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HC takes note of teachings of Rohini ashram

Even criminals are not treated the way the parents of the women inmates were being treated, the court observed.

PTI Last Updated at 27 Jul 2018, 20:07 IST India

The Delhi High Court today took strong note of the teachings at the ashram of absconding preacher Virender Dev Dixit, asking whether a daughter refusing to talk to her parents or treating them badly was its concept of "spiritual awakening" which was taught to the inmates.

Even criminals are not treated the way the parents of the women inmates were being treated, the court observed.

"What type of spiritual awakening is this? You leave your family, parents and say this is spiritual awakening? ... Is this spiritual awakening that a daughter does not want to talk and meet her parents ... You bring 15 women here who talk so bad about their parents," an anguished bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and C Hari Shankar said.

The court was hearing a matter relating to alleged confinement of girls and women at the Adhyatmik Vidyalaya, run by its founder Dixit in Rohini area of Northwest Delhi.

The bench said it did not want that Interpol alerts are issued against someone who is running a spiritual organisation, but a blue-corner (Interpol) notice had to be issued as Dixit had fled from the law.

The court was informed by CBI that it was trying to execute the warrants against Dixit but has not got any specific information about him till date.

"How can a daughter say I will not talk to my parents? Is this your teaching? What have you taught them? We are appalled. Teach your women to respect human beings. You bring 15 women here who talk so bad about their parents. What is this teaching? They turn their faces away from parents. We were really upset," the bench told the counsel representing the ashram.

Even criminals are not treated the way these parents are being treated, the court said, while asking DCW chief Swati Maliwal and advocate Nandita Rao to educate the women inmates of the ashram on health and menstrual hygiene.

The court had earlier appointed a three-member panel, comprising Maliwal and advocates Rao and Ajay Verma, to inspect the ashram and its other branches in Delhi.

The committee had said the institute was making the inmates write letters and complaints making allegations of sexual assaults against their family members.

These letters were being used to pressure the family members from initiating any action against the ashram or Dixit, it had said, adding that the inmates were being kept in "animal-like" conditions behind metal doors in a "fortress-like" building surrounded by a barbed wire fence.

The bench also referred to the mediation of disputes between the ashram management, the women inmates and their parents to help them reconcile.

The Institute of Human Behaviour and Applied Sciences (IHBAS), which was earlier asked to nominate some experts to visit the ashram and inspect the conditions there to ascertain the physical and mental health of its inmates and submit a report in the court.

In the report, IHBAS director said the overall living arrangement and physical space at the ashram seemed adequate and the experts did not find any resident living under coercion.

It said that, of the 162 residents, those with medical conditions were already receiving treatment from nearly government hospitals.

"No behavioural oddities, signs of psychological distress or psychiatric disorder could be elicited on mental state examination. They themselves also did not report any such problems in the part as well as presently.

"The residents, as a group, had overvalued ideas (religious belief system) which could be attributed to their long-term association with the organisation," the report said.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on August 10.

The bench was hearing a PIL in which an NGO alleged that girls and women were illegally confined at the "spiritual university" in Rohini.

The court had ordered the CBI to probe the matter by setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to take charge of all records and documents pertaining to the case.

At the first hearing of the matter, the court had said the situation at the Rohini ashram was "similar" to the one run in Sirsa, Haryana, without making any direct reference to Gurmeet Ram Rahim or the Dera Sacha Sauda sect led by him.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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