Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Major Decision in ISKCON’s Favor in Long Island Legal Case
By ISKCON North America Council   |  Oct 17, 2021

Statement from the ISKCON North America Council

October 16, 2021


A North American legal case that has lasted almost two decades took a decisive turn in favor of ISKCON this past week. This long-running case, known in ISKCON as the Long Island Court Case,  began in 2004 in Freeport, New York. At that time, a group of “ritviks” opposed to the ISKCON Governing Body Commission (GBC) from outside Long Island, through deception and subterfuge, took control of the Long Island ISKCON Temple and the Board of Trustees.

(Ritviks are persons who oppose the continuation of the ISKCON Gaudiya Vaishnava parampara as desired by ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada; and instead, believe that Prabhupada wanted to directly initiate disciples even after his passing from this world in 1977.)

After attempts by the GBC to mediate the dispute and remove the ritviks from possession of the Long Island temple failed, a lawsuit was filed in the Nassau County Supreme Court. In October 2017 the court decided in favor of ISKCON. However, the defendants appealed on a technicality and in January 2021 the appeals court ordered a new trial.

This case is of worldwide significance as ISKCON stands to establish the following:

  1. That, as per Srila Prabhupada’s Last Will and Testament, all ISKCON temples are to be held for the benefit of ISKCON’s religious society at large.
  2. That, as per Srila Prabhupada’s Last Will and Testament, the GBC would continue to be the ultimate management authority of ISKCON’s religious society in perpetuity.
  3. That ISKCON is a hierarchical religious organization.
  4. That the GBC is the sole and ultimate management authority that defines leadership and membership within ISKCON’s religious organization.

The court victory this week resulted from the ritvik’s submission of a late motion to present a lengthy list of defenses and counterclaims at the new trial. ISKCON vigorously opposed this motion and in response the trial judge, Justice Marber “DENIED (the motion) in its entirety.” The Judge ruled that the ritvik request failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for further delay or a meritorious defense and would be unfair to ISKCON.   

“We are optimistic that ISKCON will prevail again in the upcoming trial,” said John G. Stepanovich, lead ISKCON attorney. “We expect a new trial date in the first quarter of 2022. This will be a lengthy trial that should last well over one week, with witnesses called from around the world, and thousands of pages of supporting documents will be submitted.”