The Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court recently observed that police or judicial officers should work with a secular mind and have a scientific approach even when dealing with cases relating to religion (Namdev Garad v. State of Maharashtra). .The Court noted that while there might be fear among officers that they might invite trouble when dealing with issues involving religious feelings as their actions could be viewed as act against God, that should not deter them from adhering to provisions of law. ."The general fear may be of different kind like possibility that they may invite trouble as the matter involves religious feelings and it can be viewed as act against God. In view of the Article 51-A of the Constitution of India, this Court holds that the authorities are expected to work with secular mind in such case and they need to adhere to the ‘truth’. The authority needs to have scientific approach in such matters and they need to adhere to the provisions of law," the Court held. .The Court was dealing with a case involving misappropriation of assets of a religious Trust which included burying of around 2 kilograms of gold in the name of ‘Suvarna Yantras’ and misappropriating Rs 25 lakh as additional expenditure for performing ceremonies in respect of the same among acts..A Bench of Justices TV Nalawade and MG Sewlikar noted that several persons including the petitioner, Namdev Garad, had made several attempts to draw the attention of the authorities to the illegalities of the Jagdamba Devi Sarvajanik Trust, but the authorities avoided to discharge their duty..They referred to the inquiry records of the Trust office, inquiry made by the police into the matter and deduced that the authorities showed no courage to take action against such serious offence of a Trust only because it involved religious feelings..“Show of inquiry made by police into the matter show that the authorities have no courage to take action even when such serious thing has happened. Besides general fear in taking actions in religious matters, the inaction might have also been due to fear which may be in the minds of the persons like police officers or judicial officers who are of the rank of Civil Judge, Senior Division working in Charity Commissioner’s Office and they are avoiding to take steps against the trust committee which includes officer of the rank of District Judge," the Court noted. .Garad, represented by Talekar and Associates, informed the Court that a complaint was also filed by the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANIS), in the year 2017 against the alleged illegal activities, but no cognisance was taken by the police, compelling him to approach the High Court..He sought directions from the Court to the concerned police station to register a First Information Report (FIR) based on the complaint made by ANIS and sought for records of the Trust between the years 2009-19 including details of precious metals collected by the Trust..Senior Counsel Rajendra Deshmukh, on behalf of the Trust, informed the Court that the several complaints which Garad had been filing since 2015 were considered by management of the Trust but they came to be rejected. Even the inquiry under the Maharashtra Public Trust Act revealed nothing..Deshmukh argued that Garad, who was no more a part of the management, was merely filing false complaints to pressurise the present management..The Court noted that there were two judicial officers, one of the rank of Civil judge, Junior Division and another of the rank of District Judge, who worked as ex-officio members of the trust committee..“They are made members with expectation that the administration of the trust is done properly and no illegal activity is allowed. They are expected to see that the feelings of the devotees do not get hurt and at the same time, they are expected to see that the trust does not promote superstition as spreading superstition is itself offence in Maharashtra,” the Court noted..However, the trustees used the same to their advantage for misappropriation of the property of the trust. It is a fact that the trust lost the property worth more than Rs. One Crore during aforesaid period and the disposal of the property was apparently illegal. This act of the trustees, the Court said, cannot be called as only irregularity..The Court took exception to the trustees using 'hurting of religious feeling' as a shield to condemn anyone who questioned the trust. ."For misappropriation of the property of the trust, the trustees used a circumstance that people generally do not interfere in religious affairs of the trust. If anybody objects to the activity, he is condemned by saying that he is hurting religious feelings. Due to increase of such incidents, time has come to teach a lesson to such trustees. Such action will prevent activities like the present activity and will also help to check the superstition," the judgment said. .The Court concluded that the activities of the Trustees in present case ‘certainly fell under the prohibited acts mentioned under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act and are not permitted by the Maharashtra Public Trust Act..The Court, therefore, directed the concerned police station having jurisdiction over the religious endowment to register a crime on the basis of ANIS’ complaint and the investigate the same under Additional or Deputy Superintendent of Police. The same has to be completed within six months, the Court ordered.