This announcement by APF of a committee appointed by the Chairman to probe the allegations of diversion of funds and resources.

APF is a public-private partnership with ISKCON to provide mid-day meals to schools within a 10-km radius of ISKCON temples across the countryRepresentational image
news Controversy Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 08:04

Karnataka BJP MLC Lehar Singh Siroya has written a letter to the Chairman of the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF), Madhu Pandit Dasa, to have the allegations of governance issues and fund diversion probed by neutral persons with “no past or present association with either the Foundation or ISKCON Bengaluru”. He has also urged the Chairman to seek the suggestion of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or the Karnataka  High Court in appointing an ‘unimpeachable inquiry committee’.

On Saturday, after allegations of funds and resource misappropriation were levelled by former independent trustees and audit committee members, the Chairman constituted a two-member committee chaired by former Central Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdary along with MS Unni Krishnan, former MD and CEO of Thermax, to probe “all the issues raised by the erstwhile trustees and Audit Committee members”.

The legislator, in his letter, has also suggested the Chairman temporarily hand over the charge of the foundation to an independent administrator until he is exonerated of all charges. This administrator, he said, can be suggested by either of the Chief Justices.

In the letter, Singh urged the Chairman to step aside to enable a fair and transparent investigation. “Why I suggest such an independent inquiry panel is obvious because most charges made by the former trustees are against you and your missionary colleagues. Therefore, it may not be ethical or appropriate for you to be both prosecutor and judge at this juncture.”

Furthermore, Leher Singh said that as per the allegations, the investigation should span across several states. “We have to exercise great caution in dealing with the charges and get them cleared at the earliest because the Foundation is a public trust that receives hundreds of crores from the public directly, through several state governments, and also in the form of donations from overseas and CSR funds...The nature of the probe falls in the jurisdiction of multiple federal investigation agencies like the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation,” his letter read. 

APF is a public-private partnership with ISKCON to provide mid-day meals to schools within a 10-km radius of ISKCON temples across the country. Whistleblowers and insiders have alleged that there is a possibility of leakage by way of grains, construction costs and diversion of donations in the APF program. Funds were allegedly gathered for temples and other activities by using APF’s name and credibility. 

TNM had earlier reported a letter by the former Audit Committee of Akshaya Patra, which raised serious questions about the misuse of funds by the organisation. The audit committee had alleged that the missionaries of ISKCON control the functioning of Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF), but have no accountability towards the NGO that receives money from donors and government coffers. 

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