Office Bearers Of Sree Narayana Trust Involved In Criminal Offence Relating To Trust Shall Abstain From Holding Office: Kerala HC
The Kerala High Court has modified the scheme in respect of the Sree Narayana Trust.
The bench of Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Shoba Annamma Eapen acceded to the request of modification to the extent that- “If an office bearer of a Trust is involved in a criminal offence of breach of trust or in an offence relating to the property of a Trust and, his continuation in the office is having conflict with the interest of the Trust, or is detrimental to the interest of the Trust, the office bearer shall abstain to hold the office till he is discharged or acquitted in such case.”
This comes after the petitioner who is one of the Board of Directors of S.N.Trust had prayed for the modification to the scheme.
This was apparently moved in the wake of implication of the Secretary of the Trust, Vellappally Nadesan for various offences under the Indian Penal Code. It is alleged that he has misused the funds of the Trust.
Advocate M. Balagovindan appeared for the petitioner whereas Advocate A.N.Rajan Babu appeared for the S.N. Trust.
The Court observed that modification is permissible for the purpose of administration of the Trust.
“…we are wondering if a person is charge sheeted for committing offence in respect of trust property, can he continue to officiate in Trust till he is cleared of the charges? In a fair trial before the criminal court, it matters; as the witnesses and documents will be in the control and the custody of the office bearers of the Trust. Is it not detrimental to the interest of the Trust, if such office bearer is permitted to continue in the office?”, the Court observed.
A.N.Rajan Babu and other counsel, who resisted the modification, argued that it is easy to implicate a trustee into a criminal case and to keep him away from administration and, therefore, if such a modification is allowed, it will result in chaos in administration of the trust.
The Court observed “Merely by incorporating a clause in a scheme, no Trustee can be prevented from functioning as an office bearer or a Member of Board of Trustees.”
The Court noted that the new clause is necessary to secure the objective and integrity of the Trust.
Accordingly, the Court permitted the modification.
Cause Title- Cherunniyoor V. Jayaprakash v. Sree Narayana Trust & Ors.