SC-appointed SIT to make Odisha a test case to regulate trust donations

Cuttack: Determined to regulate flow of cash and other valuables as donations to spiritual and religious trusts, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) on black money is going to make mushrooming of godmen and godwomen in Odisha a test case.

The deputy chairman of SIT and former judge of Supreme Court, Justice Arijit Pasayat held a meeting in this regard here on Thursday in which modalities to expand the new angle of SIT focus were discussed.

The SIT in its third report to the Supreme Court in May had emphasised on the need to regulate the flow of donations and their utilisations.

The recent exponential growth of sprawling and swanky ashrams, temples, flow of loads of money and valuables and the lavish and luxurious lifestyle of fake godmen and gurus in Odisha, particularly after the arrest and detection of riches in possession of Santosh Roul alias Sarathi Baba, have stirred the SIT to focus its attention to the state.

“Apart from Sarathi Baba, many other spiritual gurus, self-styled godmen and godwomen of Odisha would come under the scanner of the investigating team,” an official said, adding that the SIT is going to submit its fourth report to the Supreme Court by the end of next month.

Continuing its probe into the money trail aspect arising out of the chit fund and mining scam in Odisha, the SIT deputy chairman also held discussions with officials from Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Income Tax and Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).

Justice Pasayat also collected documents of over one thousand pages from OMC.

The Odisha crime branch police, which are currently investigating into the forgery, cheating and fraudulent accumulation of huge properties by Sarathi Baba, will share their findings with the ED which has already expressed its desire to take up the case.