Puttaprthy, Jun 28: Sathya Sai Central Trust members R J Ratnakar (Sathya Sai's nephew) and V Srinivasan accepted cash amounting to Rs 35.50 lakh in violation of Income-Tax laws as well as the Trust's own guidelines to accept donations above Rs 5,000 by cheque only, says a media report.
Ratnakar and V Srinivasan were questioned by the police on Saturday and Monday, respectively in connection with the seizure of Rs 35.50 lakh cash from a vehicle belonging to Srinivasan.Both told the police that they took the cash as a donation for construction work.
Ratnakar stated that 10 devotees had approached him with the cash as a donation for construction of the mahasamadhi of Sai Baba. The devotees requested that the cash be kept first at the charanam and chair used by Sai Baba and then utilised to pay for the construction of the mahasamadhi.Ratnakar called Srinivasan and told him about the request and both decided to oblige the devotees.
Accordingly, the cash was taken to Yajur Mandir and kept near Sai Baba's footwear for half-an-hour.Ratnakar told the police that as civil engineer Sohan Shetty, who was given the contract to construct part of the mahasamadhi work, was in Puttaparthi that day and was expecting payment to purchase marble stone, he decided to pay him the cash that was donated by the devotees.
Srinivasan, who was questioned on Monday, told the same thing to the police.Anantapur Police officials said that based on the statements given by both it has been established that the money belonged to Prashanti Nilayam and prima facie the money is unaccounted for.
Ratnakar had at first stated that it was not Trust's money. After accepting the cash, neither Ratnakar nor any of the Trust members gave the devotees receipts for the money they had donated, nor was it recorded in cash or account books of the Trust in gross violation of the Trust's guidelines for financial propriety.
The police had filed FIR in this case under Sections 69 and 132 of the Income-Tax Act besides IPC sections.
"We stand vindicated today. It is unaccounted money and with their statements Ratnakar and Srinivasan acknowledged they violated their own Trust's guidelines not to accept cash donations, and Income-Tax laws. We have forwarded our findings to I-T department and it is up to them to take action against the Trust,” Anantapur SP Shahnawaz Qasim said on Monday evening.
The police are now trying to locate the devotees who gave the cash to Ratnakar in order to ascertain whether what Ratnakar and Srinivasan are saying is true or not.