Friday, 13 June 2014 - 8:07am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
The Osho disiciples hope that if the Swiss government can protect its interest by their recent ruling, suspending Osho International Foundation (OIF) board in Zurich, the India government should order an inquiry into the alleged misappropriation within Pune based Osho International Meditation Resort (OIMR)
In a recent Swiss ruling, the five member board of Zurich based OIF has been provisionally suspended and their signatory rights annulled, by the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations (ESA), Switzerland.
Swami Prem Geet (Yogesh Thakkar), who has filed a petition in High Court last year against the alleged misdeeds of the trusts and trustees based in India, said, “The law, Charity Commissioner and Pune police have failed to act on time. Indian government is losing millions of dollars in revenue every year. We hope after the news from Switzerland, the Indian government should do the same.”
He said that the OIF board members are the same people who are running OIMR in Pune.
Another Osho disciple, Swami Prem Anadi (Kishor Rawal) said that the Indian trustees in foundation based in India are just a body of puppets acting on the directions of Zurich based OIF board.
Long time disciple of Osho, Sw Jagdish Bharti (Jagdish Gupta) said, “The Indian government can at least order an inquiry into the OIMR affairs based out of Pune and follow with an action if they find any misappropriations.” He said in the process Osho’s work should not get disturbed.
Pune Mirror | Jun 13, 2014, 02.30 AM IST
By: Kaumudi Gurjar
Sanyasis hope that action will now also be taken against members of OIF Pune for last year's infringement of IPR
The decision of the Swiss government to suspend the Zurichbased Osho International Foundation (OIF) board members and freeze their bank accounts after allegations of misappropriation of financial assets has reaffirmed the faith of Osho sanyasis in the city, making them optimistic that a similar decision will be taken here as well.
Since last year, Osho International Meditation Resort in the city has been rocked by allegations of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement, but the matter is yet to be resolved.
The sanyasis, who held a closed-door meeting in Koregaon Park on Thursday, expressed hope that a time will come soon when they will be allowed to enter the Osho Samadhi without having to to remove prayer beads and wear only a particular kind of robe; other Osho disciples, who have been barred from entering the Ashram, are hoping that they will be given the opportunity soon.
Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Premgeet said, "The nature of the crime committed in OIF Pune is similar to what had happened in Zurich. They have proved that the financial benefits of public charitable trust of OIF and Neosanyas Foundation were being transferred to private companies of trustees.
We have already filed an interim application at Mumbai Charitable Commissioner office in December 2011 and also filed a petition in Bombay HC last June." Buoyant because of the Swiss government's move to dissolve the board of management, Swami Anandi alias Kishor Raval said, "We are certain that a similar order will be passed in India, which will put an end to exploitation of disciples and restore Osho's vision."
An Osho sanyasi, who did not want to be named, told Mirror,"We are already looking for an alternative plan of action to run the Ashram in a transparent manner, in anticipation that a similar decision will be taken here as well."
Another Osho sanyasi, Ma Bodhipratima, said, "I am hopeful the Ashram will be soon open for all to dance, sing and meditate."
Meanwhile, Ma Amrit Sadhana, spokesperson of OIF, Pune, said, "I am not aware about this meeting." Reacting about the positivity among sanaysis that a similar order will be passed in India, she said, "I can comment only after the court order comes through."
Pune Mirror | Jun 10, 2014, 02.30 AM IST
By: Kaumudi Gurjar
Swiss Government dissolves Osho International Foundation after complaints of misappropriation of funds by its board members
Trouble has been brewing within the walls of the Osho International Meditation Resort in the city since last year, after it was was rocked by allegations of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement — but that matter is yet to see the light of the day.
On the flipside, it took just 12 days for the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board and Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs to get their act together to provisionally suspend board members of Zurich-based Osho International Foundation (OIF), revoking their signatory authority and freezing their bank accounts.
The order was issued on June 2, following a complaint filed by Robert Doetsch alias Swami Ramteertha on May 20, against Zurich-based OIF president Michael O'Byrne, vice president John Andrew, and board members D'Arcy O'Byrne, Kaus Steeg and Rudolf Kocher, asking that they be removed from their posts for misappropriation of funds.
Last June, Pune-based Osho Friends Foundation filed a similar complaint in Bombay HC, demanding a probe in the illegal transfer of IPR to Zurichbased OIF. According to allegations against OIF trustees, a foundation by the same name had been created in Switzerland with a view to mislead people to believe it is an extension of the Pune-based headquarters.
Having a keen interest in preserving and protecting archives of Osho, Doetsch, a former board member of OIF, raised doubts on the infringements of OIF's objectives and misappropriation of financial assets, and had sought the dismissal of board members from their positions.
While issuing the order, the Swiss Supervisory Board pointed out potential conflicts of interest of OIF board members. The order stated that Michael O'Byrne and his brother D'Arcy O'Byrne are presumably financial beneficiaries of companies that directly profit from the marketing of the IPR of Osho's works.
The Bryne brothers also hold executive positions in all organisations involved in the marketing of Osho's works, including more than 650 book titles that have been translated in more than 65 languages globally, more than 9,000 hours of audio recordings of Osho talks, and more than 1,800 hours of videos and paintings by Osho.
Swami Premgeet alias Yogesh Thakkar, who had filed a petition in HC last year pointing out that parallel OIFs in Switzerland and UK possess no authority to store, sale and retain the proceeds out of Osho's IP works, told Mirror, "Switzerland has taken the appropriate step in protecting their interests.
When will the office of Charity Commissioner and HC take action to protect Osho's IPR, which is illegally transferred to Switzerland? The Indian government is losing millions of dollars in terms of royalties every year. For the first time, justice has been done in favour of the Osho community in the world at large."
Asked if the Zurich-based OIF would appeal against the order, Ma Amrit Sadhana, spokesperson of OIF headquarters based in Pune, said, "We are seeking legal advice from our lawyers for the future course of action." Swiss Federal Supervisory Board has decided to appoint attorney lic. Iur. Andreas G Keller to carry forward the trust's work.
NO DECISION ON 2013 IPR SCAM
The writ petition filed by Yogesh Thakkar and Kishor Raval in June last year questioned the parallel OIFs in in London and Zurich, which mislead disciples of Osho Rajneesh in believing that it is an extension of the Pune-based OIF headquarters.
Zurich-based OIF has claimed that Osho's work was transferred to them in 1980, but Thakkar and Raval suspect that only one trustee member had undersigned this transfer of IPR to Zurich.
After losing battle to retain trademark at United States Patent and Trademark office, the board members of OIF had produced a Osho Rajneesh's will which was later withdrawn from the court after three experts challenged its veracity.
As the said Osho's will was allegedly signed in Pune, Koregaon Park Police station had registered an offence against six members of OIF last December 8, but nothing has been done in this regard.
Rajesh Rao, Tuesday, 10 June 2014 - 8:00am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
Long time Osho disciple and editor at Osho World magazine, Swami Chaitanya Keerti, who had been waging a battle said, "Osho Friends International in Delhi, and some Osho Centers in USA and Europe have been challenging these 5 monopolizers, who got defeated in USA, and now the Swiss government has punished them. Osho disciples around the world are very annoyed and upset with the behaviour of these five members of OIF," he said.
Keerti said that the OIF board's President, Michael O'Byrne (Anand Jayesh), vice president John Andrews (Prem Amrito) and three other board members, D'Arcy O' Byrne (Yogendra), Klaus Steeg (Pramod) and Rudolf Kocher, were provisionally removed from their posts.
Speaking on the development, Amrit Sadhana, Management Team, Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune, said, "Whatever has happened, has happened in Switzerland and not in India. The matter is in court and sub judice, so I cannot comment. We are acting as per our legal advisor."
Keerti said it was high time the Indian government wakes up to the OIF misappropriations in India. "About 20 years ago, this so-called OIF of five people had created OIF out of India so that they could control everything belonging to Osho-- publications, Osho Meditation centers, and various activities of sanyasis around the world," he said.
Another Osho disciple, Sandeep Kulkarni said, "With the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board for Foundation's verdict, OIF Zurich stands dismissed and it is an urgent need for Indian government to dismiss all the Indian trustees and management of Pune-based International Meditation Resort. Passports of the trustees should be taken into the custody immediately.
ओशो की फर्जी वसीयत मामले की जांच में पुलिस नाकाम
Complainant Swami Premgeet fears that the three foreign nationals accused of forging Osho's will may flee India, as their passport details haven't been sent to the Foreign Registration Office
A month after an FIR was lodged by him on behalf of Osho Friends Foundation (OFF), Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Premgeet fears that police laxity will hamper the course of investigation.
Swami Premgeet had filed a complaint with the Koregaon police against six administrators of the Ashram and Osho International Meditation Resort, for allegedly forging spiritual Guru Osho’s signature and producing his fake will in the court of the European Union to claim the rights and income from Osho’s intellectual property worth crores of rupees.
On December 8, a case was registered under sections 465 and467, 471, and 120 (7) of the Indian Penal code, following which the police issued a notice to trustees asking them to produce the will.
Swami Premgeet alleges that Koregaon police officials have conveniently forgotten to provide the passport and visa details of the three foreign nationals booked in the case to the Foreign Registration Office (FRO).
As a result of this alleged lapse, their details could not be appended with the Ministry of External Affairs.
The complainant fears that this delay may help the three foreign nationals leave the country, thereby hampering investigations.
When MiD DAY contacted the FRO, an officer confirmed that even after a month the local police station has not shared the passport and visa details of the foreign nationals booked in the case.
The officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “It is true that Koregaon Park police station informed us about the offence being registered against the foreign nationals, but officials were unable to provide us crucial details such as nationality, passport and visa details of the persons involved in the crime.”
The officer added, “These details are essential so that they canbe shared with the Ministry of External Affairs so that the ministry can issue a look out notice to stop them from crossing the border.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (FRO) Dr Rajendra Mane said that the information shared by his officer must be true, but refused to comment on the same.
Spiritual leader Osho also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh died in Pune on January 19, 1990. However, there was no mention of any will left behind by him in the press conferences held by the Osho trustees following his death. But, 23 years after his demise, a document was presented as Osho’s will by the trustees during court proceedings in the European Union. The typed will dated ‘Poona in 1989’ bearing Osho’s signature states that he is bequeathing all properties in his name, including ownership and publishing rights to Neo Sannyas International Foundation. Osho’s followers in India were alerted to this development in June, last year. Pune-based Osho Friends Foundation led by Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Premgeet filed an FIR against six administrators -- Michael Byrne (O’Byrne) alias Swami Anand Jayesh, D’Arcy O’Byrne alias Swami Yogendra, Philip Toelkes alias Prem Niren, John Andrews alias Swami Amrito, Mukesh Sarda alias Swami Mukesh Bharti and Klaus Steeg alias Pramod -- alleging forgery.
The other side
Police Inspector Rejendra Mulik from Koregaon Park Police station, speaking to MiD DAY on Thursday, said that he has issued summons to Swami Mukesh Sarda alias Swami Mukesh. However, Inspector Mulik was unable to say why details were not shared with the FRO.
Police Inspector Shivaji Kamble of Koregaon Park Police station said, “The will in question dates back to 1989. Give us at least 24 days to investigate, and besides the will in question is not in India”
When MID DAY contacted Mukesh against whom Koregaon Park Police station issued summons yesterday, he refused to comment on the issue and said that the matter was sub judice.
Month after FIR, cops yet to arrest ashram administrators
Even as a month has passed since two members of a city-based organisation Osho Friends Foundation have lodged a criminal complaint against six administrators of Osho Ashram in a case of alleged fraudulent will of Osho, Koregaon Park police are yet to make an arrest.
The police claim that they couldn’t find the six administrators when they visited their addresses. Hence, they served a notice and are waiting for them to turn up before the police.
On December 6, 2013, Osho Friends Foundation member Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Prem Geet (53) of Anand Park in Koregaon Park had lodged a complaint with Koregoan Park police station against six administrators naming Michael Byrne alias Swami Anand Jayesh, D’Arcy O’Byre alias Swami Yogendra, Philip Toelkes alias Prem Niren, John Andrews alias Swami Amrito, Mukesh Kantilal Sarda alias Swami Mukesh Bharti and Klaus Steeg alias Pramod. All have been booked under the relevant sections of Indian Penal Code comprising punishment for forgery, forgery of valuable security, using as genuine a forged document, criminal conspiracy and an act done by them with common intention.
Speaking to dna, Thakkar said, “In November, we had filed an application of complaint asking Koregaon Police to register an offence and a month later the complaint was lodged. Till date no arrest has been made. Osho’s ‘will’ signed on October 15, 1989, was sent to three experts in Italy, Aurangabad and Delhi for technical examination and their reports had found the signature on the will as fake. The will was created to use the rights and income from Osho’s intellectual property worth millions.”
The other side...
Meanwhile, dna contacted Ma Amrit Sadhana, a member of the management team Osho International meditation resort, who refused to comment on the issue. She said, “We cannot comment as the matter is sub judice.”
Cops summon Osho administrator
PUNE: The Koregaon Park police on Thursday served summons to Mukesh Sarda, one of the administrators of the Osho International Meditation Resort (Osho Ashram), asking him to appear before them on Friday.
A first information report (FIR) was filed by a group of Osho's followers against the management alleging that the administrators had forged the will of their spiritual mentor to use the rights and income from Osho's intellectual property.
Rajendra Mulik, inspector (crime) of Koregaon Park police station, who is handling the case, said, "We have sent summons to Mukesh Sarda, who looks after all the work of the Osho Ashram in India. We are planning to talk to all the administrators whose names appear in the FIR, one by one. It is not possible to extract information from all of them at one go. I have asked Sarda to appear before us for inquiry on January 10 and am waiting for his response."
When TOI contacted Sarda, he said the matter was sub-judice and refused to comment any further.
Police officials told TOI that the administrators were facing a case in the US and standing trail in Spain over the copyrights of Osho's works. An allegedly forged will was produced in a Spanish court. "A group of Osho's disciples in India, who got to know of this, filed an FIR against some of Osho Ashram's administrators," said an official from the Koregaon Park police station.
Police are looking for the original of the forged will. "It was with one of the administrators in the US, from where it was submitted in the court proceedings in Spain. We are trying to recover the original which would be given to government-approved handwriting experts to analyse the signature for authenticity. We cannot analyse the signature from a photostat copy of the will which is currently with us," the official added.
Yogesh Thakkar (Swami Prem Geet) on behalf of Osho Friends Foundation, Pune, had filed the FIR. "The will was prepared in Pune and was presented by the trustees before the court 23 years after Osho's demise. As per the will that they have produced, all six administrators are authorized to use the rights and income from Osho's intellectual property. This will is forged because Osho never left behind a will in the first place." said Thakkar.
On December 8, city-based Osho Friends Foundation had filed an FIR against six administrators of Osho Ashram, alleging that they had produced a forged will of Osho, dated October 15, 1989, Poona, bearing his fake signature.
Koregaon Park police officials had issued a notice to the ashram authorities to produce the original copy of the will. Currently, cases are pending against the six administrators and others in the Bombay high court as well as in the courts of Europe.
While the case pending in a Europe court is to declare the alleged forged will as null and void, the one in Bombay high court has sought an inquiry into the alleged illegal transfer of funds of over Rs 300 crore by the trustees of Osho International Foundation in the names of their private companies.
Boxes auctioned for $10 could be compilation of Osho’s work
An attachment with the PIL throws light on how Osho's original works — his art, audio and videos — may have travelled to the US and were, in fact, auctioned at a mere $10 in December 2009. The attachment is a legal document by the Connecticut Superior Court dated May 17, 2011. While the present status of the case could not be traced, the works are yet to be reclaimed, stated the PIL.
According to the document titled Memorandum of decision on motion for summary judgment, based on assertions by plaintiffs Osho International Foundation (OIF) and American Multimedia Corporation, "the materials could conceivably constitute a compilation of the life and works of Osho".
According to the document, OIF — an international non-profit organisation — was formed to hold assets and perpetuate the teaching of Osho aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and American Multimedia is an Arizona Corporation owned and controlled by the foundation.
It also states that American multimedia was in contract with one Uncle Bob's Self Storage since 2001 where eight boxes of older audio visual equipment, such as a Betcam recorder, DAT audio player, a tape cassette, audio spool players regarding American Multimedia and its employees, unpublished original works of art and creative writings subject to international copyright laws "regarding the foundation, its founder and employees" were stored. Upon American Multimedia failing to pay the bills of Uncle Bob's between September and December 2009, Uncle Bob's auctioned these boxes, which were brought by one Brian O'Neill for $10. O'Neill is the defendant in the said case.
As per this document, till May 17, 2011, the foundation had failed to reclaim any of the material, which "could constitute compilation of Osho's life and works". O'Neill also apparently attempted to sell the property in the open market, states the document.
While claiming in the PIL that "in 2001, 96 huge boxes containing Osho's original audios, videos, books, paintings and some belongings and important documents were transported to the US and kept in some private ware house," Sandeep Kulkarni — who has filed the PIL — said "the works are still to be retrieved" and raised the question of how Osho's works went out of India in the first place.
Ma Amrit Sadhna, spokesperson of Osho Commune, refused to comment on the specific details of the PIL.
Osho disciple files PIL in HC against ‘fund mismanagement’ in commune
Within days of the Pune Police registering an FIR against six of the present management committee members of the Osho Commune for allegedly forging Osho's will, Sandeep Kulkarni aka Zorba — an Osho disciple and member of the commune — has filed a PIL in Bombay High Court alleging mismanagement of funds by its present management committee by forming private companies. It also alleged that the committee has been biased towards Indians and bans people from entering the ashram in Koregaon Park — which is against Osho's preaching.
The PIL, which was filed on October 10, has nine of the present management committee members as respondents — Ma Gatha, head of Welcome Center; Ma Vatayana, Global Connection Department; Swami Jayesh aka Michel O'Brian; Swami Amrito aka George Meredith; Swami Yogendra aka D'arcy O'Brian; Swami Dhyanesh Bharti; Swami Mukesh Sarda; Ma Sadhana and Swami Devendra Deol.
The PIL, a copy of which is with Newsline, has alleged that the management has formed private limited companies in London, New York and Zurich, and royalty from Osho's books, audios and videos are siphoned off through them. The PIL has attached a list of 15 such companies from which, the applicant claims, at least three members of the present management committee are benefiting.
It may be noted that one Osho International Foundation (OIF) registered in Zurich, the parent body of the commune, claims to hold copyrights of Osho's published works, and legal battles have been fought, such as the Oshoworld.com case and trademark case in the US, challenging the claims of the foundation.
"The foundation, however, continues to challenge those who make use of the word Osho or his works on the Internet without its approval," said a former member of the commune.
The PIL alleged that the management is acting contrary to Osho's teachings, who said his words should reach the world as soon as possible. "Ma Gatha, Ma Vatayana and Swami Dhyanesh are restricting the entry of many seekers around the world. Now maximum sanyasins do not come to India and even Indian sanyasins keep away from the ashram. Slowly, the Rajneesh Ashram is becoming a private affair for 8-10 people," the PIL stated.
Kulkarni said, "Osho is the master of masters and his work should reach maximum people. The present management is acting contrary to Osho's teachings and thus not letting his work reach people. In my PIL, I have prayed for immediate dissolution of the management committee and appointment of new trustees. Nobody should be banned from the ashram except those who have committed serious offences. The fundamental right to enter the ashram should be protected."
Ma Amrit Sadhna, spokesperson of the Osho Commune, said: "The matter is sub judice. We cannot comment."