receded, before the GBC suddenly give into other pressures?
Please look out for more relevant information as and when it is available in the next few days.
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