(Judicial Quest News Network)
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday expressed its shock at the functioning of an Ashram owned by absconding godman Virendra Dev Dixit, where minor girls and women are allegedly being kept in illegal confinement in the name of religious preaching.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla termed the existence of such a facility in the national capital.
The court said that the Ashram should be taken over by the Health Department of the Delhi Government for its management and running.
The Court put the respondent institution to notice through its inmates, who claim to be peacefully managing the institution, to show cause why it should not direct the take-over of the so-called Ashram by the SDelhi Government.
“We are going to direct government to take over the Ashram.We will direct it today.This is Sheer nonsense, in broad day light, in a city like Delhi you are doing this nonsense. Who is running in his (Dixit’s) absence?” The court asked.
Virendra Dev Dixit was an adherent of the Brahma Kumaris, who later founded his own organisation named Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya. Dixit has been accused of confining and sexually exploiting over 100 women at his ‘fortress-like Ashram’in Delhi’s Rohini area.
The petitioners contended that the Petitioners who are Senior Citizens were not allowed to interact with their daughter/Respondent No.4 by Respondent No. 5and 6 clear direction vide its order dated 8.2.2018 in WP (C) No. 11382 of 2017 not to cause impediment of access to the inmates by their parents and relatives . It is also submitted that the Petitioners were denied access to meet their daughter on 27.3.2022 though the Petitioners have all the way come from Hyderabad to the Respondent No.5 Ashram to see6 Respondent No.4. The relevant extracts of the order dated 8.2.2018 in WP (C) No. 11382 of 2017 are reproduced as under:
In the said case vide order dated December 19, 2017; the High Court had constituted a Committee to inspect the premises. As per the report submitted by Advocate Nandita Rao pursuant to the same, the premises itself is unauthorised. It houses over 100 girls in “Animal-like conditions” with no privacy. It has an extremely narrow passage of such low height that the inspection team had to roll double to pass through. She also expressed apprehensions about health of inmates, indicating that they may be under the influence of drugs/narcotic substances. They are completely confined behind metal grills with no access to sunlight even their sleeping area is monitored.
The Delhi High Court, today, was hearing the petition by parents of one of the inmates’ houses in the facility.
Senior Advocate Dr. Menaka Guruswamy and Sravan Kumar, Advocate appeared for Petitioners.
Guruswamy told the court that the Ashram is owned by Dixit, who has been charge sheeted by the CBI and has at least 10 cases pending against him.
It was also informed by her to the court that the reports furnished by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Chairperson, Swati Maliwal revealed that the inmates were living in the Ashram in ‘animal-like conditions.
Many inmates are appeared to be minors and showed signs of substance abuse. It was submitted.
The High Court was also told that a team of doctors form the All India Institute of Medical sciences (AIIMS) and the Institute of Human Behaviours and Allied Sciences (AIHBAS) had visited the facility on its order, and found nothing wrong.
Guruswamy, however pointed out that the report prepared by AIIMA and AIHBAS doctors had said that the answer by inmates appeared to be mechanical with a common refrain being, “We are Children of one father. We are here to save the world from disaster.
The Court said that we are prima facie of the view that R6 institute should be taken over by the health department of GNCTD for its management and running. We therefore put the respondent institution to notice through R4 (daughter of the petitioner) who claims to be equally managing the institution to show cause as to why we should not proceed to direct the take-over of the institution.”
Guruswamy also expressed her apprehension that women and girls may be relocated from the Ashram to other facilities following the court’s stern view, the Bench directed the District police Commissioner to ensure that inmates are not taken out or removed from the facility in the meantime.
The also allowed petitioners to meet their daughter before the next date of the ehearing.The Delhi police was directed to provide adequate safety to the parents, and facilitate the meeting.
The Court also asked the DCP concerned to ensure that the inmates presently housed at the said facility in Delhi are not removed to any other facility of the institution in the meantime.