Expresses concerns on the body taking two Hindu sects under its wings

CSO: The Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan (HDSB), a registered religious organization, is coming under close scrutiny from some of its members after it allowed two religious sects under its umbrella.

Disgruntled members said the HDSB cannot issue a “certificate of affiliation” to any religion or a religious sect after the organization took two sects – Manav Dharma (human religion) and Brahma Kumari (Daughter of Brahma) under its wings.

The issue stems from violating the HDSB’s Articles of Association (AoA), on the basis of which the organization was registered. They say the decision to affiliate Manav Dharma was against the wishes of the mainstream Hindu community.

“There is no provision in the AoA that HDSB can affiliate another religion or sect,” said a member of the HDSB, U N Bhattarai. “The affiliation certificate should be cancelled as it lacks any legal basis.”

He said the decision was made without involving representative of Chodey Lhentshog. “It is observed that certificates are being issued to collect some fees,” he said.

However, the President of the HDSB Pundit Bhakti Ram Rizal said the certificate of affiliation was provided as per the rules. “We have given them the certificate in good faith, but we can revoke the certificate if all the members of the Samudaya don’t want it,” he said.

He said the certificate was granted after the Manav Dharma officials submitted their undertaking that they would not carry out any activity against the interest of the HDSB.

The President said that the HDSB is observing the activities of the Manav Dharma and that the issue will be taken up in the upcoming annual general meeting. “It was the board members’ decision to grant them the certificate of affiliation,” he said.

Earlier, some members of the HDSB including Pundit Tulsiram Bhandari and UN Bhattarai had written to the culture department highlighting what they called operational lapses in the HDSB. For instance, petitioners wrote that the election of office bearers was not conducted as per the AoA and other rules.

They accused that the formation of Board of Directors, conduct of Annual General Meetings (AGM) and election of board members were also not in line with the AoA. The current management team, they said was not formed as per the AoA and that only the Chairman was selected by the AGM. Chairman of the HDSB and the representative to the Chodey Lhentshog were selected at a meeting on May 17, 2015.

They claim that except for the current Chairman and representative to Chodey Lhentshog, other office bearers of the HDSB were not selected through a meeting. “It is found that no office order is being issued to representative select to Chodey Lhentshog yet and a person who had rendered resignation from the post in 2013 has been still attending the commission meetings at Chodey Lhentshog.”

During the meeting on May 17, 2015, some members raised concerns about the process of selection and suggested that AoA should be followed. They said the HDSB should coordinate all the activities across the country and would require strict supervision on every aspect including financial supervision.

They also accused the management of letting a committee without legal status organize the annual Durga Puja.

According to UN Bhattarai, the Royal Audit Authority has conducted an audit and confirmed the operational lapses in its report. “Financial transactions also are not routed through HDSB and there are instances that recoveries on audit memos settled without the knowledge of HDSB.”

On the claims of lapses, the President said, “We have heard such claims by some people.” “We invite all the stakeholders of our community but some hardly come,” he added. He said the matter will be discussed in the AGM.

An official of Manav Dharma of Bhutan said a committee of the HDSB granted the affiliation. “Manav Dharma will be under the umbrella of HDSB. We have not done anything wrong,” he said. “Whatever programmes Manav Dharma organizes are Hindu programmes.”

The petitioners though maintain that if Manav Dharma was no different from Hinduism there was no need for it to seek affiliation with HDSB as a separate entity .

MB Subba